Tag Archives: characters

The Orc War Campaigns – Character Reveal

Hi everyone!

Only a few days ago, I finished writing the 2nd story of the new Sword of Dragons web series, The Orc War Campaigns, and I realized something.  The story is not going quite where I expected.  The reason for this?  The characters.

Even though most of the characters in this series are new, I’ve somehow already reached a point with them where they are telling their own story, and I just seem to have the happy job of being their scribe ;)

The ones you already know from The Sword of Dragons are in it, and in fact are playing a bigger role than I originally planned in the initial trilogy of short stories.  In fact in the 2nd story, there is an incredible scene involving Cardin as he continues to develop his new powers from the Sword.

However, their part in the story will become much less important as the new characters take center stage throughout the series.  And I am most happy to state that one of the new characters is a strong female lead :)

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

As I’ve noted in a previous blog entry, men and women on Halarite, which is the world central to the Sword of Dragons universe, are truly equals.  While there are other forms of discrimination explored and to be explored in TSOD, I wanted to show everyone a world where gender does not determine your future, and no one is shunned or judged for being either a man or a woman.

That trend will continue.  And so, without further delay, I present to you the new characters of the upcoming web series.

Characters of The Orc War Chronicles

Amaya Kenla: A former lieutenant in the Tal Warriors’ Guild, Amaya and a small team she had commanded on a botched mission was imprisoned for disobeying one of the Tal Prince’s new laws enacted during his father’s illness.  Now, several months later, she and her team have been pardoned by King Beredis.

Hailing from the small town of Everlin near the Saran border, Amaya is a strong-willed leader who has gone to great lengths to earn her place and rank in the Guild.  She struggles with the anger she feels towards her former Commander, whom she believes set her and her team up.  With no proof, and a new war with the orcs looming, she fears she will never be able to prove it.

Her skills as a Mage and a leader do not go unrecognized, however, and instead of rejoining the Warriors, Amaya is offered a place with the elite guard of Tal, whose name is only whispered in the dark corners of the castle: the Guardians.

Zerek Betanil: An apprentice miner, 15-year-old Zerek has worked and lived with his father for as long as he can remember.  But that is not where his heart lies.  At night, he dreams of running away to join the Warriors’ Guild, so that he may take up the sword and fight off the enemies of Tal.

When tragedy strikes and Zerek’s life is ripped away from him, he must struggle to find a new place in life.  He has no choice but to take up a job as a courier in Archanon, where he watches the Warriors march by, day by day, wishing one would take him to the Guild to be trained.

Until he meets a young thief on the streets of the First City who steals his heart, along with his most prized possession.  Now he must find her to take back what was stolen, and somehow convince her to fall in love with him.

Arkad: Shrouded in mystery, this giant of an orc has taken command of the Wastelands in the wake of Klaralin’s defeat.  With an intelligence far surpassing any orc previously seen on Halarite, he commands the loyalty of all of his lesser kin, and maneuvers their armies into a multi-pronged attack that takes the four kingdoms by surprise.

He has made it his mission in life to return his people back to the cultured, intelligent, and strong people they once were before they were downtrodden by the despicable humans.  The only way he believes this can be accomplished is to make a new home for them outside of the Wastelands, in the lush, life-filled lands throughout the western half of Edilas.

But where did he come from?  How did he gain the loyalty of the tens of thousands of orcs that overfill the Wastelands?  These and so many questions surround him, as he gains a reputation on the battlefields for being ruthless and nearly unstoppable.

———————————————————————–

I hope you all enjoyed this glimpse into the new characters of the Orc War Chronicles.  I do not yet have an initial release date for the first story, but it is my goal to have it out by December :)

This is a long shot…but are there any artists out there who would be willing to take a crack at character sketches?  Both for the new series and the novels?

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik

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Writer’s Presence – How We Tell Our Stories

Hiya everyone,

I started thinking about it the other day, and I began to wonder just how much of a writer’s personality starts to show through in their writing.

There are the obvious cases where a writer actually puts part of their personality into characters.  I would say that most writers do this to some extent no matter what, because we are, after all, supposed to write what we know.  On the other hand, I’ve also read that it is a bad idea to model a character completely after ourselves.

However, what I’m referring to in this article is more than just making a character like them.  And here some of you may or may not think I’m a bit on the crazy side, but novels themselves have personalities.

picard-incredulous

I’m serious.

spock-skeptical

Stop looking at me like that.

oneil-wacko….

Think about it, though.  Those of you who read dozens of novels or more per year probably know what I’m talking about.  One novel can be very cerebral, make you focus a lot on the technical aspects, or focus on how things happen in them.  How a person walks.  How an exosuit walks.  How a warrior fights.

Others might focus more on the emotional aspect.  The the primary purpose of actions are to create emotional reactions in the characters and the readers.

There are countless variations, and so just like people, countless ‘personality types’ for novels.  Not to mention a writer’s style can have a big impact on how all of this is presented and ‘feels’ in a story.  Short, bursts of sentences, or long, drawn out sentences?  Choosing 1st person vs. 3rd person PoV.

How much of this is a reflection of the writer’s personality?  How much of it is their voice?

The Narrator as a Character

It’s easy to identify most of the characters in a novel.  They usually have dialogue, descriptions of their actions and reactions, and most importantly, goals and desires, something to drive them forward.

…but what of the narrator?  In a 1st person PoV, that’s easy, it is whomever the PoV is from.  But in 3rd person, we often forget about the narrator.  It’s just text describing what’s going on, right?

I used to think so.  Until I started practicing for recording an audio book.  And as I have now read through the prologue of The Sword of Dragons about a dozen times, I’ve come to realize that the narrator IS a character.  He or she has their own voice, their own syntax and cadence, most often very different from when the characters speak dialogue.

And it’s funny that we forget about it, because if you think about it, their voice is the most important voice in the story.  The narrator is the one telling us what is going on, who is doing what, and why, and where it is taking place.  They are the ones telling us about these characters.

campfire-story-tellingThink about it.  You’re sitting around a campfire somewhere, and someone starts to tell a story.  Of course, whether or not the story is interesting might be debatable.  But how the person tells that story will ultimately determine if everyone else will listen or not, and whether or not they will enjoy the experience.  Perhaps a tradition that goes back thousands of years, to when the hunter-gatherers sat around fires describing how they caught that evening’s dinner.

So to all of my fellow writers out there, I challenge you to think about this, and to even read your own stories out loud, even if it is only to the wall, or your dog or cat or bird.  Listen to how you read the narrator’s lines.  What voice is it you hear when you read it silently?  Is it the same voice when you read it out loud?

And is that voice yours?

To all of the novel readers out there, let me ask you a similar question: do you hear a separate voice in your head when you read narration in a novel?  Is it yours?  Read it out loud, and then tell me what you hear.  Is it different?  Or is it as unique as one of the other characters?

In this light, I truly now believe that the narrator is their own character.  Perhaps we as writers should focus more attention on that.

Just a thought :)

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik

Emotion in Fiction – Connecting to Your Readers

Hi everyone!

For many people, feeling emotions, especially when they are their own emotions, can be a frightening thing.  Yet for writers, not to mention actors, musicians, pretty much anyone who ‘puts themselves out there’ for an audience in some way, emotions are an essential gateway to connecting to their audience.

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

It was honestly something I never really thought about until I read an article recently on the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers website.  As I read this article, I realized how much it rang true, in every respect.  It also reminded me of some of the greatest moments in the last novel I completed, The Sword of Dragons – Burning Skies.  Some of the most memorable stories out there evoke some of the strongest emotions.

Connecting to the Characters

One of the key aspects the article mentioned was breaking through the emotional barrier, and how many writers fail to do so.  Some don’t even try, perhaps because they don’t think they need to or that they shouldn’t.

But stop and think for a moment about storytelling.  What is it, exactly?  At the most basic level, it is relaying a sequence of events, whether in order or out of order, to another person.  Sounds rather dull and boring when you put it that way.

Go deeper.  What is it about stories that draws us in?  There are the typical tropes of wonder and imagination, especially in genre fiction like Fantasy and Sci-Fi, and that can draw someone in by itself.  However, I guarantee you it isn’t enough.

Image Source - www.sw-unity.org
Image Source – http://www.sw-unity.org

Think about one of your favorite TV show or movie.  What’s one of the first things that pops into your mind about that movie or show?  I’ll bet for most of you, it’s the characters.  When I think of Star Wars, I think of Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader.  When I think of Lord of the Rings, I don’t immediately picture the One Ring in my mind, but I see Aragorn, or Frodo and Samwise.

My point here is that we think of characters, people.  They are what we remember, and that is because we are able to connect with the characters.  Even in stories written from the 3rd person, we inhabit their lives, their world.  We root for them, or we hate them, or we fall in love with them.

That link we feel for them, the one that makes us remember them, is an emotional one.   And that is because, in a sense, they opened up to us (even if they had no choice, mwahahah!)  We get to see those characters’ innermost thoughts and emotions.

Reaching Inside

With all of that in mind, breaking through the emotional barrier, for all artists, becomes essential.  When we do so, we’re able to realistically convey emotions that connect us with our audience.

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

Actors, at least the best ones, are masters of using their own emotions.  Mandy Patinkin, who played Inigo Montoya in the movie The Princess Bride, revealed in interviews that when he was approached to be a part of the movie, he was offered any role.  He chose Inigo because Patinkin had just recently lost his own father.  So throughout the movie, he imagined that he was on a quest to avenge his own father, and in the final sword fight with the six-fingered man, he imagined he was fighting the cancer that killed his father.

The best musicians also do this.  My high school choir director always told us that no one wants to come to a performance to watch “dead fish” sing on stage.  She encouraged us to reach inside, feel the emotion of the song, and to express it in our performances.  Lindsey Stirling plays with incredible expression of emotion (just watch any one of her youtube videos for proof!)

Image Sources - houseofgeekery.com
Image Sources – houseofgeekery.com

Some of the greatest artists, including painters, were able to use their own emotions in much the same way.  There was an episode of Doctor Who where the Doctor gets to meet Vincent Van Gogh.  Later, when speaking to a modern-day museum curator about Vincent, the curator says “He transformed the pain of his tormented life into ecstatic beauty.”

Examples from The Sword of Dragons

As a writer, I’ve found that some of my best work also comes from reaching inside of myself and finding emotions that coincide with a scene.  Earlier I mentioned an example, a scene I wrote in Burning Skies.  One of the central characters feels broken, lost, utterly useless.  She’s trying to find her way, but despairs that she never will, and she spirals further and further downward in her emotional journey.

In one of the key moments of the novel, the character hits rock bottom, does something horrible, and when she realizes what she’s done, nearly goes over the edge.  As all of this plays through her head and heart, I wrote about how she expressed these feelings, and I found that as I did so, I reached back to one of the worst times in my life, remembered the emotions I felt, felt those emotions again, and wrote without having to ever think about how the character should or would act.

When the scene was completed, I found that I had actually started to tear up myself.  I felt a bit embarrassed about that, after all I do almost all of my writing at Starbucks.  But later when I re-read that scene, it and the scene following it turned out to be among the most powerful scenes in the novel.

It isn’t just about dark emotions, however.  This example can hold true for every emotion.  Love, joy, sorrow, sympathy, every single emotion can, and perhaps should, come from within the writer.

Breaking Through the Barrier

I realize that for many people, especially in this digital age, what I’m suggesting might be extraordinarily difficult.  It means acknowledging your own emotions, allowing yourself to feel them, intentionally evoking those emotions and the memories associated with them.

It can be an uncomfortable prospect.  However I strongly believe it is key to being a good writer.

So I’ll leave you all with yet another bold statement: emotions aren’t something you have to hide from.  Yes there is pain and sadness, and these can be uncomfortable emotions.  But there is also exquisite joy and happiness.  All of these various emotions hold an incredible beauty all of their own, and if you’re able to learn how to explore those emotions by feeling them, you’ll make yourself a better writer.

Thanks for reading :)
-Jon