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Tag Archives: world building

Or power groups. Many stories have them, they make for the perfect foil and introduce an element of villain cooperation as well as an army of faceless mooks for the hero to fight. SuD has several, most of the fictional but some real (or modeled after real organizations) such as:

  • Yakuza: Ethan meets the leader of the Yokohama Yakuza family. Just like their real life counterparts, they deal in corporate extortion, smuggling of narcotics/weapons, local politics, prostitution and gambling (legal or otherwise). Although honorable, they are criminals and ruthless to the core.
  • Red River: A PMC or Private Military Contractor/Company, i.e. a mercenary company. Three guesses on which real world company they are modeled after, and the first two don’t count.  Corporate and government security, cover operations (including wet work) and intelligence.  Their rank and file come from the best the world’s military forces  and intelligence services can offer (for the right price). Came into existence at the close of the Cold War but have familial links dating back to the filibusters of the mid 19th century America. They are often the muscle for,
  • The Syndicate:  An organization that protects, expands and furthers the interest of the Nephalim on the mortal realm. They use “secrecy in the service of survival” that is, using a series of front companies to allow their members to live in style and feed the “Hunger” without fear of retaliation from mortal authority.  Sometimes allied to,
  • The Cabal: A group of necromancers which trace their origins to the pre-Christian times, these are humans that trade/use spirits/demons from the beyond to further their ends. Their stated goal is to reverse the influence of demons on the mortal realm and make humanity the master of the forces of The Beyond. Most often opposed by,
  • Order of the Temple of Solomon: Better known as the Templars. A multi-denominational group (members come from every sect and branch of the Abrahamic religions). They exist to search and protect ancient knowledge connected to said religions. Mostly scholarly in their pursuits but knights pledged to the service of the Order are powerful exorcist and users of religious arcane lore.  The knights are recruited from existing knightly orders such as Knights Hospitalier/Malta and Papal Orders of Chivalry (although individuals are recruited from all available sources).
  • Bureau of Special Investigations: U.S. government organization created by President Wilson to deal with “paranormal” activity. They police the U.S. for dangerous mystical threats and deploy special forces augmented by individuals with “special” powers to deal with them. They international presence has diminished as other nations/power blocks have created their own forces to deal with said phenomena.

Of course you also have the U.S. Armed Forces, various governments (and government agencies) plus the Catholic Church. Makes for an extremely complicated cast of characters.

That is all for now.

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Querying still in effect.

In other news, I’m 3-3 on SuD Alpha stage. Now, granted two of the people that read it are friends of mine, but they are also consumers of speculative fiction, which means they are the target audience for the book. Now all I got to do is type up the second part and start the second draft/re-write/revision, which considering that this book doesn’t require as many changes as the first, it should be easier.

Things that I need to work on:

  • Grammar: Always.
  • World Building: Vampires are out, Nephilim are in. Also, clarify some background points without drowning the story in exposition.
  • Work on the MC: He comes out as a bit cold and uncaring. He is stoic, but he needs to work on his empathy. Mind you being a veteran of three wars can zap that out of you, but still….
  • Plot flow problems: Minor ones, but ones that if they are not fixed will cause some major Wall Banger moments.

And whatever else pops up as a I go over it again. But for now I’ll take the good news, thank you very  much!

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I just finished Elantris by Brandon Sanderson, one of the contributors to Writing Excuses podcast (an excellent resources for writers).  The story centers around the actions of three characters: Raoden, Crown Prince of Arelon, Sarene, Princess of Teod and future wife to Raoden and Hrathen, gyorn (high priest) of the Empire of Fjordell in the city of Kae, the capital of Arelon. The city in turn exists in the shadow of the ruins of Elantris, an ancient city of the godlike Elantrians who fell from grace a decade before. What happened to Elantris then and how that affects the future of Arelon are at the key to the stopping a religious empire bent on word domination.

By faith or by fire.

I won’t do a formal review as I don’t know what that is exactly. I’ll simply lists relevant points about the story and how they apply to writing (specially speculative fiction).

Strong Points:

  • Excellent characterizations: Strong characters you care about. No one is completely good or completely evil, but credible in their actions, word view and emotional states. You care what happens to the characters and the outcome of the actions.
  • Character Driven Story: Although it seems at first to be plot driven due to situations out of the characters control (mainly the Reod and the Dateline), what really propels the characters is their actions and interactions.  Each one of the three principal characters works with what they have at hand, many times at cross purposes. It is the mingling and colliding of these purposes that drives the story forward.
  • World building crafted into the plot: Instead of large blocks of obfuscating text the world bulding is subtly worked into the plot, in fact figuring out how the magic of the world works is key to the plot. You catch on quickly to the political, social and magical aspects of the Elantris universe and yearn to learn more about them. For someone who is known for his extensive magic rules and world building, Sanderson managed to write it in with a deft and light touch.
  • Not your standard fantasy setting: Yet it feels both real and fantastic at the same time. Flawless internal consistency and logic through out. The world feels unique in its modernity yet still has enough of the fantasy/medieval tropes to keep it within the genre it explores.
  • Great use of the Multiple 3rd Person Close POV:  Creates a nice back and forth between the view, expectations and actions of each faction from their perspective character. Enough is revealed to maintain logical consistency without ruining the future twists and turns in the story, even if some of them are predictable.

Weak Points:

  • Hook but no Line: The story starts with an intriguing hook, but the line behind it doesn’t seem to tug hard enough or with enough pressure to pull the reader along. The reason is that their is not enough tension in the narrative line because the stakes while described at extremely high remain distant. It is not until the stakes became immediate that the pace of the story picks up  tremendous speed and excitement.
  • Fantastic Name Confusion: The story has very little in the way of fantastic animals or objects, but the characters names can become confusing (except for principal characters). With some many minor yet important characters, losing track of who’s who happens from time to time. Much frustration ensues.

Well that is all I have to say about Elantris. Overall a good first novel, a strong entry in the fantasy genre and if you can go past the somewhat slow beginning, a rewarding narrative overall.

Write what you know….

Or write what you like.

But what if I’m not comfortable with what I know or like?

I like fantasy and I know a bit about Medieval European history, so it seemed like a good idea.

Except I was not comfortable with it.

I love reading it and playing fantasy theme games (computer and tabletop).

But my real comfort zone exists somewhere between Today and Some Time in the Future.

With guns, politics, intrigue and travel (I like to put my characters on the road as soon as possible).

Doesn’t require a lot of world building or language manipulation (Ye Olde English gives me a headache).

So for now fantasy remains distant, while urban fantasy and science fiction are comfortable and easy.

So what (or where) is your comfort zone?