Good News!

No, I haven’t found an agent.

But lately I’ve started editing the first few chapters of Book the Second (mostly because writing didn’t fit my schedule at all and I wanted to keep my streak of good days going.)

So for a brief window I’ve been editing my first draft of Book the Second, and the later, already edited once or twice parts of Book the First.

And Book the Second is so much better. Seriously, there’s a massive jump in quality between the two novels.

I’m pretty sure it’s not new project enthusiasm. It’s straight improvement. Which means that Book the First was probably worth writing even if it never gets published, just because of how much better it made me write.

Hopefully, I’m better enough to find an agent for Book the second. We’ll see!

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Just My Opinion : Words of Radiance & Oathbringer

So I’ve binged my way through both of The Way of Kings‘s sequels.

…and I kind of stand by my assessment. Don’t take the binging as an indication that the books are amazing: they’re good, but probably could have been a hundred pages shorter on average. I’ve been looking for a decent fantasy fix for a while, and it scratches that itch – but it’s not as good as any of several fantasy series.

The excessively detailed worldbuilding has a certain payoff, I’ll freely admit that. The problem isn’t that it exists, it’s that it’s too much (and IMO, in books 2 and 3 it gets downright fillery. Sure, the fauna and flora is superweird. Don’t need to explain it sixty-eight times.

I also stand by my initial thoughts on the flashback conceit – in fact, it’s probably even more of a weak point in book two and three. The backstory we get in book two weakens the character, burying an interesting concept in overwrought drama. As to book three, it probably has the most appropriate flashbacks, but again it’s probably a chapter or five too exhaustive.

So, my verdict so far: worth a read, but it’s not Sanderson’s best.

Weekly Report: Poor Showing

Well, it’s not as bad as during my early-year hiatus, but I haven’t been as productive as I would have liked in the last few days.

Editing Book the First is on target. Reading is progressing faster than expected.

But I’ve missed several writing goals, and that’s what bothers me. I did all the easy stuff, but whiffed on the tougher objectives.

I have good excuses but it’s really just a case of not finding the serenity I need to write. I really need an hour completely of interruption-free fucking around (and the guarantee that I’m not going to be bothered afterward) to get into the writing zone. Lately that has been a bit harder.

But hopefully that’s temporary. We’ll see. And I’ve still hammered out a significant amount of words this week, just not as much as I’d like. Onwards!

Pathfinder 2nd edition

So Paizo’s preparing for a second edition of Pathfinder.

And I’m… mildly interested, I guess?

It doesn’t help that I’m allergic to the kind of marketing cynicism that a “public playtest” represents. It’s a pre-release, not a playtest. Let’s call it as such.

As to the content itself, so far I’m cautiously optimistic. I like games with rules and options, and it looks like there are enough moving parts in the systems detailed so far to keep me interested. On the other hand, a lot of the talking points have been about the “feel” of the game, and after the rules-incomplete bullshit that is D&D5, I’m really, really wary of “feels.”

Will I pay for it… so far, I’m doubtful. I’ll play it with pleasure if someone else brings the books. But for my own campaigns, I’ll probably stick with Pathfinder 1. I just have too much content left to use.

(And if they go for a pay-per-month model for Herolab, you can remove the “probably” from the preceding sentence.)

Just My Opinion: The Way of Kings

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson is the first book in a “gigantic pile of doorstoppers” fantasy series. Which is kind of strange because Sanderson tends to be a more concise, efficient writer.

Then again, I want to try new things as a writer, so I shouldn’t complain when somebody else does.

First, let’s be clear: I enjoyed the book overall, enough to get started on the sequel right away.

But it’s way too long for its content. At first, I thought it was an editing problem, but it’s actually something more insidious: it’s an overload of characterization and worldbuilding.

Let’s tackle worldbuilding first: Sanderson sets his novel in a fantasy world that is significantly alien. The flora is weird. Animals are mostly crustaceans. Massive, regularly scheduled superstorms rip across the countryside. And so on and so forth. All of that needs to be described, but Sanderson deliberately avoids infodumps and so he constantly injects small bits of data in the text.

It reads well, but it adds up (to much more than the equivalent infodump would be.) And so far, the relevancy of a lot of the alienness isn’t really relevant. It’s extremely consistent (how would life survive the constant superstorms if it hadn’t evolved specifically for that?) but it does have a disproportionate effect on the length of the novel.

In itself, it’s not too bad. If it was the only issue, I’d be willing to dismiss the criticism. But combined by the overcharacterization… it really does push the novel beyond the wordcount the plot justifies.

Sanderson’s significant character count is relatively low for a novel of this page count. We’re looking at four main point-of-view characters, a few secondary-but-important characters, and maybe ten or so supporting characters. We get more than enough characterization for each of them… and then there’s the flashbacks.

We get the excruciatingly detailed backstory of one of the main characters (judging from book 2, each of the main characters will get their flashbacks throughout the series.) That’s chapter after chapter of background info on one character… which ends up justifying a basic character trait (and a few relationships.)

It’s all relevant information… that would have justified maybe a quarter of the words used to convey it.

The worldbuilding was a bit too much, but it’s within the bounds of discutability. The characterization is just excessive.

The book is still good, and worth reading (particularly if you have a hankering for fantasy.) But it’s also a good example of overwriting stuff. Thankfully, that’s not one of my weaknesses as a writer.