University level course taught by epic fantasy author Brandon Sanderson!
On the off chance you don’t know who Brandon Sanderson is, known for authoring the Mistborn trilogy, Stormlight Archives and the current novel Oathbringer for example. He was a replacement writer for the Robert Jordan Wheel of Time series as well. He has over a decade and a half worth of experience writing massive epic fantasy fiction novels and he is going to share some of that knowledge with others. A New Yor Times bestselling author will offer some methods and strategies to approach the task of writing. And it’s not going to cost you a thing.
Well, it will cost you the 11-12 hours to watch the classroom sessions on YouTube. In partenership with a production company, Brandon made his Brigham Young University (BYU) creative writing lectures available to all.
Why is this important? There are plenty of people out there, that put out a shingle claiming they are experts at what it takes to become a successful writer in the marketplace. They offer books, blogs and webpages, plying their craft. Some even offer those all weekend courses for hundreds of dollars. Just do this, plug your story into their fool proof system and often plagarized paradigm that they gleaned from everyone from Aristotle, Joseph Campbell and Syd Field and then try to profit by argueing it is the be all and end all of making it in the writing business. No doubt, as a collective whole, all of these possible methods might be of use to you as a writer. Little bit from here, a tidbit of wisdom from there. Shake and bake it a bit.
We need to ask. What have they actually written? These books and programs are usually put together by the publishing house readers or studio executive completely on the other side of the creation ledger. They are suggesting what they want to see. Suggesting what has worked for other successful books and movies. Mind you, nothing they had any part of, just successful on its own, and they are offering a deconstruction and reverse engineering of what worked. What the finished product should look like. That method does not serve the writer well. It is a method that sort of reinforces the axiom that Hollywood is bereft of orginal ideas for a good reason. They only care what has worked before. Nobody knows nothing.
Brandon takes a different approach. A better one. This university level course is a creative writing course. The focus is on the writing. Your writing. They are more like guidelines rather than hard and set rules. What to do when you are staring at the blank page. What to think about. Brandon is a successful writer, and he offers information that can help and inform your writing. Giving it purpose. Cause when you are dug in deep, in the trenches, finding your way through the creative process is a daunting task.
I don’t generally add links to my post here. But here’s the link to the first intro session of the course. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4ZDBOc2tX8 Each of the subsequent sessions are linked on the pages. Hopefully you will find it of use.
I’m on a different read trajectory this week. Enough of the mindless violence of the scifi and fantasy genres, I’ve turned in all the weapons to focus on a gentle tale of love. This one falls under the romance category. Ignore the fact it was available for $0.00 on Gplay books. There were plenty of free options available, but I picked this one purely on the strength of the book cover. Simple, interesting, design. This cover could easily be used on a hundred different modern day romances, or coming of age stories, it is universal in its appeal.
If you’ve seen the movie Leap Year with Amy Adams and Matthew Goode, you’ll have a good idea what to expect with this. An American girl and good ole Irish boy. Even in the listing on Amazon, if you dig deep into the subgenre classifications, this is categorized under Romance/Clean and Wholesome. There are plenty of romance sub genre that are anything but wholesome, but that’s a whole other post.
Jaded New Yorker Kiera gets the job opportunity of a lifetime to fly to Ireland and write a magazine article on the Legendary Festival of Love. Working from the slant her editor suggests, Kiera plans a cynical take on the entire idea of love. The driver tasked to escort her around town and the countryside interviewing participants in the festival, becomes her romantic possibility rather unexpectedly. She slowly warms to the possibility. Standard stuff. Understandably, sweet stuff too. Nonetheless, the book, thus far, is well written. I did a bit a research, and it’s the first book in a series of four, written by Sophie Love, and this loss leader freebie is probably a marketing tactic, to increase the author’s overall readership following. I’m not quite halfway through but the necessary romantic beats are all there, unfolding as they should. It’s not really complicated, it’s more the emotional ride that we go on when it comes to romance. Almost all romances follow a well structured expectation. So there yah go, don’t judge, I like a good romance as much as the next guy. Or girl.
This book unexpectedly disrupted what I was reading this week. Started the week reading a novel title Galaxy’s Edge Legionaire and ended up intrigued by this book, Days of Panic (an EMP Event Survival Thriller). One of those, you can’t put it down “til you find out if they made it out” survival type books.
Four characters try to survive and escape NewYork City on New Years Eve, after an Electromagnetic Pulse event destroys the electrical grid. It’s an established trope for these types to books to have airplanes fall from the sky when the electronics fail, and the catastrophe in this book is epic and terrifying. Without being accused of giving away a spoiler, I’m fairly certain most of us have watched the ball drop ushering in the New Year in Times Square. Let’s just say it doesn’t happen without incident.
So our four heroes, complete strangers, have to band together to survive the slow disintegration of society. The average looking, premade book cover, that is interesting enough, but does not reflect any scene in the book, houses a better than average story with interesting characters and motivations. It hits all the genre convention beats along the way. All right, back to the other book now.
This weeks entry for the reading list is Galaxy’s Edge: Legionnaire, the first in a series of books set in the distant future from the point of view of a footsoldier in a futuristic army. Think of it as the stormtropper’s point of view. There’s a stark immediacy to the writing. It’s brisk, fast paced, colloquial in the best sort of way. There is an “in the trenches” realism to it. A military grunt talking on task, in the middle of a war zone. No waste of time on flowery language. Straight forward tactics and purpose. Told from 1st person, same as last week Prince of Thorns, there is something tangible and “in the moment” with this writing style. We’re in the midst of a sci-fi video game and the stakes are high.
The recommendation for this came in a roundabout way. I was reading a blog post based on online self publishing of novels and this book was brought up as an example of a success story. I got out the olde/new e-reader and gave the sample pages that are available at the online book seller’s site a whirl. Compelling stuff. That’s how the process works. No amount of marketing can replace word of mouth. You tell two friends and they tell two friends and so on and so on… Another selling feature is the price tag. Kindle books are generally quite reasonably priced. In this case, I’ll buy that for a dollar.
There have been plenty of one word or one phrase prompts, and today I’m offering this visual prompt. A single instant in time suggesting a scene. An image with a healthy dose of discovery. Plus a bit of inspiration from the “reclaimed by nature” camp. In the past, rail was a prominant mode of transportation. There were trainlines to all sorts of places. As economics shifted, weather patterns changed, and mines were exhausted, many of those places became ghost towns. Of course, the obvious question to ponder; what happened? The unexpected find that one stumbles upon.
A visual prompt. Have at it. Or not.
What I’m reading this week. Prince of Thorns. Having heard some good comments regarding Mark Lawrence’s writing style and being the ever curious sort, I’m checking it out. It’s the first book in a trilogy, the Broken Empire. Was unable to find a hard cover version, apparently sold out in the city, which I take as a good sign on the validity of the positive comments. I generally prefer hardcovers, because it offers larger print for these tired eyes. I’ll have to endure the paperback, with reading glasses. If it turns out to be a good book, I’ll make an effort to find the other two in hardcover. Now, if that requires a road trip thrown into the mix, so be it. That’s a whole different form of exploration.
As always, the artwork on the cover influences my decision to purchase. Though in the real world there can be an obvious disconnect, the quality of the bookcover can hint at the quality of the writing. We, as consumers, usually have very little to go on, when judging a book we know nothing about; be it on the shelves of a book store, or the thumbnails at amazon or other online distributor. We see the cover, click to the blurb, read, consider, maybe read a page or two of the sample and then, after all those reinforcements, we buy the book if the price is reasonable. But without a compelling bookcover, the other steps in the process, are never even considered. Something to think about. Suffice to say, I like this cover. Not the best I have seen, but it does raise questions. And curiousity in a potential reader is always a good thing,
There have been plenty of one word or one phrase prompts, and today I’m offering this visual prompt. A single instant in time suggesting a scene. An image with a healthy dose of sci-fi mixed in. Plus a bit of inspiration from the fantasy genre perhaps. Skeletons versus robots. Of course, the obvious question to ponder; what happened to the humans? Is the robot protecting or attacking? Is it, deep space, or the not so distant future? Questions. Questions.
A visual prompt. Have at it. Or not.
Original art, storyboard, concept art, cinematic design, creative writing