Category Archives: Inspiration

Writing What We Know – From The Heart

Hi everyone!

Thank you so much to everyone who has viewed and supported my first foray into vlogs earlier this week!  It was simultaneously a terrifying and fantastic experience, and based on what I’ve read and been told in person, I think I’ll do more in the near future :)  (If you haven’t seen it yet, click here to check it out!)

In that first vlog, I admitted to something that made me blush on-screen: much of what the characters feel and experience on an interpersonal level came from my own personal experiences…more so than any other story I have ever written.

Doctor Who?
Doctor Who?

Last night, when I was at a friend’s Halloween party, I was talking with some of my friends there and telling them about this, and some of the comments they made started to make me think further about this…

This emotional connection is what draws people in to many stories.  I read an article not long ago about this very thing, too, and I believe I recall the word used was pathos: when you frame anything into a narrative where the people and their experiences are the focus, it causes a reader or viewer to feel empathy for the characters, and feel more drawn to them and their story.

How important is this, you say?  Here’s an example of a story without that element:

A great evil’s power resides within a ring, which is taken cross-country to a volcano where it is cast into the fires and destroyed.

lotr-mordorSound familiar?  It should…I’m pretty sure anyone reading this is likely to know the story of The Lord of the Rings.  Except…if the way I told it just now was all that the story consisted of, it’d be kind of boring.  Tolkein’s writing style aside, that would not have been a memorable story.

frodo-and-sam-mount-doomBut when your story includes a single Hobbit who thinks he can’t make a difference, but still rises up to save the entire world, through pain and hardship and loss, overcoming the most difficult obstacles ever, along with a fiercely loyal friend who never gives up on him…that is a story that connects to the readers.  Not to mention all of the other characters’ stories: Aragorn’s struggle to rebuild the great kingdom, Legolas and Gimli’s friendship, Merry and Pip’s adventures and friendship, and Gandalf’s rise to become the White Wizard.

Image Source – http://www.bleedingcool.com/2016/06/28/new-writing-from-j-k-rowling-about-the-north-american-school-of-magic/

I’m getting a bit off topic here…but then I wonder, how much of the emotions evoked in Lord of the Rings came from Tolkein’s own experiences in life?  We know from her interviews that JK Rowling’s own life experiences and emotions were poured into the Harry Potter novels, and they are one of the most wildly popular books out there, for both children and adults!

So I wonder…is this the secret to writing stories that people will love and connect with?  Stories that they will obsess over and write fan fiction about and make fan art for?

Image Source - https://www.pinterest.com/pin/200128777168277635/
Image Source – https://www.pinterest.com/pin/200128777168277635/

It looks like I’m going to find out in the coming years…because as hard as it was to write some of the scenes in The Orc War Campaigns, especially the final episode…I want to keep doing this.  I want to infuse my life, my experiences and emotions, into the stories.  It helped me connect with my characters better, and it is my hope that it will help you, my dear readers, connect with them as well…

Thank you for reading, and for all of your support over the past few years!  <3!

-Jon Wasik

The Stories That Endure

Hi everyone!

Image Source - www.pinterest.com
Image Source – http://www.pinterest.com

Do you know what Star Trek is?  What about Lord of the Rings?  How about the Never Ending Story or Labyrinth?

There are some stories out there that endure the test of time, ones that have such a powerful impact on the world that they just seem to never die.

In fact, it almost seems as if some will never die.  Never Ending Story is almost as old as I am at 32 years old.  Star Trek just celebrated it’s 50th anniversary this year!  And Lord of the Rings?  It was first published in 1954 as a sequel to the almost-as-popular The Hobbit, published in 1937.  That’s 79 years old, and it’s still just as popular, if not more so, than when it was first published!

And even though I’m not a fan myself, there are even older stories that still exist in our public consciousness: Shakespeare.  Often cited as the origin of the modern story, Shakespeare’s stories are told and retold, over and over and over again today.

Let us not forget the oldest of stories, too, what I recall someone once saying may very well be the first-ever written narrative: Beowulf, said to have been written between 975AD and 1010AD.

Why These Stories?

So what is it about these stories that allows them to endure?  Is it possible to examine these stories and figure out how to write the perfect popular story, which would endure for a thousand years or more?

Image Source - www.thedigitalbits.com
Image Source – http://www.thedigitalbits.com

For that matter, will the newer examples endure just as long as the older?  Will new Star Trek stories be told 500 years from now?  That’s an interesting question right there, being a sci-fi series.  500 years from now, further ahead than when Star Trek actually takes place, what new forms of entertainment will exist?  What forms of space-based travel?  Where will our society be?  And will there still be a place for Star Trek?

This is going to sound strange at first, but bear with me – for different, and yet strangely similar reasons, I think Star Trek will endure another 500 years or more.

generationsThe reason that differs from Lord of the Rings or even Beowulf?  Star Trek is a continuing narrative that can evolve.  Look no further than the vast differences between the original Star Trek series and The Next Generation, let alone the retelling of Kirk’s era in the new movies.

In fact, if Star Trek can continue to evolve (stop going backwards, Trek writers, and start moving forward in the story!) I think it might have more staying power than almost any other series out there.

…but then how is it the same?  What qualities does it have that means it will endure as long as the others?

There are many, I think.  But more than anything, I think there are two elements that are essential.

Image Source - http://direimpulse.deviantart.com/
Image Source – http://direimpulse.deviantart.com/

The first is wonder.  In this, Star Trek has the greatest advantage.  Lord of the Rings still makes me drop my jaw when I read about Moria or Minas Tirith.  I still get a sense of warmth in my soul when I see the Shire in the movies. I still get a sense of dread when I see Minas Morgul.  But Star Trek can reinvent itself with every incarnation, and show new, amazing places that have never before been seen in human history, limited only by imagination…

The second is perhaps one of the most important aspects of fiction, at least in my opinion, and I know I’ve talked about this before: the characters.

Image Source - l-o-t-r.tumblr.com
Image Source – l-o-t-r.tumblr.com

When I think of Lord of the Rings, I think of Frodo and Aragorn and Legolas, not the One Ring (though that comes in a close second.)  When I think of Beowulf, I think of, well, Beowulf.  When I think of Shakespeare, I think of King Lear or Romeo and Juliet (even though I really don’t like either of those…)  And when I think of Star Trek…well for me, the first thing I think of is Picard and Data, followed by the infamous trio, Kirk, Spock and McCoy.

These are memorable characters, many of whom start out by fulfilling common tropes, but quickly become much more complex and interesting.  Fulfilling the common tropes in the beginning makes them interesting on the surface and help readers or viewers attach to them quickly.  But by itself, common-trope characters alone would make people lose interest fast, and so it is the fact that they quickly become much more complex characters that helps them endure.

Image Source - www.inquisitr.com
Image Source – http://www.inquisitr.com

We become emotionally invested in characters.  Hate or like them, we want to see what happens to them.  We need to see how they overcome obstacle A, and then find out what obstacles B through Z will be and how they overcome them.

That is why these stories endure.  That is why they never die.

Because they spark our imagination, and pull on our heart strings, all at once…

What are your thoughts, dear readers?  Do you agree or do you think there is something else that ensures these stories will endure?

For that matter, what are some of your favorite stories that have already shown an endurance?  (Immediately, Disney characters are coming to my mind :) )

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik

WAIT!!!!!!!!

There’s more.  A quick, exciting announcement!

The Orc War returns...
The Orc War returns…

 

Writing Fiction to Inspire

Hi everyone!

Image Source - booksandicedcoffee.com
Image Source – booksandicedcoffee.com

It’s no secret: one of the reasons I write fiction is because I want to inspire readers the same way I have been inspired all of my life!  I want readers to dream, to think, to wonder, to be in awe, all because of something I wrote.  It’s an amazing feeling when I succeed and hear from readers!

However, today I read a blog by Niina Paasikallio that helped me remember that, sometimes, inspiration can go far beyond just dreams of fantasy.  Books have inspired social change, some so sweeping that entire countries have vanished, or been created, because of what someone wrote.

Sounds daunting, doesn’t it?  When you start to think about it, about the implications, the what-ifs…what if my novel becomes so popular that people start to model their lives after one or more of my characters?  It can be frightening to think like that.

On the other hand, what if that’s what you want to do?  What if you want people to see how things happen in your novel, how characters act or treat others, and consider the good in those examples?

Image Source - dailyfig.figment.com
Image Source – dailyfig.figment.com

I agree with Niina, and many other writers – words have power.  And we as writers do have a responsibility to create good examples.  I know I’ve written about this in the past, and every time I write about a character doing something horrible, I wonder how others will view it, and what it will inspire…

However, something else came to mind while reading Niina’s blog – how do you write to inspire change?

Show, Don’t Tell

It’s something you’ll hear again and again in writer’s critique workshops and creative writing classes: show, don’t tell.  Don’t tell us your character is brave, show us by having them do something brave, right?

The same goes for inspiring others.  As Niina mentioned in her blog (I’m referring back to her article often today!) being preachy in your novels will probably not go over well.  Nor will “throwing it in a reader’s face” as I’ve heard others call it.

So what does that mean, exactly?  It means show the reader the world you want by writing your story in just such a world, or have your story be about a world becoming the kind of place you want ours to be.  Do you want people to treat each other a certain way?  Show that in your stories, and make sure the context shows that it is good.

Image source - onceuponatime.wikia.com
Image source – onceuponatime.wikia.com

I think it is all much more complex than simply ‘showing,’ because as a reader, I want complex worlds with diverse people, and diversity often includes people we don’t like, or situations in life we don’t like.  But even these can be opportunities to both write a story and show how those are bad, and more importantly, how the bad can be overcome.

But I will give one warning about all of this: not everyone will agree with your point of view.  No matter how subtle you are, no matter how many you inspire whether consciously or unconsciously, there will be those who flat our reject what you write, and they might not be nice about it.  In fact you can bet someone somewhere won’t be.

Push through it.  Write what you desire anyway.  If it was worth writing in the first place, then don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

Your story is worth telling.

-Jon Wasik

When A Stranger Compliments Your Novel!

Hi everyone!

Being a writer, especially an independently published writer, has its ups and its downs.

Certainly among the down sides: very long hours, deadlines (whether publisher-imposed or self-imposed) that can sometimes be unrealistic (yes, I’m glaring at myself for this one, heheh,) and no guaranteed return on any of your investment, let alone profit enough to live off of.

So why do I keep doing this?  Well, you mean other than the absolute need to write?  The insatiable desire to take the stories that are rolling around inside my head and get them into a form that can be shared.

Cover Sword of Dragons DigitalIt’s because of times like last night…which makes all of it absolutely worth it!  When someone I had never known sees me wearing a shirt with the cover of The Sword of Dragons on it, and he says, “I love that book!  Wait…are you the author?!”

No joke.  This happened to me last night at a party.  And I was just blown away, I am still giddy at the thought!

It happened at Gamefest (last year, I wrote an article about my first Gamefest, check it out!) late last night, I was just getting ready to head for home at about 1AM…and as I’m walking out of the living room to go put on my shoes, that’s what I heard someone say.  Thanks, Rioux!  :D

These are the moments I’ve looked forward to ever since my first book was published.  Not to downplay all who have supported me thus far, but to have someone you’ve never met before recognize your book, give it accolades, and then say, “Wait, you’re the author?” and be happy to meet you?

That was an awesome way to end the evening :)

Sorry for the short post, it’s a pretty busy day today, but since it’s my regular posting day today, I thought I could share that with you :)

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik

For Love of Dragons

Hey everyone!

Lately folks have been asking me something: why dragons?  Why The Sword of Dragons?  Why Star Trek Dragon?  Why do I love dragons so much and include them in most of my writings?

It’s difficult to trace back exactly where my fascination with them truly began – to me dragons are integral to fantasy, and I’ve loved fantasy all of my life.  But what truly made me fall in love with them?  One dragon, one movie, stands out above them all for me:

Image Source - Google Images
Image Source – Google Images

None other than Draco from Dragonheart :D

I was just a kid when I saw this movie, and I instantly fell in love with dragons.  Mind you for me, this was the most unique take I had ever seen on dragons at the time.  Before Dragonheart, I had only seen dragons as evil killing machines that hoarded gold and kidnapped princesses.

But Draco?  He was good to the very core, wise, caring, and passionate.  And my image of dragons changed forever.  And yes, this meant I became almost obsessed with dragons for a long time….perhaps I still am, heheh.

If you were to come over to my apartment, you would see the usual: couch, TV, bookshelves filled with both novels and movies…and then you would also see dragons.  Dragons everywhere.  On the book shelves, in a display cabinet, paintings on the wall.  Dragons are pretty much a part of my life.

I have a print of this painting hanging above my fire mantle :D
I have a print of this painting hanging above my fire mantle :D

And that is why I include dragons in most of my writings.  Why my fan fiction was named Star Trek Dragon, featuring the USS Dragon, a large, graceful starship with an exemplary crew.  Why my first attempt at a novel was called Star Dragon Legion, which evolved to Sword of the Dragon, eventually to become The Sword of Dragons.

It is also why Star Dragons are portrayed as the most powerful beings in the universe in The Sword of Dragons, pure of spirit and heart, the only species that comes close to a polarization between good and evil.  In a universe where everything is grey, they are pure…as are their counterparts, the Dark Dragons.

Types of Dragons – Why European?

This is a wyvern, not a dragon. Art by http://a3raziel.deviantart.com
This is a wyvern, not a dragon.
Art by http://a3raziel.deviantart.com

If you’ll bear with me, I’m going to step onto a soap box for a moment – dragons have four legs.  Not two.  They aren’t giant lizard-bats.  While I usually won’t actually say something out loud, when I see creatures like the one featured in The Hobbit, or the ones in Skyrim, called dragons, it bugs me.  Two legs and wings means wyvern, and four legs and wings means dragon.

The two legged variants always look and move with far less grace than their four-legged counterparts.  They look clumsy.  On the flip side, they generally stay low to the ground when walking, and this can look menacing, so I can see why it is a popular choice for ‘evil dragons.’

Artwork by an unknown artist
Artwork by an unknown artist

Having said that, I’ve also had long discussions with people about why I prefer European-styled over Asian.  And the simple truth is aesthetics.  Not that I don’t like Asian-style dragons, I have several statues of them, too :D  Not to mention, there may or may not be an Asian-style ‘dragonkin’ species that’ll be introduced sometime in the Sword of Dragons series ;)

asian-dragon2In this case, it really is a matter of personal preference, and I’m not entirely sure I can qualify the underlying reason.  And it is also important to note that just as there is a very wide array of styles for European dragons, so too can it be said for Asian styles.  There are styles of European dragons I like over others, and the same is true about Asian styles.

With all of that said, ultimately for me it comes down to one important factor: how much thought was put into creating the dragons?  Are they portrayed as mindless killing machines, or as intelligent, complex life forms?  If it is the former, I’m not a fan.  If it is the latter, then you’re likely to hook me.

Which Are Your Favorites?

toothlessWhile Draco will forever remain in my heart as the best dragon out there, there have been a few others that I really enjoy too.  Second only to Draco for me is Toothless :D  I love that little guy, he has so much character and personality for a dragon without speech!  Also, for all of the movie’s shortfalls, Saphira from the Eragon movie was such a gorgeous dragon, and Rachel Weisz was the perfect voice for her :D

I’m curious to know what everyone else thinks.  What style of dragon do you prefer?  Why?  Who is your favorite dragon?  I love hearing from you all, so please comment below!  :)

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik

Rise of the Super Heroes

Hi everyone!

When I (finally) saw Star Wars The Force Awakens last weekend, I was amazed by all of the superhero movie previews that preceded it.  A thought occurred to me after about the 3rd one.

For several decades, the popularity of superhero movies has risen and fallen like a tide.  Not quite predictable, but it used to be that no matter how popular a movie was, inevitably its sequels would fall, and for at least a brief time, superheroes left the silver screen.  But then something happened, and all of that changed.  Now every year, the box office features multiple highly successful superhero movies, and they show no signs of slowing down.

What changed?

The Early Tides

Image Source - comicvine.com
Image Source – comicvine.com

The Christopher Reeves Superman was wildly popular when it came out, and its sequel likewise did extraordinarily well, if Rotten Tomatoes and box offices numbers are to be believed (and lets face it, many still consider the pair as the definitive Superman movies.)

Then came Superman 3, which performed dismally, and Superman 4, which….well, I try to forget these ones even exist.

Then there was Michael Keaton’s Batman, another wildly successful superhero movie that came a decade after the first Superman, and it was wildly successful!  Batman Returns likewise did well, but less so than its predecessor.

Then…Batman Forever.  Followed by Bat Nipples. Uh, I mean, Batman and Robin.  Dismal failures.

Image Source - batmannews.de
Image Source – batmannews.de

X-Men seemed to follow that as well, initially.  X3 was, at least to many, a dismal failure in what started as a very successful series, and the X-Men Origins movie wasn’t any better.

So went the tide of superheroes on the silver screen – ups and downs, with smaller successes (and failures) spotted throughout these time periods, many of which I won’t mention, even though there are some very fantastic honorable mentions (Hellboy 2 :D )

Image Source - http://cinemassacre.com
Image Source – http://cinemassacre.com

But when did it all change?  It seemed to start with Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man trilogy.  There is heated debate on the success of the third movie.  While the final entry in the trilogy was the most financially successful, Rotten Tomatoes rates it as the worst in an otherwise successful trilogy.  Surprisingly, the Maguire series didn’t end because of failure, but due to internal disagreements.

But how could this be?  The worst of the trilogy made the most money?!  Since then, there has been a continued rise and fall, but in general, superhero movies have been on the rise, culminating in the colossus that is the Marvel universe.

So again, I ask the question…what changed?

I Need A Hero

Perhaps the most obvious cause is the quality of story telling, visual effects, and just how serious and not-serious film makers started to take themselves with these comic book adaptations.  I mean, come on, for as fun as the Adam West Batman and the Nipple Bat era was, the pure campiness of them told us that the film makers weren’t taking them seriously.  At least, that was my impression.

Image Source - mtv.com
Image Source – mtv.com

And I won’t discount that quality is a big deal. That surge in popularity that started with Spider-Man could possibly be attributed to that.  After the first movie’s success, production companies saw that there was money to be made, so….Batman Begins.  Iron Man.  The Dark Knight.  Superheroes were making money.

But I believe there was something behind that initial Spider-Man success that went beyond just the quality of the product.  And that same source is what fuels the ever-increasingly popular Avengers and the upcoming Justice League.

Society’s rising need for hope.

It’s need for symbols to look up to, to feel like the world and the people in it aren’t all horrible and depressing.

17JulyAug1942superpatriotI’m not saying there hasn’t been such a need before, but we live in a fortuitous time when producing movies about super powered individuals is much more feasible.  Had the same cinematic technology existed during World War 2, I think superhero movies would have been a gigantic hit.

I am not downplaying Sam Raimi’s take on the web-slinging Spider Guy, he did a fantastic job!  But it happened to come out shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attack.

For the first time in a very long time, the U.S. felt vulnerable.  And so did many other nations around the world.  Unknown enemies could attack us on our own soil.  The bad guys could hurt us.  Were we ever going to be safe again?  Can anyone protect us?

This is where the superheroes come in.

Image Source - geek.com
Image Source – geek.com

And let’s face it, as depressing as it is to admit, things haven’t really gotten much better.  Continued terrorist threats, financial crises (they say the recession is over.  I’m not seeing that, either locally or in the news,) and rising tensions between nations worldwide.  That’s just to name a few.  Don’t forget all of the natural disasters that have struck, such as Katrina and Fukushima.

With global news on the rise and easy access to it via the web and our phones, the world feels more and more terrifying.

For everything else that superhero movies are or could be, they are escapism.  I’m not saying that’s bad.  In fact, I think it is exactly what we all need.

We face the world and its terrors day by day, whether that terror is the latest disaster covered on Fox news, or our frightening bills overwhelming us.  To be able to forget about all of that for just a couple of hours and focus on something good, something positive, something that gives us all hope…it can go a long way towards making life bearable.

I think hope is what keeps many of us going, when all else fails.  And to see, read, or hear about heroes who stand for something greater than us, heroes who can rise up above the most terrible disasters, well…maybe for some folks, it is what keeps them going.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Image Source - imdb.com
Image Source – imdb.com

So where are we going with all of this?  Is the titanic of the Marvel universe going to get too big and end up sinking?  Will Justice League succeed or fall flat on its face?  Will we ever become accustomed to how the world has become, and could remain for the foreseeable future?

It’s all conjecture and opinion.  Maybe I’m totally wrong about why super hero movies are now insanely popular.  Maybe it’s a simple fact that those who grew up reading comics are now old enough to make movies…but wait.  Comics have been around for a very long time.  So then why didn’t this happen sooner?

Tell me what you all think!  Do you agree or disagree?  Alternate theories?  Supplemental theories?  Or am I just totally talking out of my butt here?

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik

Is History Repeating? Star Wars and Star Trek Together Again

Hi everyone!

A few days ago while at work, I overheard several coworkers discussing the upcoming Star Wars movie, as well as the events of the previous six movies.  And I thought to myself “I never thought to hear Star Wars talked so openly and frequently again!  This.  Is.  Awesome.”

A meme has started floating around the internet, with pictures of news articles about the new episodes of X-Files, the new Star Wars movies, and the recently announced Star Trek TV show.  The meme goes something like: “which nerd managed to find a genie’s lamp?”

mix-up

Wait, no, that’s not the one……  ;)

Any way, it got me to thinking about the history of two of those franchises, and how they seem to have been linked.  Star Trek and Star Wars.

Image Source - www.memory-alpha.wikia.com
Image Source – http://www.memory-alpha.wikia.com

In many ways, the revival of Star Trek that began with The Motion Picture owes its thanks to the release and insane popularity of Star Wars in 1977.  There’s a story, one that has been repeated in several interviews, in which Paramount Studios saw the success of Star Wars, and thought “What do we have that can compete with that?”  Other accounts say it wasn’t about rivalry, it was more “This has made the genre popular again, let’s build upon that opportunity!”

In either case, the release of The Motion Picture in 1979 was no coincidence.  And fandom saw a new surge in sci fi popularity that hasn’t quite died.

Unfortunately, despite that resurgence, both Star Trek and Star Wars eventually saw an apparent end.

Everything Has It’s Time, Right?

Image Source - blu-ray.com
Image Source – blu-ray.com

In 2005, just when it was finally starting to find its stride, Star Trek Enterprise went off the air.  For many fans, myself included, there was a genuine fear that this was the last time we would ever see Trek on TV.

Let’s face it, Star Trek had begun to lose its gusto.  Fans still loved Trek (myself included,) but many were very much disappointed in Enterprise, and ratings were crashing.

Everything has its time.  And with 5 series spread across 28 seasons (not counting the animated series) and ten movies, it seemed like Trek had reached its saturation.

What’s more, Star Wars Episode 3 came out the same year Enterprise ended, and Lucas promised no more new Star Wars.  Perhaps with good reason.  While the prequel trilogy had done well in sales, many fans despised the trilogy, and even today I have a difficult time finding anyone who enjoyed the new trilogy.

jarjar-fail

It seemed like the end of a mutually beneficial era.  The two franchises that seemed to build upon one another’s successes had come to an end at roughly the same time.

Here We Go Again!

Then something unexpected happened.  Star Trek made a come back!  With a new spirit, new actors, and a new timeline, the 2009 Star Trek reboot brought both old and new fans to the theaters, and once again, everyone was talking Star Trek!

Image Source - Amazon.com
Image Source – Amazon.com

In fact, I have this very distinct memory of seeing the new movie the first time with several friends, and at the very end, one of them leaned over and asked me, “Did we just witness the revival of Star Trek?  I think we did!”

It was an exciting time.  Star Trek was back!  Yes, there was no hint of a TV show coming, and we didn’t have Star Wars, but that was okay.  Some was better than none…

Image Source - starwars.com
Image Source – starwars.com

Or is it?  In 2012, the world was shocked to learn that Lucas was selling the rights for Star Wars to Disney.  And lo and behold, within days, Disney announced not just a new Star Wars movie, but 5 new movies!

Could this be real?

Yes…yes it is.  Both are coming back!!

Fast-forward to today, and what do we have?  A successful 2nd Trek movie, with a 3rd on the way, and previews of a new Star Wars movie that give many, myself included, great hopes for the Star Wars movies we’ve all only ever dreamed of.

To top it all off, Paramount has announced a NEW Star Trek television series is coming!

The Tapestry of the Stars

So what’s going on?  Are these two franchises somehow woven together in the tapestry of fandom?

Certainly they seem to be enjoying the very same fervent popularity they held for so long before their eventual apparent ‘demise’ in 2005.  And I really don’t think it is a coincidence that as one makes a come-back, so too does the other.  I think they build upon each others’ successes.

trekandwarsI will never argue over which is better.  I love both for the unique qualities they bring to such a diverse genre.  And just as Lucas and Roddenberry once shook hands and encouraged each other, I so hope that these two franchises continue to help prop each other up, so that we can enjoy another couple decades of amazing Science Fiction :)

(PS: Is anyone else out there hoping for Stargate to make a comeback?!)

oneil-wacko

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik

The Power of Fictional Role Models – Make It So!

Hi everyone!

I have this somewhat vague memory in my head from I think 1st or 2nd grade, where we were supposed to write down who one of our favorite role models was, and why.  Then we were to stand up and tell the class what we wrote down.

Image Source - comicvine.com
Image Source – comicvine.com

I remember feeling very excited to make my presentation, and I was one of the first to give mine.  Who was my role model?  A fictional character.  In that specific case, Superman, because I had just watched the 2nd Superman movie (Christopher Reeves, yeah!)

And everyone laughed.  It was heartbreaking.  So I sat down, and I listened to the rest, wondering why they laughed.  I noticed that no one else presented fictional characters.  They all gave real people, either family members or historical figures.

For a long time after that, I had it in my head that it was wrong to look up to ‘fictional characters’ as role models.  I stopped admitting that to anyone for a long time.

I don’t remember when I realized it, but one day I came to the conclusion that there is nothing wrong with looking up to a fictional character as a role model.  Are they real?  Perhaps not.  Yet characters exist in our hearts just the same as real people do.

And they can make exceptional role models.

Certainly this is not to downplay the power of people in our every day lives, as we grow up, turn into adults, and even for the rest of our lives.  As I noted in my first novel, my parents are very much the reason I am the good man I am today.

But they weren’t alone.  They weren’t the only people to shape who and what I was to become.

The Formative Years – Jean-Luc Picard

Image source - fanpop.com
Image source – fanpop.com

For those who know me in person, I doubt it comes as any surprise that one of the greatest influences in my life has been Captain Jean-Luc Picard from Star Trek The Next Generation.  I grew up with TNG, literally.  As a kid, I never got to watch TNG every week, but the older I got, the more I tried to watch it.

There are definitely interesting parallels in my life, in who I am.  And yet…there are definite differences.  I love reading and literature in general, as Picard did.  Yet I can’t stand Shakespeare.  I’ve been in several leadership roles throughout my career and I do well in them, but I am not the kind of leader who keeps myself removed, distant.  I don’t have or want children, but unlike Picard, I love kids and am great with them!

I also often wonder if I’ll end up perpetually single as he was, as I continue struggle to find someone to complement my life.  But I never had a wild-streak when I was a teenager.

Image Source - memory-alpha.wikia.com
Image Source – memory-alpha.wikia.com

I’ll also never forget how Picard always stood up for the rights of others, the freedoms of others.  The best example I always think of was when Data’s rights as a sentient, self-determining individual were put into question, and Picard defended those rights with such incredible passion!  The same for when a half-human, half-Romulan crew member was accused of espionage.

Plus there is Picard’s love of art, music, literature, archeology, history…  The intrinsic importance of each of these in every person’s life has stayed with me, and I wonder just how much my appreciation for them stems from seeing the importance he placed on them.

That isn’t to say I’ve tried to emulate him.  I never have, I could never be that kind of person.  But I really don’t believe it is a coincidence that many of what I consider to be the best parts of who I am bear similarities :)

The Responsibility of Writers – Characters to Look Up To

Seeing this in my own life, as well as in the life of many others, I’ve come to realize what this means for me as a writer, and perhaps what other writers should always keep in the back of their minds (in my humble opinion, any way :) )

Image Source - imdb.com
Image Source – imdb.com

Fiction holds an incredible power in the minds and hearts of humanity, especially young people.  And they are looking for good role models to look up to.  Just look at the insane popularity of the Marvel franchise.  (Granted that’s also because us adults who grew up with the comics are loving it :D  heheh.)

And for each writer out there, whether a novel writer or a script writer, we have the power to influence the minds of many.  For some, our exposure to the world is limited (at least, right now.)  But at any moment, that novel or short story or screenplay you wrote could explode in popularity, and all of the characters could become a part of our very culture.

So please, be careful.  You never know the impact your protagonist could have on an individual’s life.

Not to say we don’t want to put flaws in our characters.  We all have flaws, ALL of us.  And a flawless character is boring to write and read.  But how you present that flaw, how the character deals with it, the impact it has on the world and the characters around them…that makes all the difference.

Thanks for reading!  :)
-Jon Wasik

Rediscovering My Creative Roots – Novels, Games, Movies

Hi everyone!

I know, 10 days since my last blog article, such a slacker :/  No worries, I won’t make any excuses…not like Han Solo here.

Image Source - vox-cdn.com
Image Source – vox-cdn.com

(Yeah, I’m just a little excited about the upcoming new Star Wars movie :D )

Which brings me to the actual point of this article – rediscovering my roots.  Novels, movies, video games.  Okay, so when I say discovering my roots, I mean my creative roots, my sources of inspiration.

I know I’ve mentioned them all in the past, but what I’ve not talked about is how I’ve lost touch with many of them lately.  I’ve spent so much time doing other things over the past year that I’ve read maybe 5 books in the past 12 months (an insanely low number for me), and played even fewer video games.

And these have always been fantastic sources of creative inspiration for me in the past.  Not the only ones, mind you, but I feel like I’ve strayed very far away from an important part of who I am: stories.

That’s why I watch movies, and read novels, and play video games.  Yes, even video games.  I hardly play them for the challenge, it’s the story I love :D

Must One Be Inspired In Order to Inspire?

Before anyone thinks otherwise, I’m not saying these are the only things that inspire me or make me happy, not by a long shot.  But I have felt like I’d lost a lot of my inspiration, and am only now rediscovering and rekindling that inspiration.

I mean, come on, I produced an entire novel in 3 months once (but it still needs some revision.)  Now…well when was the last time I wrote and finished a novel?  Last year.

Last.  Year.

Image source - google.com
Image source – google.com

That’s horrendous for me.  I used to write 9 novella-length stories a year when I was producing my fan fiction series.  Now it’s been over a year since I actually wrote a novel.

Is it because of my lack of inspiration lately?  I do know that I’ve begun to slowly immerse myself back into creative works, such as novels, movies, and even a little bit of gaming again.  And what has happened as a result?  I’ve finished all prewriting work on book 3 of The Sword of Dragons, and I’ve begun production of a series of short stories (okay, let’s face it, they’ll end up as novellas most likely, lol.)

But still no writing.  Until today.  Today, I’ve done just a little bit of actual writing, for the first time in what feels like forever.  And it was exhilarating!!!!  :D

The Power of Geekdom

So it’s no secret, I love these three creative sources.  But it goes soooo far beyond that.  It’s the people, the attitudes, the spirit, the culture.

Image Source - RMFW.org
Image Source – RMFW.org

That’s something I also started to discover before my slump.  When I started this blog, I went to the Colorado Gold Conference (writers are geeks in their own right :D ) and the Denver Comic Con.  It was so fantastic to meet up with and chat with people who understood and loved the same things I did.

20140614_133841
Denver Comic Con 2014

So, as I continue to rediscover all of my sources of inspiration, I think I’ll start immersing myself in the culture yet again.  I have some pretty awesome friends who can help with that, one of whom comes to mind is the same man who interviewed me for his podcast on VtW Productions, Wayne.  He’s hosting a gaming weekend at his house in a few weeks, and I’m really looking forward to meeting and hanging out with a bunch of fellow gamer geeks :D

Anywho, I’d write more, but…frankly, I want to get back to writing the story I started earlier :)  So until next time, I’ll see you all later!

Game on, read on, watch on, and never ever lose sight of what makes you who you are.

-Jon

Why I Think Sci-Fi/Fantasy Writers Should Read Star Wars

Hey everyone!

So one of the things I’ve been trying to make more time for lately is reading.  Yes, the guy who loves books, loves to read, and writes as often as he can, has been a total slacker about reading.

No kidding, I have a gigantic backlog of books I’ve bought and haven’t read, probably around 40 or so.  And some of those are books that have been piling up since my college days.

Image Source - http://www.joblo.com
Image Source – http://www.joblo.com

Well ever since I was a little kid, I’ve been reading Star Wars novels.  The Expanded Universe, as it is called, is incredibly huge and robust, with hundreds of novels written by dozens of authors!

And that is why I think every Sci-Fi/Fantasy writer should read novels from the Star Wars Expanded Universe.  These are stories all written in the same universe, with the same ‘rules’ to how the universe works, and the same characters…but each book or series of books by each author is so wonderfully unique!

Favorites and Least Favorites

heir-to-the-empire-legendsOne of my favorites of the EU is perhaps the most well-known trilogy, the Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zhan.  Not only does the story capture the spirit of Star Wars, but it is very well written, in my opinion.

Another of my favorites is the X-Wing series by Michael A. Stackpole.  This in particular is because I really enjoy his writing style, very character-driven, and he does an incredible job of describing action/battle scenes.  Just enough detail to give a vivid picture of what’s going on, but not so much that it slows down the story or the action.

On the other hand, my least favorite trilogy so far is easily the Black Fleet Crisis.  In fact book 1 of this series is what originally killed my interest in continuing the Star Wars EU almost a decade ago.  Grudgingly, I forced myself to finish it this year, and got myself back into the series again.  Or so I’d hoped.

Now I’m on the last book of the Corellian Trilogy, and finding that I also am not a huge fan of this trilogy, though I like it considerably better than the Black Fleet Crisis.

Before anyone cries fowl on me, I am not saying they are poorly written books, or that the authors are rubbish.  If that was the case, they wouldn’t have been asked to write these stories.  Rather they just aren’t my taste.  Why?  Well, that leads me to why I think Sci-Fi/Fantasy writers should read the EU.

Take it or Leave it

Each author brings something different to the table.  And for an author, that sort of exposure to varying writing styles is incredibly invaluable.

Because developing our writing ‘voice’ is perhaps the most important thing an author can do.  Now that’s just my opinion, but as a reader, it is the author’s writing style, the way they tell the story, their ‘voice’ that either makes or breaks it for me.

i-jediSome authors, like Stackpole, write characters and events in the right amount of detail.  He describes the universe just enough that I can see it, filling in what he doesn’t describe with my imagination, and so making it a part of me.

Others, like Roger Allen (Corellian Trilogy) spend waaaay too much time describing the environment or, more often than not, the technology, how it works, why, even though 90% of what he describes is not essential to the story.  And it frustrates me.

But that is me.  For some, that is the whole point of sci-fi – the technology.

And so reading this multitude of authors, I can figure out what I like, and what I don’t like, and decide which parts to integrate into my writing.  It also helps me identify what I consider to be flaws in my own writing style, or perhaps it is better to say aspects of my style I want to change.  Aspects I don’t always catch when reading my own stories, but which I catch when I see it in other writers’ stories.

Image Source - starwars.com
Image Source – starwars.com

What’s Your Story?

So what about all of you?  Star Wars or not, what are some of your favorite novels or authors? (If you say that it’s my book, well flattery will get you everywhere ;) )  What are some of your least favorite?  Why?  What kind of story telling do you enjoy the most or fiercely hate?  I really would love to hear from all of you :D

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik