• Category Archives Blog
  • On Kami

    Writing this has been a long time coming; almost from the moment I decided that since my Honor’s Path series takes place in a Feudal Japan-like setting that I should use largely Japanese religious traditions and ideas within the story. A quick disclaimer, I am not a follower of Shinto and cannot claim to be an expert on the religion. I have, at best, a lay understanding of the material. With that addressed, let us continue.

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  • 5 Tricks to Avoid Writer’s Block

    One thing I’ve noticed when writing, there are numerous sources about how to cope with and move past writer’s block. Not surprising. Anyone who’s sat down to write a story has reached a point where they simply do not know how to proceed. This doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t know what happens next (although that is common). It could be also be they are unsure of how to proceed, or simply lack the necessary motivation to continue.

    While I could give advice on how to overcome writer’s block, my experience has been that what works for one person very rarely works for another. This probably shouldn’t come as a surprise. Everyone’s creative process is different. Same for our strengths and weaknesses. Thus, I suspect, the exact problems every writer must contend with when facing writer’s block are also likely to be completely different.

    So instead of giving some advice that might be partly useful to one or two people in the world, I figured I would instead tackle the larger issue of how to avoid writer’s block entirely. In all honesty, I believe this can be applied to any endeavor where people feel like they are getting stuck, however my application has to do exclusively with writing. Also, as with overcoming writer’s block, I do not expect that works for me will also work for you. Instead, it is my hope that reading this will make you think about how you go about doing your own work, and identify the habits you have that ultimately sabotage you from making progress.

    I’m also going to give a shout out to the book The War of Art, which helped me immeasurably. I probably bring this up every time I talk about writer’s block or productivity. There is a reason for that.

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  • What Do Artists Owe Their Fans?

    I brought this up in my newsletter, but the fallout I have witnessed from the final season of Game of Thrones has been fairly interesting. This isn’t a show that I watched at all (I do not watch much television and my interest in the series had already been lost as a result of the slow release of the books), so I got to see this as a mostly peripheral observer. As I write stories myself, it should come as no surprise that what I see had given me quite a bit to think about.

    There is a LOT of ground to cover, and more I will leave uncovered, because this is already too long. I sort of rolled up most of the questions I ended up thinking about (concerning GoT) into a single post to keep this contained. Also decided to focus on the show in particular as much as possible.

    Woah boy. Better get started.

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  • Legend of the Five Rings: What I Love About The Story

    Originally, I wrote a (quite long) post about the story of Rokugan. After I finished, and was looking at the 2000 words I had put down, I realized something: It read like a wiki post. Greatly informative if it is about a topic you are already interested in, but otherwise I expect it is quite dry.

    Initially, I wasn’t sure what to do. On the one hand, I had spent a few weeks working on it. Shouldn’t I just post it, since it represented two weeks worth of working on content for my blog? On the other, everything I wrote about was easily available from different sources. As such, I really wasn’t bringing any additional value to the table. I was merely regurgitating information that is readily available.

    After some deliberation, I’ve decided to hold back on everything I wrote for now. If it seems relevant later, I can always post it then. Instead, I have decided to explain exactly what I loved about the story Legend of the Five Rings created.

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  • Legend of the Five Rings: The Great Clans pt1

    A good place to start explaining my love for L5R is the factions that exist within the setting. Originally, there were 7 Great Clans (although when the game first launched one of these had been “destroyed” and was reintroduced later in the story). Every clan tends to revolve around particular themes, although individuals within that clan may deviate from the norm.

    Obviously, this was done mostly for gameplay reasons. By having every clan wear a unique hat (so to speak), it makes it easier for prospective players to understand what mechanics each clan is most interested in interacting with. It is actually something I do like. For one, this means that every clan ends up representing different aspects of Asian cultures. Also, while the game does take this specialization to an unrealistic extreme, it isn’t entirely unheard of (the English and Longbows, French and Knights, Swiss and Pikes, etc).

    For the time being, I am going to focus on a few of the 7 Great Clans, and cover the others in Part 2. I may also go over some of the other factions (three or four in particular), but do not want to get bogged down. These background posts are supposed to be an overview, not a setting sourcebook. Also, these clan summaries obviously give my perspective of the different clans. As such, they highlight the things I find most interesting about them.

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  • Legend of the Five Rings: Introduction

    This was originally going to be something for my newsletter (for this month even) before other events overtook it and I realized this probably makes more sense as a series of blog posts anyway. Before I begin, allow a brief explanation about what Legend of the Five Rings is:

    The Legend of the Five Rings (L5R) is a fictional fantasy setting that focuses on the empire of Rokugan, which borrows heavily from various feudal Asian cultures and (Japan in particular). It was originally associated with a Collectible Card game, however, this expanded over time to include a large amount of official fiction, a tabletop RPG system, and now a Living Card Game.

    So all of that is nice, but why bring this up on a blog about my writing? Because it was probably the thing that introduced me to Asian culture and has undoubtedly had a strong influence on my writing as a result. Although there are a number of criticisms that can be leveled at L5R, notably that it westernizes the subject matter to fit the audience and portrays things in a (generally) idealized manner, it is a property that I have enjoyed throughout a significant portion of my life. That being the case, it seems worthwhile to discuss the setting and what I liked about it. Consider this an overview.

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  • Reading List, January to April

    This year I am trying to be more aware of how I read. It isn’t really a resolution so much as a desire to break a very bad habit I know I have. The problem is that I really enjoy reading to the point where I tend to binge read if I find a book I like. To really understand the problem, you need to realize that when I say binge read I mean that I tend to read to the exclusion of everything. Work, eating, sleeping. It isn’t unusual for me to start a book and read it straight through over the course of a day or two (depending on the length) while taking minimal breaks. Honestly, I don’t know anyone else who behaves the same way.

    I think I developed the habit in high school, but while this was fine in the past it can be a huge problem when I am in the middle of a project something. This is especially true if the book happens to be part of a series. Often, I will immediately dive into the sequel if I enjoyed a book, possibly leading to multiple days of inactivity. Really counterproductive when I’m busy with a project. Continue reading  Post ID 1043

  • By Duty Bound Book Launch Post Mortum

    In-depth looks at my writing are something I try to avoid here, as I want this blog to be about more than just the craft of writing, however, I’ve got this New Year’s Resolution to keep my blog up more than I have been and only a few ideas for content. Ended up asking around for topic ideas, and this one came up as something that may be interesting to people (or at the very least other writers in of anthro fiction). Continue reading  Post ID 1043

  • Draft 3 of By Duty Bound Complete

    Last Saturday I finished Draft 3 of By Duty Bound, which is a lot of progress. I’ve taken a short “break” in the interim, both to unwind from the grueling pace I set and to compile materials I know will help me with the next step: Proof Reading. I keep a checklist of common grammar and spelling mistakes, and a list of common issues I’ve noticed crop up in my writing. For instance, during my last editing pass I noticed that I am using the words “just”, “really”, “simply”, “immediately”, and “actually” far too often. Obviously I tried to fix that during my last edit, however this checklist reminds me to do a very through check by using common word-processing functions like Find and Replace, allowing me to locate every instance of these sorts of mistakes and be sure I fix them.

    As I was editing Draft Three I was helped by a new beta reader who gave me some good comments (in addition to some flattery). Actually implemented most of his suggestions to some degree or another, in addition to fixing some other issues I noticed. There is only one major thing that he pointed out that I haven’t fixed, although not for lack of wanting to. The problem is that he believes (and I agree) one of my characters is underutilized. Unfortunately, correcting that would mean rewriting large swaths of the book and I am so late in the process that it would basically send me back at least 4, and likely more, since I would need to restart editing process.

    In any case, I’m not exactly sure how long it will take me to work my way through this new checklist. It is about 9 pages long, and once I reach the end of it (and do a couple other things) I can say that I am finished with drafts and move on to release candidates. Doubt I will have the book ready by May like I hoped, but am definitely going to have it out by summer. Already thinking about how I want to go about handling the launch (if I want to have it up for preorder or what have you). Those are all business-y decisions, however.