Tag Archives: Harry Potter

Secrets of the Cronal Chapter Titles

Hi everyone,

It’s time for another Secrets of the Cronal update!  Today I’m really pleased to bring you the chapter titles from the upcoming release.

One of my favorite things to do when a new Harry Potter book came out was to read the chapter titles and try to guess what each chapter would be about, and there was just something magical about it.  I admit, that was part of the reason I decided to name my chapters when I published book 1!

So, without further ado, I present to you the chapter titles from The Sword of Dragons Book 3 – Secrets of the Cronal

1   The Seal of the Covenant
2   Broken Wings
3   Shadow’s Dagger
4   Unrest
5   Stowaway
6   The Dwarf of Serelik
7   Evern Manor
8   An Unexpected Visitor
9   The Sylaric Stone
10   Under the Shadows of the Moons
11   Separate Paths
12   Fires of Jealousy
13   Traitors
14   Exiled
15   The Celestial Spires
16   Into the Web
17   Deposed
18   Sea of Magic
19   The Deep City
20   Suffocating Shadows
21   Succession
22   The Morning After
23   Parting Paths
24   The Grand Sanctuary
25   Guardian of Secrets
26   Destiny’s Choice
27   Desperate Plea
28   The Whispering Tree
29   Unlikely Allies
30   Missing Pieces
31   Strength in Shadow
32   Revelations
33   Over the Wall
34   The Final Piece
35   Dark Vision
36   Consumed
37   Refuge
38   Chrysalis
39   Star Child
40   Impasse
41   Kailar’s Choice
42   Burning Stacks
43   Ashes
44   Battle of the Cronal
45   The Great Library
46   Awakening
47   The Greater Good

I admit, I struggled with thinking of chapter titles this time around, but once I named them all and read through the book in the latest round of proofreading and editing, I felt like every single one was perfectly named :)

I’ll be working on updating the Sword of Dragons website with a new section specifically for book 3, where these chapter titles will be listed as well, until the pre-order and cover reveal is completed.

Thanks for reading everyone, I hope you’re as excited as I am for the coming release!  The next update will be the back of the book blurb, and then after that, the cover reveal and release date :D

-Jon Wasik

New Way To Tell Stories – Star Wars and The Void

Hey everyone!

With our honeymoon coming to a close, I wanted to tell you all about an incredible experience we had here in Orlando!  And that was Star Wars – Secrets of the Empire!

Haven’t heard of it?  Worry not, because I wanna tell you all about the state of the art in Virtual Reality Technology, and the new possibilities it opens for story telling!

Total Immersion – Holodeck-like Experience!

I know, I know, this is about Star Wars, but when I first heard about Secrets of the Empire, the first thing I thought about was Star Trek TNG’s holodecks.  If you’ve ever watched any of the Trek shows after the original series, you’ve probably seen this wondrous technology, where you step into a room, and whole other environments, complete with interactive people, suddenly appear!

Is that what Secrets was like?  Well, we’re not to that level of tech yet, but it certainly was the most immersive experience I’ve ever had.

After signing a waiver, my wife and I, along with another random couple we were paired up with, followed our guide into a room with a big screen, where we received an urgent message from Cassian Andor (from Star Wars Rogue One).  After that, each of us were able to choose the color of our Stormtrooper armor’s pauldron.  There were lots of colors to choose from, but it’s a good idea to coordinate your choice with the other members, because you can double up and this can make it confusing in game!

After that, we were led into the gear room, where an Oculus Rift headset and haptic-feedback suit awaited us.  After putting our gear on and getting them synced up with our wristbands, we were led into a square room, and lowered our visors.

And suddenly, we were stormtroopers.  All of us.  My wife, with her purple pauldron, stood next to me, and was rendered with her accurate height!  I think I even made the joke of ‘aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper?’  The other couple was across from us, the tall guy with his black pauldron (I chose blue) and his significant other, who also had a purple pauldon but thankfully was a little taller than Beck so I didn’t lose track of who was who.

We were in a small compartment on a troop transport, and suddenly the door opens…and K2SO pops his head in to give us a mission update!

What was really incredible was that we were free to move around in the rendered environment.  When we moved into another compartment and were asked to sit in the rendered seats, we sat and there were chairs.  When asked to get onto a moving platform, we did and it felt like it moved.  When entering a lift and told to pull the lever, there was a lever we could actually pull, and it was rendered in real-time as we pulled it!

What’s more was the feel and smell.  I don’t want to give too much of the story away, but when we were in a place with fire, there was heat and I could smell burning wood!  When stormtroopers shot at us, I felt the impact and heat from when I was hit!  The designers and creators, The Void, did a really good job mixing a physical environment with virtual, creating an incredible experience!

It wasn’t perfect…to save money and time, there were no gloves, so your avatar’s hand movements were tracked with motion sensors.  This sometimes glitched, and when my hands were in my lap, I’d look over and it would look like I had my hand in my wife’s mouth.  And one of the four blasters kept malfunctioning and not showing up in the game, so they had to start us over two times before it worked properly.  Plus blaster bolts moved annoyingly slow (like Elder Scrolls 4 – Oblivion arrows) and that made the fights a little less intense than they should have been.

But all said, the experience was incredible and immersive, and is definitely the closest we have come to holodecks!

What Does This Mean for Storytelling?

I’m extremely excited about what this represents!  Right now, Secrets of the Empire is the only thing like this that I am aware of, but it opens the door for some unique storytelling!  As the technology improves, things will only get better.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Star Trek jumps on the bandwagon soon.  I mean, come on, who wouldn’t want to step onto the bridge of a Starship or fight through a Borg ship?

Or what about Harry Potter??  Some more tweaking of the tech, but as you wave your wand and speak the words, the system reads it and you see your spell unfold before you!

Unfortunately right now, I don’t see sword fights happening with our level of tech, but how long before they figure out a way to make that happen?

What stories could be told interactively?  Sure the settings are finite, but some amazing stories can be told in small spaces.  Such as the Star Trek bridge mentioned above.

Secrets of the Empire was pretty much scripted, but as we’ve seen with video games, stories can change depending on choices, and as long as those choices are planned ahead…there could be some pretty big facilities made for some impressive interactions in the future.

I think that this is just the beginning!!  Now if only The Void would open more locations…like one in Denver!

Go For It, Even If You Don’t Believe In Yourself

Hi everyone, I’m back!

Photo by Danielle Lirette

Our wedding was wonderfully geeky, and we were very fortunate to have some incredible people participate in it and help us out!  It turned out to be a perfect day, with weather better than predicted, and nothing major going wrong.

However, I want to tell the story with pictures, and our photographer is still working to get our photos to us (the preview pictures she has shown us are incredible!)  But what I wanted to talk about today crosses from my wedding day to writing, and why you should never give up on yourself…

I Thought I Would Always Be Alone

My best friend (and best man) reminded me of something during the reception: when I was younger, I had a dream of a woman who was perfect for me.  My definition of what that might entail evolved over the years as I grew and changed as a person, but I knew what I wanted…

Image source – google.com

And as time passed, and rejections from women grew in number, I started to despair.  I started to believe that I was unlovable.  This led me to some pretty bad relationships that only reinforced my belief that I was unworthy.

…but I kept trying anyway.  I kept searching, even though I didn’t think anyone would ever think I was worth loving.  As the years and years and years passed, no matter how much I was rejected or how many bad dates I went on, even surviving an emotionally abusive relationship, I kept trying.

Character design and model: Beck Stewart. Photo by WeNeals Photography.

And then she was there.  The one who would one day become my wife.  Of course I didn’t know it at the time, and I remember thinking, even when I asked if I could add her to my Facebook, “she won’t ever be interested in me.”

That led to friendship…which 4 months later led to dating, and six months later led to engagement, and a year and 3 months later, marriage.

After more than two decades of searching and dating and trying and failing and being rejected, I finally found what I had searched for.  Someone who loved me, who believed I was worth loving.  And when I realized this last week, I knew that I had to pass the message on to everyone else…

Keep Going.  Never Give Up.  Even If You Don’t Believe

The same goes for writing.  Hell, the same goes for everything in life, but since this is a writing blog, let’s focus on that.

Writers get rejections, from agents and editors.  But does that mean you’re unworthy, that your stories aren’t worthy, and you should stop trying?  If JK Rowling had stopped trying after her first couple of rejections, Harry Potter would not be the phenomenon that it is today.

Writers get bad reviews, on Amazon and everywhere else.  Does this mean that their novel is really horrible and not worth reading?  If you get a few bad reviews, should you take it to heart and stop writing?  Everyone gets bad reviews.  Every book.  Take a look at your favorite book on Amazon, no matter how good it is, and you’ll find one-star reviews.  Even Ready Player One, which is now a major motion picture making millions, got one-star reviews.

What if you get published, or are self-published, and your books aren’t selling well?  Should you just…stop?  No.  First, harkening back to a blog I wrote about an author who re-branded his books, his initial publication was getting him few sales.  When he learned from his mistakes and re-branded his book, he started selling thousands of copies.

If you don’t believe in yourself, but you’re still passionate, GO FOR IT!  Don’t stop!!!  Keep doing it, if for no other reason than your love of it, your passion, your desire to make it, your desire to write and get readers.

Keep.  Going.

Because even if it takes decades, one day, whether you believe in yourself or not, someone else might.  And then your books will sell.  And you’ll write more.  And more.  And more.  And before you know it, you’ve achieved your ultimate goals.

The other option is to give up.  But then you’ll be left wondering for the rest of your life, “What if?”

Photo by my new Mother-in-Law :)

If I gave up…I’d never have met my Starshine.  Never would have asked for her hand in marriage.  Never cried the happiest tears of my life when I watched her walk down the aisle towards me.

What might you risk never seeing if you give up?

What might you never get to experience if you don’t try?

“What if I fail?”  Rubbish question.  “What if I succeed?”  Now that is a question worth pondering…

What Kind of Series Do You Prefer?

Greetings, dear readers!

Recently someone pointed out that there are two kinds of series out there: those that are like a fast food hamburger, and those that are like a gourmet meal.

…off hand it sounds weird, but the writer of this guest blog entry uses the examples of food to great effect.

I’m more of a geek, so today I’m going to translate that into geek speak ;)  What I’m talking about today is like the difference between Star Trek The Original Series and Star Trek Deep Space Nine.  Never seen either, or just one and not the other?  Don’t worry, I’ll translate :)

The Star Trek TOS Series

There’s no denying the legacy that The Original Series has left upon our society.  Kirk, Spock and McCoy, along with the USS Enterprise, are legendary, and will probably never be forgotten.

But if you focus just on the series, and not the movies that followed, you’ll notice a pattern that, initially, was emulated by The Next Generation: the characters do not change or grow throughout the 3 season run.

In the beginning, Kirk was a shoot first and ask questions later kinda guy who wasn’t afraid to, *ahem* bridge the interspecies gap with a little…special diplomacy.  Not to say that he wasn’t a positive role model in many ways, especially for his intolerance for bigotry, or the fact that he was always leading up front, not afraid to charge in ahead of his team.  By the end of the 3rd season…nothing had changed.

Just like Bones McCoy was still a grumpy old doctor.  And Spock was still struggling to remain as Vulcan as possible with the occasional emotional outburst.  Uhura never got promoted.  Sulu was always the helmsmen.  Probably the only thing that changed was Checkov’s introduction part way through the series, but then he, too, never changed.

There’s something to be said about this kind of series.  It’s comfortable, knowing that while each story will be just a little different, they’ll be familiar, and the characters will always be how we remembered them.  Plus if you happen into the series halfway through, you won’t be lost.  It’s not a requirement to have seen the premier to be able to step into.

Another example of this kind of series is The Simpsons, and the fact that Bart, Homer and the gang haven’t changed and are still on the air after over 20 years should say something about the power of this kind of story.

The DS9 Series

Contrast that with Deep Space 9.  From episode one on, you knew it wasn’t going to be anything like other Trek.  And in season 1, they weren’t afraid to make that known, such as the episode when Sisko punched Q.  “You hit me!  Picard never hit me.”  “I’m not Picard!”

And the characters changed.  The story evolved.  If you came in during later seasons, you’d probably have no idea what’s going on.  “Why does this Odo person look so weird, but he’s basically human?  Wait, what, he was a changeling and lost is changeling ability but now is getting it back…huh?!?!?”  “Who is the Dominion, and why are they allied with the Cardassians.  Wait, now they’re allied with the Romulans…no, no they’re not.”  “Sisko is an Emissary of…Wormhole aliens?  Huh??”

But then, there’s something powerful about this kind of story.  Because as you watch (or read) about characters growing, you grow with them.  You watch them change.  Like watching Harry, Ron and Hermione grow up.  Or seeing Aragorn change from a reluctant leader to the confident King of the West.

When the characters reach their ultimate goal, you cheer for them!  Or when they fail, your heart aches for them.  Or when they lose someone they love, you mourn with them.

These characters allow you to connect with them in a way unchanging characters never could.

Is One Better Than The Other?

I think this question comes down to preference.  There’s a place for everything.  And perhaps even mixing these two types is advantageous.

But for me, personally, I will always prefer the DS9’s.  The Lord of the Rings.  The Stargates.  These are the ones I connect with better than any other series out there.

What’s your preference?

Thanks for reading!  And to those who celebrate, Happy Easter!
-Jon Wasik

Coming To Life – When The Inanimate Have Personalities

Hi everyone!

It’s no secret: characters are one of the most crucial elements in a story.  But do you know what surprises me the most?  The characters who aren’t even truly alive…or are they?

It began when my girlfriend and I (she has moved her blog to WordPress, click here to see her first article there!  :D) saw Doctor Strange.  Our favorite character?

The Cloak of Levitation!!!
The Cloak of Levitation!!!

Yes, that’s right, the Cloak of Levitation.  “But…that’s not even a real character!” you might say.  Well…isn’t it?  And before you say no, there is precedence behind it…

The Inanimate Charm The Soul

Image Source - http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/Magic_Carpet
Image Source – http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/Magic_Carpet

Who here has seen the Disney movie Aladdin?  Who remembers the Magic Carpet?  When I was a kid, that was one of my favorite characters from the movie.  And as I grew older, I came to like Carpet even more.  His little quirks, how excited he was, how much he just really really wanted to help Aladdin, risking his life at every turn.  (Wait…how do we know what gender Carpet actually is??)

Shale - Dragon Age: Origins
Shale – Dragon Age: Origins

How about Dragon Age: Origins, has anyone here played that?  There was an expansion that allowed a new character to join your party called Shale.  He was a stone golem, brought to life long ago, but frozen in place for countless years in the square of a small village.

Shale was highly sarcastic, and I loved that aspect so much of him.  He was the character who saw the irony in everything, and wasn’t afraid to point it out.  He also was conscious during the entirety of his outdoor ‘imprisonment,’ which meant he really, really hated pigeons.  Because what do pigeons do on statues? …Yeah.  So any chance he had, he would chase after and try to ‘obliterate’ them!

Image Source - http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Flying_Scooter
Image Source – http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Flying_Scooter

These are only some of the ones out there that I like.  Other examples a friend gave me include all of the exhibits in A Night at the Museum, and the Howlers and the Car from Harry Potter.

These characters can be the kinds of characters no one else can be.  With personality traits that are completely different from everyone else’s, because they aren’t actually raised in the same environment, they aren’t treated like the living, and therefore have a unique perspective on the world.

And if you can make your readers fall in love with these characters…then you’ve won their hearts :)

Sword of Dragons – A New Character Is Born!

So a few days ago, I started thinking about it, and realized I wanted to do something like this in Sword of Dragons.  But…what?  What could I do?

I started bouncing ideas off of a friend at work, and started to come up with some thoughts.  Later that day, when my girlfriend and I were working on our projects together, I started telling her about it and asked her thoughts.  As she always is, she was very helpful and worked with me to develop a unique and interesting idea :)

And I have an idea of how I can introduce a similar character in the 3rd novel :D  In fact, it’s the perfect opportunity to do so!

However, as Beck and I talked about it, the idea I eventually settled on was not quite the same as the others.

Spirit-based creatures?
Spirit-based creatures?

Book 3 deals a little bit more with spirituality, inner struggles, souls, and how the two types of magic in the Sword of Dragons universe works.  So I wanted to take advantage of that aspect…and take a very unique form of energy in book 3 and bring it to life.

It’ll be imprinted upon one character in particular, and as it never previously had consciousness, it’s personality will change drastically in the beginning, especially in book 4, as it tries to figure itself out.

I’m really excited about this, and I’m even more excited to start writing book 3 soon!!  :D

That’s all for today, folks!  Thanks for reading!  If you liked what you read, please click that “Follow” button!  And while you’re at it, head over to my girlfriend’s new WordPress blog and follow her, too!  :D

-Jon Wasik

PS: Baby Groot :D

Image Source - http://www.cinemablend.com/news/1586250/how-groot-will-be-different-in-guardians-of-the-galaxy-2-according-to-vin-diesel
Image Source – http://www.cinemablend.com/news/1586250/how-groot-will-be-different-in-guardians-of-the-galaxy-2-according-to-vin-diesel

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

Women in The Sword of Dragons – Strong and Self-Reliant

Hi everyone!

Image Source: http://alicechan.deviantart.com/
Image Source: http://alicechan.deviantart.com/

It seems like it was once a staple in fantasy stories, or at the very least a cliche: the damsel in distress.  Often the prisoner of some gruesome, horrifying monster or villain, the proverbial (and sometimes literal) knight in shining armor must rescue her, and often falls in love while doing so…

I can’t write women like that.  Flat characters who are incapable of saving themselves, who need someone else to ensure their life and livelihood, who have no depth, no real personality.  All of my short stories and novels I’ve written, up to and including The Sword of Dragons, have featured strong and self-reliant women.

Strong women are becoming much more common-place in fantasy stories.  While I’ve not read A Song of Ice and Fire, I have heard that Martin writes female characters well, and there is a famous quote from him on this topic.  When asked how he writes female characters so well, he replies, “You know, I’ve always considered women to be people.”

Image Source - Google Images
Image Source – Google Images

Hermione Granger (from Harry Potter,) Katniss Everdeen (from The Hunger Games,) Emma Swan (Once Upon a Time,) Merida (from Brave.)  These are only a sample of complete, well written women in fantasy or sci-fi stories, and are some of the best characters I have ever encountered on screen or in books.

Another fact about these characters I like: they are not there for eye-candy.  They are complete, 3 dimensional characters, with dreams, fears, and a place of their own in society.

Too often you see fantasy art depicting women (especially elves, for some reason) wearing skimpy ‘armor.’  Breastplates that only cover the breasts, maybe a shoulder pad, and a skimpy little chainmail thong that makes Leia’s slave outfit look conservative.

Image Source - harrypotter.wikia.com
Image Source – harrypotter.wikia.com

While meant to attract men to the artwork, or video games, or movies, more often than not scantily-clad women are not well-developed, and will not stand the test of time.  Maybe I’m wrong, but I think the name Hermione Granger will be remembered long after “random scantily-clad elf #3” will be.

That is why I made the women on Halarite, the central world in The Sword of Dragons, 100% equal to men.  There is no limit placed on what they can or cannot do in society.  It is neither a patriarchal nor a matriarchal society.

river-song-profileOddly enough, I couldn’t find a word in the English language that describes such a society.  The closest I could find was Egalitarian, but that is not an accurate description of Halarite.  Egalitarian describes a society where all people are equal.  On Halarite, Mages are usually more privileged than non-magical people.  Oh but that is to be explored more in later novels.  As Professor River Song once said, “Spoilers…”

The Women of TSOD

Since I will be publishing The Sword of Dragons later this year, I thought now would be a good time to post some character profiles.  What better way than to start off with the prominent women of book 1 :)

Also, when I posted profiles of characters for Chronicles of the Sentinels, I included pictures of people who look similar to how I imagined the characters.  I received a very positive response to that, so I’ve done so here again.

Image Source - Google Images
Image Source – Google Images

Sira Reinar:
Sira trained all of her life to become a member of the Warriors’ Guild.  Her prowess as a Mage was evident from childhood, but she started at a disadvantage since neither of her parents were Warriors, so she entered as an outcast.

In The Sword of Dragons, Sira has become a respected leader in the Daruun Warriors’ Guild, her outcast status long-forgotten, overcome by her strength and leadership.  She carries a white-dyed claymore that has been her signature weapon since the day she graduated from training.

Although she considers her loyalty to her friends one of her greatest attributes, it does sometimes land her into trouble.  Never-the-less, it is that loyalty that ensures she is where she needs to be to help save her kingdom.

Image Source - geektyrant.com
Image Source – geektyrant.com

Kailar Adanna:
Once a powerful member of the Warriors’ Guild, Kailar abandoned her position when she became convinced that the Guild had strayed from its original mission.  Since then, she has sought a means to stop the Guild and to unite the four kingdoms under her banner.

Cunning, skilled, and possessing a keen intellect, she is a formidable opponent who will do whatever it takes to achieve her goals.  However, she does not trust anyone, and will only work with others when absolutely necessary.  Otherwise she spends her life completely alone, living in the wilderness, always on the move.

When she learns of the Sword of Dragons, she becomes obsessed with finding it, knowing it has the power to help her achieve all of her goals.

Image Source - wallpaperest.com
Image Source – wallpaperest.com

A Dareann Elf, Elaria is an explorer who wanders from one world to the next.  She has an insatiable curiosity, but has learned to be cautious, and has an uncanny ability to hide herself.  When necessary, she uses her two curved daggers to defend herself with great effect.

When she senses the growing power of the Sword of Dragons, she comes to Halarite to seek out the source.  But when she approaches Kailar, the wayward Warrior uses her powers to manipulate Elaria into helping her.

Now she must overcome Kailar’s grip on her will, before she destroys Halarite’s only chance for peace.


Thanks for reading everyone!  I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into The Sword of Dragons :)  Stick around, because there’s more to come!

-Jon Wasik

Too Many or Too Few – How Many Characters?

Hey everyone!


So last night, I was at the Doctor Who convention Gallifrey One (what a blast!!!) when I attended a panel that discussed sci-fi/fantasy movies in 2014, a ‘year in review.’  And one of the panel members made a good point:

The Hobbit was a technically sound trilogy, well made, a visually beautiful movie, but…it fell short of The Lord of the Rings.  And the reason why?  For the panelist, he felt nothing for the characters.  He wasn’t interested in their trials and tribulations.  When one died, he felt nothing.

When I realized I felt the same way, I began discussing it with my friend, and came up with a plausible reason: there were too many protagonists.  13 Dwarves, 1 Hobbit, 1 Wizard.  Plus in movie #2 and 3, there were two Elves and Bard.  Not counting some of the other heroes that showed up in the 3rd movie, that’s 18 characters we’re supposed to invest our emotions in.

Image Source - blackfilm.com
Image Source – blackfilm.com

So I’m wondering if there is a correlation.  If there are too many characters in a movie, does it become too much for the average audience member and they lose the ability to care about the characters, and therefore do not care for the outcome of the story?  Can the same be said about novels?

For me, at least, keeping track of characters in a novel is easier.  At least, good novels.  That of course gets into another topic all together: some extremely complex novels are easier to follow than others.

In any case, it has me wondering if there is such a thing as too many characters.  Do you, as a reader and/or a movie-goer, find that there is a limit?  Do you lose interest in a story after so many characters?

On the other hand, I also think it is possible for there to be too few characters.  For me, most (not all) stories with only one or two characters in the entire novel is boring.  Yeah it would be easier to invest in those characters, but think about how Harry Potter would be if there was only Harry and Voldemort, and none of the other characters: no Hermione, no Ron, no Dumbledore…

Image Source - starpulse.com
Image Source – starpulse.com

I’m not saying there is a formula: for this type of story, there must be so many characters.  Every situation is unique, certainly.  I loved Cast Away and there were only a handful of characters in that.  So what’s the secret?  Is there a secret?

What do you think?  What are some of your favorite movies or novels with a large number of characters?  Or few?And here is another question to consider: does the length of the story dictate how many central characters you should have in a story?  Would 18 main characters be okay in a series vs. a movie?

I’ve not actually seen any Game of Thrones episodes, nor have I read the novels the series is based upon.  However, I do know that there is a very large cast of characters in there.  Yet that series is insanely popular, and even though characters are killed off left and right, people are getting very invested in the characters.

Image Source - meltybuzz.fr
Image Source – meltybuzz.fr

So perhaps that is the key: the number of characters should depend upon how much time you invest in each of them, making each one a fully-realized character, with emotions and desires and fears.Maybe that is the secret: give all of the characters the time that they deserve.Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik

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 :)


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!


Modern Fantasy – What is Magic?

Hi everyone!

One of the staples of every fantasy story out there is the supernatural, magic.  …and I just heard 30 or so people say “thank you Mr. Obvious.”  But while magic is a common element, what it is exactly and how it works has varied from one story to the next that it almost defies imagination.

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

From Harry Potter’s wand-waving to Gandalf’s staff-planting to Eragon’s word-magic, it has been one of the most incredible and awe-inspiring facets of fantasy for as long as the genre, in one form or another, has existed.

This year I have exciting task of coming up with my own twist on it for my new modern fantasy novel.  And to be honest, it’s almost kind of daunting!  Why?  Because this isn’t the first time I’ve created a magic-based universe, and I don’t want to create a carbon-copy of my first universe.

The Sword of Dragons

Image Source - forgottenrealms.wikia.com
Image Source – http://forgottenrealms.wikia.com

In The Sword of Dragons, the actual source of magic and the incredible powers Mages and Wizards and Star Dragons use comes from a common source.  While not every human is capable of tapping into that source, those who can, as well as countless other inhabitants of the universe, are able to do so through knowledge.  Knowledge of how to channel that energy into their own bodies, change it to their desired outcome, and expel it in what ever form necessary.

It isn’t as simple as just that, since there are what you might call ‘shades’ to the source of power, which creates diversity in magic.  Mages, in comparison to most others, are weak and can barely wield this power, so their abilities are rudimentary and manipulate raw power.  Wizards, while still human, are much more refined and disciplined.  They have the ability to cast elemental magic, create portals, and many other, higher-level spells.

I don’t want to reveal the actual source of power in the novels, that will be a revelation within the series :)  I’ve only covered the most basic aspects of magic in The Sword of Dragons, but I’ve spent the better part of a decade developing it and figuring out its tiny facets.  It is almost a character in and of itself within the Sword of Dragons universe.

However, the fact that I have worked on it for so long is also a bit of a problem.

Modern Fantasy – How Magic Works

Now that its time to build a new universe with its own set of rules, I find myself wanting to fall back on the existing universe’s ideas.  When I first started considering how magic would work in the new novel, I wanted it to work in much the same way.

When I realized this, I stopped myself and cleared away that idea.  I don’t want to write the same story, after all.  I want this to be a completely unique story with a set of rules all its own.

Where did this lead me?  To research.  Yes, like the geek I am, I started researching magic.  I didn’t go to other fantasy novels, at least not yet.  Where I did start was actual history.  To be honest, I didn’t expect to find so much material on it.

Image Source – http://www.love-egypt.com

The idea of the supernatural being real goes as far back as history, and I’m sure beyond even that.  From Ancient Egypt and Ancient China through today, humans are no strangers to rituals or incantations or enchantments.

While I expected the common elements of magic in Fantasy to have its origins in human culture, I did not realize just how much.  Almost every type of magic you’ve seen or read about in fiction has a basis on the beliefs of humans in the real world.  Shamanism, Necromancy, Enchantments, Witchcraft.  While I knew about some of this, I did not know about all of it, or the rich cultural and historical significance to it.

This brings me back to my original question: how will magic work in my new story?  Reading about it has given me ideas, but it will have to be one of those elements of the story that evolves as I continue to work on it.

The Power of Three

What I do know is this: the characters I have been developing over the past couple of weeks are key to solving this.  In fact as  fellow blogger Victoria recently pointed out in her blog, they are the prime factors of a story.

Images Source - http://bramleegwater.deviantart.com
Images Source – http://bramleegwater.deviantart.com

So the three primary characters central to my story, Chris, Emmi, and Alycia, will embody much of the magical ‘spectrum’ in this new universe.  Chris, being the central protagonist, will be the first to gain his new powers, but Emmi and Alycia will follow.

This is a sharp departure from The Sword of Dragons, where Cardin Kataar, thanks to the knowledge he is gaining from the Sword, will eventually be capable of using every power magic can grant.  Chris, Emmi and Alycia, on the other hand, will be limited, and while they might share some common abilities, the greatest of their powers will be unique to themselves.

In fact as I write this, the idea has struck me to give them specific types of magics, not necessarily just one, but again I don’t want them to share their greatest abilities.

Image Source - http://shadowd.pbworks.com
Image Source – http://shadowd.pbworks.com

Chris would be capable of using the more arcane type of magic, raw power, spells.  This would come from his deep connection to his ancestors and their own abilities, magnified through his own soul.

Emmi, being a more physical person, might find herself using spells that affect her physical body, such as controlled animism (so no, not a werewolf.)  I also would tie this in with nature, a strong bond with the natural world around her.

Alycia has a good spatial acuity and a very vivid imagination, and is able to take what is in her mind and create a representation in the real world of some sort (she is a graphic design major in college).  This makes me think of things like sigils and enchantments.  Bit of a stretch, I know, but my mind works in mysterious ways.

So there you have it, the beginnings of how magic works in this new universe.  I hope you all found this interesting, and that the latter half has garnered greater interest in my new story.  Please feel free to leave comments, I’m curious to know what everyone thinks!