Why I drop books

Hello again dear readers. I’ve come back again with another post for you.

Today I’m going to talk a little bit about reading. Before this year I’ve only given up reading a few books. Part of that was because either another or I spent hard earned money on them. A few, were terrible, but I pushed through. Some still linger in my thoughts, either as they were so dreadful, or they were on subjects that just either didn’t interest me, or were too vulgar. But for the most part, I felt I could last through anything.

But now I have a nearly limitless banquet of books via Kindle Prime, I’ve taken to being a bit more critical. Certainly there are interesting or clever things to learn from these books, but while I do read with that in mind, I also don’t want to waste my time on reading things I abhor.

Of course there are things to take away from a book you dislike, especially for those of us that write, but eventually it’s counterproductive. I can last through clunky writing, but I can’t stand bad characterization. Take for example when a person is attempting to write someone as if they were a genius, or at least brilliant. If I spot anything less than clever it takes away from my immersion. Of course clever people can do unintelligent things, but when they consistently make poor decisions, it really irks me.

To me it’s characters first, and story second. Yes a story needs to exist for a book, or at least some sort of narrative, even in a biography. But, truly if you can’t write a person, believable in their own world and from your own words, then that isn’t a book. That’s a collection of things that happen to an ever shifting blob of a person. Not a character, and not even a person really, but a thing that reacts the way you want the story to go.

When I write I do so with the idea of a story, but a clear picture of a character in that world. I let my concept of that person lead me around said universe, and see what happens. Yes I try to make sure they follow the path I want, but with as little encouragement as possible.

Without a believable character you lose the ability to empathize with the perspective of that person you’ve created. They are there so the audience can live in that world to. Perhaps not making all the choices the audience would make, but at least making believable choices. Otherwise you are left with a broken story.

This of course is all from my perspective, and I realize other people enjoy an interesting world more than they do characters. However, try to think back on any book you’ve truly enjoyed. Do you remember the people written there, or do you remember the world? Obviously there have been certain books I’ve read when I was younger that I remember the world more, those being more hard sci-fi, but for the most part it’s always been about how those people deal with those interesting worlds. I have more of an investment when reading about characters that have personalities, but again that’s just me.

So from my viewpoint, if you are to write, invest in your characters. Don’t make them too plain, nor too over-powered. Make them real, or as realistic as your world allows. Grant them individuality, and your investment will grow into a believable story.

Until next time, I hope you have a great week.

What I’ve published

Walk On

Walk On Cover

click here for a link to the book

Outsider Trilogy

Outsiders-Book-Cover-RGB-web-safe

Click here for a link to the book

Poetry

poems_front2

Link to my author page on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Steven-Oaks/e/B00MEGSEZ6

Link to the Deathship book in the CreateSpace store – https://www.createspace.com/5023771

Or you can help me out on Patreon. Again, thank you. https://www.patreon.com/StevenOaks

Update: Currently on chapter 19 out of 36

Steven Oaks

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Different Styles of Writing

Hello once more. I’m back for yet another blog post.

So what shall I write about this week? I’ve not much to report. The editing is still going well, and since I missed out on using the text-to-speech program for the first half of the book I’m doing that now. Surprisingly there are still a few errors, mostly missing words now and again, or additional ones that seem to be more of a garbled mess when they are spoken as opposed to simply reading them.

I think that perhaps this has been the most effort I’ve put into editing. Likely because it’s not just myself involved in writing the book. I’ve never been too concerned about how I am perceived, I already know I’m not perfect, but the co-author deserves my best efforts. I could have easily stopped my own editing and moved on to another book at this point, but I’d like to think continuing to edit will make this book shine. I’ll just have to keep it in mind for the next thing I write, as I think because of the extra work I’m putting into the book has made it so much better than things I’ve written before. My fault entirely on those previous occasions for just giving myself a specific number of run throughs I would do, but now I can set the bar higher for myself.

As to writing, there are two thoughts on how to compose a story. One is to meticulously create an outline with all story beats laid out, and then to write the story in between each section. I’m not one of those persons. I’m the other, crazy type that lets the story grow mostly on its own. Certainly it would help direct the story, but for me I just like to create a character and watch them explore the world I make, instead of already deciding what they’ll do. Sure I have a beginning, an ending, and a few scenes already thought up for the middle, but mostly I set my pieces on the board and see what happens. That’s the reason my first few books seem closer to a stream of consciousness than anything else.

This way of writing does involve certain issues when it comes to editing though. When you have an outline you already have the world worked out, and all items are in their place. You can simply look back while you write at your little diagram and expand upon what was written there. The way I write I find that I miss a few things here and there, like little things a character picks up, and then I might forget to mention those things ever again, or perhaps they’ve dropped them, and then I’ll later have them pull it out when they shouldn’t have them. That’s where I think something like an item sheet would be helpful. I just wish there was a program that had a character sheet that would have save states for each chapter, then I could just look over and see what each character has on them. I find it mildly frustrating going back through entire chapters looking for mentions of what I’ve given or taken away from these people I’ve made up. I’ve been relying on the co-author to catch me on any mistakes there, as apparently I’m more concerned with dialogue than anything else. I’m lucky to have them watching my back.

In the end I think I’ll start using a hybrid of both styles of writing on any future book. One where I write out a basic outline, and yes, I think I’ll even make a character sheet with traits and inventory. I already have several programs opened when I write, what’s another one to clutter the screen? Luckily modern computers can handle such things, as when I first started my journey as a writer many years ago I only had a word processor opened, and I was lucky to have a stereo nearby to play music.

Now I can do all that in one place, and have an even wider selection of resources to call upon. Admittedly I at times miss the simplicity. It was a distraction free time in my life, but now with all the things I can look up on the Internet to double-check myself, I at times find that I’ll fall down the rabbit hole. There is so much to learn, and so many interesting things that I wasn’t aware of. Much of which is no use to what I’m writing, but it’s still fun to know things. But knowing something can only add to my ability to write, and never will diminish me, though it might distract me.

Until next week I’ll leave you with a wish that you have a great one. I’ll see you next time.

What I’ve published

Walk On

Walk On Cover

click here for a link to the book

Outsider Trilogy

Outsiders-Book-Cover-RGB-web-safe

Click here for a link to the book

Poetry

poems_front2

Link to my author page on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Steven-Oaks/e/B00MEGSEZ6

Link to the Deathship book in the CreateSpace store – https://www.createspace.com/5023771

Or you can help me out on Patreon. Again, thank you. https://www.patreon.com/StevenOaks

Update: No estimate available, we’ve gone beyond where I thought we’d be done editing.

Steven Oaks

Follow me on the things below.

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