Tag Archives: Inspiration

The Cost of Self Publishing

Image Source – http://infocus.emc.com/

There’s so much advice out there about what to do or not to do for self-publishing.  Some of the most common include “Hire a professional graphic design artist to make your covers.  Even if you’re a graphic designer, don’t try to design your own, it’s a mistake.  Hire someone instead.”  Or, “hire an editor.  My god, hire an editor!”

That’s all fine and dandy, and perhaps even is sound advice.  Except…that all costs money.  And if you want someone who is actually good at it, it costs a lot of money.  In fact depending on the size of your manuscript, an editor will probably cost you more than a graphic design artist.  Worse still, if you want custom artwork made, hiring an artist will probably cost you hundreds if not thousands of dollars.  Then that art still needs to be turned into a cover.

So, okay, you have a novel you want to self publish.  You want to publish it as strongly as you can.  But you don’t have a penny to spare, let alone $500 or more for just one of these services.  Sure there are cheaper ones out there…so maybe you’re lucky enough to find a cover artist who will do it for you for $100.  That’s still $100.  Not to mention an editor.  To speak nothing of advertising.

The fact of the matter is, if you want to self publish and you want to follow the advice of all of these people and pay for all of these services, you need a fair bit of money up front.  But what if you don’t have that money to spare?

Before anyone says it, I’ll say now what the two most common responses are to that question.  “Go traditional publishing” and “If it’s important to you, you’ll find a way to make it happen.”

To the first response, this usually comes from people, both those who are published and those who are not, that don’t seem to understand the challenges a writer faces finding an agent and/or publisher when they are an unknown.  Even if you have an amazing story written extremely well, you’re an unknown, and as I wrote in my previous blog about prequels, these industry professionals need to make money.  Not because they are greedy, quite the opposite: they need to live, just like you and I do.

So the other response, “You’ll find a way to make it happen.”  If only it was that easy.  Especially in today’s supposedly ‘recovered’ economy.  Perhaps my viewpoint is unique to where I live, but it would take me years to save up the money to hire editors and graphic designers.  For just one novel.  Let alone more.

“What’s your advice, then?”  Well, my advice is, if you have the skills, do it.  Take the time to do it right.  Research.  Work on it.  And if you have friends with the skills you need and they are willing to do it cheap or free, take advantage of that (but don’t expect them to, just ask, and if they say they can’t or won’t, don’t be offended by it.  Both editing and graphic design are serious and time-consuming skills to develop.)

I’m fortunate to have started developing both of these skills early on.  Editing for my love of writing, and graphic design when I was writing my fan fiction.  I’m no professional at the graphic design end of it, and I’m always learning.  But until I make enough money to hire these professionals, I have to rely on myself and my talented friends.

That is not a sin.  That does not mean your heart isn’t in it or you’re not willing to make sacrifices to make your dream come true.  It just means you’re willing to do whatever you can to work towards your dream.

Because if you don’t, if you say “I don’t have the money, therefore I’ll never get published,” then yes, you’re right, you won’t ever get published.  But if you take the risk, and take the time and make the effort to make your self-published novel the best that you have the resources to make it, then you’re taking steps towards making your dreams come true.

Taking steps, even baby steps, is better than doing nothing at all.

My Dream for the Future

I had an idea, and I hope there comes a day when I can actually make this happen.  I’d love to someday set up an organization that seeks out potential authors and helps them find affordable editors and artists, and even has funds to help them get their first novel off the ground right.  I’m not talking about an agency, we won’t publish it or find a publisher for them, we’ll merely provide them the contacts and resources needed for them to do it.  And education on how to do it.

Due to limited funding, I know we couldn’t help everyone.  But maybe if there were enough people working or volunteering, they could at least read manuscripts from potentials, and if the potentials don’t quite meet the standards needed to qualify, at least give them advice on what they can do to improve and have a better chance the next time they submit.

At the very least, help give budding authors the tools they need to make themselves better and have a chance at getting their names out there.

Here’s hoping I can gather the connections and resources to get something like that off the ground someday :)

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik

The Star Wars Sin – Is It Okay To Change Direction?

Hi everyone!

I’ve touched on the subject of 2nd editions and how reviled George Lucas has become due to his revisions of Star Wars.  However, I wanted to touch on another aspect of that topic.

When is it okay to change the direction of a series, and when is it not?  This specific question came up a couple of weeks ago while chatting with Wayne from Show X about Star Wars.

Image Source – http://www.craveonline.com

In fact, Star Wars is a very good example to use in this case, because it has made changes in two ways.  The first is what was mentioned in previous blogs, how he took the original trilogy and modified it, much to the anger and angst of many.

However, what about the prequel trilogy?  There seems to be a sharp divide regarding whether or not the prequels are good or not, some stating that they are not part of the Star Wars saga at all, others who loved them.  It seems that there are few who, like me, like some of the prequels and their elements, but certainly not all (Episode 2…)

What came as a great surprise to me lately is that many of those who hate the prequels often say, “Had Lucas kept to his original plan for the prequels, it might have actually been enjoyable.”

Image Source – starwars.com

When reading and hearing this from others, somewhere in my head something clicked, and I do recall that the prequels didn’t seem to follow the original plan.  Furthermore, some other things didn’t make sense, so I started reading up on the development and production of The Force Awakens.

Sure enough, my vague memories turned out to be right: Lucas had outwardly stated in the early ’80’s that he had planned out both the prequel trilogy and a sequel trilogy.  And based on the quotes, it was in no uncertain terms that he had these plotted out, and he even made statements about what those stories would be about.

And yet…later on, Lucas started stating that he never had any plans for a sequel trilogy, just a vague idea of ‘wouldn’t it be cool.’  These statements directly contradict his earlier statements.

Image Source – http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page

This is just an example.  There are other examples where Lucas had to give a back story during Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi to production staff, and apparently he was very clear about the origins of Vader and the nature of the Force.

All of which was contradicted in the prequels.  For instance, the much-reviled idea of midichlorians being what grants people the power of the Force.  Or the fact that only some people can use the Force (Lucas was once quoted as saying anyone can use it, some are stronger than others, but it’s only the Jedi who train and dedicate to become powerful in it…a statement Lucas later denied ever saying.)

Where’s He Going With All Of This?

The thing is, Lucas said all of these things about the nature of the Force and Vader long before he ever created the prequels.  The stories weren’t actually created yet, the movies weren’t even in development, and nothing was ‘official.’  Yet people held Lucas to these statements as if they were gospel.  And have since crucified him, so to speak, for changing that direction.

Why?  Why is what he did so bad?  Is it because the prequels really were as bad as people claim, or is it because people wanted the story Lucas had mentioned in off-hand comments, and were disappointed for not getting that story?

As a writer, this is a very important question I’ve been asking myself lately.  Because, let’s face it, I change the direction of my stories all the time.  I come up with better ideas as I develop or write a novel or a series of novels.

In fact, from what I can tell with all story creators (whether novels or movies or plays or video games), this is very common.  As long as you don’t contradict what was explicitly stated or made known as fact in a previous story, because continuity IS important.

So at what point does it become a sin to change the course of your story from what you originally planned?  Other than breaking established continuity, anyway.

The answer became somewhat apparent in my discussion with Wayne: when you’ve promised your consumers one thing but then delivered something else entirely.  ESPECIALLY when it is something that has entered the hearts and minds of millions and is so important to so many people.

Cover by Christian Michael

This, of course, makes me reticent to ever post any plans or ideas for future Sword of Dragons stories.  I don’t want people to expect me to take the series in one direction, only to find I actually take it in another.  The progression of the series has already changed considerably from my original plans (I had intended for Cardin and Sira to have a child at one point, but I’ve completely scrapped that idea, for many, many reasons.)

It may be a little less important for a series that isn’t yet well-known like Sword of Dragons, but it still is a good idea to avoid spoilers and promises.  At least, I think so.

The Mass Effect Sin

I won’t go into too many details here, because I don’t want to spoil the story of the Mass Effect trilogy for my fiancee, but there’s another example of when changing things is a sin.  And that’s the original ending for Mass Effect 3.

Those who are curious can find and read copious articles of how hated the original ending was.  There even was an attempted class-action law suit over it.  Personally, I think this was taking it too far.

However, it does make one good point: stay true to your stories, to the spirit of your stories and its characters.  Mass Effect 3’s original ending did not in any way take into account your choices throughout the entire trilogy.  Considering this was one of the key mechanics of the trilogy, that every decision, even small ones, come to bear later on, sometimes in very unexpected ways, to not include that mechanic in the ending was kind of a slap in the face to fans.

Another, less recent example: Willow and it’s “sequel” novels.  I’ve not personally read the novels yet, I didn’t know they existed until recently, but they were pretty well panned by readers, and one of the many complaints was that the character of Willow was nothing like the character from the movie.

What do you all think?  Am I right on the ball or way off the mark with my assertions?

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik

Who Do You Write Like?

Hi everyone!

Who are some of your favorite writers?  Can you point to why they are your favorite?  There’s probably a lot of reasons, anywhere from the stories they write, the characters they create, and so on.

One thing to consider, however, is how they tell their stories.  I love JK Rowling’s writing style, especially watching it evolve over the course of the Harry Potter novels.  I also really enjoyed Michael Stackpole’s writing style.

I know I’ve touched on this more than once in the past, and every writer has a distinct voice of their own…

…Right?

I mean, that’s what I’ve always thought: we all have our own writing styles that are unique to us.  However, according to an interesting website that analyzes text to compare it to ‘famous’ writers…my writing style seems to change over time.

My fiancee first mentioned it, that she once found a website that compared her writing to another author’s.  We searched and found it, and started putting excerpts from our stories into it…and were a bit surprised by the results.

The “King” of Horror

Her results were relatively consistent, and for someone who has never read Stephen King, according to https://iwl.me, she writes an awful lot like him.  Very consistently.

Myself, however…

I started by putting in the first page of chapter 1 into the tool, and was pleasantly surprised when I apparently write like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  The same man who wrote Sherlock Holmes.  That was kind of cool to see!

However, I had the idea to see how much my writing changed after my 4-year writer’s block that was in the middle of the Sword of Dragons, so I took an excerpt from chapter 31 and put it in.

…and according to the website, my style matched that of JK Rowling’s.  This didn’t surprise me a whole lot, because during my writer’s block, I had read all of Harry Potter.  And all of my chapters from book 1 after the writer’s block period came out as JK Rowling.

That pleased me, because I really really liked her writing.

Then I began to wonder, how different was my writing style for Chronicles of the Sentinels?  I intentionally tried to write it differently.  So I put in the first page of chapter 2, and was not surprised to find I wrote that chapter, and action sequence with military-type action, like Dan Brown.

…However, a later chapter came out to say that I wrote like Stephen King.  That caught me a bit off guard.

So again, wondering if things were different in later books, I started putting in excerpts for Burning Skies.  And according to the website, I write like Ursula K. Le Guin, the same author who wrote Earthsea.  I’ve never read any of Le Guin’s work, so this also surprised me.

While some other chapters had other authors’ names attached, mostly book 2 was written like this author.  And when I put in excerpts from my work in progress for book 3, it again is coming out as being like Le Guin’s style.

This got me to thinking something…has my writing style matured?  Have I found my voice?  At least, for high fantasy?  Where as my style changed in the first novel, and my style changed throughout Chronicles, my latest two novels are giving me Le Guin as the result.

Is this good?  I think I might have to pick up Earthsea to see if I can pick up on the similarities, and see if I like her novels.

But if this is an indication that my writing style has matured, that’s kind of amazing…because it took 20 years to find my voice!  I wonder if that’s normal for a writer, or not.

I also can’t help but wonder…I’ve always thought it is important to try to improve my writing all the time.  Will this mean that, over time, my style will change and become comparable to someone else’s?

I guess time will tell :)

Thanks for reading!  Let me know if there’s a particular writing style you like.  Or if you’re a writer, check out https://iwl.me and comment below who’s writing style yours is similar to!

-Jon Wasik

2nd Editions – Should Stories Be Changed?

Hi everyone!

As I mentioned in the past couple of posts, due to delays and the desire to re-brand/re-cover the Sword of Dragons novels, I’m planning on releasing what would essentially be a 2nd edition of the first two books in the series.

While talking about this plan with some friends, one of them made a suggestion that I could add in new parts, new sections, new characters to tie in later novels, etc.

I DO intend to do a complete read-through for proofreading and to ensure sentence structure flows (and to make sure there are no glaring errors I missed during all of the other edits.)  However, I hadn’t originally planned to make any story changes.  And I still don’t.  But the suggestion made me start looking at other stories that have done so…

The Hobbit – Gollum Was Not Nasty

Image Source – Wikipedia

What if I told you that in the original version of The Hobbit novel, when Bilbo and Gollum had their little game, Bilbo won and Gollum willingly gave over the ring?  Not only that, but they parted on relatively friendly terms.

“NO WAY!”

It sounds ridiculous, given what we know about that magical ring and Gollum.  But it’s true!  Back when Tolkein first released the novel, that’s how the scene played out.  However, when Tolkein was encouraged to write a sequel and he started developing Lord of the Rings, he changed the nature of the ring, and by extension, changed how it affected Gollum.

So prior to the release of Lord of the Rings, Tolkein reworked parts of The Hobbit to be in line with Lord of the Rings, and his publisher released it as a 2nd edition.

Honestly I have no idea how well this ‘revised’ version of the story was received by hardcore fans, and I’m very curious.  And I can only imagine how valuable the 1st edition of The Hobbit is now.  Anyone who has a copy of it today is beyond lucky!

But did people react to that change back then the way so many have reacted to a particularly popular Sci-Fi today?…

Star Wars Special Editions and Prequels

Image Source – https://theexportedfilm.com

If you talked to someone who saw the original Star Wars trilogy before 1997, there is a good chance that something would become very evident: they hate the Special Editions, and they hate the prequels.  This is not universal, because I for on enjoy the Special Editions (except for one addition in the Blu-ray release of Return of the Jedi…), and I enjoy Episode’s 1 and 3 (but 2 is by far the worst Star Wars ever made…)

A quick search on the internet, and you’ll find that not only do thousands of people despise these, but those who once looked to George Lucas as a great creator now look to him as a reviled destroyer of their beloved Sci-Fi.

Image Source – http://www.techtimes.com

Why?  Because of everything he changed in the Special Editions, and because of how much of the prequels went against what they knew to be the established back story.  There are other reasons, of course, but I’ve noticed that this is the prevailing feeling.  So much so that many people, if you ask them what they think about the prequels, will say, “What prequels?  There are only 3 Star Wars movies.”

Image Source – http://www.geeksversusnerds.com

The most vehement response, oddly enough, was to one simple scene in Episode 4…when Han faces the bounty hunter Greedo.  In the original version of the movie, Han blasted Greedo without Greedo ever seeing it coming.  But wanting to appeal more to children and not to ‘sully’ Han, Lucas changed it, with a bit of ‘movie magic,’ so that Greedo shot first, and Han fired back only to defend himself (rather than cold-blooded murder.)

A great movement began, and bumper stickers started showing up, “Han Shot First.”  To which Lucas replied, “Greedo Shot First.”

Should Stories Be Changed?

All of this brings up the question: can and should an author change their story in a 2nd edition if they have ideas to do so?  To clean up scenes or change the history of a character?

This is a question I seriously have to ask myself when I begin to go through the Sword of Dragons books to revise them.  Should I only clean up typoes and sentence structure, or should I actually add/change things to flow better with future stories?  Should characters from The Orc War Campaigns make brief cameos?  Would those who read the original versions of my novels hate and revile me for doing so?

What do you all think, dear readers?  Is it a sin to change a story after it’s been released to the public?  Today, almost everyone accepts the 2nd edition of The Hobbit as canon, I’ve never heard anyone complain about the changes Tolkein made to it.  But is that because it was published in the 1930’s, so few who read that original edition are still around to complain about the difference?  If so, will that eventually happen with Star Wars?  In 50 years, will the Special Editions and Prequels be accepted as canon and no one will complain except a few old-timers who ‘remembered how it was’?

Thanks for reading!  And if you’re at Anomaly Con this weekend, look for us!  :D

-Jon Wasik

If I’m Not A Writer, Who Am I?

Hi everyone,

If you’ve had a chance to read this blog’s “About” section, you’ll recall that I’ve been a writer for 23 years now.  That’s a long time.  I still remember that first time I started writing down that first story, how much fun I had writing it, and how much joy I took in hearing my classmates’ reactions to it.

It was then that I knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.  I was going to be a writer!  Before then, I would say something like “I’m going to be Batman when I grow up!” but after that…telling stories was my future.

And to be honest…23 years later, I feel like a failure.  I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.  Those first few years, I found out that becoming a published writer was difficult, let alone living off of it.  The stories of ‘making it big’ as a writer were few and far between.  Most authors didn’t become famous until after they were dead O_o

But I was dedicated, and I was in it for the long-haul.  I would work at it, slowly, bit by bit.  I would live my life while writing in the background, striving for that day when I could make a living off of writing.

And then a ray of hope struck a few years ago.  I started to get to know more fellow writers, started reading more about self-publishing on the internet, and read the blogs of other writers, such as Michael A. Stackpole, and realized that I COULD become a writer full-time, all it would take was dedicated, hard work.

I set out almost 3 years ago with the goal of: “I will make a living off of writing within 2 years.”  And while I failed to meet that goal, In that time I published my first novel, and was on the way to publishing a second!

But then…since this past fall, sales have completely bottomed out.  I’ve delayed book 3 indefinitely.  And I’ve started to question whether or not I’m a writer.  But then, that brings up another question…

Who Am I?

When someone asks what my passion is, I say “writing!”  I identify myself as a writer.  My Dad even jokes sometimes, if you’ve ever seen the movie Paul, he steals a quote from that movie and introduces me, “This is my son, the writer Jon Wasik.”

If I ever stopped writing…I honestly don’t know who I am.  “What about your I.T. work?”  I do it because it pays the bills and I enjoy it just enough not to go insane from it.  Most of the time, any way.  Believe me, I never wanted to do I.T. for the rest of my life.  I used to call myself a gamer, but in the past year, I seriously think I can count on one hand how many video games I’ve played.  If I was a gamer, I’m not really anymore.

This question has seriously been playing through my head the past couple months.  If I fail as a writer…what then?  Where do I go from here?

A Shining Star Lights My Way

Thankfully there has been a light in my life…  When I turned to my fiancee and told her I’m a failure as a writer, and if I’m not a writer anymore, who am I?  …she just looks at me, smiles, and says, “You’re my fiance.”

But more than that, she’s said something that has kept me from spiraling completely into depression…”Don’t give up.”  It is something I’ve said to her more than once, and for her to look at me and say it as earnestly as I’ve said it to her…  It has been an immense help.  She hasn’t given up on me as a writer.  And if she hasn’t…maybe I shouldn’t give up on myself, either.

And even as I’m writing this blog, I started realizing…what do people think of when they think of me?  I’m a geek, very much so.  I’m a computer guy.  I’m a dedicated friend.  I’ve even been called a moral example.  And while yes, I am all of those things, there’s always one thing they say or think of first: “He’s a writer.”

“My son, the writer Jon Wasik.”

My Dad’s half-joking, half-serious, completely proud statement.

Have I failed to make it as a writer?  Yes.  …for the moment.  But as I have read online and have been told, as long as I don’t stop, as long as I don’t give up, I’m still a writer.

Where Do I Go From Here?

As my previous blog post stated, I have to delay book 3 of the Sword of Dragons series.  However, my fiancee made a good point…that doesn’t mean I have to stop working on things.  I can’t dedicate my time to writing right now for many reasons.  But I can’t NOT do something writing-related, because I go crazy otherwise.

My fiancee made a suggestion…if I can’t dedicate my time to getting book 3 ready right now, then I can do something else.  In the background, I can start developing other stories.  I have SO many ideas.

I can touch up Chronicles of the Sentinels, and start sending out query letters again.  I can start developing the post-apocalyptic story that started as a dream a couple years ago.  Or the sci fi that started as a nightmare last year.  Or develop the genre-crossing fantasy/sci-fi idea I came up with a few years back.

Not finish.  Not complete the development phase.  But flesh them out.  Keep my imagination going.  Until I can dedicate my time to the Sword of Dragons again.

“Don’t give up,” she said to me.  “Keep going.”

I am so glad to have her in my life…so glad that she believes in me and my writing enough to push me forward…

As a certain author stated in “A Knight’s Tale,” I shall trudge on…

Thanks for reading, everyone.

Really…thank you all so much.

And thank you, Beck Stewart.  My future wife, my Starshine, for being that light in my life that gives me hope…

-Jon Wasik

Starting Simple – Character Archetypes

Hi everyone,

Something’s been nagging at the back of my mind lately, and I think I’m starting to figure out what it is.  And the thing of it is, it started a couple years ago.

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

Back when I was still going to a writer’s critique group, I took in chapter 1 of Chronicles of the Sentinels – Legacy.  In that first chapter, I introduce Chris Tatsu as he is finishing up his college finals.  That first chapter needs tons of work, and in fact I’m thinking of scrapping it completely at this point and rearchitecting the beginning of the novel, but I digress.

In that first chapter, Chris runs into a classmate who is, in a sense, a stereotypical ‘surfer dude’ type.  What surprised me the most: two of the people in that critique group said that Chris was boring, but the stereotypical surfer dude was more interesting.

Do people really want more of the ‘stereotypes’ than more intricate and complex characters?

I don’t think so.  But I did have a thought…

Starting Simple and Building From There

Image Source - http://wallpapertvs.com/dragon-guarding-the-treasure-hd-wallpaper/
Image Source – http://wallpapertvs.com/dragon-guarding-the-treasure-hd-wallpaper/

Something I did in The Sword of Dragons was I took a lot of fantasy tropes and made my own spin on them.  The best example I always give: in book 1, there’s a dragon with a lair in a cave guarding a treasure.  Except, instead of an evil dragon who hoards gold, this dragon was a good, intelligent, kind spirit, who was protecting the most powerful artifact in the entire Universe.

And I’ve been thinking, at least for future projects…maybe I should continue this trend for future characters and projects.  Start with an archetype, but then make my own spin on that archetype.  Maybe this approach will allow readers to more easily connect and identify with characters from the start.

Image Source - https://www.pinterest.com/smokelight/dwarf/
Image Source – https://www.pinterest.com/smokelight/dwarf/

I kind of already plan to do this with book 3 of the Sword of Dragons series.  I’m introducing a dwarf character early in book 3, and he is a bit of a conundrum.  You see, he’s got the attitude of a ‘stereotypical’ dwarf, but he fights that attitude, because he serves the elven College of Serelik (first mentioned in Burning Skies.)  So he’s expected to dress nice and act nice and remain well groomed.

But I’m also thinking of future projects beyond the Sword of Dragons series.  I have so many ideas that I hope I’ll actually be able to get to someday…and I think I want to try to model characters in such a fashion.  Start them off as archetypes, but turn those archetypes on their heads and make sure that the characters are their own, complex, unique entities.

What do you think, dear readers?  Do you find it easier to identify with archetypal characters who then go off to become their own, or would you rather have characters who don’t in any way fit a stereotype?

Final Note

I’m trying to work up the courage to do another VLog…because I have an important announcement to make, and I feel like just typing up a normal blog would not be appropriate for this announcement.  This will likely end up being outside of the normal Saturday blog cycle.  I’ve only done one other VLog in the past…is anyone here interested in seeing more?

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik

Interpreting Stories – Personal Biases

Hi everyone!

campfire-story-tellingIf I’ve never said it before, I’ll say it now: I love hearing from readers!  I love hearing what they like about my novels, what they don’t like, and especially discussing the various aspects of the stories and characters, the complexities, the nuances.

Of course, I always have to be careful with my responses, because there is so much I’m setting up in the early novels that won’t really be explained fully or come to be important until later novels.   I don’t want to spoil the long-term story for anyone!

What’s been really cool and interesting to see is how different people interpret different aspects of a story.  In fact, parts of the stories that I thought I’d written very clearly as meaning one thing, they interpret as meaning something else entirely.

Does this mean I failed to write clearly?  Does this mean I failed as a writer?

Nope.  In fact, I think it’s really cool!  In fact the only aspect I worry about is disappointing those readers in later novels when it is revealed that what they thought was really going on, isn’t actually going on.

Burning-Skies-Digital-FinalOne example I’ve already discussed in an earlier blog, about the difference between how the necromancers raise the dead in book 2 versus how the Staff of Aliz resurrects someone.  Of all of the reactions I expected from readers for Burning Skies, that was not one of them.

More recently, another reader talked to me about Dark Magic in the Sword of Dragons Universe, and how some characters seem to exhibit the use of Dark Magic before anyone else.

I’m hesitant to discuss it too much here (spoilers,) but suffice it to say that no one actually uses Dark Magic until the 2nd half of Burning Skies.

So why have readers interpreted something in a completely different way than I intended?  Again, it’s not because I failed as a writer, but rather because everyone, including myself, come to the table with different personal biases.  Every individual pays attentions to different details, sometimes in different ways.

The readers who have talked in detail with me about my novels aren’t citing broad examples in the novels, they are giving very specific examples, sometimes a single word, as evidence that their theory is true.  Words that I didn’t think were important when I wrote them, and that other readers either don’t think is important, or interpret differently due to their own personal biases.

Image Source - http://gallery.yopriceville.com/Fantasy/Dark_Magic_Master_Wallpaper#.WJXpRfJHTDc
Image Source – http://gallery.yopriceville.com/Fantasy/Dark_Magic_Master_Wallpaper#.WJXpRfJHTDc

For instance, associating color with certain types of magic.  Or because how Cardin senses the presence or absence of a presence in a character in book 2 compared to how he felt in book 1.

Which brings up another thought that literally just occurred to me as I write this blog: while we as people bring our own biases to a story, so too do the characters.  The example I just gave, about how Cardin senses a presence, that changes between book 1 and book 2, because of how his powers have changed so drastically.  Therefore how he interprets what he feels in book 2 does not have the same underlying meaning as it does in book 1.

It’s an evolution, for the characters, for the readers, and for me.  I think I wrote a blog about it before, about how when I release a novel ‘into the wild,’ potentially hundreds of different Universes are all created, as each reader sees and interprets the stories in their own way, and picture them in their head in their own unique way.

Image Source - hdwallpapers.in
Image Source – hdwallpapers.in

This is both exciting and terrifying!  Terrifying because how could I possibly remain true to every single reader’s interpretation of my world, without disappointing someone?

The truth is, I can’t.  And I think that’s something every writer out there should realize: if you try to cater to every single person’s view as you write your stories, you’ll go nuts.  It’s impossible.  So do what you know best: remain true to your story, and enjoy hearing how everyone interprets it.  Stick to your vision.

Trust yourself.

Thanks for reading, everyone!  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

-Jon Wasik