Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

Thoughts from Brandon Sanderson

image I was going through my usual blog reading routine this morning and came across a link to some thoughts from Brandon Sanderson on his history as a writer. Brandon Sanderson was tagged to write the final volumes in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series, the first of which is The Gathering Storm. Jordan passed away before he could finish the series. The details of Sanderson's post are significant enough that I thought I would share.

Sanderson's Mistborn was a Tor Free E-book Giveaway back in July. He's also the guy tasked with completing Jordan's final Wheel of Time book after that author's death. There's also a recent video interview with the author that I came across.

The most profound thing I took away from Sanderson's post is that I (and I imagine many writers) found myself empathizing with many of his feelings and thoughts. I saw in his words some of the same questions I ask myself, such as "is this good enough?", "will this stand up to reader scrutiny?", "is anyone going to even want to read this let alone publish it?". It's, in an odd way, comforting.

At one point, Sanderson says this:

Here I was, having written twelve novels, and I seemed to be getting WORSE with each one. I wasn't selling, I was out of school working a wage job graveyard shift, and my social life consisted pretty much of my friends taking pity on me and coming to hang out at the hotel once in a while.

Sounds rather dismal. The thing that really blew me away was his statement that he'd written twelve novels (twelve!) without a publishing credit to his name. That's disheartening and inspiring at the same time. The latter because of his fortitude and perseverance, both obviously of heroic proportions.

Later, he says this:

I was NEVER AGAIN going to write toward the market.

After some initial failures, Sanderson changed tactics, trying to write what he thought publishers wanted. The results were sub-standard work simply because his heart was not in the material. The above statement marks a turning point, whereupon he decides to write for himself. He finds success not too long after that.

On that last point, I've seen it go the other way, too. I know of one writer in particular who also faced some small amount of defeat in getting published before he also decided to change tactics—study the market, see what publishers were buying (and what people were reading)—then take that information and write. The result was his first sale of many.

In light of that, it would seem there's no foolproof approach. What works for some may not work for others. It's both inspiring and sobering to read such posts as Sanderson's, though. Go check it out.

Writing Update #11

image Just a quick writing update this time in which I dispense with the graphs at least for this one time.

All told, this past week was not a good one for writing. I started strong, finishing off a crucial, second-to-last-chapter section, but then I got sick and everything came to a screeching halt. It was one of those "your brain now belongs to us" sort of colds that I only just got over yesterday.

So, I got a little break, whether I wanted one or not. It did give me a little time to reflect on how I truly want to wrap the main storyline up. Most of it is already there, but I had made some mid-novel changes that, like a row of dominos, had ramifications all the way unto the finishing line. Those loose ends have almost been wrapped up at this point. Once that's done, I can get back to the actual writing where I will soon have this thing wrapped up.

Tor Free E-book: Dogland by Will Shetterly

9780765342331_ci_stdNOTE: While Tor is making two e-books available simultaneously as free downloads (this one and War of the Oaks, by Emma Bull), I am splitting them up for purposes of my Tor Free E-books Giveaway series.

Tor has reinstated their free e-book giveaway program wherein they will make available for download one free e-book per month. I don't think this continuation of the program has an end date currently, so enjoy. The only catch is that you will have to join their site as a member in order to get the downloads, and each e-book will only be available for a limited amount of time.

This month's free giveaway (along with the aforementioned War of the Oaks) is Dogland, by Will Shetterly.

Shetterly maintains a blog and where, after clicking through a couple of times, I came across this interesting tidbit from his biography page:

I live in Tucson, Arizona, with my wife, Emma Bull, and our cat, Toby, the Terror of the West. When I was a boy, I lived at a tourist attraction attraction called Dog Land that inspired my novel, Dogland.

He claims metatheism as his source of spiritual nourishment, links to a cookie recipe titled "Shetterly's Finest-Kind Cookies" that I would have tried out if only the link worked (I like cookies), and offers this:

In 1994, I ran for Governor of Minnesota and finished third in a field of six.

Hey, this guy could have been president, or perhaps vice-president.

His bibliography boasts a long list of novels, short stories, anthologies, comic books and graphic novels, and a trio of screenplays.

As far as what Dogland is about, I grabbed this from Amazon:

In late 1950s Florida, the transplanted Nix family opens Dogland, a tourist attraction, and their beliefs in integration attract the attention of the Klan. Young Christopher Nix befriends a black man and a Seminole woman who may know the real secret to the Fountain of Youth. Shetterly captures the rhythm, feel, and language of cracker Florida, its legends, and the clash of cultures.

I have to admit, not my usual. But I downloaded it for free, so I'm sure to give it the first 50 pages if nothing else.

Writing Update #10

I'm closing in on the finish line. Current total pages stands at 375, down 1 page from last week. Currently editing page 362, up from last week's 348. That gives me a 15 page increase for the week, gets the pages remaining down to 13, and puts me at a bottom-line completion percentage of 96.53%.

I'm happy with my progress, though I have to admit in terms of pages edited that progress seems kind of dismal. It's enough to make a less-determined person give it up. Fortunately, I think I've been doing this long enough (few years now) that I know how small the steps in writing a novel can be at times. Also, this is a first-pass edit which, for me, is really the most work (besides writing the novel itself).

I might be making slow progress, but it's steady progress. With only about 1 1/2 chapters left to edit, I'm about there.

Another thing I like is the total word count, which stands at 110,599, down just a little from last week, but on target for the limit I had previously investigated.

Here's the pages edited/remaining chart:

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And the percentage outlook (with a smaller range on the Y-axis to better demonstrate progress):

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More writing progress next week when I hope to announce the completion of this first-pass edit.