Category Archives: Clockpunk

Inner Monologue vs. Dialogue (Revealing Information)


Besides describing events as they occur the main way information is relayed to the user is through dialogue of the characters and the characters inner thoughts.  Good writing has a balance of this, for they both have different uses in pushing the story forward.  There are reasons to rely more on one than the other, depending upon the feel you are trying to evoke in your narrative.

Dialogue has the advantage of simultaneously moving the narrative along and possibly relating personal or past information at the same time. It does not however allow the same amount of inner thought to be revealed as internal monologues do.  That does not mean that NO inner thought is revealed that way.  Word choice, the topics spoke of, idioms used and other subtleties can clue the reader in to things that other characters might not pick up on. Overall though dialogue is better at conveying more overt information, unless it is in character for the speaker to say things that have primarily double meanings.

Narratives heavy in dialogue seem to read much quicker.  Some readers actually crave the dialogue so much they skip past scenes that do not have it.  Most information we gain about someone in real life comes from talking to someone else.  Sure you may occasionally read of people that become your friends, but often getting to know someone starts off as a conversation with them, or about them.  Because of this dialogue feels like a very “natural” way for information to be conveyed, and helps make that a primary form of fast reading for many people.

People often slow down when reading inner monologues, partially because in real life that is not something we can do.  They are essential however for conveying information that is internalized.  A lot of history, personality, and subtleties are easier to understand when coming directly from the characters head.  Context is often key to truly understanding a character.  Most people do not constantly talk about their past with others, and stuffing your novels with flashbacks is cumbersome (I know, this coming from the guy who is showing 12 years over twelve flashbacks over the course of a trilogy).

Without those resources the main way to deal with the past is the way many people do in real life.  When things occur or even when idle it reminds them of other events that have some sort of similarity.  In addition to relaying past information an inner monologue can often be the only way to really know how a character feels about a situation, especially if it is opposite of their words or tones used.  It is easier to convey dramatic irony through inner monologues, and can add depth to a novel.

Narratives where the focus is on introspection, where nothing is as it seems, and the focus is on what lies beneath the surface will often have a disproportionate amount of inner monologues.  The biggest issues coming from this however is that it can slow down the reader.  Also, depending upon the reader or technique used, it can fall opposite of the normal “show don’t tell” rule of writing.

Pulp writing has little inner monologues while mysteries often come from a first person perspective  that has most of even its dialogue sandwiched by inner thoughts and reactions.  Fantasy and sci fi depends on the style used.  Swords and Sorcery books come from the same vein as pulp, and therefore are dialogue or description heavy (more of that next blog).  Large Epics often want to get in characters heads, and tend to lean more towards the inner monologues.

Poll:

Which technique do you prefer?:

1)More Inner Monologue

2)More Dialogue

3)No Preference

World Info:

Let’s go back to the Allmother’s Fire Trilogy, since that is what I am writing currently.  Although not touched on heavily in the first book (but it is referenced) there are many “schools” of sword fighting available.  Each Island has at least one school, no matter how big it is, and the largest Islands have many.  Cenive for example, has ten large sword schools.  Although any one form any guild or family can learn any style, most of the time those from the same guild learn the same style.

The Nemeni for example primarily learn the Southern Quarters style, which emphasizes two swords and precision.  The Tanello instead learn the Staccato style,  which uses rapiers only and is named after the fact it’s students learn to fight to music.  There forms are taught connected to both orchestra and opera, and many of it’s students reach for a sword whenever they hear the appropriate music.

These schools are not only useful for learning how to fight, but give one a network of friends that can be relied upon.  Houses and guilds should remain higher than that, but many see their Sword School as great family then blood itself.  It should be telling that  the Nemeni officially are not supposed to learn any style other than Southern Quarter, so that there should never be a conflict of loyalty.


Characters and Authors can be Lying Liars


It’s a truth often forgot by readers: Characters and Authors can and do lie.  That Ancient prophecy might not only be false, even worse it could be a trap sent to manipulate future populations to do certain actions.  Just because the head villain says he’s your father doesn’t mean he’s not just saying that so he can cut off your other hand.  The Old wise Man leading the hero down the path to his true destiny might actually be stealing everything the hero owns why he is away from his house.

Readers have this tendency to see the Author themselves and certain devices (wise old women and hermits, prophecies and last will and testaments, deathbed revelations, etc) as immutable truth.  Part of this is from the oldest myths encouraging this, sometimes it’s latter day laziness on modern authors, or maybe it’s just the feel that an author is revealing a world and story to you, so you can’t imagine why they would not tell the truth.

This of course means that some of the greatest emotional shocks can be from when one of these trusted sources lies to you.  If done too much the readers won’t trust anything and they can be numbed by further twists. It can be as bad as M. Night Shamalyan (don’t make me spell this right) movies got, or poorly written soap operas.  If used sparingly though you can hook them into the narrative and then turn the tables on them when unexpected.  It is definitely something I utilize in my writing (including the section I am currently working on in my novel).  The current novel I am reading also utilizes it.  As a person who loves twists I had guessed the big one but the way it was revealed showed further twists ripple out of the main one I was not expecting, and caused the same sort of reaction I like to give to my readers!

Personally I think the best way to serve a lie to the readers is with the sandwich method.  Have two things they expect to be true or from true sources turn out that way, and then then in the middle of that have a lie.  It makes it much harder to expect, and means thata  later truth they will think is a lie won’t be.  In other words, this allows you to shock them with the truth!

The poll is being narrowed down from the last post, and I may keep it open for a few more days. I will then narrow down the Epic Novel book title with one more poll where each voter cna only vote once.  Either way I should know the title by the end of next week, and then I will be searching for a new cover artist.  This next epic novel (not the new novel in the trilogy being written) has a different feel, so I wanted to brand it with a different artist.

Today’s poll is about naming, though.  The second novel in the Allmother’s Fire trilogy is what I am currently writing, and I have narrowed it down to two names.  If you have read a decent amount of the book the reasons for these possibilities will be obvious, with the more you have read giving more nuance to both possibilities.  I have run both of these names through my mind for a while, and I at least wanted to see what others are thinking.

The next novel in the Allmother’s Fire Trilogy should be:

1)The Rise of the Allmother’s Grace

2)Rise from the Sun Below

Both also “fit” along with the current title of “The Fall of House Nemeni.”

World Info for Allmother’s Fire

One of the types of Noble Houses not currently shown are the one’s whose Domain is over Motion.  There are multiple Houses that have these abilities, but each manifest in different ways.  Some are direct, and can move themselves or vehicles or weapons faster or slower depending on their specialty.  Some are more indirect, and can use control over motion to increase or decrease the temperature.  These users do not know why it works this way, but the results are obviously true.

The other Houses not detailed yet are a lot of the minor guilds.  Some of these like the Dyemaker’s guild have as much temporal power as the lower noble houses, but the span of their abilities are so narrow (being able to change the color of objects in the case of the mentioned guild) they do not command as much respect.  It seems like there are an infinite amount of families that can do some minor thing to loophole the Grand Laws of the Universe. It is thought by some that even the lowest peasant might find that his family had some unknown ability if only they had the leisure to practice and figure out just what they were.


Dramatic Irony vs Suspense


Dramatic Irony vs Suspense

In any novel with secrets when they are finally brought to light there are two main ways to reveal them.  You can reveal them to your readers, and not the characters.  The other way is that the reader does not know something until a character does.  Novels that focus on suspense tend to use this later method.  They leave clues and hints but in the end nothing is made definite until revealed to the character.

Other novels and my personal preference as a reader and a writer is to reveal at least some of the secrets but either none or most of the characters do not know the truth.  While this does lessen the suspense (and is probably not the preferred method for a mystery) it does allow later events to be seen in a different light than the characters are seeing things.

If Jen is bemoaning that she never got to raise children to John, who is secretly her child and you know this, it makes the whole speech different.  If John is aware of this, and responds back but does not reveal the secret, each words he says may have two meanings.  One of them is the way she is perceiving things and the other comes from his additional knowledge of the truth.  Personally, I love that method much more.

This of course does not have to be used in just soap opera settings, and can help add danger to a scene if you know that person’s partner is really the killer, or they just handed their house key to the person who wants to take them down.  Dramatic Irony can get you yelling at the characters in a book like almost nothing else, and I like things that add that level of caring about what happens.

The other reason I prefer Dramatic Irony is that if in most of the novel a lot of the big questions remain secrets to the reader, they may become lost, confused, or bored.  Dramatic Irony should give enough information to hook interest, but can often leave out key pieces of informaiton that makes the reader want to know more.  Being clued into a secret also helps the reader feel smarter than the characters without actually dumbing down the characters.  You might know what will happen if they stab someone with the magic dagger and they are not wearing a blue tunic, but you can’t fault the protagonist for not knowing since they were not in the mind of the antagonist two scenes ago.

Some people prefer the real impact of a secret that is carried for a long period of time and then is suddenly shown to characters and the readers at the same time, and prefer the shock value that has.  I honestly believe that in sci fi and fantasy novels (and to a lesser degree thrillers but not mysteries) it is good to have an honest combination of both, to give short term and long term ‘hooks’ to your readers.

As for other book related things I wanted to briefly talk about tags.  Amazon uses tags to help people find books that appropriately fit categories.  One of the issues with Indie books is with less original exposure, people at large are not sure if a book tag fits an appropriate book.  Here is a great thread on the Genre Underground Goodreads group page http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/947198-a-sporting-game-of-tagging?type=topic#comment_53802172 to show some Indie authors some love.  They have links to their books and you can click on the suggested tags, and say that you agree with the tags. This has nothing to do with endorsement of a book, and is not a review or liking it, just letting people know what type of book it is so the right audience can find it.

My Poll today is NOT connected to what I mainly talked about, instead it is another one about the epic novel.  The results of the last poll have Conspiracy, Labyrinth. Paradise, and Island as showing as the top four options and I had one person tell me they had an issue clicking on Labyrinth, so I am giving them another vote for it.

Here are some titles I am thinking of, you can vote for more than one.  If you have other ideas, please put something in the comments.  Like last time for my First novel, I am not guaranteeing to take the vote as the new name for the novel, but this helps me gauge what my readers like.  Please vote as to which titles makes you most want to either pick it up or at least read the description.  Oh and the Paradise Conspiracy is not a choice because I already looked it up and it’s taken 🙂  Depending upon if there are a few I like and others like too, I may do a final poll on this later.

Poll

1)Labyrinthine Conspiracy

2)The Labyrinth Conspiracy

3)Conspiracy of Mandatory Paradise

4)Island of the Labyrinth

5)Paradise by Conspiracy

6)Island Paradise of Conspiracy

7)Massacre in Paradise

8)Isolation Conspiracy

As for other news:

Updates – The epic novel is 80% through it’s current editor (the book was partially edited beforehand but that was a while ago, and the focus was not on line editing in the past like it is now).  Soon it will be passed to another editor to copy edit.  I expect this novel to have at least two new full passes of editing, and possibly three, with a particular focus on copy/line editing since it had more thorough overall story editing in the past.

The sequel to Fall of House Nemeni is about 25% through the rough draft, ie the bulk of the writing.

As for a world tid bit:

Long ago the House Nemeni made clockwork guards amongst their other clockwork marvels. These guards were amazing as they could react as if alive, and were unbribeable and never slept.  Occasionally though, something would happen and they would slaughter people without warning.  Eventually the Church issued an edict that the brass guards (also known as golems) were being possessed by Firesouls and their use was forbidden.  By the time this happened House Nemeni had transitioned to a banking house, and this edict did not harm them.

Now golems are the things of children’s tales and warnings.  If you do not listen to your parents a firesoul may make a golem appear in your room, and crush you in your sleep, or so it is said.  Only scholars with large libraries seem to remember how widespread and how powerful they truly once were.


Winds of Change!


No I am not referring to the “classic” song by the Scorpions.

Jul y 1st- July 4th a very awesome promotion will take place.  A group of Indie Writers (yup I am one of them) called the Genre Underground have banded together to give quality Indie options of Fantasy, Horror, and Sci fi novels to consumers and during that time many will have free or 99 cent books!

http://www.facebook.com/#!/TheGenreUnderground this is the group’s facebook page, and they have a more extensive following on goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/topic/list_group/70802-the-genre-underground that I can highly reccommend.  Soon you will be seeing interviews from members of this group here.

The Fall of House Nemeni will be free two of those days, and it will be a NEW revised version with additional line editing from a few people and other changes already talked about in this blog.  Newer books of mine I will have more beta readers/line editors but since that was my first book it definitely benefits from the original help.  Not to mention, I am a big fan of using different medium different ways, and this is one of the great things about e-publishing, issuing corrections digitally.

As for The Winds of Change Event July 1st to 4th here are some highlights for you of things you can expect (and remember these books will be free part of the time and heavily discounted when not:

BROOD OF BONES by AE Marling. High fantasy adventure of dreams and mysteries.

http://www.amazon.com/Brood-of-Bones-ebook/dp/B005QQ3H7G

KNIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and KNIGHT TERRORS by Stephen E. Moore. High octane comedy and adventure where “B movie” tropes get blasted at Renaissance Faires.

http://www.amazon.com/Knight-Living-Strange-Knights-ebook/dp/B004YR54LU

http://www.amazon.com/Knight-Terrors-Strange-Knights-ebook/dp/B0069SJIHI

ELEGY and LEGACY by Christopher Kellen. Gritty sword and sorcery from the Arbiter’s Codex.

http://www.amazon.com/Elegy-The-Arbiter-Codex-ebook/dp/B005ESFMMY

http://www.amazon.com/Legacy-The-Arbiter-Codex-ebook/dp/B0087TQNCU

STALKER SQUADRON by Dave Meek. In the near future, artificially intelligent war planes set out to start a war between the US and China.

http://www.amazon.com/Stalker-Squadron-ebook/dp/B008B0JQVA

FIRST CHOSEN and ONCE WE WERE LIKE WOLVES by M. Todd Gallowglas. Dark epic fantasy of scheming gods and men, in the first two volumes of TEARS OF RAGE.

http://www.amazon.com/First-Chosen-Tears-Series-ebook/dp/B0055I14BG

http://www.amazon.com/Once-Wolves-Tears-Series-ebook/dp/B006OSSF7C

The link for mine is still http://www.amazon.com/Fall-House-Nemeni-Allmothers-ebook/dp/B00847364S

This is a great time to stock up on some fiction, depending upon which genres you like!

One of the things I am really enjoying that I did not know before getting my book out was how nice a lot of the Indie writing sf/fantasy community is.  I have been given a lot of advice by twitter and email, and it has definitely helped chart the course of what I have done, and a lot of the decent exposure my books has been given has been from that.

Considering that many creative outlets in an independent scene treat sales like a zero sum game (if someone buys from Author X they are somehow taking away from my sales) I feel pretty fortunate that it is not that cased with what I have witnessed so far.  Authors are also willing to give not just advice, but shout outs for other books and initiatives, and this camaraderie is a lot of what I look forward to seeing whenever I am on twitter now.

As for updates:

The sequel to Fall of House Nemeni is at about the 18% mark for the first draft.

The too-be-renamed epic Novel (for now we will codename it Nimoa because that used to be its name) is about 2/3rds the way through the first new revision, but this one is going through a lot of hands.  A few blogs from now I will put up more polls having to do with its new name.

Poll:

Just curious in general, what is your favorite genre? I am putting up side genre’s only not, things like general lit, or things that fit in other categories ( for example, YA tends to be some other genre).

1)Fantasy

2)Sci Fi

3)Horror

4)Thrillers

5)Mysteries

World Tidbit:

Not a lot of time/space for a tidbit about my world this time so I will keep it brief.  The Nemeni House was not always a banker house,  Certain of it’s clockwork gadgets (safes for storing money, gear trackers for finding stolen things, armed clockwork guards) were used by other banking Houses frequently but could only be operated by the Nemeni.  The Nemeni eventually realized it would be smarter to cut out the middle man, and become bankers themselves.  They stole many clients from their former employers, including the House Tanello most of all.  House Tanello never forgave them and it became a feud raging up until the beginning of the first book.


Perception and Reality: POV


If four people were in a room and saw a confrontation you would probably get four different (sometimes very different) stories of what happened.  Everyone shades what happens through the way they view the world and their own thoughts and preconceptions.  Even specific words might change as people misremember what they or other people said, and body posture and intonation also take on completely different shades depending upon the viewer of a situation.

I bring this up because one of amazing things with writing is that we can show this so easily, how an event can be interrupted in different ways depending upon whose head we are in.  It’s a device used in many of my favorite books.  It ties heavily into the beginning of the Fall of House Nemeni, and used a few other places too.  I have had people write me and say, “Hey how come things looked different in this chapter and the other time it was told.” I then have them go back and look and keep in mind that it was from a different characters viewpoint, and they could see how that heavily altered the perception of an event.

One person recently asked me, “So what is the real story, what is really happening, who is right?”  As a writer, I do have a pretty good idea of what is really occurring, but I would like to think I am biased too.  I see events as how they affect the overall plot, and frankly that is not the full story either.  There are also some passages that let readers know information that is secret, and completely changes the way they read all the dialogue already said.  Personally, I enjoy those moments, when you realize everything said buy someone in the past might have been different then you thought. I talked to a reader recently who did not like those types of things revealed when seeing someone’s viewpoint.  They preferred having things revealed in actions, and viewed from the main protagonists view, than from inside other people’s heads.

Poll Question:

Do you like to have the revelation of some secrets to be from when antagonists or background characters get a POV, or do you want everything revealed in action viewed by the protagonists?

1)Revealed by Protagonist perception only

2)Some reveals by POV can be good

Miscellaneous other things:

On advice connected to a group of writers I am with, I have increased my twitter followers from about 17 to 350+ in a weekend.  We will see how this goes, but so far I have met some really interesting people.  Twitter is still not my favorite social media at all, but it is a neat way to meet a lot of people and learn just a little about them.  The chat on #steampunkchat was tons of fun too!

Someone asked that with floating islands, airships, and pirates, if that meant we would have sky mermaids.  They answered their own question when they realized that would mean harpies, who are much less cooler than mermaids.  Hmm I wonder if people really want harpies in this?


“Quotation is a serviceable substitute for wit.” ~ Oscar Wilde


The above is my favorite quote of all times.  I was thinking about Quotes, and the power they have in writing. There are people who will forgive a multitude of plot sins if they get enough quotes out of a piece.  They do not even have to be Oscar Wilde level clever, just memorable.  I have started the next book, and here are some quotes (one each) from the  first four chapters that I like, but they are not really in the vein of “clever” as much as “memorable” for me.

“When Daisy was annoyed, she hit things. When Daisy was mad, she tried to dismember people.  Daisy was furious, so it was no surprise the deck was clear of all crewmembers.”

“Long forgotten memories flooded back into her consciousness as the two women who were choking each other screamed in the exact same pitch as they fled together into oblivion.”

“It seemed strange to want to shiver when he was located in the middle of a giant ball of fire.”

“He ignored the pain in his chest as he commanded his blood to work overtime and expel the musket ball back out of his body, and at his fencing partner.”

It’s a smaller post today but I am curious how Quotes affect you with books?

How do you feel about Quotes with books:

1) That’s one of the things that make a book stand out for me, how quotable it is. Very Important.

2) I remember more cool things done more than clever phrasings. Not that Important.

3)I don’t care what is being said but more how it is said. Important only if clever

As for current books updates:

The old large novel being re-edited is about1/3 of the way through its first editing pass (but not it’s last).  I am seriously contemplating just releasing it as 1 big novel after all. This will be the first time I go against my polls, but really re looking at it, I am not sure there is a great stopping place as it really was intended to be one novel, and I don’t want any changes like that to feel really artificial and forced.

The sequel to Fall of House Nemeni is pretty much moving long at it’s projected pace, so not much to say on that front other than it is moving as it should.

As for trying to revise Nemeni in time for the July 1st promotions, I am nervous about it, but we will see.  It has been started, and minus the third chapter as per feedback.


Exposition and Lost Ponderings


One of the fun challenges with fantasy fiction is how to get all the necessary world information without turning chapters into boring walls of exposition.  This task gets even more interesting if the characters and the inhabitants of that world in large have incorrect or incomplete ideas they think of as true of their own universe.  At that point you have to find a way to relay what people think about the world, but not back yourself into a corner so that when you show more of what is going on it is obvious there is not ret conning going on.

I am writing the second book now, and certain characters are starting down a path that will reveal the truth behind things they did not even think to explore (ie this is not about the religion or prophecies) the veracity of.  I am trying to find a way to make these revelations obvious that it was the truth the whole time, but still feel natural from the events and the characters, and not make it seem that this was just a way to cover up inconsistence’s for the internal “world logic.”  I did plant plot seeds to help with this, but it is still a challenging task.

It is important to the overall plot that some of this is revealed to the characters, but I wonder how much is necessary for the characters to know, and how much the readers even want to know. Some people like to see fantasy epics as a tapestry for characters to exist on and stories to be told in, and do not care too much about underlying mechanics or how everything happens in that world.  Other people see the mechanics such as the magic systems, the creatures that live there, and unique things about the world to be just as important as the plot and characters themselves.  These readers prefer if not for everything to be spelled out at least enough information to be given that everyone can draw logical conclusions themselves as to how it all works.

Think of the end of LOST (possible mild spoilers if you have not seen it all yet).  About the half the viewers were fine with the end, and found that the characters arcs were all wrapped up in a satisfying matter, and closure was given to the characters and their drives.  Others hated it, feeling that their many questions about the world and why things happened were never answered at all.

This all leads me to a question I was pondering the other day, and my poll today:

Do you prefer the focus to be on the characters and their personal stories, or have all the questions about the world itself answered?

1)I want the focus on the characters and their stories, I don’t need the in depth details of everything about the world explained.

2)I like characters and stories, but please find a way to answer any major questions or what appear to be inconsistencies to me, or I am not going to be satisfied with an ending.

As for updates on the books themselves:

Fall of House Nemeni is basically moving at the same rate it does normally, minus special events (first few days released, promos, etc).  Although the free promo day was fantastic, I am not definite long term whether going exclusive for Amazon was the best choice but we will only know once I release it on other platforms in Late August.

The second book in that series is started, and currently going on the right pace to make the total time to create it (both editing and writing) be roughly nine months.

The release of the newly edited older work will have at least three editors.  The first editor is 20% or so through it, and when finished I will hand to the next editor after doing suggested re writes.

Also many of my ideas are generated from comments or private mail, so let me know if you have questions or anything to say.  I know several people are in the process of reading the book, so even if not finished your feedback helps (one such conversation prompted this blog)!


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