Monthly Archives: October 2013

My Biggest Regrets

Recently, I did a post on the things from the World Spectrum series that I’m most proud of. But too much self-congratulation is never a good thing, so let’s bring some balance to the discussion. It’s time to discuss the things from the series that I most regret.

Books of the World Spectrum banner

Unsurprisingly, they pretty much all have to do with my characters. This post won’t be so spoiler free as the last one, but I’ll try to keep things vague. The last regret is a complete spoiler, though.

The Leha Effect:

After writing this series, I’ve coined the phrase, “The Leha Effect.” This is where you like one character so much that you focus all your attention on them at the expense of the rest of the cast.

The World Spectrum series was basically the Leha Show, but that was never my intention. I wanted it to be more of an ensemble story. I intended book one to feature Drogin and Yarnig as much as Leha, and book two to give equal attention to Leha and Tyrom.

Didn’t work out that way. I like writing about Leha so much that I tended to just forget about everyone else. As a result, none of the other cast members got as much development as I wanted, and I think the story suffered for it.

This was compounded by the fact that I think my cast was simply too large to give every character the attention they deserved. In future, I’m going to try to either pare my casts down to a few core characters or else ensure that each part of the cast has a distinct and separate purpose. Human Again is an example of the former strategy.

One of my novel characters, recreating via the MMO Aion

Drogin and Doga:

Related to the above, I’ve never been happy with my portrayals of Drogin and Doga. I just never quite knew what to do with them. This is partly due to the Leha Effect, but other factors played a role, as well.

For Drogin, I had two competing ideas for him. My main goal was for him to be the likable everyman, but I also wanted him to be the resident tech genius. These two things don’t really jive with each other. He became too much a hero to really qualify as an everyman, but not enough of a hero for him to be terribly inspiring compared to the other characters.

I also intended him to be Leha’s rock and core supporter, but… that didn’t really work out. He tended to be supplanted in that role by other characters: Benefactor, Tyrom, Natoma…

I think I finally hit a nice balance and did some cool stuff with Drogin in Human Again, but I’ll always feel there were a lot of missed opportunities with him.

As for Doga, the truth is that I just never knew quite what to do with him. He never got past being the token Lost One. He was just kind of there, and he never really added much to the story nor developed much personality of his own. I tried to make him a bit more interesting by involving him in Lahune’s humanist cult, but that never really went anywhere.

Drogin, Leha's brotherI had no plan for Doga, and unfortunately, it shows. Sometimes, you write with no plan of what’s coming next, and things go unexpectedly well — Breena is an example of this — but other times, you end up with a Doga.

The spoilery regret:

Spoiler free space so you can move to another page.

I like vanilla.

My cat’s breath smalls like cat food.

How can anyone watch The Big Bang Theory? Honestly.

So… Yarnig and Natoma.

Look, I don’t do romance well. I’ll be the first to admit it. Character and emotion is my Achilles heel, and love is the most vulnerable part of said heel.

I’m not happy with how their relationship turned out. At all. The whole thing feels cheesy, cliche, and forced, and just thinking about their relationship makes me wince. Their interactions feel awkward and unrealistic to me, and I still have doubts that it really makes sense for Natoma to want to be with Yarnig.

Only after writing In Her Sister’s Pose and getting a bit more insight into Natoma’s history did it start to feel right that they would be together, and I was able to make some last minute adjustments to their scenes to reflect this new insight, but it still doesn’t feel quite right to me.

When words fail, there's always facepalm

Yarnig is the character I most personally identify with in the series, so I could never escape the concern that I was simply turning him into a Mary Sue — the real definition, not the “any character I dislike” definition people give it these days.

Plus, I destroyed the dreams of any potential future Yarnig/Erik shippers.

If I could have, I would have expunged the plot from my books altogether. But it was a crucial part of Yarnig’s arc. If he doesn’t fall for Natoma, then he isn’t willing to try absolutely anything to save her, so he doesn’t discover his talent with magic, and his plot just fizzles out.

So his falling for Natoma was necessary. If I’d had the guts, maybe I’d have had Natoma reject him in the end and keep him in the friend zone. That’s probably what I should have done. But what can I say? I’m a sucker for a happy ending.

At least I have some cool ideas for their daughter…

Still, Yarnig and Natoma’s relationship remains one of my biggest regrets from the World Spectrum series, and I’ve done my very best to avoid romance arcs — at least as a central story element — ever since. I haven’t been entirely successful, but at least later attempts haven’t felt quite so cheesy. Though I’m sure they aren’t as good as something written by someone who understands the emotion you humans call “love.”

And now I’m planning an epic love story as an underpinning element for a future series. *Smacks self in head.* What the Hell is wrong with you, Tyler?

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What I’m Most Proud Of

For me, the journey that was the World Spectrum seems to be coming to an end. This may seem strange to you, as you’ve only recently been acquainted with the series. But I’ve been working on these books since I was a teenager, and while I still need to promote them, the creative part of the process seems to be ending.

Books of the World Spectrum banner

Preparing Human Again for release is making me look back at the series as a whole. I’ve been taking stock of my failures and my successes.

In that spirit, I’ll be listing off the things that I’m most proud of. Lest you think me a pompous ass, I’ll be following this with a post on the things from the World Spectrum I most regret.

I’m going to try to keep this spoiler free.

Leha:

I consider character to be my Achilles heel as a writer. I really don’t understand people, and my writing suffers for it. Creating characters is a struggle, and I feel my results are hit and miss at best.

But Leha’s different. Of all the countless characters I’ve created, I think Leha is by far the best.

The thing about Leha is that she always makes for a good story. She’s so intense and volatile, and she doesn’t do anything by half measures. She doesn’t get sad; she weeps and screams and destroys small objects. She doesn’t get angry; she embarks on epic quests for bloody retribution.

The protagonist of two of my novels, recreated via Aion's amazing character customization

I think she’s a fairly balanced character, too. She’s obviously very heroic — her courage, idealism, and compassion are boundless, and she would do anything for her friends. But she also has some very obvious negative traits. She’s reckless, irresponsible, and overly neophilic. She can become consumed by the predatory aspects of her personality, and when she sets her mind to something, nothing can dissuade her — even if she’s wrong.

I love writing about Leha. I’m smiling just thinking about her.

The action:

There’s one thing that pretty much everyone who’s read my books agrees on: They’re exciting page-turners. This pleases me, because it shows I’ve succeeded in my main goal.

Ultimately, I’m an entertainer. I just want to create an exciting story. All other goals are incidental.

So I poured all my effort into making the action as intense and thrilling as possible, and for the most part, I think I’ve succeeded. The battle scenes in my books are visceral and brutal, and if I’ve done my job right, they should have you on the edge of your seat.

Barria, the known world

I’m particularly fond of the battle during the Tyzuan storm in Children of the Gods. It’s just so crazy.

The endings (still no spoilers, I promise):

I’m skeptical of the overall quality of my books as a whole, but I think the endings to both Rage of the Old Gods and Children of the Gods were excellent. Certainly, they hit all the notes I wanted them to.

They’ve got this perfect bittersweet feeling that I really strive for with my writing. Hopeful, but not a case of everything being okay and everyone living happily ever after. The scars of past trials are very evident. You know nothing’s ever going to be the same, and the victories feel all the sweeter when you consider how much was sacrificed to achieve them.

I like the endings so much that I had very grave misgivings about continuing the series after each ending. I’m still not entirely sure that writing Children of the Gods and Human Again were the right decisions.

Benefactor:

Benefactor is just straight up awesome as far as I’m concerned. He’s such a great mirror to hold up to humanity. His way of thinking is so utterly alien, and even reading our thoughts, he can’t begin to comprehend half the things that humans do. And that forces us to question just why we do such things.

But yet despite his alien nature, he still feels very approachable as a character — to me, at least. He doesn’t feel like this bizarre creature up on a pedestal. He’s a friend and an ally, with a childlike sense of wonder and a fairly good sense of humour.

For me, Leha’s first meeting with Benefactor is where the series really starts to get interesting.

Some stuff in Human Again I can’t really tell you about:

So, um, yeah.

I guess I’ll just say this: I love Pirans.

* * *

How about you? For those of you who’ve read the books, what are some of your favourite things? Try to keep it spoiler free, if possible.

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