On Violence in Writing Fantasy: Part One

on Thursday, April 26, 2012
Pictured: Potential violence in fantasy. And Sean Bean

So I've been considering the topic of violence while writing fantasy for some time now, though a more recent conversation with my father-in-law finally sparked it to the point where this blog post exists. Violence in fantasy novels is fairly commonplace, as it is part of that whole "swords and sorcery" appeal that draws people into fantasy in the first place. You could argue a fantasy novel without a swordfight really isn't a fantasy novel, as if it's some unspoken requirement. What I want to look at is two important questions: Why do we feel violence is necessary in fantasy, and How do we portray the violence to best help a manuscript or story progress?

For this first part in this multi-part blog post, here's a brief look into other mediums to see how they handle violence. We'll start with perhaps the easiest to explain: Video Games.

From Bloodforge, a game that released yesterday on Xbox 360

Video Games have become dependent on violence to even exist. From the very first time Mario stomped a Goomba flat to the throngs of 12-year-olds currently blasting each other to death in Call of Duty, video games have become completely desensitized to violence. In fact, they are all reliant on violence to even make a game. Name me a dozen games that don't use violence at all to tell a story. Modern games. Old adventure games don't count.

Journey is the only one that comes to mind, and perhaps the recently released Fez, both indie games. The point is: violence is so overblown in video games that they are glorifying in it. The bloodies, messiest games (like Bloodforge above, God of War, Dead Space, etc.) often do so because they sell better. Like the slogan "Sex Sells" in advertising, "Violence Sells" could be applicable to video games.

Because of this, any sort of emotional impact violence might have in the majority of video games is lost. How am I supposed to feel sad my companion died in Modern Warfare 3 if I spent the whole game gunning down hundreds of people? Why should I be sad in an JRPG when my one character dies when I've spent the whole game slaughtering people, animals, and anything that has XP attached? Nier is the only game I can think of that actually turned this idea of glorifying slaughter against the player through its story, which is probably why I feel the game is atrociously clever. It was a game with swords, blood, and killing that lured you into the traditional gaming mechanic of "kill everything that moves," then pulled a clever twist on you that I won't spoil here.

The point is this: video game violence has become completely meaningless in terms of story, for most games. Even story-centric ones like Mass Effect seem to lose and edge when somebody I know dies because I've just finished killing hundreds of people. Perhaps the worst culprit of this is Uncharted, which is essentially Indiana Jones if Indiana Jones was just killing random mercenaries instead of Nazies, and doing it by the hundreds. As he cracks jokes and laughs he looks like a psychopath to anybody not familiar to this blood-soaked medium, like the creators saw Indiana Jones but completely missed why we didn't think he was a raving loon: he didn't kill everything that moved. In fact, someone counted the murders across all four movies, and there's only around 20, tops. I do more than that in the first ten minutes of any video game I've picked up in the last six months.

So video games don't know how to use violence for anything other than glorification (as a majority, anyway) and appealing to males.

One of the few movies that portrays all violence as horrific as it actually is.

Movies and television, however, haven't pigeonholed themselves into the violence-centered showcase like video games have. But, to be honest, they aren't without their flaws. The main difference between movies and games (aside from the interactivity) is movies aren't afraid to make movies without violence. They can make romantic comedies. They can make family dramas that are powerful and without a single ounce of violence in them. They can make silly movies, odd movies, and art-house movies. Comedies and more can all be bereft of any form of physical violence whatsoever.

However, when you go down to the fantasy genre, you find movies can be just as guilty as anyone else in glorifying violence.

Let's take the example from the first picture: the Game of Thrones TV adaptation. It's worth noting there actually isn't a hefty amount of violence in the first book, compared to other fantasy novels. Most violence happens off-screen, is very brief, and clean. The book is more about being a mystery story set in a dark fantasy world, while we follow a family as their lives change and influence the world around them. Even the most powerful death in the book, which I will not spoil here, is not described at all. Even abstractly. It's a brilliant death, too, and far more harrowing because you don't even see it. 

And then we have the TV show. Aside from adding tons of sex to "spice up" when expository dialogue was needed, they also extremely ramped up the violence. A guy gets a knife stabbed through his eye. You see a man get his head ripped off in the first fifteen minutes, and another one beheaded shortly after. A guy rips out a man's throat and pulls his tongue out through it, on screen, unashamed. Glorifying violence much, HBO?
Khal Drogo will mess you up. 

Looking at other fantasy novels it doesn't get better. The Lord of the Rings adaptations were surprisingly faithful, but they still spent a whole lot of time watching our heroes slice up orcs. Scenes that were off-camera in the book were put into the movie simply because they were battle scenes. The original novels certainly had their share of battles, but they weren't important. What was important was the characters, and that was forgotten.

I can't end this without mentioning the Disney adaptation of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. C.S. Lewis knew very well that putting a battle in the middle of a children's book was a slippery slope; should you really be showing kids killing mythological creatures? He did the right thing and cut straight to the aftermath, glossing over it because it really wasn't important. We all knew the Narnian's would win, and what happened after was far more interesting. Of course, the movie adaptation completely ruined this, showing kids murdering tons of stuff on camera, unashamed. The rest of the movie was downright fantastic, extremely faithful, and actually quite touching. But the second that battle comes on I'm pulled out. Also, how the heck is that movie PG?

The point is that movies are just as guilty at glorifying violence as video games, if just not as frequent. I can't think of any fantasy movie off the top of my head that manages to get through their whole thing without a swordfight or somebody killing somebody else. While I think violence can be used in a powerful way (such as in A History of Violence), in the fantasy sub-genre of film it rarely is, ever. Star Wars is actually an excellent example for both good and bad (past movies vs prequels), but I'll get into that later.

Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn novels (the original trilogy) manage to have violence that is fun to read while not being gratuitous

Then we come to our current medium of choice, written books. While books certainly have been violent and gory, for the most part the majority of fantasy novels tend to tone it down substantially when compared to movies and video games. My personal theory on this matter is that the demographic that tends to enjoy graphic, gory violence tends to be males, usually in the age ranges of 13-25. It's also known that males (especially in this age range) tend to be most stimulated by anything when it is taken in visually (which is why pornographic videos tend to cater more towards males rather than females, etc.). Blood and guts in a video game or movie is easy to watch, digest, and get the violence "high" that is somewhat common with this generation of boys and men, while reading it doesn't quite do the same thing.

The point being that, if you want to argue which medium is the most "mature," the point would obviously go towards literature. It also has been around the longest, which one could use as the reasoning, but also there's that visual aspect that makes it different. Books also have the widest scope of the above mediums: they can be informative texts, artistic literary stories, romances, mysteries, fantasies...the list goes on. Unlike movies, however, you rarely find books that are violent just for the sake of being titivating (like the Saw or Hostel movies), nor do you find books overtly pornographic in nature (though the erotica genre could be argued for, but if you compared that with film pornography you'd see a massive distance, undoubtably due to target demographic).

The point is that with books much more is expected from the creators. In movies and video games you can get away with just adding tons of violence without purpose except to be "exciting." With books, that will come off as shallow or even boring. Long, overdrawn action scenes may be exciting for the author to write, but reading it might actually just be tiresome.

So we have our three mediums. In writing, how can we make violence be important?  How can it impact the reader? I'll try and go over this in the next couple of blog posts.

Revising, finishing, all that jazz

on Monday, April 23, 2012
A Straight Cut's third act draws from this awesome book

So I finished plotting A Straight Cut, which actually involved completely reworking the third act. My main issue with the novel currently (and will need to be fixed in an edit before going out to Alphas) is the lack of direction for the first 2/3rds of the novel. While it's been fun to have characters interact and putter around in the world I've made, the underlying plot has been shrouded in secrecy, making it boring. Luckily Act 3 will ramp things up a bit, but it really needs a stronger first two acts in order for the third act to both make sense and actually be meaningful. 

Which means heavy editing, but we aren't worrying about that now. Now I just need to finish this dumb thing.

In other news, I restructured how Death's Aria will play out, which mostly involved moving key scenes to make the final confrontation stronger and more significant. The biggest complaint from Alphas was that the ending confrontation felt weak. Generally the results of it were fine, but the actual scene itself and the events leading up to it were stagnating after such a strong second act. I've relocated one of the strong second act scenes (clever readers might guess what I'm referring to) towards the end of the book, making the final conflict much more character driven. This also allows me to further develop the characters up to that point and fix lots of the third act's pacing issues, which will be good.

The other major change is Aria's character. While many readers felt they warmed up to her by the end, others were so disgusted with her at first they couldn't get over that initial first impression and despised her throughout. I'm reworking her so that she is more likeable at the beginning but still seriously flawed, which makes her less of a jerk who has a social problem and more of someone trying to do better...who has social problems. This shouldn't change the character enough to break my initial idea, but I think it will make her much more sympathetic. 

All this is going to require a hefty amount of editing, so I'm hoping to burn through A Straight Cut quickly so that I can move on to Death's Aria and start submitting. We'll see!

I'm also mad that I scheduled the GRE over CONduit without knowing it, and they think it's acceptable to charge freaking $50 to reschedule. Seriously? For a test I'm taking on a computer that probably is proctored by one person you aren't paying enough for? Besides, we all know you just have a pool of these SAT questions you draw from to make tests. How much could it possibly cost? Monopoly at its finest. 

Anyway, that's it from me. I have a review of a friend's album coming up within the next little bit, so keep an eye out for that!

Two-Week Blitz: What I Learned

on Monday, April 16, 2012
Me, at around 9:15 pm last night. 

So I'm honestly surprised I pulled this off. For a little background on the project (this might be a recap from previous blog posts...bear with me) I was writing A Straight Cut, my YA fantasy canyon book thingy, and something about it was bugging me. It probably just hit that "2/3 mark" blues that always happens with manuscripts, when you start wondering if things will actually come together and if you totally just wasted your time and creative vision. Yeah, that part of the manuscript.

Anyway, it was so bad I couldn't continue and my wordcount was suffering. Rather than slog through it and waste a month whining, I decided to just write something for fun. I'd been wanting to write a book about a half-vampire vampire hunter for a while (probably ever since I watched Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust like freaking ten years ago) so I put A Straight Cut aside, and with no planning or preparation or even a premise (minus a half-vampire vampire hunter) I dove into it.

Two weeks and 80,000 words later, here we are. A complete novel. And you'll have to take my word for it, but I don't think it's that awful. Rough, absolutely, and to be honest I doubt anybody would ever buy it. But for a silly, pulpy read that involves killing vampires along with crazy plot twists and just general B-movie weirdness, I think it works.

Anyway, the experience was actually quite a revelation to me, much like writing Harbinger in three months during the summer of 2009 was (geez, that was three years ago?). For Harbinger, it proved that the first book wasn't a fluke: I could actually write books if I put my mind to it. For Half...well, let me just go down the list.

And apologies in advance if this is long, but I'm hoping you'll be able to glean some helpful information from this regardless.


I (and therefore you) can make time to write every day if we put it as a priority

This was a big one. As stated in previous posts, I had an extremely busy two weeks, and that isn't on the writing end. I worked 6 out of 7 days last week, not counting all the other crap I had to do, and most of my evenings were completely full. When I finally got around to plotting out chapters, my heart sank. I had to write a minimum of two every day, which would be anywhere from 4,000-8,000 words, on days where I was completely booked from 7 am to 10 pm. How on earth was I going to write?

However, because I was determined to accomplish this, I started putting other, less important things aside to give writing priority. I ignored my video game blog. I didn't watch any movies, GiantBomb (my favorite video game video site), YouTube, or do anything past skim my favorite time-wasting websites. I still engaged in social networking, but I've never been very religious on that stuff so it wasn't difficult. The big one was that I ignored the freaking unbelievable draw of Age of Empires Online, which has been consuming my life these past few days. I even bought a new game and got another one in the mail, games I'd been looking forward to for a while (Silent Hill HD Collection) that I still have not played. Until my writing goals were accomplished, it took first spot.

Strangely enough, even after only two weeks this started to become habit. Rather than going home from work looking forward to lounging around, playing games, wasting time, and then maybe writing, every day I came home knowing I had to write, and I was excited about it. Because I just kept doing it and bumped it up on the priority list, it was actually much more fun to go write than to play video games or waste time. It wasn't easy, and it took a few days to fully kick in, but once it did I was actually making excuses to write more. With Harbinger I learned that if I was dedicated I could write every day. With Half, I learned that I could enjoy and look forward to it, and that it really wasn't that hard to make time, even if it was just an hour an evening.


Put book progress first, wordcount second. 

I've never been a planner. Even with Half, I only started plotting it about 1/3 of the way in, and it wasn't until the 2/3 mark that all the bits and pieces I'd been building up and randomly injecting into the story started to piece together to make the ending. But that's for another section; the point of this is chapter outlines.

I rarely use chapter outlines until I'm near the end of a book. This is mostly because I'm scared that outlining every chapter in my book will stifle the creativity of the story. Some of my best scenes and chapters were impromptu and entirely unplanned, the book taking me in a direction I didn't expect and myself as author just going along for the ride. So it's scary when everything feels so set in stone like that. 

With Half I had to do it because I didn't have time to wait for creativity to just randomly hit me mid-sentence. And, oddly enough, my wordcount worked better for it. When I had a chapter list (even if for 90% of the time the last act was just "whatever happens; who knows, maybe four chapters?") I had a clearcut goal to accomplish. Every chapter I finished felt good, like I could check it off a list as I continued my slow march towards completion. Since I had plot progress goals rather than just "write 2,000 words," my scenes were more streamlined right off the bat. Wordcount skyrocketed.

Did I still split chapters? You bet; some days I only had two chapters planned and four spawned out of it. But because I already had an end goal for the day (due to my rather lenient and vague outline) I would just plug forward until I accomplished it. It was a challenge, a mountain to climb, and in tandem with that my number of words a day went up as well. There were certainly days where my goal required only a few words, and then I had the satisfaction of having my evening free. It was weird; I didn't realize how much better this formula works for me, but it does. Having a blanket number can be helpful but also weak. Making actual percent progress in the plot feels like you are actually working towards something. Just food for thought.  


Turn off the personal editor.

This is another big one, and one that is hard for lots of people (including me). My biggest issue with A Straight Cut is I hit a point where my internal editor (who is actually a pretty crappy editor, based on my editing abilities) would start screaming at me over every stupid word I'd put to page. And, retroactively, he kept harassing me about all my previous words, making me doubt my previous chapters. "Nobody will buy this!" He'd rave like the douchebag he is. "Who wants to read this crap? You took a good idea and squandered it!"

Half punched the editor in the face, for a few reasons. First, it's a freaking vampire book. I knew this was going to be a pulpy, silly romp when I started it. So who cares if nobody reads it? It was the same thing with The Ashen Destroyer, my Effulgent Corruption fanfic novella. I was writing for myself again, not for some perceived agent, editor, writing group, or audience. I was allowing myself to just get sucked into the story, to love the characters and do whatever crazy stuff I felt like doing. It felt great, and the editor could only bug me about sentence structure and stuff, and even then I had spellcheck turned off (so no red lines) so I would just write words and not stop to worry about it.

I think something a lot of prospective authors forget is the fact that nobody published actually has complete creative freedom. Sure, they can technically write what they want, but eventually that's going to have to go through a writing group, agent, editor, and eventually the harshest critics of all: the fans. Any author worth his or her salt doesn't want to spend the rest of his or her life cleaning the thing up in post, so s/he starts making sure their first drafts are a little better. Which, whether they like it or not, stifles creativity. I'm not saying this is a bad thing; it's a sign of becoming a better writer. But what I am saying is for some people this can be too much, and go too far. Not to cite any examples, but think of authors who take years upon years to just write the next manuscript in a series. Their self-editors are going nuts, and usually when the book comes out it is bland and less creative than the previous entries in the series. It's that damned self-editor, thinking he knows everything, when really he should be kept in check and only used if necessary.

Half was when I turned all my limitations off. It was my first book since Harbinger (and Lacrymosa before it) where I felt like I could just do whatever the hell I wanted and not care about the consequences. I think the book is stronger for it, and it certainly helped me enjoy the story more personally.


You can fix it in post. Or in the middle. Or whenever. 

This kind of ties in with the last two, but it was really brought to the forefront when writing Half. I jumped into this thing headfirst not even knowing if the pool was full of water, jello, or radioactive scorpions. I knew the goal (the other side of the pool) but what I was swimming through to get there was a mystery. I just wrote anyway, thinking of stuff that would be cool and would eventually get me to the other side.

About 1/3 of the way through I figured it out, using what I'd established already to set up the second act of the book. Following that, at the 2/3 mark I completely changed my plans and decided to have the ending escalate in a completely different place, after a completely different incident, and with a totally new climax. Was my book ruined? Did I have to go back and rewrite everything?

Nope. I did have to go back and add a very small section in the middle of a chapter, as well as alter several bits of dialogue to provide proper foreshadowing, but it was about a thirty minute fix at most. Granted, since then I changed it again, so I still have to go back and make sure it is all tight, but the point is that you can fix stuff later. If you have an idea that is just marvelously amazing, just write it in and then fix it later. Granted, this won't work with any idea (it has to be within reason), but the point still stands. Don't stifle your creativity. It can always be fixed after you are done: just focus on getting to the end before examining the journey.


Write what you love, and love it when you write. 

So this title is kind of hokey, but the point still stands: if you want to do this as a living, you have to enjoy it. Art isn't like an office job. In an office job, you can sort of not enjoy what you are doing but it's a grind. You aren't usually required to make something beautiful or artistic as a part of it (unless your office job is creating art, in which case you should probably still enjoy it or else you'll get static crap...like shovelware video games), you just do your time and go home. But with writing art, especially if you haven't sold a book, you'd better really like doing it. If it's painful or too difficult or you can't seem to find time for it, maybe you aren't cut out for it. Lots of people really want to write a book, but few people do, and fewer write a second. I'm not trying to toot my own horn here, but if you really love writing you'll keep doing it. You won't need money or fame or someone bossing you around to go out and do that thing you love. It's just what you do because that's who you are. Or you can grow to love it through practice.

Writing Half was stressful. Very stressful. My self-imposed deadline was killer and it sucked away all my free time. But looking back I had a total blast last week. It was a very hard week in terms of not-writing. I had tons of work, things went bad at work, I was stressed, and I had little time to do what I wanted. But I had something to look forward to after all that was done. I got to dive back into a silly story about a flippant vampire hunter who loved his job. I got to use my imagination to create whatever I wanted every single night, not worrying about what I or other people felt about it. It was fun and a journey, an adventure that only I got to go on with my characters. I'd do it again in a heartbeat, even with all the stress and pain.

So write because you love it, and you'll love your writing. Make it happen.


There was certainly a bit more, but I think that will do for now. Point being that I am very glad I tried this, and gladder still I managed to pull it off. It was a very rewarding experience, and helped me get back into a writing mood for more "serious" projects (though I do plan on editing Half...and if anybody wants to read it I'll gladly send it your direction). 

That's it from me. I hope to start the Game of Thrones HBO series reviews tonight, so stay tuned!

Book #9, HALF, is done.

on Sunday, April 15, 2012
Click to enlarge

I did it. 

It nearly killed me, but I did it.

To get an idea: I wrote 8,000 words on Friday, 10,000 words on Saturday, and 13,000 words today in order to pull this off. 

I feel like this book just kept squeezing and squeezing me until the words came out, but it ended up working out because I finished it. Half is complete.

And I have a book now about vampire hunters, elves, and supernatural diseases. Yay?

Here's some fun facts.

Total Words: 79,590 (so close to 80k I can taste it! Edits will probably bump it up)
Days Written: 15 (Sunday to Sunday to Sunday. April 1st to April 15th)
Average Words a Day: 5306
Chapters: 25 and an epilogue
Total Time: 30 hours (exactly. Weird)

Wacky stats? I'm really tired, but I can manage a few.

Main Hero Characters: Five
Character Deaths: That's a spoiler, foo'!
Vampire Deaths: There's...a lot. Most on camera.
Stages of the Vampire Disease: Five
Types of Supernatural Beings that show up: Five
Werewolves in the book: ZERO. 
Really bad jokes from the protag: There's lots of these
Ending promising a sequel? Of course

Despite starting simply because I thought writing a book about somebody half-vampire would be a cool idea, this book really developed and took off in directions I didn't expect. Re-reading it (granted I was skimming it) I found I actually really enjoyed both reading and writing it. Of course, it's my own thing so I'm probably biased, but after some clean-up this might actually not be a horrible thing.

I could publish it on Kindle at least. Just saying. 

Point being that while it's easy to dismiss it as "another vampire book," I did try to do things that would make it enjoyable to read, while sticking to the mythology enough but infusing it with some personal ideas of my own. I actually ended up really liking the world, even if they don't dig deep into it at all, and will probably revisit this series (?) sometime when I'm pissed off at another book and need to go on a writing blitz (I'm looking at you, A Straight Cut).

So Book #9 wasn't quite what I expected, and that means Book #10 is probably going to be A Straight Cut. So we'll see how long it takes me to finish that now that I'm used to writing 5000 words a day.

Also, I thought of a brilliant idea for the best children's book ever which I'm totally writing after A Straight Cut, but the premise is a secret to everybody but my writing group so YOU'LL JUST HAVE TO WAIT. 

The final stretch of the experiment

on Saturday, April 14, 2012
This movie is gonna be awesome.

So Half is sitting nicely just shy of 60k after around two weeks. I have finished Act 2 and am now on the final act, where everything goes totally bananas. I'm estimating another 4 and a half to 5 chapters remain, and I'm stuck at work until 8 tonight and have plenty to do tomorrow.

I'm gonna do it if it kills me.

To be completely honest, this was probably the worst set of weeks to try this. Last week wasn't extremely busy aside from work, but we did have busy evenings and it was freaking Easter so, you know.

This week was super bad. It was my six day work-week, and in addition almost every single evening (which is when I do most of my writing) was busy with something that ended up going the entire time. As a plus I got to go out to eat twice, saw The Hunger Games, and discovered that Buffalo Wild Wings is pretty much the best place to eat on the planet, but it still put a massive dent in writing time.

So yeah, if I'm doing another "two week" thing, I'm planning it over better weeks.

But still, it's been a very interesting experience, and I plan on giving a detailed write up that nobody will probably care about after I (hopefully) finish on time. Since I'm a discovery writer there was no planning put into this at first, meaning stuff only started to fit together at around the 60% mark, and even then I had to go back and fix all the stupid mistakes I made so that there was "foreshadowing" and all that junk. But again, as an experience I have learned a ton, and hopefully sharing it with you guys will help you with your own writing. Or at least be interesting.

Anyway, that's the story from me. I still plan on doing an episodic Game of Thrones TV show review on here soon, and post some Hunger Games movie impressions. So stay tuned!

Writing Update

on Tuesday, April 10, 2012
I've been quiet and it's late so this will be a brief post, but I figured I'd give a status update.

I've been writing Half for every day. According to my calculations, if I wrote two chapters a day every day this week, I'd finish the book on Sunday. Unfortunately, I'm currently a chapter and a half behind due to procrastination and the fact that this is "Hell Week" (something that happens every other week where I work 6 days of the week). I also have stuff planned almost every evening this week, which makes it hard, as well as my crippling Age of Empires Online addiction.

That being said, I've written, on average, 5,000 words a day over the past 9 days, including the "Bad" day that I only got 1500 out. I've also got a solid plot for the entire book that I actually think is pretty decent, if it is kind of ruined by the fact I used stupid vampires. Whatever, I'm writing for fun, you'll survive.

That's 43,483 words in 9 days. Which is the length of a full middle grade novel and a shorter end YA novel. My final estimation is that this will be around 70-80k. I don't have the last 1/6th of the book set in stone, though, so it might end up being longer.

This is also a very..."pulpy" book. In that I wanted to make it a fun ride but there isn't really any substantial depth to it (though I did try and both remain loyal to mythology and mix it up a bit). It's probably awful, but I really don't care at this point because I'm having a great time writing it and (hopefully) it'll at least be a stupid fun read if I decide to ever share it with anybody.

After I finish I'll be formulating Death's Aria edits and finishing A Straight Cut. I'm hoping to have Death's Aria edited by the end of April or Mid-May at the latest so I can begin sending it out. I have high hopes for that book.

I also spent monday making Steampunk Goggles. If you want to see the details, my wife's blog covers it in more extensive detail.

That's it on my status update. Still writing, still trying to write a book in two weeks. If I didn't work Saturday I'd devote the whole day to it, so I guess I'll be saving that for Sunday.

Writing what feels good

on Monday, April 2, 2012

So I'm switching gears. After being deathly ill last week but still writing ~750 words a day on A Straight Cut, the book hit it's 60,000 word mark and officially hit the point where I hate it. This seems to happen with every book I write at some point: usually around the 40-60k mark I start hating everything about the novel and want to never show it to anybody ever again.

Luckily, I usually push through, but with A Straight Cut I have a problem: I know how the book ends, and I know what I want it to be, but I have no idea how to get there. Or I have an idea, and it is bland.

After some extensive walks and brainstorming, I've decided to set A Straight Cut down for a little bit. Not too long, seeing as I still want to finish it, but I need to take a break and write something else. I need to write something I want to write. Something faster paced. Something with more violence. Something...stupid.

So I'm writing a vampire book.

Yes, you hear it right, I'm succumbing to genre cliches and writing a book with vampires in it. Hey, at least they are hunting them rather than loving them.

It's an idea I've had muddled about in my brain for...well, a long time to be completely honest. I never really went for it because I felt it was 1. Stupid and 2. Falling into mainstream genre trapping, but you know what? I don't care. I wanted to write it, it's going to keep bugging me until I do write it, and I need to write something that I don't care about if it sucks or not for a while.

So I'm going to do it. But in true Nathan fashion, I'm going to make it hard on myself. My goal is to finish this book in two weeks.

I currently have a basic structure of a plot, but not worrying about if it sucks means that if I ever get bored I can add more vampire hunting or bad attempts at humor or whatever the crap I want to keep the story moving. Which also means no excuses for a poor wordcount: I've been slagging off this year so far on my wordcount, so I'm hoping this'll pull it back up. We are going for 3k a day, 4k ideal. Yeah, I know it's a lot, I don't care.

Once it's finished (whether I make the goal or not), I will be editing Death's Aria while writing either the vampire book (called Half) or A Straight Cut on the side (as I have to write new words every day as part of my 2012 goal). From there...who knows.

So that's it. I have a new book in town, and it might suck. Whatever; I need some stress off my back, and this will do that while still not compromising my goals. So here comes Half, you fools. You brought this suckfest upon yourselves. :P