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What are you currently reading? Thought I'd start this thread so we can discuss what we're currently reading, whatever the book!!   ;D

I'm reading the first book in Terry Brooks' The Word and the Void trilogy, Running with the Demon.  I've slowly been working my way through all the Brooks' books and I have to say, this book is very good - different to his Shannara books, but in a good way.  It's set in America with only touches of magic so far.  Easy to read and the characters are well thought out.

January 04, 2011, 09:25:12 AM
Re: What are you currently reading? Finished Brian McClellen's The Crimson Campaign last night. Starting The Autumn Republic today. Loving this series!
March 16, 2015, 01:31:48 PM
Re: What are you currently reading? Just finished Daniel Abraham's A Shadow In Summer and I absolutely loved it, despite the slow beginning. I think I will go on straight to the following book in the series, A Betrayal in Winter  :)
March 16, 2015, 02:46:13 PM
Re: Scene & Chapter Length I've seen two schools of chapterizing:
> One per scene or narrative thread; brief, pithy
> One per set of related scenes

Most readers accept either, but some seem to dislike the one-per-scene.

I go back to Jim Butcher, who describes scenes and "sequels". In scenes, the action is moved forward with rising conflict. In sequels, characters react to the prior scene and make decisions that lead to the next scenes. Like scenes, these can be extremely short or... not. But I like what he has to say about them.  I offer this because it may influence how you think about length and using scene count to estimate.

I'm finding that I had to write 10,000 words to figure out some key things, then went back and planed. Next, re-write 10,000 words, and maybe I'll be ready for a really strong outline. But one things is clear, that first 10,000 barely moved the story. I think that means I need to be tighter in the writing; not that I need to expect a 150,000 word story.

March 16, 2015, 06:05:12 PM
Re: Scene & Chapter Length I think you're approaching it from the wrong direction. A story is as long as it takes to tell all the important things. Adding unnecessary scenes to inflate the word count generally reduces the quality of the stroy rather than improving it.
March 16, 2015, 06:07:50 PM
Re: What are you currently reading? Started Scott Lynch's The Lies of Locke Lamora and I'm hooked. I like the writing and all the characters are cool and deep. Though I'm a bit scared of its size (about 140 parts/chapters last I checked). Some long books tend to be boring but not all (I was wishing Words of Radiance was longer before I got done).
March 17, 2015, 02:58:46 PM
Re: Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley
Am I the only person here who really enjoyed this one?

I enjoyed it! I just didn't think it was worthy of the "Will be the Best Book of 2014" hype it was getting (also felt that was setting an unfair bar for the book). I loved the second one! :)

March 28, 2015, 11:50:46 PM
Re: Rules based and freeform magic systems
If magic is too vague, then it can become something of a deus ex machina. Can't the characters just wave their hands and solve all their problems? Why not?

DrNefario nailed my thoughts on this, in general. While you don't have to explain a magic system to your readers (leave it as vague as makes sense) I think that, as an author, *you* need to understand the operations and limitations of your magic system ... even if you never reveal this info to your readers.

If you just say "magic is magic" then you've given your characters a Get Out of Jail Free card. Even if readers don't consciously pick up on that, there's always the chance they'll roll their eyes when "magic" saves your protagonist. Also, for me personally, I think completely hiding how your magic works ruins any chance of your magic based battles to be suspenseful. Without an understanding of the system, it's just "Bob did this, Joe did this, Bob did this, Joe won". No idea why.

My thoughts on magic battles, specifically, are summed up in a blog post called "A Good Magic System is a Gunfight" which I posted a couple of months back. Not required reading, but might be interesting in regards to that particular topic.


As far as my thoughts on magic systems in general, I like to define them - at least for myself - and give them specifics and rules, even if I never explain that in my book. As an example, my magic system in my first fantasy book is actually based on computer coding (no joke). What I call the "ancient language" is only used by experts such as Elders and Adepts (because it's too dangerous in newbie hands).

The "ancient language" is basically the equivalent of assembly (a baseline computer language) for the world. Student mages in my word actually use "glyphs" which are the same as functions in C++... those glyphs (functions) are created by experienced mages with an understanding of the ancient language (assembly) to accomplish specific functions within limited parameters, and *nothing* else.

Why? Because when you're teaching magic (or programming :p) you don't let the students muck about in assembly. They'll fry the damn computer (or, in the case of my books, the whole world). Modules in C++ work or don't work (if you put in bad code) but when bad C++ code doesn't work, it just crashes the program you're working on, not your whole PC.

However, the fact that my magic system is based on programming NEVER appears anywhere in my books, nor will it (since my characters have no computers or programming to compare it too). It's just something I know as an author, that helps me do interesting things and apply limitations (sorry kid, you don't know any glyphs to deal with that situation. Guess you'll have to escape the old fashioned way).

Perhaps the best use of this system? In my second book, one of my characters defeats a demon by exploiting a specific glyph associated with that demon to lock it in an endless loop (a common newbie programmer mistake). If I didn't understand how my magic system worked, I'd never have been able to come up with that idea.

September 18, 2015, 03:44:32 PM
Re: What do you think of Self-Published books? Just like traditional publishing, it's hit or miss, but there are a lot more misses than hits. But of the self-pubbed books I've read, the one that instantly comes to light as being one of the best books I've read in the past few years, self-pubbed or traditional, is Jonathan Renshaw's Dawn of Wonder. Fabulous writing in every sense of the word. This was on par with Anthony Ryan's Blood Song. For comparison's sake, I would say that Jon is better at the use of the English language while Anthony is better at plotting and narrative flow (Jon's book bogs a bit in a few places but his sheer genius with language use makes up for those deficits). Both are equally adept at creating scenes of violence and grace and characters that live on after the last page.

I would also add Jacob Cooper's Circle of Reign and James Islington's The Shadow of What was Lost to self-pubbed novels that are every bit as good as something traditionally published. James' book is very retro with a Jordanesque feel to it. Beyond the boy from nowhere, there's also a great depth to his world-building. There are mysteries that are hinted upon and a world of ancient lineage that few know about. James sometimes gets caught in the Capitalization conundrum (so do I), and the characters sometimes are a bit primitive, but overall, a great read.

Jacob's book is wow. So different. The world itself seems alive with senescence and growth. That's the first thing because it drives everything else. The story didn't track in the normal fashion I would have expected either. The heart of the story is about a young woman, Reign, and her brother. Again, strong world building with mysteries unfolding and a plot that really takes off in the last 1/3 of the book. It isn't slow until then-in fact, it was just as exciting but in a different way. However, that last third, Jacob throws everything, and I mean everything into a non-stop frenzy of a finish. It just becomes...well, read it and you'll know what I mean.

In the interest of being open, I've interviewed Jacob and Jon for my website, and Jacob has been invaluable in helping me make the jump into the audiobook market (I basically asked Nick Podehl out of the blue to read my books and was fortunate enough to hire him as the narrator for both of them-if anyone has any questions about this just PM me).

October 10, 2015, 04:44:46 PM
Re: Balance between Good v Evil If things were actually balanced, I'd be enjoying fantasy a lot more. Unfortunately for my tastes, the books that get talked about and recommended seem mostly firmly fixed in very dark grey, or black/evil vs black/evil.

Balance would be wonderful.

And exploring what balance between good and evil. actually means would be really innovative - Recently I saw this on some musing on Star Wars (prequels), with Anakin destined to bring balance to the Force. Given the rule of the Jedi for so long, it seemed in his actions he actually did precisely that.

I do hold that white/black/grey is on a bit of a different spectrum of ideas to good and evil, but... More exploration of an actual balance of good and evil would be fascinating.

December 27, 2015, 07:50:50 AM