Tag Archives: Star Wars

Writing Is Stress Relief

Hi everyone!

Life has become completely crazy this year, especially in the past few months since we had to move (and not exactly by choice, either.)  Between the chaos and craziness that has been my day job this year, wedding planning, and moving, I’ve found myself with very little time and energy to write, or do much of anything writing-related.

It suddenly occurred to me how much I missed writing, and how I’ve had few good methods to help relieve stress.  I remember one afternoon, while we drove to the grocery store, I turned to my fiancee and said, “I really need to find time to write regularly again.”  It was out of the blue, but I figured there had to be some reason I felt compelled to say it.

And not long after, I realized why: writing is one of my biggest outlets.  One of my biggest stress relief avenues.  In fact in recent years, it has become the biggest.  I no longer sing in choir, haven’t in years, and I don’t read as much as I’d like to, especially in the past 2 or 3 years.  But writing, that has been my constant.

Even after we finish unpacking, the craziness isn’t likely to end anytime soon, we still have a long ways to go in our wedding planning, and work isn’t going to let up anytime soon.

While TV and video games still provide some outlet, they still don’t have the affect on me that writing does.  They aren’t as powerful an outlet.  They help me wind down at the end of the day, which is needed, but they aren’t writing.

Why Is It So Powerful?

I don’t really have a definitive answer to that question, but maybe we can figure it out right now.  Storytelling has been a constant in my life, ever since I was a small child telling wild stories to my Great Grandma Marcis.  It was fun.  And then in 5th grade, I wrote my first short story, and have been hooked on writing ever since.

But somewhere after that, writing definitely became more than just a fun obsession.  Just like choir, just like reading, just like video games, it allowed me to shut out the rest of the world and become engrossed in something else.  With choir, when I sang, the world around me disappeared and my entire Universe became the director, the choir, and the audience.  When reading, the characters on the page were my entire Universe.  Same with video games.

Image Source – http://finalfantasy.wikia.com

But then, that still doesn’t explain why writing does more for me than any of those other outlets.  It certainly didn’t always.  I still remember how obsessed I became with Final Fantasy 7 when I first discovered it.  Same with EverQuest.

I think it wasn’t until I moved to Colorado, when I finally broke a 4-year writer’s block and finished book one of the Sword of Dragons, that writing became something far more for me.

In the past 5 years, I’ve written 3 complete novels and am developing many more.  The development, the writing, the publication process, it all makes me so happy!  I obsess over my stories (ask my fiancee, once I get on a tangent about a story, I don’t stop talking about it!) and they feel like they need to be told.  And that I need to be the one to tell them!

It’s my way of giving back to the world, I think, while at the same time giving myself something.  I’m able to satisfy both my need for stories, both to experience and to tell, while giving the world stories.

Image Source – http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/Star_Wars:_The_Last_Jedi

Recently when watching the latest trailer for Star Wars The Last Jedi, it reminded me how great stories make me feel.  And I love being able to make others feel that way.  Maybe my stories aren’t as great as Star Wars – that’s not for me to decide.  But who knows, someday, maybe someone will fall in love with my stories the same way I fell in love with Star Wars, or Star Trek, or Lord of the Rings.

That would be truly amazing :)

Thanks for reading, everyone!
-Jon Wasik

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The Return of Stargate and the Prequel Trend

Hi everyone!

If you haven’t heard yet, Stargate is finally making a comeback!  And I’m not talking about a reboot of the movie franchise, which has either been fully cancelled or at least postponed.  Rather, this is the next ‘chapter’ in the SG-1 Universe.

…Except, it isn’t.  Announced only a few days ago, it’s called Stargate Origins (click here to check the announcement on Gateworld.net.)  It takes place…sometime before SG-1, though we don’t know when yet.  And reportedly follows an adventure of young Catherine Langford as she defends Earth against an unimaginable darkness…  More on why this is a problem for me further down.

Sci-Fi and the Prequel Trend

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

Back in 1999, George Lucas released the first Star Wars prequel, The Phantom Menace.  At the time, I was extraordinarily excited about it, I’d always wanted to see those first three episodes, to see the origin story of Darth Vader, and, well, I was excited to see more Star Wars on screen.

What I didn’t know was the trend that it would begin…and that is a trend in Sci Fi that has endured for nearly 20 years.

Prequels.  Though I don’t believe Phantom Menace was the first ever prequel, it was the biggest hit I’m aware of.  Since then, here’s what we’ve seen…

  • Star Trek Enterprise (followed by the 2009 Star Trek reboot, and now Star Trek Discovery.
  • X-Men Origins and X-Men First Class
  • Prometheus (prequel to Alien)
  • The Thing
  • Caprica
  • Oz The Great and Powerful

And that’s just a small list of well-knowns.  Now with Stargate Origins coming out, I find myself crying out “NOOOOO!”  I for one have grown tired of prequels.  Especially in Sci-Fi universes that are supposed to be about exploration and moving forward (Star Trek and Stargate both being examples.)

But why?  Why is this continuing?  Especially…well, do an experiment with me.  Go to google.com and type in the search parameter “Why are prequels so popular?”  I know that Google can tailor search results based on past browsing habits, but for me, the first 10 results talk about why the Star Wars prequels are so hated.

So if the first major prequel of a franchise was so horrible, once again, I have to ask…why is this trend continuing??

Theories of the Trend

One of the most common opinions I get when I ask people this question is “Hollywood can’t come up with anymore original ideas.”  An interesting theory, but I wonder how true it actually is.

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

In fact, until recently, I didn’t really have a response except “maybe that’s true.”  Until…Bright.  The name of an upcoming, Netflix-produced movie, Bright is about modern-day Earth, with elves and orcs and faeries living side by side with us.  Will Smith’s character is a police officer partnered with what appears to be a young orc.  This is radically different from any major sci-fi/fantasy movie I’ve seen in recent years.

But it’s Netflix.  It’s not a major motion picture studio, it’s a relatively brand new production studio.  And I think this is a key point.  Netflix broke the mold with movie rentals, and now is breaking the mold by producing it’s own TV shows and, now, movies.  Like Amazon, Netflix seems to be all about trying new things, innovating, and moving its company in an unexpected direction.  And it’s succeeding at it.

Major motion picture studios, however…it’s like an unknown author sending a manuscript to an agent or publisher.  You’re a big, big risk.  They are highly reticent to invest time and money into you, no matter how good your product is.  So more likely than not, you’ll be rejected.

I think the same can be said about major motion picture studios and TV production studios.  They want to invest money into something that has a proven history of making money.  And even as reviled as the Star Wars prequels are, they made a ton of money.  So prequels make money.

This, I think, is why we keep getting prequels and, for that matter, sequels, rather than truly original content.

This is also why I am becoming a big proponent of Netflix, and of self-publishing.  It allows those with innovative or new ideas to get their ideas out there.  They may not always succeed, but at least they can try.

Parting Thoughts on Stargate Origins

Image Source – http://stargate.wikia.com

I’m really really sad about the direction they are taking to try to revive Stargate.  I really want more Stargate, but a prequel?  A prequel that, at least at first glance, blatantly ignores established timeline?  For those who aren’t as familiar with it, before the Stargate was opened by Daniel Jackson in the motion picture, the Stargate was only opened one other time after it was unburied in Giza, with disastrous results.  It was subsequently shut down for decades.

Yet this premise seems to indicate that Catherine travels through the Stargate, either before or after Ernest is stranded off-world, to confront some darkness that, apparently, SG-1 and the SGC are never made aware of.

In essence, it’s making the same mistake Star Trek and Star Wars made in their prequels: ignoring continuity.

Worse still, the series is being released as 10 episodes…each episode 10 minutes long.  I can’t imagine why anyone thought this was a good idea…but then again…I’m kind of eating my own words now.  I released 10 short stories which will later be compiled into an anthology (The Orc War Campaigns.)  So…maybe this is a result of the trend of online and subscription based TV shows?

Anyway, I hope I’m wrong about Origins, but I really think this effort is going to fall flat on its face, and Stargate will once again be thrown into proverbial mothballs.  :(

What are your thoughts about all of this?

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

Inhabiting Your Characters – Cosplay

Hey everyone!

If you keep up with my fiancee’s blog, you’ll have read that we recently attended Anomaly Con, a Steampunk convention in the Denver, CO area.  And as part of our time there, we were in costume!

Tinker and L3GEND. Photo by Death’s House Productions. Makeup by Beck Stewart.

Specifically, on Saturday Beck painted us up to be like robots!  In fact, if you’ve never heard of them before, we were specifically ‘fan bots’ from the Steam Powered Giraffe music group and their fictional universe.

And I’ll say this…it was a unique experience for me, for many reasons.  A couple of weeks before, Beck did a test run of my bot’s makeup on me, and it was a surreal experience when the makeup was done and I looked in the mirror.

I was someone else.

That’s how it felt.  Like, for a moment, I seriously felt like I was the fictional character we had made up together, named L3GEND.  And then interviews with characters from sci-fi and fantasy movies started playing through my head, about how they felt the same when they first got into the full makeup and costume from their characters.

In fact, we just went to the Denver Art Museum’s Star Wars Costumes exhibit, which is part of why I’m a day late on this weekend’s post.  While waiting in line, they showed videos about the costumes, including Natalie Portman talking about how she felt donning Padme Amidala’s costumes, and it sounded like she had a similar experience.

And it got me to thinking something for writers…

Inhabiting Your Characters in Cosplay

I’ve toyed with the idea in the past, and Wayne Adams has even mentioned trying to find cosplayers to portray my characters at conventions when I have a booth.

Photo by PixieGoddess Cosplay and Art. Wig styled by Beck Stewart.

But what if I worked on creating costumes for some of my characters, and actually wore them?  Would this allow me to ‘get into their heads’ so to speak?  More than I already am, any way?

In and of itself, that might not be enough reason to, but then there are the reasons of being ‘in character’ at cons when I have tables, not to mention, if the costume is impressive enough, it might garner more interest in the novels.

But I want to go back to the original point: inhabiting my characters.

Maybe doing so would give me ideas about different directions I could take their characters.  Maybe even totally change the story direction, as has happened more than once already.

I can’t do this for all of my characters, but maybe the primary protagonists.  Cardin Kataar being the most immediate character I’m thinking.  But which costume?  His tattered rags and worn out, mismatched armor from The Sword of Dragons?  Or his newer armor from Burning Skies?

Cover by Christian Michael

To be honest, that matters a little less than the actual prop itself, the Sword of Dragons…how in the world could I construct such a large weapon?  Especially to make it acceptable to take to places like conventions, where they have very strict rules on what they will allow for prop weapons?

And then the armor itself…thanks to an artist I hired last year to start doing character sketches, I actually have a sketch of Cardin Kataar I could go off of for the armor.  Could I learn to make the leather pieces myself?

It’s an exciting idea, but also a time-consuming one.  I am intrigued enough at the idea that I might at least do some preliminary research into it.

What do you all think?  An intriguing idea?  Any authors out there ever do this before?

Thanks for reading! :)
-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

The Complexities of Writing a Series – Snowball Effect

Hi everyone!

While the Sword of Dragons is not the first series I have ever written, it is by far the biggest, and I’m only a few books into it!  And the further I go, the more I’m beginning to realize the daunting task ahead of me.

Image Source - https://www.pinterest.com/pin/442197257133712811/
Image Source – https://www.pinterest.com/pin/442197257133712811/

Whether or not anyone else has used it before, I call it the snowball effect.  With each and every new story, there’s more material built up, and therefore more material I have to be intimately familiar with to ensure continuity.  (Because I hate continuity errors…as much as I love Star Trek, it was pretty bad about that in later series.)

Now with three books (2 published, plus the Orc War Campaigns which is as big as a novel), working on book 3 has required me to go back often and reference notes, thoughts, and actual pages from previous stories to ensure I’m getting all of the characters, locations, and plots straight.

Image Source - https://magisterscorner.wordpress.com/tag/mass-effect/
Image Source – https://magisterscorner.wordpress.com/tag/mass-effect/

I’m beginning to understand why the creators of the Mass Effect series did not want to take the story beyond the 3rd game.  For me it’s just one continual story I have to keep track.  For Mass Effect, in each game, the player gets to make a multitude of decisions that affect not only the outcome of the current game, but the games to follow.  Keeping track of and including all possibilities into each game must have been crazy difficult!!  And as far as I could tell from playing the trilogy, they did a great job!

I’m curious to see what they do with the new game, Andromeda…how much of player decisions can show through into Andromeda?  Or can players even load in their Mass Effect 3 play through to affect it?  We’ll find out soon enough :)

Star Trek Dragon – My First Series

stdragonThe first time I wrote a continual story was my fan fiction, Star Trek Dragon.  Spread across 7 season, 66 episodes of which were a part of the main seasonal run, and 4 more that weren’t part of the episode numbering, it was a pretty big story.  I never brought them all together to get a word count, but I can imagine it’s pretty massive.

There were many instances, especially in season’s 6 and 7, where I took things I had written in the earlier seasons and made them vital to where the story and characters went.  It was fun!

Started while I was at the tail end of Jr. High and finished in College, it wasn’t the most popular fan fiction out there, but it was well received by those who did read it, and I did have a small fan following near the end.

The Sword of Dragons – So Much More Complicated

Cover by Christian Michael
Cover by Christian Michael

So knowing that I successfully wrote 7 seasons and only created a couple of plot holes and inconsistencies, why does The Sword of Dragons feel so much more difficult?

When thinking about this question this morning, the answer seemed rather obvious: in Star Trek Dragon, I had copious amounts of references to look back on, plus I knew the Star Trek universe better than any other.  It was pre-established. And fans are really good at documenting what has happened in it.

With the Sword of Dragons, it’s an entirely made up Universe, one which I’ve built from the ground up and continue to build.  There’s no fan wiki out there (if only I had the time to build one…)  And unfortunately, I don’t have a team of editors helping me with continuity.  It’s just little ‘ol me taking on an entire Universe…

I also wonder how much of the difficulty writing book 3 is stemming from my flare-up of ADHD, because it seems like it’s been harder than it should be.  In any case, I’ll continue to work my hardest to keep it all straight, and will depend on my awesome beta readers (Nick, Natalie, you both rock!) to help keep me on the straight and narrow :)

Final Thought – The Star Wars EU

Image Source - http://www.vg247.com/2014/05/02/we/
Image Source – http://www.vg247.com/2014/05/02/we/

I was just about to finish this blog when I realized something: I think I understand now why Disney decided to split apart the Star Wars Expanded Universe and the Cinematic Universe.  There are literally hundreds of Star Wars EU novels out there: keeping track of everything and getting the continuity right, all while trying to come up with an original story for the new movies, is beyond daunting…

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik

Is Romance in Fiction Always Necessary?

Hi everyone!

One of my favorite movies!!
One of my favorite movies!!

Think about some of your favorite movies, TV shows, or novels, and tell me…is there a romantic plot or subplot to it?  The chances are good that the answer is yes.  Why?

Because just about every single fiction story out there has romance in it.  No seriously, think about it.  Think about every movie you know, ever TV show you’ve watched, every novel you’ve read, and how many of them have no romance in them what so ever?  I’m willing to bet it’s less than 10% (and that number is probably being generous.)

TreasurePlanetVHSSo I guess the question is…is this bad?  I started thinking about this after watching Treasure Planet with my girlfriend recently (psst: check out her author’s blog here!), and she commented how there had once been a plan to continue the story as a cartoon series, but she was annoyed that the series was going to give Jim Hawkins a love interest.  She liked that he didn’t have a love interest in the movie.

When she said that, it took me a moment of processing, and I realized she was right.  There hadn’t been a love interest for Jim.  Granted there was a very small romantic subplot between the ship’s Captain and the scientist (I’m horrible with names) but even that was highly underrepresented.

And yet, at least in my mind, Treasure Planet is a fantastic movie!

Image Source - https://fanart.tv
Image Source – https://fanart.tv

So in my opinion, romance is not necessary to make a great story.  However, some of my absolute favorite movies include very strong romance elements.  Stardust (a movie that has become dear to me :) ), The Princess Bride, and Star Wars (especially The Empire Strikes Back) all have romantic elements, and these are some of my all-time favorite movies.

However, just like any other trope in a fictional story, doing the same thing over and over again the exact same way gets boring.  It gets old.  Romantics like me love a good romance story, but even I get annoyed with the same old version of a trope.  While Prince Bride falls into the category of an old trope (damsel in distress,) Empire Strikes Back and Stardust did not follow the old tropes, and in fact Stardust even played with it a little bit with Tristan’s crush in the beginning.

This is why I love playing with tropes, and couldn’t resist doing just that in The Sword of Dragons.  For instance, a dragon in a cave guarding a precious treasure?  Okay, but instead of it being gold or jewels that a greedy dragon is hoarding, it’s an honorable creature protecting a powerful artifact from being used to wreak havoc. (Sorry, no Smaugs in my books!)

Romance in the Sword of Dragons stories

So, what of romance in the Sword of Dragons novels and short stories?  Did I fall into the same ‘ol fantasy tropes for romance stories?

Image Source - http://s1.1zoom.net/big0/102/318623-blackangel.jpg
Image Source – http://s1.1zoom.net/big0/102/318623-blackangel.jpg

Well in book 1, there was never a ‘damsel in distress.’  In fact, all of the women in book 1 are strong and independent.  So that pretty much eliminates that possibility right there.  No princess waiting for some gallant knight to save her.  Plus, without giving away too many spoilers, the hero doesn’t exactly get the girl (but he doesn’t not get her, either…  You’ll just have to read the book to find out what happens ;) )

What of book 2?  There definitely was a romantic subplot in it, and when I first published Burning Skies, I was a little worried about how people would receive it.  Yet I was pleased to find that all of the readers who’ve read it so far have enjoyed it, and are curious to see if it’s going where it seems to be…or if I’ll turn it on it’s head.

The inspiration for Sira's dress in Burning Skies
The inspiration for Sira’s dress in Burning Skies

There was also a scene that I absolutely loved researching and writing in Burning Skies: The Royal Ball.  Researching medieval formal attire for both men and women was fun.  But it was also a chance to bring Cardin and Sira closer together, giving them one special moment…

So what of future stories in the Sword of Dragons universe?  Where are things going with Cardin and Sira?  With Reis?  With Kailar?

Well, as the good Professor River Song says, “Spoilers” ;)  But I will say this: I seem to have a propensity to torture my characters.  If they ever do find ‘happily ever after,’ it will only be after they have been through hell and back again (a dozen times.)  If they ever get there.

What Do You Think?

So what do you all think?  Should there be more stories without romantic subplots?  Should romantic interests be left out?  Or are they appropriate or even necessary to have in fiction?  Leave a comment below to let me know! :)

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik