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Book Review Reading

Book Review – Mistborn: The Final Empire

So I just finished Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson. And let me say, this is why I read books. It truly was amazing. I cannot say anything bad about the book whatsoever. So let me give a few highlights. But before the highlights, let me give a brief summary.

This will be a spoiler-free review, so don’t worry about having it spoiled.

Mistborn takes place in the Final Empire, but most of the book takes place in the city of Luthadel, which is the capital of the Final Empire. There are two main characters who we are introduced to: Vin, the ska (peasant) girl who has an uncanny ability to use allomancy (magic), and Kelsier who is a Mistborn (someone who can use all aspects of allomancy). Vin joins Kelsier’s thieving crew whose services are bought to help the Ska rebellion overthrow the Final Empire and the Lord Ruler himself. The book has a great Fantasy feel to it and it also feels like a heist at times.

So, here are some of my highlights from the book:

1. The Magic – The Magic was truly an awesome feature. It was complex but introduced in a way that didn’t make it confusing to the readers. Its components were slowly introduced one by one and were demonstrated. May I say, it is a much better magic system than that of, say, Harry Potter. This is because there is an explanation of how it works.

2. The Characters – At the start of the book, you don’t really know how it’s going to go or who the main characters will be. But after the first couple of chapters, it becomes clear. Vin was a great character who demonstrated lots of believable growth. One of my biggest pet peeves as a reader is when a character does something that says they’ve changed and there has been no build-up or demonstration of the character changing, they just changed all a sudden. Vin’s growth as a character was very believable. You also grow close to the crew of the book. The other main character, Kelsier, is a very interesting character to get to know. Kelsier was my personal favorite. His style was fun and his motivations were very believable. As you read the book, be prepared to grow close to the characters. Sanderson does not skimp out on character, that’s a fact.

3. The Setting – The Final Empire is a very great setting. Plus, I can’t really compare it to any other fantasy setting, and I’ve read quite a few fantasy books. The book takes place mostly in Luthadel, but some scenes take place in a city outside Luthadel and farther to the north. It is definitely one of the most original settings I’ve read in a while.

4. The Villain – The Lord Ruler. Sounds ominous, doesn’t it? Well, it is. He is a very convincing villain, and he isn’t even in but a few scenes! Though, his presence hangs over the book like a cloud. There are also several lesser villains that are just as terrifying.

These were just a couple of highlights I had. There are plenty for sure. So do yourself a favor, go read the book! Then come back and comment on your favorite part!


Thanks for reading! If you want to get updates on when new blog posts come out, subscribe to my newsletter, “The Raven,” and be the first to get updates and exclusive updates on my writings! If you want to contribute to the conversation, please comment below! I will try to respond to all comments!


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On Writing

What is the Most Important Part of a Book? Act One

What is the most important part of a book? It seems like a simple question, right? Well, it’s not.

I will put a disclaimer before you start reading: the answer will vary from person to person and it can depend on the book.

Books tend to be broken into three acts. Let me break those down for you.

The first act is typically where the main character is shown in their normal capacity. Nothing unusual has happened to them yet. There are hints, but the character is still “normal.” The first act typically ends when the character is forced out of their normal world in a way where they cannot return to life how it was.

The second act is typically a journey, either a physical one, an emotional one, or a spiritual one. The character typically grows and has several run-ins with the antagonistic force, and they typically learn something important. They also think they have won a victory of some sort at the end of the second act, right before the third act starts.

The third act is where all the strings come into place and our protagonist and antagonist have a confrontation. Usually, the protagonist loses at the very beginning and they are typically depressed by this and it takes a new motivation for them to have a renewed energy to battle against the antagonistic force. It’s usually after this that the protagonist faces the antagonist and they usually overcome the antagonist. Then comes the resolution where all the loose threads are tied up or are left untied and teased for a sequel.

Now arguments can be made for any section of the book being more important than others. Today I’m going to argue for the beginning. Next week I’ll make the case for the middle. And then the last article will be an argument for the end.

So why is the beginning the most important part of a book?

Well first, this is the very first thing that your readers will be exposed to. Your beginning is where you hook the readers. This is where they decide if they’re going to finish a book or not. I have a tendency to have to finish every book I start, I guess it’s part of my OCD. But if I find that I’m not going to finish a book, which has only happened a couple of times, I will put it down after Chapter Three or Four. It’s by then that you should be interested enough to finish the book, and if I’m not or I don’t like the plot or where it’s going, I’m going to set it aside and not finish that book.

Second, its where your plot is introduced. By the end of the first act, your readers should have a pretty good idea of the plot. Now, they shouldn’t be able to guess exactly how the book will end, but they should have a good idea of the direction the book is heading.

Third, they need to be introduced to the main characters by the end of the first act, particularly the protagonist. Generally, the reader will keep reading the book if the characters are interesting, but the plot is not. Now, I’m not saying make your plot really boring and your characters really interesting, in fact, please don’t. Make both amazing so that the reader will have a really great experience.

So the most interesting part of a book is the beginning because it is the first thing the readers read, it introduces the plot, and it introduces the characters who you go on to like.

Next week, we’ll look at why the 2nd act is the best part of a book.

From my pen to your paper, may our swords never clash.


Thanks for reading! If you want to get updates on when new blog posts come out, subscribe to my newsletter, “The Raven,” and be the first to get updates and exclusive updates on my writings! If you want to contribute to the conversation, please comment below! I will try to respond to all comments!


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Uncategorized

A Quick Break

Hey guys! This week I will not be posting a new article. I was pretty busy this past week and was not able to get much writing done. Though, I am close to crossing the 20k word mark in Book One of #tIRS, in fact I’m only 300 words from crossing it. But, I wasn’t able to write but a thousand words in it last week. I hope to accomplish more than that this week. My goal is to have a new article to you guys next Tuesday at 6AM (which is my goal every week, but isn’t happening today, quite obviously).

I recently got Scrivener, and am excited to try out this new writing program! I actually think that my writing will go a lot faster and smoother because I will be able to access so many notes at once and search for them. We shall see.

Thanks guys for your patience with me!

From my pen to your paper, may our swords never clash.


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On Writing Reading

Why Do You Need Interesting Characters?


I have been thinking about this topic a good bit lately. Interesting characters. Why do we need them? Isn’t it the plot that keeps us coming back? In a sense, yes, it is the plot that keeps us coming back. But, in another sense, no, the plot isn’t what keeps us coming back.

I recently read Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis. I have enjoyed other works by Lewis, mainly The Chronicles of Narnia and The Screwtape Letters, but I had never read The Space Trilogy. So, I thought I would give it a shot. Well, turns out, it was a little bit dull. But, being one who has to finish a book once they start it, no matter what, I persevered. Now it wasn’t the most fun book I’ve ever read, but I kept coming back, not willing to put it down. And I can tell you it wasn’t because of the plot, in fact, I kept holding out for the plot to get better, and it really didn’t. But, the character of Ransom kept me coming back. He was a dynamic character who had some really interesting attributes. This character kept me coming back, even with the lackluster plot.

Another example is my current read, Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson. Now the plot is amazing, super intricate, and dazzling. It is like nothing I’ve read before. But, the plot may be really good, but it is the character of Vin and Kelsier that keep me coming back. Kelsier is a mysterious character who we keep learning tidbits of information about, which makes him an interesting character to read. We as readers want to know more about him and what he has done, and the little teases fuel the flames of curiosity. The character of Vin is also an interesting character. She has some unique abilities which allow her to do things that people of her status should not be able to do. She is thrown into many unique situations and our curiosity as readers grow as more and more backstory is shown.

So what can we learn from this?

First, I believe that in order for a character to be interesting, they need to be unique. Now, this doesn’t have to be the case for every character ever written. But they need to be unique in some sort of sense. They might be a normal person who works a nine to five job, but a reader isn’t going to read about them working nine to five, they want to read about the thieving that same character does after hours.

Second, interesting characters need to have an interesting backstory. Why does that thief commit robbery? What motivations does he have from his past? The characters that readers don’t care about are the characters who do things with no motivation and no reason. Characters that people care about have had interesting things happen to them and have a good reason for doing things.

Third, the author needs to reveal the bits of information that make up the character’s backstory slowly. If the reader gets all the characters backstory at once, 1) they will get too much information at once with no reason why that information is important, resulting in an info-dump. 2) They won’t have reason to keep reading. If the author skillfully reveals the backstory in small portions, leaving the reader in a sense of suspense. They will want to keep coming back to learn more about the character.

There are many aspects to characters that go into interesting characters. These three points are things that I have noticed lately in my readings in both Mistborn: The Final Empire and Out of the Silent Planet.

From my pen to your paper, may our swords never clash.


Thanks for reading! If you want to get updates on when new blog posts come out, subscribe to my newsletter, “The Raven,” and be the first to get updates and exclusive updates on my writings! If you want to contribute to the conversation, please comment below! I will try to respond to all comments!


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On My Writings On Writing

Learning From Our Detestation


Unfortunately, I started my Chemistry class today. I have never been a big fan of Science in general, but have always done fairly well in it (I finished Biology with a 93% a couple of weeks ago). I have heard from friends and family that Chemistry is the worst one of them all. So I have been dreading the arrival of doing it.

But today, I decided to have a different perspective on it. It may not be my favorite subject, in fact, it probably will be my least favorite subject. But, I am going to commit to learning it the best I can and doing the best I can in the class.

You may ask why? Well, my Dad wisely advised me to look at the subjects I dislike in a different fashion. He said that I should look at everything I learn as giving me more knowledge that I can put towards writing. Take Science for example. I am learning Chemistry right now, and this is giving me an opportunity to think about how a Chemist thinks and works. So if I ever write a character that works as a Chemist, I will know how to write that character better. And if I ever write a Science Fiction Novel (I actually have had the wheels turning and have been thinking about that lately, no promises on when), I will be better equipped to write the Science in Science Fiction. I believe that my writing will greatly improve from this decision and I look forward to seeing how.

So I have decided I am going to put more effort into the subjects I dislike. I’m going to see what I can learn so that I can write things I may not care about now (such as a Chemist), but things that I may need to know in later novels. It’s gonna be hard because my tendency is to hate the subject I dislike and just complain about it, but I also look forward to challenges, and this is gonna be a challenge.

Please comment below! I want to hear what you guys think about this!

From my pen to your paper, may our swords never clash.


Thanks for reading! If you want to get updates on when new blog posts come out, subscribe to my newsletter, “The Raven,” and be the first to get updates and exclusive updates on my writings! If you want to contribute to the conversation, please comment below! I will try to respond to all comments!


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#tIRS On My Writings

Quick Update on Book One of #tIRS


Today I finished writing the fifth chapter in #tIRS! It feels like a huge accomplishment. Why is that a big deal you may wonder? The end of Chapter Five means that I have now completed 20% of the rough draft of the novel, and I have officially sent off the main character [of this novel ;)] to begin his journey. Now the book is in no way perfect at this point, in fact, I’m estimating I will need to do three drafts before it begins to be perfect.

I plan on doing about four drafts. The first draft I am working on right now. Once the rough draft is completed, I will print it and go by hand marking mistakes to fix and adding in more details where needed. Then draft three will be more of an official editing draft looking for grammatical mistakes and unnecessary parts. Then the book will be given to a couple of my trusted writing and reading friends. Once getting their feedback I will do another draft correcting things. Then I’ll need to decide what to do with my finished novel! My goal is to have finished drafting all four drafts by the end of 2021, or early 2022.

What happens after that will depend on how many people are following my writing career with interest, i.e. reading the blog regularly, checking out the site regularly, and reading the newsletters. So we’ll see what happens!

From my pen to your paper, may our swords never clash.


Thanks for reading! If you want to get updates on when new blog posts come out, subscribe to my newsletter, “The Raven,” and be the first to get updates and exclusive updates on my writings! If you want to contribute to the conversation, please comment below! I will try to respond to all comments!


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On Writing Something We Can Learn From Films

On Character Redemption


A trend I have noticed lately in storytelling, particularly Star Wars’ storytelling, is the redemption arc of certain villains. 

Quick Warning: If you have not seen Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker yet, spoilers are to follow.

A noticeable twist that takes place in both Rise of Skywalker and Return of the Jedi is the redemptive arcs of both Vader and Kylo Ren/Ben. I stand in the position that both arcs worked out for the better. 

Both Vader and Kylo Ren start out as the main villain of their respective trilogies. By the end of those trilogies, they have redeemed themselves as characters, and fans begin to love those characters. But then the characters’ lives are cut short.

So that brings up the question, does a redeemed character have to die?

I would argue yes, though a masterful writer can redeem their character and keep them alive. 

Kylo Ren/Ben Skywalker is the perfect example of why a redeemed character needs to die. In Rise of Skywalker, Kylo Ren is conflicted the whole movie. He cannot decide if he wants to submit to the emperor and kill the scavenger, Rey. While on Endor his inner confliction rises to a peak when a memory of his father appears. After replaying a scene that happened in The Force Awakens, Kylo Ren tosses the sith saber into the seas of Endor and becomes Ben. But later, Ben dies saving the hero of the trilogy, Rey. This character’s death is the completion of Ben’s arc. He dies to save the one he had wanted to kill just earlier in the series.

Ben’s death is a sacrifice, and it’s a sacrifice for the good of another person. That person was someone he had wanted to kill earlier. Ben shows his redemption by paying the ultimate sacrifice. Thus proving he is a redeemed character. 

Vader does the same thing in the original trilogy. He sacrifices his life for the son he had wanted to kill just moments earlier. 

Now I am not saying that Rise of Skywalker was without its flaws, it had quite a few. But the redemptive arc of Kylo Ren was a really well-done aspect of the film. In fact, I would probably say it was the most well-done plot aspect of the film.

So what can we learn as writers from this?

Well first, I think that in order for character redemption to be believable, there needs to be some symbolic change. In Rise of Skywalker, there were two symbols. The first was when Rey killed Kylo Ren. The second was when Ben threw the sith saber into the sea. These were symbols of Ben’s turning away from his old ways.

The second thing is that when a writer chooses for a redeemed character to die, they must be sacrificing themselves for the good of another. Ben sacrifices his own life to save Rey, showing that his heart has changed for the good. He has given up the most valuable thing he has, his life, to save her, thus completing his redemption.

So when redeeming characters, authors should show symbolic change. And if the author chooses for the character to die, they also should be sacrificing themselves to help others, thus completing their redemptive arc showing change.

Now, these are just a couple of the things we can learn from Star Wars, not all of the things we can learn. Star Wars has been around for so long and has told many stories, that there are many things that we can learn.

From my pen to your paper, may our swords never clash.


Thanks for reading! If you want to get updates on when new blog posts come out, subscribe to my newsletter, “The Raven,” and be the first to get updates and exclusive updates on my writings! If you want to contribute to the conversation, please comment below! I will try to respond to all comments!


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On My Writings On Writing Reading

Why I Write Epic Fantasy


I may not have specified which genre of fiction I write yet on this blog. I write epic fantasy. But why? What draws me to that genre first and foremost? Why not historical fiction or romance?

Well, the answer is quite simple. I write what I read. My Dad once told me of an author (I do not know the name otherwise I would give credit) who said that authors write what they read. And in my years of reading and not as many years of writing experience, I’ve found this to be true.

If you have looked at my author page on this site you will have seen that my favorite books are Fantasy/Sci-Fi. I am a huge Tolkien fan and have always loved the books (the films are great too, but you cannot compare the two). 

Recently, I discovered the author Brandon Sanderson. He has been an incredibly inspiring author to me in these past weeks. He interacts with his fans so well. And while I have yet to dive into his books, I have the first book in the Mistborn series lined up and ready to go. 

So why do these things matter?

Well, I really enjoy reading epic fantasy. And what have I begun writing? Epic Fantasy. I also think another thing we can learn from that is that we as authors write what we know. I am very familiar with the set up of epic fantasy because I’ve read so much of it. This makes it easier for me to write because I am more familiar with it. 

Another good point to learn from this is that we as authors need to stay well-read to write better. If we as authors want to incorporate different styles and genres of writing into our books, we need to be familiar with other genres, such as historical fiction, general fiction, mystery, etc. This will help keep our books interesting because we are familiar with various tools of writing.

Now I am not saying to go pick the very first book you see off the shelf and read it. Bookstores will try to sell you what’s popular, but that doesn’t mean it’s a well-crafted, well-written story. It means they want to sell more copies. So I generally check reviews from other sites such as Goodreads or Amazon to see what the general consensus on the book is (the exception to this is if I’ve read the author before). I also want to check and see if other authors have said about it if they’ve said anything yet.

I write Epic Fantasy because I enjoy writing it. It’s also the genre of reading that I’ve put the most time and energy into reading and the genre I most enjoy reading. Now, this doesn’t mean that I need to only read Epic Fantasy to write well. I need to be constantly expanding my horizons in my reading. In fact, my goal for 2020 is to read and write more, and I have quite a few books lined up, and I hope to find many more.

From my pen to your paper, may our swords never clash.


Thanks for reading! If you want to get updates on when new blog posts come out, subscribe to my newsletter, “The Raven,” and be the first to get updates and exclusive updates on my writings! If you want to contribute to the conversation, please comment below! I will try to respond to all comments!


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#tIRS On My Writings

Update On Book One in #tIRS


So the last few days I have gotten a ton of writing done. In fact, yesterday alone I wrote about three thousand words (the book is now at a little over ten-thousand)! I think that is an all-time high in my writing career. The book is coming along smoothly and I have enjoyed writing this chapter (Chapter Three if anyone is wondering) and it has been interesting exploring my characters.

I feel as if the work before this chapter has been a little challenging as it is really hard for me to start stories, but I’ve kept on trucking and it has gotten a whole lot easier. The story itself has been really interesting to write and as I’ve gone along in it I have begun to discover that this story will take a long time to tell. Right now I am expecting it to be a five book saga, with the first one being the shortest and least complex in the series.

For those of you who don’t know, this book has been in my head for over three years now. My first entry in my outline for it is dated August 22, 2017. You may ask why am I only at 9% through the story then? Well, I hit a bit of writer’s block, which I should have just pushed through, but I didn’t. The draft I’m working on is technically the second draft of the story. I wrote the first draft back in the fall of 2017. But, when I got to about the halfway point, I realized it was not good at all, and I made a huge error. I tried to go back and rework some of it. This ended up in creating a confusing draft with various details chopped. I got worn out with it and just didn’t touch it. The story continued to pester me in my mind those two years, but I ignored it. Two years later, I picked my outline back up. I had a tough choice on my hand, do I continue to push through the awful and confusing draft or restart. It was a painful choice as I had close to thirty-thousand words in that draft, but ultimately I decided to restart. And, it has proved to be the best choice I’ve made in my writing. I made a few changes to the story, particularly in how the story starts, the original starting scene was completely chopped and I made a new one. And it definitely fits for the character and has been a more enjoyable write.

As of right now, I’m a little over ten-thousand words and am only about 9% of the way through the story. I hope to be at over 50% of the way through the story come end of Spring.

My goal for 2020 is to finish the rough draft of this story, and begin to edit it. Then if I have time left, I might begin working on the outline for book two, but it is more likely that I will be saving that project for 2021. It’s a reasonable goal I think, and I will be trying my best to keep it. I also plan on trying to keep this blog going somewhat consistently, updating it at least once every two weeks with updates on the book or an article. But, life happens so we’ll see about that.

From my pen to your paper, may our swords never clash.


Thanks for reading! If you want to get updates on when new blog posts come out, subscribe to my newsletter, “The Raven,” and be the first to get updates and exclusive updates on my writings! If you want to contribute to the conversation, please comment below! I will try to respond to all comments!


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On Writing

Outlining vs. Pantsing


Hey everyone! This is my first official post on this blog, and I thought that there would be nothing more fitting than to do a post on writing. 

As a creative writer, I have discovered that there are two different ways that you can write stories, and both are equally effective. So I thought I would explore a little bit about what each tool does and how different people use the tools.  

If you are a writer, you have probably heard the terms outliner and pantser. They are pretty familiar terms. This article is not saying one is better than the other if you are a pantser, awesome! If you are an outliner, that’s equally as awesome! I’m just here to explore what each means and some pros and cons to each tool. First, let’s define each tool.

Outliner:

An outliner is a writer who discovers their story before jumping into the process of writing it. They can do this in an extremely detailed way, or they can only nail down the bare necessities of their story. 

Pantser:

A pantser is a writer who discovers their story as they write the story. They jump right in and begin to see what happens as they go.

Those two definitions are very broad definitions and there are many other specific definitions that you can find out there. 

So let’s break down some pros to each tool. 

Outliner Pros:

  • They know how their story will end, this gives them more of an idea of how to foreshadow big events. Brandon Sanderson talks about this in his second lecture in the excellent writing class that you can watch for free on YouTube.
  • They don’t have to go back and do as much rewriting because there is a less likely chance for there to be plot holes. Again, this is because the author knows how the story will end. 

Pantser Pros:

  • Their character is more likely to be a really interesting character who develops as the story goes. This is because the author does not know who their character is and they discover them while they write their story. George R.R. Martin does this and it makes his characters, supposedly, really interesting reads (as someone who has not read his books yet I cannot personally say whether or not this is true, I’m just basing this off what the general consensus is).

Now let’s look at a couple of cons.

Outliner Con:

  • There can be less character development as the writer can be focusing more on the plot of the story, versus focusing on the plot of the story.

Pantser Con:

  • Because the writer does not know where their story is going, they can have plot holes which can result in lots of rewriting or plot holes that are left unfixed.

So, how can you avoid these cons? For an outliner one thing that a lot of authors do is interview their character while outlining, they can ask them basic questions or more complicated ones. This gives them a way to know their characters better. I have never pantsed a novel before, but I have a suggestion I think could work. When you are pantsing your novel, keep a notebook beside you, and jot down any major details so that you won’t forget them or so that you can be aware of what the reader knows. 

So what do I do?

For my current series, I plan on outlining every single book. Now, I do not plan on going super in-depth like some writers. When I outlined the first book, I discovered all my major points and who my main characters were and where they would be at the end of the story. I also explored my setting seeing where events would take place. Some authors like to outline every scene that takes place in their book, I don’t. But there is no wrong way to write your story. The way I write my story is going to be different from 99% of other writers, and that is perfectly okay. The way you write is going to be different from 99% of other writers, and that’s awesome! Each author is unique in the way that they write their story, and that is what gives us so many unique and interesting stories to read.


Thanks for reading! If you want to get updates on when new blog posts come out, subscribe to my newsletter, “The Raven,” and be the first to get updates and exclusive updates on my writings! If you want to contribute to the conversation, please comment below! I will try to respond to all comments!


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