I spent about two hours last night speaking with a good friend of mine. He is an amazing man whom I respect greatly and find to be charming and insightful. He likes to drop by occassionally and touch bases as it were. Of course we spent some time talking about this blog. He asked me "What do you write about?" my answer was simple, "I write about the single most prolific question that I get asked, i.e. 'How do you write a book?' I don't however simply give written classes or a how to course. I tell my readers what I'm doing presently.".
Now having said that I needed to explain to him what I was talking about so I began with explaining the difference in writing styyles between a series like Lord of the Rings and Fire and Ice. Then the most wonderful thing happened, my friend understood what I was saying and said that he would not like to read a series like the Fire and Ice series "It would be too confusing, and there is no clear cut hero. It's too hard when you have so many people to relate to any single character." His concerns made me think. Did you know that the Game of Thrones series added some 300 new cast members to the show on Sunday? Most of those are probably just army troops but at least half a dozen to a dozen of them won't be, they will be characters that directly affect the series.
I have read the series, as many of you know, in the books the head count just continues to climb for two books and then well... I dont want to spoil things but there is a reason that the author called the third book Feast for Crows. Anyway... that was not the point, the point was that it can be confusing if you have too many pieces on the game board. Not to mention how easy it is to get confused as the author, which I have mentioned before. I did find it refreshing to hear that sometimes a certain amount of simplicity is prefered. This acounts at least in part for the popularity of series like Lord of the Rings. In my friend's words each character is clearly defined and even though they all have a few rough edges there is nothing really horrible in any of the heroes thus making all of them easy candidates for roll model of the year. In my eyes even though those of the fellowship go through all sorts of horrible things they all manage to get through everything more or less whole and hearty, which makes Lord of the Rings a sweeping feel good story, where light conquers over darkness and the good guy gets the girl.
Still there is something to be said about Fire and Ice as well. The characters are not as clean and their edges are not quite so crisp. Yet there is hero material in many of them, just not Superman style heroes, or even Legolas style heroes. I was not able to convince my friend that what I was doing to a story that he has actually read some of was a good thing. But he did understand the need to expand the universe of my twins. They do not after all live in a vacuum. He did like one thing that I was doing, he liked how I was playing with the Winik's story line. By expanding the book and hence the story I was able to expand the amount of time that is and has passed. Thus I was able to show the patience of the alien invaders and show some of there unusual strategy.
Essentially the Winiks arrive every morning with a load of constructs that when dead melt back into the dirt from which they are made. When the defenders have killed all the constructs the war is over for the day and they can go home without threat of danger from the Winiks. This type of "war" will go on for decades. The same field will be used every day and each day when the constructs are all dead the defenders go home. The only difference is that each day a different construct will appear. They are taken from the nightmares of the defenders and because of this randomness the method of killing the construct/nightmares is different every day. This pattern is followed for decades and then one day more nightmares will appear than normal. They will sweep through the defenders and then the city (or where ever they are living) drive the defenders out. The defenders will retreat until they find another place to use as a stronghold. The nightmares will stop advancing and allow the defenders to hunker in and get settled. They will not attack for up to a month until finally one day they will pick a battlefield and begin the process over again. The method of warfare had become so routine to the defenders that they no longer question the motives of the Winiks, they simply try to reduce the number of casualties.
I like that I am able to draw this out to show their patience and to also show the other side of the coin, the complacency of the defenders.
It was good to have this discussion with my friend. He asked so many questions about why I would do certain things and it was good to have the need to think about honest answers. My characters are believable, not super human (or Sinarri or Dwarven for that matter). I like that my characters have flaws and make mistakes because as much as I like Legolas, I could never even try to be like him, he never made a mistake. His heart was in the right place, he never missed a shot, he moved like water and he was cute as a bug. Who could ever be that good? On the other side you have villians that are just pure evil and it's easy to hate them. My villians are rotten and I have a few that are rotten right to their core, but most of them are just trying to find an angle and a way to preserve what they consider what is due to them. My greatest villian, the one that everyone wants to kill is simply mad. How can my readers really hate him? I can't hate him, he's a victim and he's trapped in his own insanity.
So... that was my fun last night, how was your night?
Don't forget the Zombie run and the March Against Child Abuse in a city near you. Please sign up, get a t-shirt and be the voice of an abused child, break the silence and while you're at it, be good to each other.