Vlog #2 – My Unity Project

Find out about the non-writing nonsense I’ve been working on recently.

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2 Songs That Shaped My Writing

Every writer I’ve met has some music that takes part in their writing process along with them. Whether you play wordless soundtrack music to drown out distractions or spend hours finding the perfect theme song to match every character, we all tend to work up a pretty decent variety of songs.

Which is why you may be looking at this post’s title and going: “Just 2? Really? How did he manage to narrow it down like that? Doesn’t he get tired of listening to them?” No, they’re not the only songs I listen to when I’m writing or brainstorming. Far from it. In fact, I tend to change the tone of my playlist to fit the project that I’m working on. These, however, are ones that I consider so universal that they never leave my list.

Switchfoot – Dare You to Move

Education tells us that every story has a beginning, a middle and an end. They might sort of let us know what that means, but when it comes to writing our own, it can be hard to visualize.

To me, Dare You to Move is a complete model of this idea, and much more. From the opening “Welcome to the planet” (hello, setting the scene!) to the dramatic bridge into the last chorus (the crisis of character that leads to the final act), it’s the best map to storytelling that can be crammed into 4 minutes. Lines like “What happens next?” as well as the chorus remind us to keep the action moving, to let our characters make choices that actually matter.

My only suggestion for anyone who wants to try to take this as an exact model for a story: beef out the middle a bit, compared to what the song has. If you follow it exactly you’ll be stuck in the beginning until halfway into the second verse and nobody really wants that. But don’t get me wrong. That’s a very important verse and I love it.

Killswitch Engage – My Curse

This one may be less familiar to those of you who aren’t into the hard rock and heavy metal scene, but hear me out. Because I personally think this is one of the most beautiful songs in the genre.

I always loved it, but it really came up when I was finishing my draft of The Demon’s Guardian. I suddenly realized that the main character, Rasuke, has at that point lost a lot of people that he really, truly loved. It’s a heartwrenching ending that will set the stage for the third book, but I can’t reveal too much about that just yet, can I? The point is that I imagined, all too clearly, what the movie adaptation might be like at the end: the last line of the book comes to pass. My Curse begins to play. Roll credits.

It was one of the most powerful visions I’ve had of my work in a long time, but it didn’t end there. As I listened to it again, I came to the realization that this is also exactly what Ius, the antagonist of the trilogy, has been dealing with this entire time. The god that he served for millions of years just disappeared from his life one day. And in The Third Face there’s one scene I remember that evokes this all too clearly. As the song goes: “I strain my eyes, hoping to see you again. This is my curse.”

Everyone in this series has “love burning to find” someone or other. They’ve lost something. It’s heartbreaking. And because everyone deals with it differently the story moves forward. This is the kind of thing that gets me tearing up a bit over my own fictional characters. Every time.

 

So there are my two songs. The first was universal, in my opinion; the second feels more iconic to my own work, but it’s still capable of penetrating every story there is. What are your picks for the most earthshattering songs that writers should hear?

Character Fridays: Forces of Ius

So I’ve gone through a lot of the characters already. In my head when I started this series it seemed like I had a ton, but over the months I’ve covered many of the big players. So instead of trying to write a whole article on ones who appear once or twice and then get forgotten, I’m going to move on to some whole groups.

Ius is seen by most as a sort of religious figure. Naturally, he has an order of priests. These admittedly don’t come up much in The Third Face, except for the highest priest of them all, one known as Grin. He’s a Shallow–the same species as Professor Scrots. He’s one of very few creatures that gets to speak with Ius on a regular basis, as well as the only priest allowed to fight in his army, and takes the position very seriously. He has the ability to call upon Ius’ power in battle and uses it to get jobs done most efficiently.

Below Grin are the three Homunculus Generals. These are artificial creations that Ius has put many years’ effort into perfecting, though the third, Später (German for later), seems to be a mere prototype when the group encounters it in The Third Face. Eibmoz mentioned afterward that this name made sense because the other two are called Früher (earlier) and Jetzt (now), but neither has appeared just yet…

These three seem to be responsible for the actions of their unending supply of subordinates, which are referred to as Blood Troopers or simply Bleeders. Like the Homunculus Generals, these are creations of Ius, but they seem to be “manufactured” en masse. They wear brown cloaks, matching Ius’ motif, but that’s just to hide their disgusting sewn-together bodies. Their name comes from the fact that instead of an actual body structure, they’re essentially sacks filled with organs and blood. This causes them to bleed like crazy when their skin is pierced. Still, there’s the mystery of where all this comes from and how they function.

Together, these make up the basic force that Ius usually sends to harass Redhand and others, when he doesn’t go personally. They’re formidable in part because they’re unlike anything else ever seen in this world.

World’s Fastest Self-Contradiction

Okay, maybe not world’s fastest. But you can disregard my last post.

The more determined I became to just cram every spare moment with revision, with editing, with everything I could in order to bring a book from first draft status to published work in less than 4 months, the more I realized this was pretty much like suicide. Imagine for a moment my situation, where I’m taking 3 college classes, working about 25 hours a week. I have a 44,000-word novel with about 90 days to revise it. So if I brought about 500 words straight from their roughest state to a completely polished form each day, that would be just in time to finish the project.

Now 500 words doesn’t sound like a lot. I could probably write 500 words every day, assuming life gives me a decent half hour for it. But revising and editing are so much deeper than that. If I want a truly great story, I have to step back and tell myself realistically what’s okay to keep and what has to be drastically changed. In a series with as many characters and concepts as mine, keeping all the plot threads going where they’re supposed to is tough business. I’m still kicking myself for a couple of things in The Third Face not because of how they affected that book but because I now have to follow up on them.

In short, I’m going to take a real breather this time and just do things naturally. The good news is I’m canceling the extended blog hiatus. Expect a Character Friday tomorrow (even though I can’t tell off the top of my head what character it’ll be) and then regular posts throughout each week… just like old times. I’m going to explore new routes for promoting and selling The Third Face, and, just like I had mentioned a while back, explore the third book’s content a bit more fully. I’m on different stages with all three books in the trilogy now, so I should treat them each with respect. And I will.

Of course, I should also treat myself with respect. That’s why I’m going to take this time to just do little things when I can, and concentrate on my studies. Because the more I learn… the better I can be.

Where’d He Go This Time?

This is a really bad habit for me to be in. It’s probably making it tough for readers to take me seriously. But this time, I really do have a great reason for disappearing for a while! I mean it!

College is starting back up again, more classes at once. I continue to work, now a few more hours a week. And if I ever hope to release The Demon’s Guardian this December, I’d better spend every extra moment I have editing and talking over it with others as much as I can.

It’s probably not healthy for someone to try to write, edit and publish a book in an 8-month span, but you know what? I already committed to that, publicly. I am no ordinary man and I can accomplish this. Things will have to be sacrificed for the time being. In other words, I’m back to my hiding spot for the next few weeks. I’ll be back eventually, for bloody real, I promise. Not that I don’t want to be public about my progress, but time is of the essence. And writing blog posts does take time.

Character Fridays: Windeater

Out of all the Salamander people that Rasuke lives with in the village of Nikaren, Windeater happens to be the coolest. It was he who first saw Rasuke when he was little and decided to take him in. That decision drew the hatred of the other villagers, who weren’t so quick to trust an outsider, let alone one of a strange species.

Since then Windeater has slowly broken away from Nikaren’s culture. He’s now a sort of spy, dealing in news and information with a vast network all over the world. Apparently this brings him some amount of wealth, since he and Rasuke live in a home with all the benefits of the modern age, imported from more advanced societies many miles away.

The more he interacts with the outside world, the more other cultures interfere with the village. A new school building and a powerful front gate system are only the most visible of the changes he’s brought. And once again, the locals are unsettled by the onset of change…