Being a Better Writer: Trait Dominance

This is going to be a short one today. Two reasons. One is that I’m still sick, and don’t feel great. The second is that I’ve also got a work shift today I have to be at in a little over an hour. It’s going to be an interesting day.

So, let’s not waste time (also, I really hope my head is there enough to at least make sense with this). Last night, I watched a review of a film which noted a major flaw in a character: that they were dominated by a single, overwhelming trait.

It wasn’t that they didn’t supposedly have a character outside of that one attribute. But the problem was that the writers were so sure everyone wanted to know about that trait that it came up in every scene, in every bit of wording … crud, at the end of the film, the character was still acting on this trait and reminding everyone “Oh, by the way …”

And yeah, that ended up really jarring for all involved. As the reviewer put it, it was both pointless “character development” that was shoved at the audience and distracting from everything else that the film was supposed to be about.

Thing is, this isn’t an uncommon problem. I’ve read books where the same thing happens; where the author is so determined to show us one side of a character that it becomes the only side we get to see. After I finished that review, in fact, I spent some time thinking on how a lot of stories have fallen to this weakness and ended up making a perfectly good character weaker than they needed to otherwise be, or would have been had they not been so badly thrown off-balance.

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Classic Being a Better Writer: The Art of Misdirection

Euugh. Today was supposed to be a catch-up day for writing. As well as a day when I got up and put up this post first thing in the morning. And then … I woke up at around eleven with a fuzzy head and light sore throat … and then I feel back asleep and woke up at 1 … and then I actually crawled out of bed at 3 a few minutes ago … We’ll see if I get any writing done, but from prior experience of forcing myself to write when my brain is like this and then deleting it all the moment my mind comes back and I realize it’s really bad … Well … crap. Saturday may just end up a sick day.

Which sucks, because I really wanted to do a few thousand words on Hunter/Hunted and then do some editing on A Game of Stakes, but if I can’t trust my brain, well …

Anyway, I can do as promised and link a Classic Being a Better Writer post. Which today will be one of the more popular ones I’ve ever written: The Art of Misdirection. You can read a teaser here, then hit the jump for the full thing.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to figure out what to do for my sickday.

EDIT: I almost forgot! One Drink is free this weekend, 100% off from its normal price of 99 cents. Sure, it’s nothing groundbreaking or incredible, like some of my later books, but it’s still a fun, quick read.


Have you ever read a book called The Icarus Hunt by Timothy Zahn?

If not, you’re missing out. It’s a science-fiction mystery and an engaging read, with a fun universe, a clever story, and an compelling mystery. But one of my favorite things about it is how the mystery is handled. See, most mysteries usually do one of two things: they either withhold evidence from the reader in order to keep them from solving it (sign of a weak story) or they give you all the pieces, but in such a way that you don’t put the pieces together in the right order (or don’t realize it’s a piece to begin with). The Icarus Hunt is a great example of the latter, a story that gives you all the pieces, but because the way it presents them, keeps all but the most astute readers from catching it. In fact, the clue that blows the whole mystery wide open is given less than a third of the way into the book. But in the context and scene, it’s presented so smoothly that, like the main character, the reader just lets it slide by.

Keep reading The Art of Misdirection here!

Legacy

Writing this after midnight, mostly because I really wanted you guys to have a post this morning (or tomorrow morning from when I write this), one that wasn’t the Classic Being a Better Writer post that’ll go up on Saturday.

So, what’s to write about? Well, there is some news. Book sales have slowed a little again, though thankfully nowhere near the alarming dearth from a month ago. Probably normal fluctuation. And at the same time they’ve still kept getting ratings on Goodreads, which is always good. The more reviews and ratings that are left, the more people are willing to pick up one of my titles on a whim, which is always great!

Still working on Hunter/Hunted, though my progress has been slow the last month. It’s my fault, mainly: Lack of sleep. Which doesn’t make writing easy. I’ll be working on it this weekend to catch up.

As well as on A Game of Stakes! And I’ve got good news here: The new influx of Alpha Readers? Not one of them thought there was a major issue. So this weekend I’ll be poring over it and making lots of little fixes and tweaks … because it’s time to make this Beta! And once the Beta Reading is done, I can get it out and submitted!

In other news … I am trying to come up with something short and fun for Halloween to let my Patreon Supporters look at. We’ll see what I can come up with. A Jacob Rocke short story, most likely.

So, that’s the news as far as writing and whatnot goes … Wait, I lied. Just for kicks, One Drink will be free this weekend. Why? Well, because it’s about to reach the end of another 90-day period, and I figured I’d use that sale up. I was honestly checking the possibility of Halloween stuff when I noticed it and … well, why not?

So right. Legacy. Interesting choice of words but …

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Being a Better Writer: The Static Character

Sorry for the lateness of today’s post, readers. It wasn’t because I had work, or because I was indisposed by some sudden surprise event or something. No it was simply because I was tired and decided to catch up on sleep. And catch up I did. I slept … crud, I’m not even sure, but it was more than eight hours by a long shot. I’ll probably do the same tomorrow.

Anyway, we’re actually venturing off the list this week with today’s post. For two reasons. The first is that there’s only one topic left on Topic List XI. The second is that this post was inspired by a book I read last week that left a strong impression on me for the exact problem we’ll be talking about today (which means I also won’t be naming the book, since it’s otherwise fairly good, and that’s my usual approach as to not turn readers off from it).

So then what is this problem? Well, you’ve seen the title. So what am I talking about when I say “The Static Character?”

Well, really quickly, let’s get out of the way what it isn’t, at least how we’re speaking of it today. Because a “static character” description can be used as a catch-all phrase for a character that doesn’t do much or doesn’t contribute, and this can include speaking of the events of the story. Different reviewers will use the phrase interchangeably for similar concepts all the time, but that’s usually what it boils down to: A character that does little and doesn’t move.

But there’s another aspect that the term can refer to, and that’s the one that I want to talk about today. The character that does stuff, is involved in the story … but never changes or shifts as a character.

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More Alpha Readers! Plus News.

Hey folks! Max here with a bit of an interesting request from an Alpha Reader on A Game of Stakes.

See, I’ve got some folks going over it, picking through things, etc etc. So far, the majority response has been overwhelmingly positive, which is awesome. There are a few things to clean up and wrinkles to iron out (the ending needs a little adding), but overall I’ve already been told by a few that it’s hands-down one of the favorite things they’ve read from me.

Which is awesome. One reader however, did stand very firmly on what they see as a very large misstep and issue with a character. I disagree, and no other pre-readers have said anything about it, but there’s always a chance that there’s a grain of truth to it.

Hence? A SECOND Alpha Reader call! I want to get some more eyes on it and see if anyone else brings up the same “issue.” Personally, I doubt it, but in the interest of polish polish polish I’d rather get some more eyes on things just too see.

Crud, I won’t even say what the issue is. This is going to be 100% blind. Which doesn’t mean I want Alpha Readers that make a problem. No, that’s not the goal here. The goal is the same as any other Alpha Read: Read through and look for Alpha issues (plot errors, awkward segments, etc) all as normal. If someone else brings the same issue up, then it needs a serious look. If not … well, some things truly are opinion.

A Game of Stakes is only 15,000 words, so it won’t take too long to read through. Plus, it’s got a dragon, which is always a bonus, right?

If you’re interested in Alpha Reading, do the usual thing and contact me, and we’ll see about hooking you up with an Alpha invite.


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Being a Better Writer: Good Sources of Positive Interaction

Hello readers, and welcome back to another Being a Better Writer Monday usual!

Yeah, I know. I need to think of some new greetings. Regardless, I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. Mine was both invigorating and enlightening. Twice a year my faith holds a church-wide, televised conference over Saturday and Sunday, and this weekend happened to be it, so I had a lovely weekend relaxing in my recliner listening to said conference and doing self-discovery and examination.

In any case, that doesn’t have too much to do with today’s topic, though if I wanted it too, I likely could find some application. Actually, now that I’ve typed that, I think I can already see some application, but it remains to be seen if they’ll come out in this post or not.

So … Good sources of positive interaction. This is kind of an interesting topic, one that has to do more with the tangential bits of writing than the straight act of putting your fingers to a keyboard (or pen to paper, if you’re that old-fashioned). You could probably write an entire book—no, you could—without ever finding a need for this particular topic. But as you write a second? Or a third? Or start to edit that first one?

Well … this topic suddenly becomes a lot more valid. As solitary as writing can be at times (which is very, just ask my friends and family, some of whom occasionally see me come up for air), it’s also an act that cannot exist in a vacuum. Not just socially (we as human beings need interaction with others) but for the good of our writing as well. We need feedback. Responses. Interaction.

So how do we find good interactions that will improve our craft? And how do we avoid those that will harm it?

Well, that is the topic according to the post title, isn’t it? So let’s dive into this.

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A News Post

Whoa! Things have really piled up lately. Between writing, my part-time job (with extra hours), running the end of a DnD campaign, keeping up with exercise, and well, life being what life tends to be, things have gotten crazy levels of tight lately! There’s a lot that’s been going on! Not all of it newsworthy, but some that is. Which means it’s time for … NEWS POST.


Patreon first! Never fear Patreon Supporters, I haven’t forgotten you. September’s post just ended up late because I spent the weekend a bit under the weather and decided to spend what brainpower and time I had trying to finish a chapter in Hunter/Hunted. Monday was another Being a Better Writer post and more work, Tuesday was  work all day, and then today … Well, finally today this month’s Patreon Supporter Reward went up! And this month, it’s a preview of A Game of Stakes, The first straight Romance (Fantasy Romance, to be specific) story I’ve ever written. Supporters get to see the first third of it. There will probably be a teaser for the rest of the site in the coming months, but for now, this is the only way to get an early look save being an Alpha Reader!


Okay, next bit of news? Sales have picked up a little again. They’re not quite back to “pre-cliff falling” levels, but they are still there, especially on the Kindle Unlimited service. So it looks like a burst sale worked. Oh, and all three titles on sale sold well during said sale. Colony again dominated everything else though. As many copies as that book has sold, Jungle I think will be the only book I release for a while capable of challenging it.

Thankfully, with sales also come more reviews. Or, at least, ratings on Goodreads, which seems to be a much bigger driver now that Amazon has restricted reviews to those who purchase more than $50 of goods through them per year. The sale saw a few new ones crop up, as have the last few weeks. If you’ve ever poked your head over to Goodreads, head on over and take a look! Maybe leave a rating of your own, or check out some reviews!


Last but not least, update news. Hunter/Hunted is still moving along. I’m nearing the end of part 2 of 3. If October goes well, it’ll be done by the end. Maybe mid-November if things run late. Which means I can then get started on the next book project (a submission for an established universe) and then get to work on Fireteam Freelance and editing for Jungle! The end of this year will be busy!

Okay, a little bit on Fireteam Freelance, since I’ve mentioned it before, and it’s listed on my current projects page as “upcoming.” Fireteam Freelance is going to be something unique: An episodic story that is posted here on this site, chapter by chapter as it’s written (and in time with the editing of Jungle). That’s right, the entire Alpha will go up for free here on the site. As an early Alpha. So anyone will be able to read it.

What’s it about? Well, all I’ll say at this point is that it’s set in the same universe as Colony and Jungle, but follows a different cast of characters. Oh, and it’s set on Earth. Directly and very clearly. Details are still being worked out, but if you were one of those readers who expressed disappointment that Colony left future-Earth for an alien world, this story is definitely one you’ll want to check out.

And since the Alpha will be going up chapter by chapter on this very site for all to read, you’ll be able to with ease.

Yes, the book will still get an editing run and for-purchase release. The Alpha chapters will stay up but be clearly marked as such. This is kind of an experiment, an idea I had a while ago that I think is worth playing with.


Granted, ALL of this might be delayed by a few months if that established-universe-thing-I’m-not-being-too-specific-about-yet gets picked up. I’ll have to swiftly flip some plans and push things back in that case, but it will be for a darn good reason. But … we’ll see how that goes.

Anyway, that’s the news for today, unless you’re interesting in fanfic news (in which case, check that blog). With that, I need to get to work!