Betrayed is With My Editor, Discovered is Being Drafted!

Betrayed is With My Editor, Discovered is Being Drafted!

Greetings all,

caught-front-coverI’m happy to announce that I’ve saved up enough to send Betrayed to Sara for edits. This means that once I get the edits back from her, I’ll be able to apply that feedback in my Developmental Draft. I’m three drafts away from getting that story out! Sara said she’ll need about two weeks to get back to me.

That gives me time to continue working on Discovered, the final book in the Oneiros Log. I’m already 10,000 words into that story, and I’m very pleased with what I’m seeing so far.

In Betrayed we meet two new characters, one of which is featured in Discovered. In Discovered, we meet four new characters. I’ve already decided I’m particularly proud of one of these new characters. Obviously, I think highly of all my characters, but every now and then one really charms me.

Oneiros, Caught is Book One, was originally just a bit of fun for me after working on The Journals of Bob Drifter. After talking to my brother about a few things I’d included in the back story, he really wanted to see where the story goes. The readers I’ve met agree.

Betrayed takes us from a place where Oneiros feels like they can live happily as a sort of super-hero family version of the A-Team to being literally hunted. The government has targeted Oneiros, and they’ve selected one of Dom’s old friends to lead that mission. This whole book humbles the family and shows that there are still deeper levels to the events that brought them into being. As is true of any of my stories, no one is safe. The events of this book forces every member of the team to truly look at themselves and each other. It was a hard book to write in a lot of ways because of how much these events test the team.

kaitlynDiscovered closes the loop in my opinion. Once I decided to write all three books, I always imagined it being the opening to a new super hero universe. Sure, there are other events that could happen, but I don’t currently have any plans to write any more stories in this universe. My dream would be to give the trilogy to Netflix and let them take the story from there.  So this story reveals the true origins of the team and the conflict with the mastermind behind it all.

I’ll keep plugging away on Discovered until Sara sends me her feedback on Betrayed. That means I’m hoping to be about 24,000 words into Discovered when I switch back. I might want to finish the Discovery Draft to Discovered before I do any revisions. It depends on how well I think that story is going (right now I think it’s great). If I do get right to work on Betrayed, I’d hope to have the Developmental Draft done by the end of July. This means I still have a bit of hope that the book will be released in 2020. Either way, Discovered will come quickly on its heels.

I wanted to take a moment to update you all on those projects. I thank you for the support and encouragement you’ve given me through the years. I hope to keep writing for a long time, and anyone sending positive vibes or posting reviews or recommending my books to others is a huge boost to my morale. Thank you so much.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

You’re Not Stuck! COVID Delays Don’t Mean You Can’t Do Something As An Author

You’re Not Stuck! COVID Delays Don’t Mean You Can’t Do Something As An Author

Greetings all,

handcuff
Image by Achim Scholty from Pixabay. 

I want to share a frustration I have with people sometimes.  People can let one obstacle beat them. I can’t go to the gym, so I can’t work out. Really? So lack of access to a gym prevents you from doing pushups or sit ups?

 

I don’t have any ground beef, so I’ll order out. Why? Does ground beef constitute the entirety of your food options?

That doesn’t mean that people don’t face obstacles. It doesn’t mean that those obstacles aren’t frustrating at times. However, we as human beings choose. We choose to let our circumstances defeat us, or we choose to endure our circumstances and move forward in the ways God provides.

As a nation, America is face with more restrictions on their lives that they’ve ever face. The malls are closed. There are no sports. And, for me, all the conventions I had lined up were cancelled. That’s a huge bummer!

IMG_2318Since conventions are my number one method of sales (and not profit), this means I’m at an extreme disadvantage. The hardest hit is that no sales means no income, which means I can’t save up money for edits on Betrayed. I can’t save for a cover. Even the money I had been budgeting is set aside because we want to be prepared for any true financial issues.

So the challenge question: Does this really mean I can’t do anything as an author? No!

You can too. First, for you hopeful authors who constantly say, “I want to write, but I just don’t have the time!” What, exactly are you spending your time on now? Maybe you’re blessed to still have some form of employment. That’s great. However, it’s not like there’s a game you “need” to catch anytime soon. It’s not like there’s a new movie you “just have” to see.

You can write that book right now.

caught-front-coverWhat about people like me? Well, the first thing I’m doing is working hard on the outline to Discovered (which looks to be a big one, by far the biggest of the trilogy). The other thing I’m doing is working a bit more on marketing. I’m building more campaigns for Amazon Marketing. Even if no one is buying now (and they are, even I sold a book or two this week), when things start moving forward, I’ll have a new armada of advertisements ready to go.

I’m blessed to be able to telework during this time. I’m still working. Heck, I might be doing more work than I would be doing if the building were open. This means time is still an issue. It might still be the biggest issue. However, what time I do have to myself, I spend on some form of writing. I might also do something else, but I chip away.

In the Navy, a common phrase you’ll hear is, “I don’t care what you can’t do; tell me what you can do.”

This attitude, this frame of mind, is essential. This time in our lives is definitely a challenge. We’re all worried. We wonder if we’ll get sick. We wonder if our finances will hold up. However, if we focus on our problems, we turn a blind eye to the solutions that are out there.

frustrated-4201046_1920
Image by Steve DiMatteo from Pixabay.

The challenge I offer you is this: Whatever you do, make sure you understand you’re making a choice. Even refusing to do anything or “failing” to make a choice is still a choice.

Naturally, you have the right to choose whatever you want. My problem would be if you try to avoid or lament the consequences of that choice as an excuse for why you can’t do something.

The guy who says, “I could write that book, but I’ve been meaning to watch the entire ‘How I Met Your Mother’ series for years now,” will get no beef from me. However the guy who complains about how he never has time to finish a book while watching that show may get a different reaction from me.

So here are a few things you can do if your finances prevent you from buying a cover or paying for editing services:

Draft another book.

Make revisions on another manuscript.

Study marketing.

Work on building your marketing plan.

Build your email list.

Send your readers an email (man I’m terrible at that).

This period of stress in our lives does create problems, but it doesn’t mean we have to give up on our goals.

I wanted to share these thoughts to motivate you to get moving in some way. This isn’t unique to writing either. Maybe spend some more quality time with your kids. Maybe turn this into an “in home” second honeymoon. Chip away on those home projects you’ve “been meaning to get around to.”

This time is stressful and challenging enough. Let’s use it to look for opportunities.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

 

 

Standards and Deadlines: The Balancing Act

Standards and Deadlines: The Balancing Act

(All images taken from Pixabay.)

The phrase is “Minimum viable product.”

Home under construction
Sure, it has wood and rooms, but I wouldn’t want to live here.

There is a sense to the phrase, but people abuse its meaning at times.  The better concept is, “Create the best product you have in the time you’re allowed.”

I probably am more guilty of this very problem then I’d like to admit. While I have people who read this blog and my work, I don’t have droves of fans waiting eagerly for my next book. So what’s the rush?

Well, for me, I try very hard to release four titles a year. That’s simply not happening this year. Even before COVID-19, it was dicey to even try and get Betrayed out. Without making money on conventions and events (let alone book sales), I can’t pay Sara to edit. So that project becomes “stuck.” I can still work on other projects, so that once things start moving again, I still have direction.

So my goal is always to release good stories in a timely manner. It’s been that way since I was a journalist, and I don’t anticipate that viewpoint changing at all. But I have seen people shove out product without so much as a casual proofread. They do so and say, “Minimum viable product.”

So we’re forced to ask ourselves, “what is viable?”

lazy-1458443_960_720
Just because you did anything doesn’t mean you accomplished anything. 

I suppose that depends on the reader. If I’m cranking out stories devoid of editing and formatted like a blind man with a new inDesign account, but the readers are still buying and giving good reviews, I’d declare I’m doing it right.

What happens though is that people put minimal effort into their work and then want to complain they aren’t selling.

First, sales is way more about marketing and advertising than product.  I have every belief that if I could just find a way to gain attention in this oversaturated filed, I’d do well. I’d offer a hefty percentage of my sales to the person who offers me actionable information on how to do that, but I digress.

Second, I’ll always believe that effort yields results. While I’m not quitting my day job yet, I’ve improved every year I’ve been doing this. It’s a slow, agonizing process, but all the things worth having tend to be that way.

Each writer has to balance his own process. If you’ve edited your story 20 times and paid editors and tweaked that story to oblivion, then you need to release that story.  You’ve put in the effort, now let it go, and let readers decide if it’s good or not (that’s their job). If you’ve cranked out a draft 30 minutes ago, maybe let it sit a few weeks. Read it again. Find Beta (or even Charlie or Delta) readers. Hire and editor. Hire a professional editor. Listen to the feedback.

youtuber-2838945_1920I’ve talked about my writing process a few times. It works for me. I still make a few mistakes, but today’s self-publishing world makes fixing those mistakes pretty easy (and free).  However, I don’t just release anything and think, “Oh, I can make edits later.” I do know I can do that, but I don’t let that be an excuse to be shoddy in my work.

On the other hand, I have to get the product out, and so do you. Sure, I’m going to keep waiting for the next King Killer book, but I might even forget about it if it takes another five years to release. My anticipation is already nearly gone. However, I would still drop what I’m reading now to grab that book if it came out tomorrow. Most of us don’t self-published guys don’t have that sort of loyalty. We need product to be seen. We need to be on the “new releases” page. We need to build a library.

I’ve heard and seen data that says that’s not right. However, there is still a balance. You can’t have follow-on readers if you don’t have follow-on stories. It’s that simple. There is something to be said about taking a break from writing to market the work you have out there, and maybe that is a good option to look into during this crazy time in our life.

So, the factors to balance are: getting the product out, ensuring the product is of good quality, and marketing the product.

I’m not here to tell you how much time to put into which factor; I’m here to tell you what those factors are. I’m not anywhere near where I want to be in this pursuit, but I’m a lot farther than when I started. If you want to even get to where I am, you have to allot some time for each of these. I’m still learning. I’m still figuring my breakdown out, but if you don’t have one at all, that’s the problem.

My advice in this regard:

concept-1868728_1920Write a freaking book! If you aren’t writing or you haven’t finished the book, you don’t have anything at all to do. There’s no point. Now, while you write that book, you should start building a following. Start a blog. Do character interviews. Build an email list. Use the email list. But, don’t stop writing the book.

When you have a book ready, keep building that following and write at least two more books. Again, I understand that more product doesn’t mean more sales in and of itself. However, if a guy buys your book and wants more from you, shouldn’t you have more to offer?

So there are some who only have that one book they want to write. That’s a completely different circumstance. You’re probably not trying to make a business out of it. But if you are, I offer this advice for you to take or leave.

Once you have three books out. Plan out your release schedule and strategy. Make a business plan.

Execute your plan and evaluate how it’s working. Continue developing new product.

Some of that I did. Some of those things are things I failed to do. I’m convinced a large part of my struggles are do to those failings.

Whatever you do, stay at it. Keep working. If you choose to turn away from the goal, make it a choice you’ve made and a choice you’re ok with.

I hope this gives you encouragement and edifies you. Whatever happens, stay safe out there. My prayers are with you all.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Finding the Time: If You Want To Be A Writer, Write

Finding the Time: If You Want To Be A Writer, Write

Greetings all,

Wedding
I kissed the bride.

I’m not sure what post it was in, but a few posts ago I mentioned my wonderful life and how that life has altered my schedule. I had been and remain adamant that anything in life deserves a level of commitment. That level of commitment should reflect the importance you give it in your life. I’d advise anyone to take a serious look at the things they say they want to do in their lives and evaluate how much effort they make to do those things.

It’s a good way to put things in perspective too. If you keep investing your time in other things, maybe those things are actually more important to you. This isn’t a judgment. It’s your life, and you’re free to spend it doing whatever you want. If you look at that life and realize you spend a lot of time doing X, then you can either realize that X really is more important or change your habits.

Being married has been a huge adjustment. I’m about 10 months into my marriage, and we’re still figuring things out. It’s not just me. My kids’ lives are very different than they were before I showed up, and they’re even more different after I became their father. My wife’s life is different. We’ve talked several times (Julie and I) about what we want to find time to do and how we can pull it off.

So I offer this bit of rambling to you who say you want to write but can’t “find the time.”

First question: Do you really want to write? Really? Do you want it more than sleep? Do you want it more than football? Do you want it more than video games? Do you want it more than time with your wife? I’m not saying you have to sacrifice everything. However, there are only so many hours in a day, week, or month. You can’t give time to something unless that time comes from somewhere. If the things you’re already doing are more important than your desire to write, it’s no shame on you. I think you should simply think about other ways to find time. Maybe take a vacation day here or there. Maybe do some sort of writing retreat. Maybe look at the situation and say to yourself that you’re happy with your life the way it is. If you can’t let writing go, then don’t. But that means working to find that time. Before moving on to any step be aware that finding time means investing time. If there’s nothing in your life you’re willing to do less of, then writing isn’t that important to you, and that’s OK. But if you do this seriously, and you’re heart is set on writing, then you’ll find the thing you’re currently spending time on that isn’t that important.

Me and JulieThings more important to me than writing: God. My family. Being a good employee. Those are areas of my life that I won’t give up to find time writing. I love writing. It’s been part of my life forever, but I won’t take time from those things to find more time to write.

Things I really, really like: Football and video games. Those are things that I’ve found can compete. However, when I realize I’ve spent more hours playing video games than I have writing, it’s usually a convicting moment for me. Football is a fairly seasonal thing, and commercials are awesome! They let me do social media things or work on a cover. I wouldn’t necessarily tell people to write during commercials. I think that divides too much of your attention, but there are somethings you can do that will let your dedicated writing time be all about writing. If I’m up against deadline, video games are usually the first to go, and I can reduce my football. I love my 49ers most, so I tend to want to watch that game, but the rest of the games are things I can set aside if I need more dedicated writing.

Easier said than done: So above, I mentioned my family. That’s a lot of time. Homework time. Dinner time. Family time together. Bible time (at least in my house). Laundry. Cleaning up. Bed time (at least in my house). This takes up the better part of most evenings and every other Saturday. So time at my house is such a premium.

I don’t get a ton of writing done at home these days. I usually get a bit on Saturdays. Most of my writing time is done during my authorized lunch time. Rather than what I used to do (enjoy a mindless hour on Youtube), I use that time to write.  After we get the kids to bed (my wife an I alternate bedtime), I might have to not play video games so I can get more writing done.

The boys
The boys.

My point is, the time is there. When I feel myself getting frustrated at the amount of time I have to write, the first thing to do is make sure I’m not wasting time I could be writing. However, I’m not a crazy person. Those video games are usually how I calm my self down (animated though I may be during the games) before going to bed. Who doesn’t need relaxation now and then. Writing is actually pretty relaxing on one end, but it activates my mind. When I used to try to go to bed right after writing, I found I couldn’t shut off my brain. I still have my normal goal of 1,000 words (of something) a day. That might be editing like I’m doing now with Betrayed. It might be outlining, like I will be doing with Discovered. I love drafting most.  Tuesdays and Fridays are set aside for blogging right here. No, I don’t have nearly as much time to “write” as I used to, but I still managed to find the time I’ve always believed I “need.”

Other places I find time: My wife drives. First, she likes it, and I hate it. So while she’s driving, I can get social media done or even some drafting or editing if the trip is long enough.

Stay up a “bit” later. Honestly, I’m 40 now. Man my body needs way more rest than I’m used to. I used to be able to be pretty much good to go off maybe  three hours of sleep. Not any more. I need five. Five is probably pushing it, but I have to get five hours of sleep to have a hope on Earth of waking up on time for work or church. On an occasional time or two (or Saturdays if I’m being honest), I pull of four hours of sleep, but I usually hate myself. However, I can probably find an hour when I need to after everyone else has gone to bed.

Wake up a “bit” earlier. If I’m being honest, this would probably be the more feasible option if I needed it. I’ve found that no one in the house likes going to sleep alone, but no one in the house gives two toots who wakes up first. My bias is I hate waking up regardless of the hour. If I could sleep for a whole day, I would. However, it’s an available option to me.

I wanted to share this to help anyone out there struggling. If one were to ask me, “Do you feel like you get enough time?” I’d probably say, “Not as much as I want, but at least what I need.” Still, before I was married, I wrote a bunch and had all the time in the world to do whatever I wanted. It wasn’t fun. It’s way more fun having three wonderful sons. It’s way more fun having a wife. So I take the lunch hour I used to waste on videos and get the 1,000 mandatory amount, and then I carve out other blocks if I feel I need to.

It’s really just about taking a good, hard look at your schedule and making a decision about what you’re willing to give up, which is why that first question is the most important.

So, busy authors who are more successful than I am, what do you do to find time? What ideas have you had that I haven’t mentioned above?

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Betrayed’s First Draft Is Under Way

Betrayed’s First Draft Is Under Way

Greetings all,

As you can see in the title, I’ve started the first official draft of Betrayed.

caught-front-coverMy Process: Just last week, I talked about getting that first draft down. I’m so aware of the issues with mustering up the courage to put a story on paper that I’ve developed what I call the discover draft. It’s my way of cheating the system. When I’m writing this draft, I’m just getting the story down, and I’m not held up on anything because I don’t really think about it as a draft. That discovery draft is a very rough version of the story (some are more rough than others).

So what I did was get Betrayed’s general story down. Then I started re-reading the story. I made notes. Some were just me telling myself to check certain details. Most, because this is an area I struggle in, of my notes are just me telling myself how much more description I need. I also take a close look at the plot points and the characters to be sure everything is satisfying.

So without giving too much away, my biggest (non-description-related) notes were about making each scene more satisfying. There’s definitely one character who needs more screen time. I also need to push in on  some of the relationships and how they’ve evolved.

I’m pretty happy with this draft, and I’m excited to see what people who liked Caught think of how the story progresses.

The horror element is dwindling, but that’s by intent. This is much more action and drama oriented than Caught. The struggle is making the opponent seem worthy when Oneiros is a group of psychically enhanced people. I think I’ve done that.

Betrayed features Dom. Sal is still there, and Kaitlyn begins to take more of a lead role. I explore the relationship between those three characters and Kira. There’s a lot of friction in there, and poor Brandon and Chris have to try and keep things together. The government has finally decided to react to Oneiros and its vigilante operations. An old friendship gets shattered, and (as always in this series) more secrets are uncovered.

Betrayed currently has a prologue and 31 chapters, so I expect it will take 1-2 months to get this draft done. Then I’ll put out the call for Alpha Readers. With my family life, it could be some time before I finish the final draft. I have to take the time it requires to make this a quality story for you, but I promise I’m dedicating whatever time I can to the project.

Repressed_ACX_CoverIf you haven’t read Caught, I’m hoping you’ll give it a shot. Repressed is a short story based on Kaitlyn, and it’s a nice little update on things. I have free Audible download codes if you’d like to give one or both a try (seriously, I have 100 for each). You can email me for those.

I’ll get Betrayed out as soon as possible, and I’m outlining Discovered, which will complete the trilogy.  Please be patient as I continue to adjust from being a single guy with little to do but write, to a married man and a father. I will figure it out. Things might not get out as quickly as I’d have liked, but they are coming.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Betrayed: The Discovery Draft of Oneiros 2 Is Done!

Betrayed: The Discovery Draft of Oneiros 2 Is Done!

Greetings all,

caught-front-coverI’m happy to report that the discovery draft to Betrayed: Book Two of the Oneiros Log is finally finished!  I’m genuinely sorry for the delay on this project. Things got pushed around, and then some life stuff happened, and it just feels like I kept being pulled into other projects. I’m happy that part is done.

So what’s next? Well, Betrayed is gonna sit for a while. I can’t just jump into editing. I’m already too close to my own work, and if I don’t let a manuscript sit for a while, I tend to be blind to certain issues. I need to be objective when editing my work, and that means giving it some time.

While that goes on, the first thing I’m going to do is finish listening to the audio version of Sojourn in Captivity, which is going well. Courtney did some revisions, and now I need to just give everything a check to make sure it’s ready to go. I’m hoping to have that out in the world before I go to Shore Leave next month.

45003791_10156740898697460_7981328569286524928_nCollin is working pretty hard on Issue 2 of Hazel, and I’ll get the dialogue polished off for him when he needs. There’s some exciting news in that regard, but nothing is final yet, so I’m waiting until I have real facts rather than high hopes, but I am hopeful this project is progressing well.

I plan on doing the first draft of Betrayed starting in July. Yes, that’s a month away, and this book was supposed to be out last year, but a month is typically how long I let a project of that length sit. What that time will also let me do is outline Discovered: Book Three of the Oneiros Log.  Not only will getting that done mean the trilogy will be finished in time, it might help me reconsider certain things from this book.  There’s a huge gap between books one and two, but two and three are only a few weeks (or so) apart. Getting a good feel for the last book should help me make sure everything wraps up nicely.

Betrayed currently clocks in at 57,768 words. I think the gaps between writing and my own tendency to be a little lacking in description hurt me here.  The book should have been about 80,000 words. I know one character needs a bit more screen time, and I know I need some better description. So this revision will probably be a bit more work than the last few titles have been. The good news is the major framework is done, and I’m content with where the story is. Yes, it needs work, but I feel pretty confident that I know what I need to do.

I want to thank all of you for your patience in this. I’m so happy that I can write these stories and share them with people. I’d be lying if I said this book was anticipated, but I do know there are people waiting for this story, and I hope that Repressed did enough to tie you over. We’ll get Betrayed to you as soon as I can get it through the editorial process.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

 

1 More Day! 1 More Chance for a Free Book! Also, a few updates!

1 More Day! 1 More Chance for a Free Book! Also, a few updates!

Screen Shot 2018-04-29 at 2.01.14 PMGreetings all,

I had a few announcements to get out to you all, so I took a chance to type up a quick list!

First:

An Unusual Occupation is free for just about another 24 hours. You can download it on Amazon until 11:59 p.m. PDT (which is a bit off from my other scheduled events since I’m on the East Coast).  Bob’s Greatest Mistake will go live May 1! You can still preorder that for just 99 cents.

Second:

I’m still pleading for help getting word out about the giveaway. You’ve all been so amazing, so I’m asking for just one more day of shout outs, tweets, and shares. How much have you already helped? A historic amount. I currently have 110 downloads! I seem to remember promising to perform a trick if I hit that benchmark, so here you go!

I have offered more tricks, but I need your help to hit the benchmarks to make them happen.  I’ve promised to karaoke a song of your choice if I get to 200 downloads.  We’re 73 votes of that as of this moment.

Third:

I’m happy to announce I’ve finished the beta draft of Repressed, my novella featuring Kaitlyn from Caught. I’m proud of how it turned out, and I hope this Young Adult Paranormal Drama gives those of you waiting for Caught’s sequel something to tide you over until I get that out to you, hopefully in the winter of 2019.

Power of Words Cover_FRONTNext up is the developmental draft of Worth of Words, and I work on getting that story and all the Power of Words Anthology stories ready to go.  Once that’s finished (Hopefully next week some time. Definitely in two weeks.),  I’ll be looking for beta readers. If you like science fiction and clever thieving or heist stories, I’ll be sending out a call for beta readers on that story as soon as I finish this draft.

Once I finish Repressed (one more draft!), I’ll start outlining and drafting Betrayed, Book Two of the Oneiros Log.

Thank you all for the support you’ve shown so far! I’m so grateful! Check back tomorrow to start voting on the April Book Cover of the Month!

Thanks for reading,

Matt

 

An Unusual Occupation Is Live!

An Unusual Occupation Is Live!

Greetings all!

AnUnusualOccupationCOVERV1I’m happy to announce that the first part of The Journals of Bob Drifter, An Unusual Occupation, is officially available via Kindle.

I can’t stress this enough! This is not a sequel! I’ve had some people tell me Bob is a bit intimidating to read. The entire story (all three parts) is 133,000 words. Since the story was already in three neat segments, I thought releasing this story by each individual part gave readers a chance to try the story without the commitment of a larger book.

This part is special to me. The first part is basically the original short story I wrote almost twelve years ago. It inspired a fancy idea, which then inspired the complete story.

Occupation is currently 99 cents. It’ll remain that price for two weeks, when it will go up to it’s normal $2.99.  My plan is to release part two in May and part three in August. I have some more exciting news for later on in that year, but I’m still working out some logistics.

I had to get this released now because I’m just about to start the Alpha Draft of Worth of Words.  Things seem to be getting more and more busy in a good way, and I’ll keep you up to date. If you haven’t tried out Bob’s story, I hope you’ll give this segment, 47,000 words, a try. If you’ve read Bob, and you enjoyed it, please consider gifting or recommending this to readers you know. (Also, it’s always a great help when you post a review on Amazon or Goodreads.)

Thanks for reading,

Matt

 

Character Study: Dalinar Kaolin from The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

Character Study: Dalinar Kaolin from The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

Greetings all,

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This image was taken from Audible.com for review and study purpose in accordance with fair use doctrine.

I’ve missed doing character studies, and since I’m reading Way of Kings in preparation for the release of Brandon Sanderson’s Oathbringer, I thought I’d study one of those characters. Since I’m waiting for Oathbringer, I thought Dalinar deserved center stage.

 

NOTE: I’m doing this study only on Dalinar in his role in WoK. Please read at your own risk. While I won’t intentionally reveal every plot item I can remember at the moment, I may discuss some things that might take some of the fun out of it for you.

Dalinar is a sympathetic character. He does a lot of things to make people like him. He’s honorable, which is interesting for his arc, and he’s also a loving father and man of pride. Sanderson does a great job showing Dalinar’s efforts. None are more obvious than his interaction with his oldest son Adolin and his dead brother’s widow, Navani. When these characters are together, we see how Dalinar struggles with his conflict. We see how much he wants to be a man of honor and how much strain it puts on his old life.

This is what I want to hone in on for this character study. A character’s interaction with other characters can be 1) a point of conflict and 2) a way to display a character’s personality.

A point of conflict: I think this is the most fascinating aspect of Dalinar’s story in WoK. Dalinar’s desire to follow the code and unite the princedoms is a big shift from the drunken, unconscious man we meet in the beginning of the book. With Adolin we see the conflict Dalinar has to face on his own: Is he crazy, or are his visions really from the Almighty. We also see a strained relationship between a father and the son who idolizes the man his father used to be. Adolin loves his father, but he’s afraid Dalinar is losing (or has lost) his mind. He wants his father to be the mythic warrior, but his father seems to be pulling further away from that old part of his life, and Adolin grows concerned. Even when Adolin finally gets his opinion heard, he then regrets how his father reacts to that information, thus showing us more how much Adolin idolizes Dalinar.

Display a character’s personality: With Navani, we see a different aspect of his struggle. Navani is aggressive in her pursuit of Dalinar, and Dalinar wants her, but at one point in the book he explains that he can’t expect more of his men if he succumbs to his own (arguably inappropriate) desires.

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Fan art by ex-m.

Throw in the visions and the mystery of their origin, and Dalinar shows himself to be an incredibly sympathetic character, who proactively works to resolve his conflicts. Navani is an exception to this. Through most of WoK, Dalinar avoids that conflict. This displays his weakness and how much he wants to give in. He’ll fight dozens of armed opponents. He’ll face his former friend in a unforgiving political arena. He’ll even face his oldest son, and that son’s sadness seeing a respected man possibly going insane. But, if Navani so much as walks in a room, he’s looking for the nearest escort or exit he can find. This shows us it’s harder for him to deny his affection for her than it is to even discuss his sanity or trust an old friend.

Dalinar has what K.M. Weiland’s Creating Character Arcs calls a neutral change arc. Dalinar doesn’t fall into despair (though he’s tempted) and he doesn’t learn a perception altering truth. (For those who’ve read the book, yes, he learned an important secret, but it didn’t change his personality). Dalinar is a pillar. His dedication to the code and honor change those around him (his son and even Kaladin). Neutral arcs are frowned upon these days (in my own egotistical opinion), but I think that’s because they’re so very rarely done correctly.  You see, Dalinar doesn’t change, but his (as Weiland would put it) “belief in his truth” makes him an example for others to follow.

This arc is effective not just because of an interesting opponent (Sadeas), but also (and in my opinion more so) because of Adolin and Navani, who provide the most stress and challenge to his known truth (his faith in the code and adherence to honor). This arc is made sympathetic because they care about Dalinar. If everyone was against Dalinar (as Sadeas is), he’d look like nothing more than some jerk being high and mighty. Sadeas points this out near the 70-percent mark of the book. However, Sanderson gives us two compelling characters who love Dalinar and want to believe in him. Their doubts are what show his strength, and as their faith in him grows, so does the reader’s.

If you haven’t read Way of Kings or Words of Radiance (the first two books of the Starlight Archive), you’re really missing out on some great reading. I like taking a step back and analyzing a character, but I’m reading this book for the third time because it’s just that good.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Just About a Month Left: A Power of Words Anthology Update

Just About a Month Left: A Power of Words Anthology Update

Greetings all,

constitution-62943__340A few weeks back, I let you know about the anthology I’m editing, The Power of Words. While I’m still not entirely sure what the results of this idea of mine will be, I can say I’ve had a few people approach me with interest. I’ve even read a short story for the project, one author was particularly excited about the idea.

I’m still in the planning stages of the anthology as a whole, but I’m working out the kinks. I just wanted to keep awareness up and let people know it’s still scheduled to happen. That of course depends on how many authors submit.

Entries still open Nov. 1.

Entries close Nov. 30.

The word-count limit is now 30,000 (though I’d appreciate if you attempt to keep it below 20,000).

There is no limit on how many projects you can submit, but be advise I will only take one submission from each author.

The story must either be about the First Amendment or inspired by the title “The Power of Words.” As long as your story is about one of those two things, and it falls within the word-count limit, your entry will be valid.

My own story for the anthology is currently third in priority. (Repressed is first. The second edition of The Journals of Bob Drifter is second.) However, I still think it’s a great little heist story with some great plot twists (he said arrogantly).

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All stock images taken from Pixabay.

If this anthology does well at all (a lot of participation, a lot of sales, both), I’ll try to do anthologies on a more regular basis. They’re fun, and it lets me meet other authors and read some great work. I’ve always considered myself one for an eye for talent and good stories, so projects like this let me sort of put it all together.

I hope all of you are typing away on short stories you love for the anthology. I’m certainly looking forward to seeing your entries.

Thanks for reading,

Matt