Writing the Drama with No Drama, guest post from Christopher Alexander

Ironic? Hypocritical? Really doesn't make any sense, 

Well, the fact is that most things in life that we do
end up with some sort of consequence and we always
hope for the best and never the worst.

Writers, my peers, do you know why the stereotypical
writer is a "tormented soul" fast-bound to some sort
of short life over loaded with cigarettes and whiskey?
Well, as someone once said, "we kill ourselves as the
price we pay for playing God in our creations."

Sounds epic, doesn't it? And not the Ke$ha (insert
eye roll for word-generalization) kind, but think of
it, why do we think we have to be so tortured and

As Carolyn has stated time and time again, as a writer
you are not your character. But, let me tell you, as a
writer you must ask yourself if you write for
entertainment or closure.

Sounds strange, right? Heh, maybe even freudian..?

The reason why I've boiled it down to those two areas
is because a writer who writes for entertainment is one
who is going to write for fun, think of funny/crazy and
things they find really interesting. The other kind of
writer, the bull's eye-hit or miss are those who write
as a way to cope and deal with something going on in
life. Which is why the character(s) and story
are really
awesome and powerful or... really awful
and emo.

The tricky part is, figuring out how to master that
emotional vulnerability and make it detached from you.

I started out writing for fun, I had been writing dumb
little stories since I was in elementary school and
it up again towards the end of high school. The
thing that
very few people, if any picked up on, was
that some thought
I was writing about me and my
situations that were going on
at the time. After all,
it was high school. When was drama
not involved?
Anyway, I think you get the point, and I never
knew why
someone would even think that.

After a good while I realized I was writing for closure
not the characters as myself and the people involved,
but I
wrote the situation as a way to deal with it in my
own life.
I even had a professor say that she did the
same thing when
her daughter had to go over seas with her
husband for work,
which made her really scared.

See? We all tend to do that at some point but there is
point in which being too involved within that self-
coping mechanism that suffocates the story you've
began telling. Of course that means the readers
and the
story pay the price because you were too involved,
means the story became about you and no one else
to be able
to enjoy, relate, and read.

We use anything and everything in our disposal to create
own work of art, a story, book, poem, or something
along those
lines that requires creative energy and just
a little bit of
our soul for art. But we should write
only what we know, right?
Its the best way to be
trustworthy for the reader, but if we
know dramatic and
traumatic situations then we can write about
them, right?
Of course! I encourage you to do so because
you're going to have a flow of conflict to carry the

story along. And that's what makes things interesting,

You always have to remember what your audience wants to
that's if you have an audience already reading your
work. If
you don't have an audience yet, time to think of
what your
target audience is and pull the trigger!

Being detached once you get started with your drama (in
story of course), prevents hitting the hurdles
head-on of,
"oh crap, this is me. I couldn't do these
things, why should
that character do them?" Or, "this
hits too close to home...
my own drama isn't over, how
can I ever wrap this story up?"
Or better yet, "I give
up... why put this character through
what I'm going
through. Its not fair for me and not for them."

Don't they really sound awful?

I think we've all bumped into those hurdles and really
the dirt and then the guilt hits us from starting
and then axing it. Or better yet, the story
keeps going on
and remains in the "planning" stages
that is itching to
come forth and live.

That's why its important to remove yourself in order
to let
the story flow on its own course and be the
middle-man just
telling it as best you know how!

And like Carolyn has always said, no one knows your
but you.

Now, write from the heart, tweak with your wit, and
with your audience in mind.

Use your drama to remove the drama in writing it!

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Sep 13, Grand Remembrances

Today is Grandparents Day in the United States. Being a Grand is a special honor. I feel very blessed that my wife and I have two grandchildren. We were able to visit them today. Yes, we are still being cautious with the coronavirus, but we also find it very difficult to not see them when they live so close. So today we did drop by to visit Jacob (age 10) and Sophia (age 7) along with their parents. We brought donuts and caught up with them. Our grandchildren are still pretty young and this is a precious time in their lives – and ours!

I wish I had known my grandparents better. We never lived in the same place. Dad was a career Air Force pilot, so we moved around a lot. But we did get to see them once in a while when they would visit us, or we them.

A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.

Enter the Hathrim giants, or ‘lavaborn’ whose kenning is fire. Where they live the trees that fuel their fire are long gone, but the giants are definitely not welcome anywhere else. They’re big, they’re violent, and they’re ruthless. When a volcano erupts and they are forced to evacuate, they take the opportunity to relocate. They don’t care that it’s in a place where they aren’t wanted.

I first read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books and loved them (also the quirky The Tales of Pell), so was curious about this new venture, starting with A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. Elemental magic, a variety of races, different lands. And it’s all thrown at you from page one.

But this story is told a little differently. It starts at the end of the war, after a difficult victory, and a bard with earth kenning uses his magic to re-tell the story of the war to a city of refugees. And it’s this movement back and forth in time and between key players in this war that we get a singularly grand view of the war as a whole. Hearne uses this method to great effect.

There are so many interesting characters in this book that I can’t cover them all here. Often in books like this such a large cast of ‘main’ character can make the storytelling suffer, especially since they don’t have a lot of interaction with each other for the first 3/4 of the book–but it doesn’t suffer, thankfully. And the characterization is good enough, despite these short bursts, that by the end we understand these people and care about what happens to them.

If there were a main character it would be Dervan, a historian who is assigned to record (also spy on?) the bard’s stories. He finds himself caught up in machinations he feels unfit to survive. Fintan is the bard from another country, who at first is rather mysterious and his true personality is hidden by the stories he tells; it takes a while to understand him. Gorin Mogen is the leader of the Hathrim giants who decide to find a new land to settle. He’s hard to like, but as far as villains go, you understand his motivations and he can be even a little convincing. There’s Abhi, the son of hunters, who decides hunting isn’t the life for him–and unexpectedly finds himself on a quest for the sixth kenning. And Gondel Vedd, a scholar of linguistics who finds himself tasked with finding a way to communicate with a race of giants never seen before (definitely not Hathrim) and stumbles onto a mystery no one could have guessed: there may be a seventh kenning.

There are other characters, but what makes them all interesting is that they’re regular people (well, maybe not Gorin Mogen or the viceroy–he’s a piece of work) who become heroes in their own little ways, whether it’s the teenage girl who isn’t afraid to share vital information, to the scholars who suddenly find how crucial their minds are to the survival of a nation, to the humble public servants who find bravery when they need it most. This is a story of loss, love, redemption, courage, unity, and overcoming despair to not give up. All very human experiences by simple people who do extraordinary things.

Hearne’s worldbuilding is engaging. He doesn’t bottle feed you, at first it feels like drinking from a hydrant, but then you settle in and pick up things along the way. Then he shows you stuff with a punch to the gut. This is no fluffy world with simple magic without price. All the magic has a price, and more often than not it leads you straight to death’s door. For most people just the seeking of the magic will kill you. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Ahbi and his discovery of the sixth kenning and everything associated with it. But giants? I mean, really? It isn’t bad enough fighting people who can control fire that you have to add that they’re twice the size of normal people? For Hearne if it’s war, the stakes are pretty high, and it gets ugly.

The benefit of the storytelling style is that the book, despite its length, moves along steadily (Hearne is no novice, here). The bits of story lead you along without annoying cliffhangers (mostly), and I never got bored with the switch between characters. It was easy to move between them, and they were recognizable enough that I got lost or confused. The end of the novel felt a little abrupt, but I guess that has more to do with I was ready for the story to continue, despite the exiting climax.

If you’re looking for epic fantasy with fun storytelling and clever worldbuilding, check out A PLAGUE OF GIANTS.

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The Artwork Of Gary Choo

Gary Choo is a concept artist/illustrator based in Singapore. I’ve know Gary for a good many years ( 17, actually ), working together in animation studios in Singapore like Silicon Illusions and Lucasfilm. Gary currently runs an art team at Mighty Bear Games, but when time allows he also draws covers for Marvel comics, and they’re amazing –

The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo

To see more of Gary’s work or to engage him for freelance work, head down to his ArtStation.

The post The Art Of Gary Choo appeared first on Halcyon Realms – Art Book Reviews – Anime, Manga, Film, Photography.