Sanderson Takes Over

I’ve been trying to get through the Wheel of Time books before A Memory of Light comes out on January 8, and since I am now 20% finished with The Towers of Midnight, I think I can safely say that I am going to make it. Light! What a reading frenzy.

I was keenly interested to see what Brandon Sanderson would do with the series, and so far I’m quite pleased. I can definitely see the change in writing style (mainly in shorter sections and paragraphs and sentences), but I expected that. What I didn’t expect was the emotional impact that Sanderson brought to the series. Sanderson did something that Jordan never managed: He made me actually care about Rand for the first time since the first book. Rand’s been such an insufferable, stubbornly indecipherable butthead of a hero for so long that I frankly hoped the Dark One would win the Last Battle.

A huge increase in drama was achieved simply by actually having the characters interact with each other. When you think about it, so much of the Wheel of Time has been about the characters not interacting, and not explaining themselves, and not being forthright, and not trusting their peers. Everyone, good guys and bad, has had their own independent story going on, where they have their own plan, and they think everyone else is out to get them. That makes for some interesting points of view, conflict, and tension, but when it’s everyone and it goes on for book after book after book with no resolution, it gets a bit tedious. Of course, it might have nothing to do with Sanderson and might have been Jordan’s plan all along. You can see it starting to happen in Knife of Dreams.

Because of all the lack of communication and side plots and exposition, I haven’t really enjoyed Wheel of Time since The Shadow Rising, and the last good plot development I remember was Dumai’s Wells which I believe happened at the end of Lord of Chaos. I’ve merely been enduring the series since then.

At least until Knife of Dreams, Jordan’s last book, which was good. And now I can say that The Gathering Storm, Sanderon’s first book, is good, too. Were I to recommend the series to someone, however, I would say, "Read books 1-4, skim through books 5-6, then just skip to book 11."

Outlining The Rest of Airworld

I’ve not forgotten about Airworld. I’m outlining the remainder of the story. I find that I can only be a pantser up to a certain point (usually that point is about now, where the story needs to start moving toward a resolution), at which time I really have to sit down and figure out how to resolve things without using magical faery dust.

In this case it’s harder than I might have expected, because Airworld became  rather complex, and there are many threads flying about loose right now. I suppose this is why writers always advise you to know your ending before you start. It’s good advice, but extremely difficult for me. Unless you count something like, “Then they figured everything out. The end.”

Anyway, for those interested in the writing process, I started by writing a synopsis of the story so far, where I wrote roughly a paragraph covering each chapter. This was quite instructional in itself, because it’s the first time I’ve looked at an overhead view of the story since I started. I’ve already identified plenty of places to make revisions just from that.

After that I tried to identify the questions that were raised in each chapter and wrote those questions after the paragraph. I imagined each paragraph to be one of those old-time movie serials, where at the end the narrator says something like, “Will our hero find a way to get out of the boxcar before it plunges off the cliff? Tune in next week to find out!” And it would be in that old-timey over-excited radio voice where they speak ten times too fast. Mine aren’t that dramatic though – more like, “Will Naobi find the Council of Life?” or “Will Garath’s plan work?”

Through trial and error I’ve discovered that questions phrased to give simple yes/no answers seem to provide better focus on the plot. For example, “Will Cheton make it back to the group?” As opposed to, “How will Cheton deal with being separated from the group?” Questions with more open-ended answers leave me with too much room to make up new sections of plot, as opposed to writing along a pre-determined course.

After that I will make another pass through those questions and figure out which ones have already been answered, and which ones still need answers. That will hopefully inform the direction of the rest of the story.

Adult Fantasy–Worst Genre Name Ever

I stumbled on this post from Rachel Aaron entitled “We need a new name…” which made me laugh.

Me, "I’m a fantasy author!" (always so cool to say)

Lady, "Oh wow! So like Harry Potter?!"

Me, "No, Harry Potter’s YA, I write adult fantasy."

Lady, "…………."

Me, "NO! Not THAT kind of adult fantasy!"

This is probably one of the main reasons I’m using the name Everett Renshaw. Because it is unbelievably embarrassing to say to real people in real life that I write in a genre that the industry calls “adult fantasy.” I don’t even like telling people that I read in this genre. It would be marginally better to call it “epic fantasy” or “urban fantasy” but unfortunately I’m not writing those. Pretty much anything with the word “fantasy” in it makes me cringe and want to resign myself to a life of cubicles.

I’m thinking that I might start adopting the term “magical realism” when talking to an “unsafe” audience. Most people won’t have any idea what that means, and nobody likes to sound stupid, so they won’t ask what it is. And if someone does happen to know what it means, they’ll think I’m writing pretentious literary material. (When in fact, magical realism is … well, I better not say it or someone somewhere will feel compelled to argue about it.)

Airworld Agenda

After two whole days without writing anything (where it felt like I had about 5 hours of spare time each day), I’m back on it! However, I’m going to take a short break from Naobi and Cheton and work on some scenes from Motiva that have been in the back of my mind for a while, which will hopefully become relevant toward the end of the story. I’m also going to wait a few days before I start posting again. Thanks!

How To Keep Reading Airworld

Okay, if you want to continue to be an Alpha Reader, here’s what you need to do. Click on the link on the right that says “Register,” under Meta. (If you’re reading on a tablet or mobile device, it might be way at the bottom of the page.)

Pick a username and an email. Don’t use a fake email because it will send a password there. Copy the password in the email and click on the link below it. Enter your new username and paste the password into the box below. That will take you to your profile page, where you may want to change your password into something that you can actually remember. (It’s near the bottom of the page.) It would probably be best not to put anything secret in your profile, since this is WordPress and everybody likes to hack WordPress.

If I recognize you from your name and email, I will go ahead and put you in the Alpha Readers group and you’ll see all the Airworld posts again. If I don’t recognize you, send me a message on Facebook. (I’m assuming everyone who cares to read this is already a friend of mine on there.)

Sorry about the complications!