Challenges of Writing in a New Genre

Hi everyone!

There was a time when I thought, “Fantasy is fantasy.  There are no sub-genres.”  I was wrong.  Only in the last few years have I discovered that there are a whole slew of different sub-genres in the fantasy realm!

Even still, after making that discovery, I thought, “Writing in one sub-genre probably isn’t much different from writing in another.”  Once again, I was proven wrong.  But this isn’t the first time I’ve changed which genre I write in.

In the Beginning – Sci Fi

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

I think I was around 11 or 12 when I wrote my first story, however old I was in 5th grade.  It was a Sci-Fi fan fiction (though I didn’t know it was considered fan fiction or even what fan fic was at the time.)  It was horrible.  Never-the-less, I loved writing it!  For the most part, every story I wrote after that for many years was Science Fiction.

In fact, I’d say about 90% of the 100+ short stories I’ve written in the past 18 to 20 years were science fiction, the rest were ‘literary fiction’ (whatever the heck that really is) for college.

Much of what I wrote was fan fiction throughout those years, but I did try my hand at an original novel, which I sadly lost after 12 chapters (learned the hard way to back up my work.)  My fan fiction series ran for 7 years with 70 short stories, and up until these last couple years was my most prolific time.

There’s no getting around it, at the time, I thought I was going to get published as a Sci-Fi writer :)

High Fantasy

As I think I’ve mentioned in my blog before, what eventually became known as The Sword of Dragons started out very different: Star Dragon Legion was a science fiction, and Sword of the Dragon was a single short story within that universe.

Image Source - Google Images
Image Source – Google Images

Sometime in 2002 or 2003, I don’t remember when exactly, I had the idea to take that short story’s concept and turn it into a fantasy story instead.  By this time I had a lot of practice in writing science fiction, but I also had a lot to learn, as I would later learn in my creative writing classes.

I honestly have no idea why I made the change.  I think it really was just because I saw the short story as something that could make a great fantasy, and hey, I’ve read as many fantasy novels as I have sci fi, why not?

What I didn’t realize then was that my novel wasn’t just fantasy, it was considered High Fantasy.  Furthermore, it took me time and practice to find my voice in High Fantasy.  That first novel in 2004 was atrocious!

Eventually I did find my voice, and my inspiration.  I still believe that The Sword of Dragons and its sequel are the best stories I’ve written to date, and are the first novels I’ve written that are publishable.

Chronicles – YA Modern Fantasy

A good example of a modern fantasy written in another universe - Final Fantasy 7
A good example of a modern fantasy written in another universe – Final Fantasy 7

The more appropriate genre term for my new project is probably Contemporary Fantasy, but I think Modern Fantasy sounds better :)  In any case, this is essentially a new genre for me, very different from High Fantasy where you get to build the entire world from the ground up.

Chronicles of the Sentinels is set in the here and now, modern day Earth.  The characters, for the most part, are us, humans, normal every-day humans.

Surprisingly, I am finding this a bit challenging.  A fun challenge, to be sure, but I am not flying through the chapters like I would another TSOD novel.  In fact, as of today I am 4 pages into chapter 3, and that’s it.

It’s hard to pin down what exactly about it makes it a challenge, but I think a big part of it is my brain saying “this is set in a world everyone knows, so you don’t have to describe things like you would in high fantasy.”

That is not the case.  I would say I shouldn’t describe the world and characters the same way I would high fantasy, but I still need to.  I don’t need to invent the world, but I do need to build it for the reader.  They need to be able to see the characters, see their surroundings…in fact as I write this, I realize there’s still some more I need to add to chapter 1, lol.

The thing is, I want readers to fall in love with the characters.  I want me to fall in love with them. Which means I need to show who they are and what they believe.

This needs to be about them as much as it is about the plot, perhaps more-so.  I can’t afford to be lazy.  Especially when so many people have told me they are looking forward to this story more than any other I’ve written.  I don’t want to disappoint you all!!

-Jon

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Chronicles of the Sentinels – Chapter 1 False-Start

Hi everyone,

While writing a manuscript is one of the most exciting parts of writing a novel (for me, anyway), I have always found that getting the first chapter going is difficult.

It isn’t so much that I don’t know where to start, not right away.  I always know how I want a book to start, but what inevitably happens is I’ll start chapter 1, and either partway through or after chapter 1 is complete, I’ll go “I don’t like that” and find that my instinct is usually right-on about it.

It happened with every novel I’ve written in the past, including the defunct 2004 Sword of the Dragon, the more recent The Sword of Dragons, and its sequel Burning Skies.  In fact I have 3 different versions of the prologue of The Sword of Dragons, and I restarted chapter 1 at least twice.

Chapter 1 – A Matter of Perspective

Thomas Walker (Image Source - http://www.comicbookmovie.com)
Thomas Walker (Image Source – http://www.comicbookmovie.com)

As I’ve written on here before, I had originally decided to start Chronicles of the Sentinels out from the perspective of Thomas Walker, the 51 year old leader of the Sentinels.  However, when I started today on the manuscript, I was only two pages in when I realized this was a mistake.

Why?  Walker treats the Sentinels like a military unit, despite the fact that most of his team doesn’t have a military background.  And the intent was to start the novel with the Sentinels chasing after disciples of Nabu.

Then I realized that if this was the first thing readers saw in the novel, they’d think it was a military thriller, and I’d probably turn away a lot of my target audience.  Bad move.  I don’t want to alienate my audience in chapter 1!

So I started thinking about how I wanted to actually start the novel.  I realized that I wanted to start with action because I was used to writing epic high-fantasy novels.  With TSOD, book 1 starts with the protagonist trying (and failing) to take on a pair of orcs by himself.  Book 2 starts with him taking on an army of orcs by himself (successfully.)

With Chronicles, the tone of the story is supposed to be quite different, and while there is an epic tone to the overlaying plot, it also is supposed to be a much more down-to-earth (literally) tale.

Chris Tatsu – Ordinary College Student

Christopher Tatsu (Image Source - http://cdn.stylisheve.com)
Christopher Tatsu (Image Source – http://cdn.stylisheve.com)

One of the appeals for some types of YA fiction is that the protagonist and his or her friends are ordinary people (or seem like ordinary people at first) that are then thrown into extraordinary circumstances (please pardon the cliche.)

So I looked to examples of existing YA, including page 1 of Hunger Games (I didn’t know it was a 1st-person novel, haven’t read it yet) and one a friend mentioned, Fever 1793.  They gave me an idea.

And so page 1 was written, not from Tom’s perspective, but from Chris’s perspective, as he walks out of one of his last finals, fearful that he failed it.  It focuses on the character, and that is exactly what I wanted.  As I progressed through the chapter, I was able to introduce Alycia in a context I liked, followed by Emmi.  They are ordinary college students who are living their lives, which I hope will allow readers to be able to connect with them.

By the end of the first chapter, the stage is set for the coming events: the trio are invited to a party a well-known rich kid is hosting.  They have no idea what awaits them at that party…

This does change the timeline a bit, and I’ll have to do some re-arranging and story changing to the chapter outline, but that’s okay.  I’ve said it before, if your instincts tell you something doesn’t feel right and you come up with another idea, it’s probably for a good reason.

I haven’t finished chapter 1 yet, I spent a lot of the hours I was at Starbucks brainstorming how to better start the novel, but they were hours well spent.  Once I get a better feel for the story and get past chapter 1, I’m anticipating the words will flow out more smoothly :)

On the bright side, in the “My Novels” page, I was able to change the status of Chronicles!

-Jon

(PS: Shameless plug, check out my Facebook page!  :D )

Chronicles of the Sentinels – Chapter Outline Complete!

Hi everyone,

In just two days, I completed the entire chapter outline for Chronicles of the Sentinels!!  Holy cow!

Photo taken by Laura Earley
Photo taken by Laura Earley

My original plan was to wait until this weekend to start the chapter outlines, but yesterday my imagination was just teeming with ideas about how scenes would play out and how the novel would form up, so I started yesterday morning before work, worked on it every chance I got yesterday and today, and today after work, I went to Starbucks and finished the last few chapters.

As it stands now, CotS is going to be 25 chapters.  I have no idea what the word count or page count will be, but if I had to guess, I’d say word count will come to be about 70,000ish. That puts it right where it should be for a first-time author trying to get a YA novel published.  Also the number of chapters could increase as I write the novel: that happened with The Sword of Dragons – Burning Skies, I added I think 4 new unplanned chapters to it while I wrote it :)

Perspective

CotS (or should I just always spell it out?) will be a 3rd person limited perspective story.  Common examples are most of the oldest Star Wars Expanded Universe novels or Harry Potter.  Descriptions will be “He did this” or “She said that” type of thing.

Image Source - http://branislavboda.deviantart.com
Emmi (Image Source – http://branislavboda.deviantart.com)

Just as I’ve done for The Sword of Dragons, every chapter will remain in one character’s point of view, meaning the perspective will not jump from one character to another within a chapter.  However from one chapter to the next, the perspective will change often.

For instance, Chapter 1 will be from the Sentinels’ leader, Tom’s, perspective.  Chapter 2 will be from Chris’s.  Other characters whose perspectives I will write from will be Emmi and Alycia.  Chris is the main character, so the majority of chapters will be written from his perspective, however Emmi will also be prominent in this novel.

What’s Next?

Photo taken by Laura Earley
Photo taken by Laura Earley

Tomorrow I’ll be transcribing the chapter outlines from my journal to the computer.

Then CotS officially moves out of Pre-Writing – I will start writing the actual manuscript!!!!  For those who read my blog articles about my writing process, you’ll know that this is my favorite part of writing a novel!

For The Sword of Dragons – Burning Skies, when I reached this stage, I only wrote on weekends.  I would go to Starbucks on Saturdays or Sundays (or sometimes both in a single weekend) and would spend about 4 or 5 hours writing.  This allowed me to complete the novel in about 3 months or so.

For Chronicles, I intend to write much more frequently!  Not just because this story has me extremely excited, but because I want to start writing more like it’s a career rather than a weekend hobby.  That’s why I’ve been working on Chronicles almost every single day since I first came up with the idea.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, its that while success in one’s endeavors is not always guaranteed by hard work, the harder you work, the more likely you are to succeed.  I want this.  I want to write for a living.  So I am going to work my butt off to get there!

So, if all goes according to plan, Chronicles will officially move out of Pre-Writing this Saturday.  Keep an eye on this blog, cause I’ll definitely let you all know how it progresses!  And in case you didn’t notice, a couple of days ago I placed a new link on the top menu of my blog for “My Novels”  There’s a description and status of every novel I’ve completed or am working on!

-Jon

Facebook Page Created

Hi everyone!

After receiving encouragement to create a Facebook Author’s Page, I finally did!  I’m honestly not entirely sure what I’m supposed to do on it, but I’ll be learning as I go, just as I have been with this blog :)

I’ve read from various sources that agents and publishers are more likely to consider writers who have a presence in social media, including Facebook and in the blogging community.  Not only do I see the wisdom in doing this (after all, an author with a lot followers in social media is more likely to have buyers for their novel), but I’m also excited to have multiple platforms to connect with readers and other writers!  As I stated when I first started my blog, that’s the kind of author I want to be :)

Please check out the page and click Like to follow me on Facebook!

https://www.facebook.com/authorjonwasik

Also to anyone out there who has their own Facebook page, please let me know about it so I can follow you on Facebook!  :D

-Jon

Elude is available!

elude-novelHi everyone, one of the writers who’s blog I follow has a novel available for purchase!!! Go check it out! I’ve already ordered a copy from Amazon myself :)

C. Miller

I’m so sorry for not posting this on here yesterday, but better a little late than never.

Anyway . . . here are the links! (I’ll be updating the My Books page and the What’s in the works? page to reflect all this, plus adding a few more links.)

Elude on Amazon (Print and e-book have already attached, so that’s nice.)

Elude on SmashWords

Hope everyone is doing well out there. :)

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Writing Process Blog Hop

Hi everyone!

I was recently tagged by Erica in her blog for something called the Writing Process Blog Hop.  As a writer, I thought it asked some good questions and would be intriguing to answer :)  Here goes nothing!

What Am I Working On?

My current focus is on a project called Chronicles of the Sentinels.  This represents the beginning of at least a trilogy of novels, although I’m already coming up with ideas for stories beyond the initial trilogy!  The central characters are three ordinary college students who are caught up in the struggle to preserve a mystical barrier that blocks all magic from Earth.

Another project that I’m only working on ‘part-time’ is the second book in a series, called The Sword of Dragons – Burning Skies.  While Chronicles is more of a unique fantasy, The Sword of Dragons has a more ‘traditional’ fantasy setting, with some unique twists on it :)

How Does My Work Differ From Others of Its Genre?

Chronicles of the Sentinels is a modern-day fantasy, and while those are becoming increasingly popular these days, the path it will take is somewhat unique.  The premise is that magic is real, but thousands of years ago, to prevent a Babylonian god from coming to Earth to conquer humanity, the Sentinels, a group of extraordinarily powerful wizards, came together and built a barrier that blocked all magic from Earth.

Image source - http://www.fanfiction.net/  (A good example of what Nabu should look like)
Image source – http://www.fanfiction.net/ (A good example of what Nabu should look like)

Fast-forward to today, and Marduk’s half-human son Nabu makes a final attempt to bring down the Barrier…and succeeds!  So imagine in today’s society that magic, once thought to be flights of fancy or heretical, suddenly becomes very much real.  How would this impact society?  How would this impact individuals?  While telling an exciting and fun adventure tale, these topics will be explored throughout the trilogy.

Why Do I Write What I Write?

Image Source - http://www.wikipedia.org
Image Source – http://www.wikipedia.org

Why I write in general is covered in my About page, but why do I write Fantasy?  That’s actually a very good question, one which I haven’t thought much about.  Fantasy has been a genre that has always intrigued me.  While the first movies I remember watching were science fiction (Empire Strikes Back and Star Trek 3), the first real, proper novel I remember reading was The Hobbit.  Even before then, children’s books filled with magic and mystical creatures always enchanted me.

So now I wish to forge my own tales in that fantastic, imaginative genre!  Furthermore, just like with Science Fiction, Fantasy is a genre in which writers and their readers can explore very deep, very important concepts of humanity in an engaging way.  Who are we?  Why are we here?  What is human nature?  Why?  All of these can be explored without boring the reader, and you never know the impact your stories will have on their own lives!

How Does Your Writing Process Work?

I covered this in-depth in a two-part blog article (Click here for Part 1) but I do have a somewhat structured process that has really helped me with novels.

The first part is what I call pre-writing, and that is all of the work involved before actually writing the manuscript’s first draft.  This includes brain-storming, researching, character development, location development (such as map drawing), culture development, everything you should do prior to starting a new project.  Much of the development is written down by hand in journals.

All of my writing journals so far.  From top left: TSOD book 1, TSOD book 2, TSOD book 3.  From bottom left, TSOD Bible, Chronicles of the Sentinels.
All of my writing journals so far. From top left: TSOD book 1, TSOD book 2, TSOD book 3. From bottom left, TSOD Bible, Chronicles of the Sentinels.

The second part is actually writing the first draft.  In my pre-writing, the final stage is writing out chapter outlines so that when I write, I know what each chapter should be about ahead of time.  But I also don’t stick to that as hard-and-fast rules.  If the story takes me in a different direction, I’ll adjust accordingly :)

The final stages, what I guess you could call “post-writing” (like post-production on a movie) starts with two proofreadings, first on the electronic copy, and then on a printed hard-copy.  If I’m satisfied with the second proofread, I then send my novel to any friends willing to ‘beta read’ to get their feedback, and then with their notes and comments in-hand, I do a final proofread.

Tag People!

Not sure how many folks I’m supposed to tag, but off-hand there are two I’d like to tag: Ivyon from “Ivy Mosquito” and Victoria from “Coffee, Write, Repeat.”  If either of you have already done this before, please put a link in the comments here, I’d love to read your responses!

Thanks :)
-Jon

50 Followers and Two Award Nominations!

Hi everyone!

Two incredible things happened to my blog today!

The first is an incredible milestone: 50 followers!!  I can’t believe that after only a month (a month and 10 days to be exact) I’ve already reached this amazing milestone.  When I first started my blog, I didn’t really expect to gain many followers, but I am pleasantly surprised.  Thank you to everyone who has followed me through the start of this journey :)

The second is that I was nominated for two blog awards by Victoria Davenport (if you haven’t already checked out her blog, I highly recommend it!)  They are the Very Inspiring Blogger award and the One Lovely Blog award!

very-inspiringlovely-blog
This came as quite a surprise for me, but a welcome one :)  There are rules I am encouraged to follow for these awards:

The Rules (or as Victoria said, they are more like guidelines :)  So think of them like the Pirate Code!)

  1. Thank and link the amazing person(s) who nominated you.
  2. List the rules and display the award.
  3. Share seven facts about yourself.
  4. Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.

If you’ve already been nominated for these awards, I’d say there’s no need to go through all of this again unless you really want to :)

Seven Things You Probably Don’t Know About Me

  1. When I first started writing, I wrote a Star Trek story that involved me and all of my classmates.  Keep in mind I was in 5th grade at the time, lol.
  2. My obsession with dragons started with Dragonheart.
  3. The first actual, proper novel I remember reading was The Hobbit.  That probably doesn’t surprise anyone here ;)
  4. I used to be very, very near-sighted until I had lasik performed.
  5. For most of my life, I hated the idea of ever living in a big city.  Now I live in one and love it!  So much so that I don’t think I could ever move back to a small town again.
  6. I took over 4 years of French (2 in high school, 2 and a half in college) but I have still never been to France.
  7. I was interviewed by a web-hosted MTV show that was on a video game tour across the U.S. in 2007.  I worked in a video game computer lab on campus at the time.

Now on to the nominations.  This was not easy, there are a lot of really awesome blogs I’ve found over the past month!  I also wasn’t sure if I was allowed to go outside of wordpress, so I stuck to ones I subscribe to on here.

One outside of WordPress I’d like to mention is writer Laurel K. Hamilton’s blog – I’ve never actually read her work, but a friend of mine recommended I check out her blog when I first started my blog, and I’ve enjoyed following her blog :)

Nominees (in no particular order):

  1. Publish or Perish
  2. Beauty Within
  3. Forgotten Meadows
  4. Ivy Mosquito
  5. Ronovan Writes
  6. Brett’s Future
  7. Inside the Life of Moi
  8. Jacke Wilson
  9. Bookshelf Battle
  10. One Up Five Down
  11. Long & Luxe
  12. Words on a Limb
  13. Embracing a Wounded Soul
  14. Megan Elizabeth Morales
  15. Daily (W)rite

I highly recommend checking out those blogs, they are all very awesome :)  And I have to apologize, but it’s late and I need to get to bed, so I don’t have time at the moment to let them all know.  A total cop-out, I know, but I have to work tomorrow :(

Thank you again to everyone for following and to Victoria for the nomination!  You all are awesome!

-Jon

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