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January 17th, 2005, 12:00 PM #1
Let me start off with a little background, a brief taste of indoctrination, err, introduction.
So far I have managed to survive fifty plus years on this planet, and the last eight have been as a full-time fantasy author. My previous occupation was the president of a consulting firm. I live in sunny Florida with my wife and cat. My daughters are grown and are off making their own marks in the world.
I have just finished writing book number eighteen, which is the finale of an eight book series. All of my books fit into three series, and the bibliography follows:
- Origin Scroll – 1997
- Dark Quest – 1997
- Ancient Prophecy – 1997
Sword of Heavens
- Sapphire of the Fairies – 1998
- Unicorns’ Opal – 2002
- Abuud: the One-Eyed God – 2002
- Dwarven Ruby - 2002
- Emerald of the Elves – 2002
- Dragons’ Onyx – 2003
- Amethyst of the Gods – 2003
- Young Lord of Khadora – 1998
- Star of Sakova – 2000
- Web of Deceit – 2002
- Aakuta: the Dark Mage – 2003
- Island of Darkness – 2003
- Elvangar – 2004
- Winged Warrior – 2004
- Time of Cleansing (working title) – 2005
My next work will be a stand-alone fantasy novel, which I shall refer to as CFTK for now.
Although my books are available in print, my primary focus has been the ebook world. I understand that I am a bit ahead of the readership world, but I am a firm believer in the future of ebooks. It is my intention to be firmly situated in that industry when it finally takes off. Currently, two of my books are ranked first and second at fictionwise.com in the fantasy category.
I am thrilled to have sffworld.com host this forum, and I look forward to hearing from all of you.
January 17th, 2005, 07:45 PM #2
Hi Richard - gosh! 18 books! And here am I, struggling along with my third...I'm amazed by how much people write here.
How do you see the internet changing book distribution? Does it have particular implications for genre literature? I love the net and read a lot fo ezines, for example, but I love all the sensual properties of a traditional book and I'm not sure it will be superseded - you seem to have the best of both worlds. And does the idea of writing ebooks change the way you approach writing?
January 17th, 2005, 11:42 PM #3
The internet has already changed book distribution with the coming of amazon.com, but that is in terms of a physical book. With internet marketplaces, one can yield to sudden impulses and order a book immediately instead of making a mental note to look for a recommended book the next time they get to a bookstore. How many times have we meant to purchase a recommended book and forgotten about it by the time we made the trek to the store? Push that instant gratification scenario a little further and imagine getting the book downloaded instantly, no matter where in the world you happen to be at the moment. Ebooks will definitely change the marketplace for reading material in the future.
As for the feel of a real book, nothing can beat it, and physical books will never go away. What we will find in the future, however, is that more and more of our reading will be done electronically, although not neccessarily on a computer. Currently the ebook industry is in its infancy. There is no one standard for the format of an ebook, handheld reading devices are too expensive, and most large publishers do not understand how to attack the market, but all of those problems are solvable.
It is just a matter of time before we all carry around ebook readers as we now carry cellphones. In fact, many of my readers actually read on their cellphones! Personally, I could never stand a screen that small for my own reading, but I do own several larger devices for reading. They are typically the size of a paperback book, and they can hold scores of books in memory. I chuckle to myself each time I say this to someone. My family devours books, and I remember some summer vacations where the entire back ledge of the car was loaded with books, making it impossible to see out the rear window. Ah, to have had these handheld readers back then!
As for writing, it doesn't matter much whether you are writing an ebook or a physical book. The process is much the same; only the formatting differs, and that occurs after the manuscript is complete. The same manuscripts feed my print books and a number of different ebook formats.
Now, if I could get you to come out with an ebook version of The Gift, I could indulge in some instant gratification of my own
January 18th, 2005, 09:49 PM #4
Hi Richard - Thanks for your reply. From what I understand, ebooks offer startling royalties compared to print: does this translate into more actual cash?
I've never seen an actual ebook reader, but I'm sure you're correct that they will become very common. But I sure couldn't read on a mobile - it would do my eyes in - you mean people actually read novels on them?! That's true devotion, I think! I can imagine reading newspapers and suchlike on those things, but books, not quite... though I do a fair bit of screen reading, so I guess this remains to be seen.
Sorry that The Gift isn't in ebook form. Though I must say, as a writer, nothing beats that first moment when you pick up the advance copy of the new book, still smelling of print, and think, when the hell did I write this?
January 19th, 2005, 12:59 AM #5
Originally Posted by alison
Originally Posted by alison
Originally Posted by alison
January 20th, 2005, 03:28 AM #6
- Join Date
- Jan 2005
What a nice surprise to find you here.
I have really enjoyed the books of yours that I have read so far and am looking to reading more.
As a reader only (not a writer) I am curious about how you approach a new novel. Do you map out the story line and then fill in the details, do you make a list of all the characters and their relationships and then start the story line, or do you just dive in and start creating, or....?
Do you have any plans to write anything other than fantasy?
January 20th, 2005, 02:06 PM #7
There are many story ‘seedlings’ bouncing around in my head. When I chose a seedling to turn into a story, my first step is to dwell upon it in my mind until I have developed a basic structure of the storyline. That structure will include a dozen or more significant turning points in the storyline, although not necessarily the beginning or the ending.
My first physical task after achieving that structure is to create a map. The map may be crude, but I am lost without it. Once I have a map, the land becomes a real place to me. The map may be changed or enhanced later on, but it always remains firmly in my mind.
The second task is defining the main characters, because they are really what the story is about. The character definition that I am talking about here is not a physical description, but rather their abilities, gifts, and emotional states. As characters must grow and develop before the reader’s eyes, characters will have multiple definitions. This can be a complex and time-consuming portion of the planning, but it is essential to me. Changes in a character can sometimes be abrupt (some earth-shaking occurrence), but that is not usually the case. Characters change slowly over time as they mature and broaden their experience. Interaction with other characters or places will bring on subtle changes in a character. Mistakes they make will mold their reactions to events in the future.
Once these two tasks are done, I am ready to begin thinking about the beginning of the story. The task here is to create an event that immediately captivates the reader and logically leads towards the first significant turning point developed earlier. One note on the significant turning points developed earlier is that they may well change during the course of a story. The changes may evolve from character actions or other events taking place in the realm. The ending of my story is never developed beforehand. It is the culmination of events that precede it.
All of the above is a rather clinical description of my process for starting a new story, but in reality it is not as straightforward nor as clearly defined as I have described. Once the characters have a ‘life’ of their own, they do change the storyline that I have set out for them.
As for writing something other than fantasy, I do have random thoughts along those lines, but I have avoided the temptation so far. Fantasy is where my heart is.
Thanks for the question, Darryl. It made me reflect upon my own thought process. As a reader of my books, you will be pleased to know that the final volume of the Forgotten Legacy series is complete and will be published soon. If you send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, I will let you know when it is released.
January 22nd, 2005, 08:12 AM #8
- Join Date
- Jan 2005
Thank You for a great reply. I am amazed at the amount of prep work you do but must say it shows in your writings.
Do you have a favorite fantasy author ( other than you of course); what about Science Fiction favorite? And is there an author of any persuasion that you feeel had a major influence on you and your writings?
January 28th, 2005, 08:22 PM #9
Hi Richard - I have a map thing as well. I just can't write the narrative without it. Time=space=story, or something...
I find beginning a book the most difficult part. I think The Gift had about seven different versions, and it was certainly the most rewritten part of the book (I must be improving, because The Riddle I just wrote it twice). Endings are much easier, for some reason. Do you find beginnings difficult?
January 30th, 2005, 01:46 PM #10
Assuming the Role
Actually, I have trouble with both the beginning and the ending, but I usually work out the beginning in my mind before I start writing anything. I may agonize over different beginnings, but I start writing only after I have made that decision.
The endings are never clear to me, though. I suppose I generally have an idea of how a story will end, but I let the characters drive the story, so anything I come up with beforehand is most likely no longer valid. To me the thrill of writing is in how the characters change the direction of the story. When I plan a book, I set major turning points in the storyline. I never ponder beforehand how the characters will get themselves out of the fix. When I am actually writing the scene, I assume the character's role and try to think as he or she would think. That process has led me to many surprising changes in the direction of the story. It often requires me to reevaluate the other major turning points in what I had planned, so you can imagine how I might not have a clue about the ending of a story.
I am curious if other authors write in a similar fashion. Do you assume the characters in your books? Do you toss away reality and actually become the character when you write? Or do you view it more from the sense of a movie director where you watch from afar and manipulate the pieces on the board?
January 30th, 2005, 02:05 PM #11
Originally Posted by dkenning
Often in the forums I will read about people discussing a particular book or author, and I find myself wondering if I have read it. When the discussion turns to particular scenes or characters, I suddenly remember the book. Strange, but that is how my mind works.
January 30th, 2005, 02:19 PM #12
Hi Richard. Nice to have you to talk to here as well. Thia author forum is shaping up to be an exciting place.
As far as I am concerned, when I write, I am there, right smack in the middle of the action. If it is a contemplative chapter, then my mood naturally either predates the writing or it adapts to the events. I love and cherish those chapters where I totally lose myself in the world I have created. I try to do that with each one that I write, as well as when I write poetry that I incorporate into the text. I type with my eyes closed anyway. My world is so much bigger and so much clearer to me when I am not looking at this one.
January 30th, 2005, 03:21 PM #13I suppose I generally have an idea of how a story will end, but I let the characters drive the story, so anything I come up with beforehand is most likely no longer valid. To me the thrill of writing is in how the characters change the direction of the story.
When I first think about a long piece of writing, I have some vague shape in mind (literally: a curve or a wedge or a circle or a series of waves), and an endpoint, which is an emotional place rather than a storyline. I kind of know where I want to end up, and the challenge then is to get there honestly, without cheating. I've written fairly detailed synopses, but the end product bears only a slight relationship to them: for me, it certainly changes in the writing. The synopsis just a rail which I touch now and again in case I get lost. It doesn't work for me unless I follow the characters, and story evolves along with them. Like you, the thrill is in finding out what happens!
Do you assume the characters in your books? Do you toss away reality and actually become the character when you write? Or do you view it more from the sense of a movie director where you watch from afar and manipulate the pieces on the board?
January 30th, 2005, 03:59 PM #14
Originally Posted by Gary Wassner
Mood for me is terribly important to writing, which is why I shut out the real world when I write. Once I start a book, the task owns me until it is complete. Phones don't get answered. Mail remains unread. My sleeping patterns have no relationship to the rising and the falling of the sun. There is only the story.
If for some reason I am yanked out of my fictional world, it may be days before I can get back into the story, so I try to avoid everything until the book is complete. It is an extremely narrow focus and probably not a good thing to do, but I find that I am able to completely immerse myself in the story. It usually makes for a good story, but there times when I look upon authors who can handle writing a few hours a day with envy.
January 30th, 2005, 04:11 PM #15
Originally Posted by alison
I find your comments about a shape interesting. I think I understand what you are saying, but it is hard for me to fully comprehend. Are you saying that the emotional ending to the book is your true target, and not neccessarily the storyline events that comprise it?