As Light As Sound: A Gambit In More Ways Than One

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It was an overcast Friday, the 28th of October (ironically two days before my 28th birthday) and I had three assignments due, one I’d already finished and submitted, one I hadn’t even started yet, and one that, though essentially complete, would take the majority of my time all day.

Our final project for our Synergies and Sound Technologies class was a group sound-art installation, based on manifestos we’d developed as group earlier in the semester. Our particular group, The Innovationists, had written an Innovationism manifesto, in the which we ascribed movement, progression and a musical continuum to our music.

Innovationism: A Manifesto

We believe a work should reflect the personal growth, learning or experiences of the composer. These influences should be channelled through a clear purpose in the mind of the composer. It should consequently serve, or be intended to serve, as a catalyst to the learning and life-growth of the individual listener, while thus allowing them the freedom to be influenced in a manner that fosters new music from them, thus forming a cyclical progression, a continuum of progress.

As such, we believe that there are no limits to musical potential, and that each composer should strive for the nouvelle in the their compositions, ie, the creation of new instruments. A piece of music should be progressional in general shape; it should not be limited to one genre, one key, one time signature, one language, or one species, but rather, continually evolving, though each section of a song should be unified in theme and/or purpose, likewise with each song on an album. Continuity is key, and the potential continuum is therefore infinite. As such, there can never be silence, as sound must continue, if only quietly. Finally, we believe that music should not resolve to the tonic at the end of a piece, but be left to continue on in the mind of the listener, thus enabling them to further the sonic continuum as they see fit.

To help facilitate our idea of a musical continuum, we want to build a rotating sound setup, using a feature of the natural landscape as our centrepoint. We’ll have five small speakers in the tree with corresponding spotlights, subwoofer under a bench, and mono audio which will fade from channel to channel every six seconds, slowly circling around the tree, with coloured spotlights signalling the movement to the listener, not only by a physical shift in lighting, but also by moving through the colour spectrum.

This, and the other limitations we’d set forth in our manifesto, resulted in widely different interpretations of music, but for cohesion and continuity we placed a low C-drone underneath the four of our pieces, so they had that were connected and that there was no silence at any point.

My original plan to build a piece in which no two sounds “sound” at the same time had failed miserably and I had started from scratch just a week before, building the brunt of my composition in Sibelius, a format I was more familiar with, and then adding drums, effects and virtual instrument sounds in ProTools.

Because our pieces had to be exhibited, there was literally no way I could miss this due date, and the day was spent setting up the lights and speakers, formatting our pieces into one giant ProTools session and troubleshooting anything that came up, which turned out to be the threat of rain, technological incompatibilities, timewasting Skype training meetings for work, and many human errors, several of which, as the group’s so-called ProTools “expert”, I was obligated to solve.

Eventually though, at 4:57pm, three minutes before the event’s start-time, we were ready. Anything that could have been resolved and made better had been. We had a passable sound installation prepared.

And so it began.

The subwoofer droned a low C and my composition began playing, jumping from speaker to speaker every six seconds following perfectly the array of coloured lights we’d set up to move through a simple colour spectrum around the paperbark tree, the symbol not only of life and growth and Australianism that was the centrepiece of our installation, but of the beauty of battered, imperfect and scarred things, which most of us would classify our pieces as.

As my composition moved perpetually around the tree, and the drone stayed constant, each attendee could have a unique and different aural experience depending on where they stood and how they interacted spatially with our pieces.

In an ironic and completely unplanned twist of fate, we’d ordered our pieces in the exact sequence our names were listed on the programme. Our pieces, so widely different, somehow fit well together, each having their own creepy vibe, and sharing different elements in common with each other.

It never rained, but our sequence didn’t loop as we’d hoped and had to be reset every eighteen minutes, but that was a simple matter of hitting the spacebar, waiting fifteen seconds for the lights to go back around to where it all synced up and then hitting the spacebar again.

All in all, it was a fabulous experience, and ours was definitely my favourite installation of the evening. Though you may not have been there or missed my piece in its entirety, I videoed my POV following my song around the tree, which you can watch by following the link below, so you’ll be able to gain some of the experience of actually being there.

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How to plot a bestselling epic fantasy: The Brandon Method

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Regardless of whether you’re a discovery writer or an outliner, you need to have some understanding of how plots are structured to build a successful story.

Now, whether it’s Hollywood’s Three-Act-Format or the Mono-myth/Hero’s Journey, the basic Roadmap technique or something else entirely, you’ll find that all authors, whether consciously or instinctively, have some sort of an overarching macro plot guiding them.

As diehard Game of Thrones fans will tell you, George R R Martin – one of the most strict discovery writers in fantasy/science fiction – has had in mind from the get-go the role that certain key characters would play in the ending of his Song of Ice and Fire.

Each different plotting technique has something to offer your story, and so it is a serious writer’s duty to at least understand how each different method works.

Some of you may have read my post about Dan Wells’ Seven-Point-Plot/Story-Structure, which functions as a roadmap, taking the reader on a journey from Point A to Point G. This method, while having a specific set of destinations, is much more loose and free about the route travelled than say, the Mono-myth. You have the liberty as a writer to be as direct or circuitous as you please.

Now, having personally tried and tested this seven-point method, I’ve found it incredibly helpful in works of short fiction, but somewhat lacking for longer works. But hey, I’m just not a fully-fledged discovery writer. I enjoy a little discovery here and there in my writing process, but the excitement in a great story for me, comes not in my own discovery of the story, but in trying to tell what I think is an awesome story/twist idea. I want all the pieces to fit and make sense in my head.

So what method should an outliner like adopt to build a more cohesive plan for their novel/series?

Well, where better to turn than to another of the three biggest names in fantasy right now, one with his foot solidly in the outliner camp, Brandon Sanderson.

As some of you may know, you can find a number of Brandon’s writing lectures over the past few years on YouTube. But fear not, as someone who has seen all forty-odd of them, and listened intently to the past six years of Writing Excuses, I have at least a hundred and fifty hours of writing content from Brandon and co. under my belt, and can give you the need-to-know information without you having to listen to them all yourself.

And so, without further ado, I give you the steps of how to plot like Brandon:

  1. Begin by listing all the payoff moments in your story. These are, as Howard Tayler calls them, the stand up and cheer moments; the moments achieved in the story that, when correctly built up to, will provide an awesome and satisfying payoff for the reader. ie. Characters A and B get together. Hero saves the day. So-and-so is revealed to be the murderer. Protagonist overcomes big personal setback. Villain gets much deserved fate. Etc.
  2. Build a roadmap to each and every payoff destination. The idea is to foreshadow each of these payoff moments with stops along the way, thus giving the reader a near-constant sense of progression.Some stops might even warrant their own payoff destination to build a route towards. (Just like Gympie is an inevitable stop along the way to Bundaberg from Brisbane.)

    The first stop along the way is usually a good indication of a general direction and therefore story destination. ie. Characters A and B meet. Hero gains or is shown exercising some ability that will inevitably be needed/showcased in their saving the day. Someone is killed. Protagonist is limited in situations by personal setback/made aware of it. Villain does things to deserve fate. Etc.

  3. Find “truckstop towns”. These are scenes that will serve as connection hubs, places where stops on different routes might coincide. Ideally, your entire story will comprise of these scenes. Build a tourist attraction (something interesting about the setting) into your little truckstop town so that every scene will therefore simultaneously build plot, character and setting, thereby enriching your story and giving it a sense of constant progression.

And there you have it! That’s how Brandon works his magic.

I have yet to utilise this method in my own works, but given my tendency to get a bit mixed up when attempting anything longer than 20,000 words, I’m really excited to try applying this to a few different first novels for series I have in the works.

If you get a chance to try this yourself, please let me know how it works for you. I’m so curious to hear about anyone else’s experience using this plotting method.

QOTB: What’s your favourite epic fantasy novel?

And as always, with the recent release of The Arthur Lien Abductions Part Four: The Trap, (only US$1.99) Part Three: The QuestPart Two: The Mystery and Part One: The Secret are all down to only 99c (US) each on Amazon Kindle! So grab your copy today!

Part Four: The Trap is out right now!!!

The Arthur Lien Abductions- The Trap

A thousand apologies to those of you eagerly waiting for this next installment and therefore disappointed by its tardiness.

I’ve learned some good life (and writing) lessons in the meantime, and although I would love to promise that I won’t be late getting a book out again, that’s just plain unrealistic for an author, I guess.

Or at least at the moment while I’m juggling so many things, it is. All it takes is for a couple of big university assignments to come along, plus one sick wife needing me to do more at home, and there goes most of my writing time.

Ideally, in the future, when I can earn enough money doing this to support my family through it, well, I should be able to do even better at things like consistency. I suppose in some ways I’m fortunate to have such a small fan base right now; less people to disappoint.

But I trust the readers that I do have to understand that life is life, and is, therefore,  by nature, predictably unpredictable.

Anywho.. Apologetic rambling over. Let’s talk The Trap.

For those of you new to this game, this is Part Four of The Arthur Lien Abductions, a YA, urban fantasy mystery that I’ve expanded from a short story I wrote last year into a novel-length work, to help raise money for my brother, Tyler, (after whom my protagonist is named) and his chemotherapy and continued treatments. (You can read more about that here.)

It’s such an interesting process, writing a larger work, but publishing pieces as I go. It gives me very little time to actually focus on a section of the story in-depth. And then it’s gone. Done. Out there. Unretractable.

It means that I worry about the continuity of the larger work a lot. Far too much, considering that I intend to release a novelised version when I’m done. Which honestly isn’t far off.

It also means though, that each section is like a different project in its own way, because just as I feel like my writing gets better with every short story I write, I also feel like each part of the book gets better than the one before it.

Now, you may think this is entirely natural, but it’s left me with some rather odd feelings, as I look back at Part One – without actually reading through it of course, because I’m not that intelligent – and think that it was so much worse than Part Four, and what if nobody ever gets to Part Four because they were turned off by my less professional writing three or four months ago?

Silly, isn’t it?

It’s funny how self-critical we can be like that, because I know logically, when I take a break for a week to focus on other things while my beta readers get back to me with feedback, I always have a tendency to surprise myself by how good what I actually wrote was/is.

Now, that’s not to toot my own horn or anything. What I personally love in regards to the written word or the unfolding of a story may not speak to or interest you. But I think it reveals something, if not about human nature, then at the very least about my own; that as I learn and continue to progress in my writing, or in any part of my life, I’m so assured of my own growth and progress, that I have a tendency to think that what I accomplished before is somehow lesser as a result.

Now, yes, there are a few parts of Part One: The Secret that I might change now, knowing what I know about the story and the characters, not to mention my own writing, but that by no means means that it’s bad. I know full well that when I do my whole book cohesion edit after Part Five come out, that I’m going to smile like a little boy because I’ve written something the little boy in me would love to read. Even if I could do an even better job the second time around.

Either way, it’s been an absolutely awesome experience writing Part Four, and it’s definitely the most horrifying one yet. If any one of them could be called a horror book, it’s this one.

It’s actually really funny when you look at all of the covers so far, lined up next to one another, because they get progressively “darker” in theme with each one. And this one, though the quickest in process, was definitely the hardest to draw.

As always, with the release of Part Four: The Trap, (only US$1.99) Part Three: The QuestPart Two: The Mystery and Part One: The Secret are all down to only 99c (US) each on Amazon Kindle! So grab your copy today!

And please share with any of your friends into YA urban fantasy/mystery, and help support Tyler’s ongoing care. Thank you!

P.S. I’ve been formulating the next project after this one, and I’m already so excited for it. Just you wait!

Book Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Uprooted

So, it’s been a few weeks.

I’d like to apologise to anyone dying for Part Four of The Arthur Lien Abductions already. I am behind deadline, yes, but it should (hopefully) be out within the week. Between scathing modernism essays and health issues at home, I’ve had less time to devote to writing the last month.

But that hasn’t stopped my avidly listening to audiobooks while doing other menial tasks!

As you might expect, I’m a little behind on reviews as well. In addition to Uprooted by Naomi Novik – which I’ll tell you all about in a minute – I’m also already onto the third book in the Throne Of Glass series by Sarah J Maas, so reviews of all those will also been coming henceforth. But for now… Uprooted.

Uprooted is a trilogy in a single book.

It began in a pretty straightforward fashion. Little village. Teenage girl. Wizard who calls himself Dragon comes every ten years and takes away a teenage girl to live with him in his tower and be his servant or maid or something potentially more sinister. Protagonist has known her whole life that her best friend, the most beautiful girl in the village would be taken from her by the Dragon, when suddenly, she gets chosen instead.

Now I don’t mind sharing this, because it’s all first chapter stuff, but I’m going to pretty strictly avoid specific spoilery things from here on out, except to give you some general impressions of things like shape and size, if not spots or stripes.

Novik’s prose-style, in comparison to someone like Brandon Sanderson’s, was rather literary, making the novel a little less like a YA (young adult/teen) novel and more like a NA (new adult) one, and so for how, for lack of a better term, flowery, her language was, I quite expected the plot to grow as such.

To my shock and dismay, it didn’t progress as I initially expected at all. Big things started happening, and I was, quite frankly, a little put out.

There was, in my mind, no way at all she was going to be able to build this throughout the story and finish with an appropriately large finish for what she was already doing four or five chapters in.

When the next big challenge came along, I was even more put out. That was the book ending climax! And only a third of the way through the book!

What on earth was she playing at here? And if she possibly did maintain a continual build, and pull of some amazing epic ending, why hadn’t she split the book into three parts and expanded each part into a novel-length section itself. It would give her a greater chance to delve a little more into the smaller details of the world and the magic and the characters.

Anyway, so I kept on reading, and sure enough, the plot moved on to a new central location, and had a few more, perpetually bigger epic plot points; things continued to accelerate, the stakes rose and the protagonist came into herself as a character, everything you want in a good sequel.

So I kept on reading, beginning to read for enjoyment now instead of incredulity, and things continued to build and build and build and eventually everything wrapped itself up in a picture far different from the one I’d imagined when beginning the novel.

She’d done it. She’d convinced me that this was indeed an awesome story. I just still really wish she’d done it as a trilogy. I think there was so much missed-out potential in a trilogy.

And admittedly, one other thing that bothered me was the protagonist’s name. It was kind of ugly-sounding. (I’m a songwriter and lyricist. Words are important to me. And names especially so.)

So the name gave unconscious negative connotations to the character. But then later, in what I’m calling “Book Two”, she has the chance to have magic reveal her a new name, and when it doesn’t seem to be working, instead of awesomely coming through in her own way, like she always does, she just says, “well, what is wrong the name I already have?” and keeps it!

I mean, come on! I think Novik was trying to make some sort of a point there, and I didn’t enjoy it.

But oh well. I’m still giving it four heart-trees out of five.

So if you’re looking for a great new fantasy series, with a slightly different sort of magic and story, look no further than this single book. The title suits the story thematically in so many ways. It’s just brilliant.

QOTB: Can you name any other books so vast in scale that it should have been broken up into parts but wasn’t?

And don’t forget that when Part Four: The Trap comes out next week, Part Three: The Quest will drop down to only 99c (US) on Amazon Kindle, just like Part One: The Secret and Part Two: The Mystery.

A Book And A Half: an audiobook review of Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

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At the turn of the New Year, I set a goal to read ten books this year. For us bookish types that isn’t a whole lot but when you have four or five huge life commitments and get almost zero downtime, let’s just say my to-read list was getting longer at an exponential rate, and I couldn’t see any way of reading that many books in two years, let alone one.

However, thanks to audiobooks, I just hit ten and we’re not even a third of the way through the year yet. It’s amazing how much book listening time I get while doing things like cooking, baking, cleaning, riding my bike to work and uni, etc.

Does this mean I stop reading books for the rest of the year?

Heck no! I have so much reading time I didn’t even know about doing other important things around the house and in transit; I’m still going to have to do all those other things anyway. The more books I can get read while doing it, the better.

I firmly believe that we, as authors, have a responsibility to read as widely as possible. Just like musicians need to always be on the lookout for new sources of inspiration, so too, do we.

It’s not that we read to steal ideas from others, but to have a better general picture of all the other ideas already out there in our genre. We get a picture of what other styles of authors and novels resemble our own. We realise that, hey, if I don’t change up this idea that I’ve had for ten years, it’s probably going to seem like I’m just copying this other author/novel/series.

In other words, we glean from all the other resources what ideas of our own are the freshest, most unique and potentially lacking in the genre. And even more than that, it makes a better and more diverse writer, being continually exposed to the prose of other great authors.

Now, as you may have already inferred from the title, picture and the above ramblings, my tenth book for this year was indeed Seveneves by Neal Stephenson.

It was enjoyable for many reasons, but I do have at least one huge qualm about it so, despite it being the exact opposite of the proverbial compliment sandwich, I might start with that.

This book is two different, if serially connected, stories. The first two-thirds of the book is this moon-blows-up, survive-the-end-of-the-world hard science fiction story that *SPOILERS* ends nicely with eight women and a tonne of human genome, biological, IVF technology safe inside the surviving iron core of the moon. *SPOILERS*

Then the final third of the book takes place five-thousand years later and is either the world’s longest epilogue, or such a short sequel that Stephenson saw no point in releasing it as its own book, instead deciding to tack it on to the end of the first. It’s like Orson Scott Card tacking the first half of Speaker For The Dead onto the back of Ender’s Game. Or like Brandon Sanderson tacking Alloy of Law onto the end of the Hero of Ages.

I understand enough about narrative to get why he ended it where and how he did, and honestly, I think it was a cop out. There was a greater finality in the end of Part Two and that would have been the perfect place to wrap a little bow on it. Whereas the way he’s done it, Part Three feels like an epilogue gone rogue with so many things to say about the future human races and cultures and what have you, which could have instead been put into a more fleshed out sequel narrative.

I’m sure I’m not the only one to think so. It’s reminiscent of the reveal almost halfway through Dan Wells’ I am not a Serial Killer, which utterly changes the whole story being told. ( You can read more about that in my book review here. )

As an author, I’ll be the first person to agree that hey, how we write our story is up to our own discretion, but I also think that we have a responsibility to our audience and fans to tell the best story we can. And it follows that audiences respond really well to the three-act Hollywood formula, especially in books that are fast-paced or read a lot like movies, in which all important characters and plot foreshadowing needs to happen in act one, aka the first 25% of a film/book.

But, I hear you raising your voices in complaint, this is a hard scifi epic, it’s not meant to be fast-paced or movie-like.

Ahh, but here is where you are wrong. Science fiction is such an intermedium-woven and visually striking genre that readers by default expect it to follow film conventions. If not so, Part Three of Seveneves wouldn’t feel like a drawn out epilogue that would have been better as a fleshed out sequel.

Either way, other than that one huge pet peeve about it, I thought the story of Part One and Two was pretty great, and that Part Three had great worldbuilding and characterisation, and potential for so much more in the way of plot, which felt kind of forced.

I’m going to throw in a content warning if you’re interested in reading it. There’s far more swearing in the book than I would have liked, but it was for the most part exclusively for characterisation, and therefore used effectively. It can just be a little more brutal hearing it in audiobook format than reading it, but you’ll obviously get more swearwords in a thirty-hour book than in a two-hour movie.

All in all, it’s a great story, especially the first part, but I’m only going to give it three Moirans out of five. I’m glad I read it, but I wouldn’t read it again.

QOTB: What’s something YOU really enjoyed but won’t ever read again?

Also, don’t forget that with the release of The Arthur Lien Abductions, Part Three: The Quest, earlier this month, Part One: The Secret and Part Two: The Mystery are now both down to only 99c (US) on Amazon Kindle!

Mistborn Second Era Review: wax, wayne and …kelsier?

Growing up, there were four things I always saw my dad reading; Newspapers, Scriptures, Phantom comics and paperback Westerns.

While I did really get into phantom comics for a couple of years, and I do routinely read my scriptures nowadays, I never much cared for newspapers and never once touched a Western.

Heck, until a year ago, my idea of a Western movie was Back To The Future III or Shanghai Noon. And while they arguably don’t count, I like to think they do, because in that same vein, I’ve now read three Westerns; the second era of Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn books.

Mistborn Era 2

Rather than blog my Alloy Of Law reread and then do individual posts for Shadows Of Self and Bands of Mourning, I decided to wait until finishing all three, before blogging them, but then couldn’t help but finish off Mistborn: A Secret History as well. So I’m going to attempt to blog all four of them in one, because honestly, it’s still only about the size of one book in Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive.

If you’ve read the first Mistborn trilogy but not yet delved further, because Westerns aren’t your thing, I’d suggest first reading A Secret History, because that’ll really get the ball rolling for you. It follows the adventures of Kelsier after he dies in The Final Empire. Yes, after he DIES! How cool is that.

He finds a way to “survive” death and pull strings behind the scenes over the next couple of books. It’s kind of like the Wicked backstory to Wizard of Oz but a little less story-changing and more future world-changing.

Brandon himself recommends reading The Secret History after finished the Wax and Wayne  (Mistborn Era 2) books, but I would disagree. I think it would be much more powerful directly after finishing the first trilogy as a mind opener for all the stories left to be told.

Now if that doesn’t get you super excited to read the Mistborn Westerns, which it should – because awesome – well, you just need to trust the Branderson. They are a little bit more adventure, so lots of crazy scenarios and fun times, not unlike the Reckoners trilogy, but aimed at a slightly more adult audience, so a little more grounded.

Now, I will add to that that because of the different audience, and what I believe was Brandon’s attempt to better keep with the Western-style, there’s a little more innuendo and sexuality in Shadows of Self and Bands of Mourning than there was in Alloy of Law or most of Brandon’s other books for that matter.

But regardless of whether that is to you a pro or a con, it’s a wild west comedy romp with magic, and though Alloy of Law doesn’t give much in the way of continued story from the first trilogy, it does an incredible job of setting the new scene in the new transformed world and introducing the characters for a new but still connected story.

I was really intrigued by where he decided to take the story. If you’ve read Alloy of Law, the ending is left ambiguous about whether certain main characters will eventually get together. Or should I say, rather, it is NOT left ambiguous, but as a reader, you want it to be these two characters and you think that their not ending up together is just a prolonging of the inevitable.

Well, it hasn’t been so far, and one of them has become very happy in another relationship, so even though the idea of them is still generally hinted at by other characters, I’m really not sure what’s going to happen. Maybe it’s an intentional breaking of the stereotype, ie, just because two people share an attraction doesn’t mean they have to succumb to that, or can’t be happy with other people.

I love that sentiment and the unexpectedness of it, and Brandon does a great job of making us happy about it, but I’m still kind of expecting the other love interest to die in the fourth book, just to make this relationship between these two characters happen.

I find it incredibly fascinating that I want that to happen. That even though they’ve moved on, deep down I’m still rooting for these two main characters. I guess it’s like Ross and Rachel in friends. Even though they were both happily with other people at various times, more so Ross than Rachel, you were happy for them, but you were always holding out for them to make it work.

Anyway, ultimately, I’m giving the series four Sterions out of five. While I loved the series, and it was incredibly fun, I did love the original trilogy better. Like most people say about Star Wars, I guess.

QOTB: Do YOU think the original series is always better? Any exceptions to that rule?

And don’t forget that with the release of The Arthur Lien Abductions, Part Three: The Quest this month, Part One: The Secret and Part Two: The Mystery are both now down to only 99c (US) on Amazon Kindle.

The Artist vs. The Author: some hoity-toity words and opinions

artist_vs_author

So I had to do a writing exercise for one of my university classes the other day in which I had to pretend to be a literary author defending my unusual artistic choices.

This was a really interesting exercise for me in seeing the other side of things. Sure, I had a little fun with it, and most of what I say is, in my opinion, utter rubbish, but it was useful to me as a writer in capturing a character thusly opinionated.

The thing one needs first to understand when considering an author’s motives is that of artistic aesthetic. Writing is an art form. In actuality, those so inclined can expressly see a more supreme and sublime art in the written word than can be found in all other dance, art and drama conceived by man combined. Even music, with a language of its own and so vast an expressive range, has only twelve notes. It cannot truly compare to the creative complexities possible in a language of over a million words.

With other art forms, one can imitate a feeling. Or capture clearly an image designed to evoke emotion in one’s audience. With writing one has options afforded by no other medium. One can spell out the truth in brevity. Ascribe adjectives and adverbs to say succinctly what is what. Alternately, one can waltz through one’s verbs, or paint a literary picture with thousands of words. The limitations of one’s self-expression are set by one’s own imagination. Writing is art, music and more.

Does not the architect begin each building anew? Surely he must, for he is no simple engineer, no mere town planner, he is bound by a higher law, that of the artist, to whom each project is not an iteration of thing already dried up; a new well must be dug every time.

No one truly considering themselves an artist can move onto a new project and not, at least in part, attempt to reinvent the wheel. Undoubtedly, they will never succeed, as all stories are mere working cogs of a much grander all-encompassing tale, but redesign they might.

A series is obviously thematically tied, and is thus appropriately built so, as each new part is but an extension of the first. A new work entire, on the other hand, is not bound by the same inherent rules. It is artistic mockery to dig up old bones, to dress them up and try to pass them off as the nouvelle vogue.

Some will argue that plot is a story’s skeleton, or perhaps in some cases, even setting and character, but no, they are all in gross error. It is the form of a thing that makes up its bones. Else every teen paranormal romance or dystopian future book would actually be worth the collective time and money spent on it. But no, first person, present tense, new place or person, fear for life, awkwardness, love triangle, rebellion, bleaurgh!

Anyone with a semblance of artistic vision will decry such soap, such blatant lack of imagination, as fraud. It is not art. It cannot be called so.

No, the real artist does not fashion a new work from the same skeleton; he places ribs for a headdress, a hand around the heart and a femur for a tail and demands, Look at me!

Not every design is pretty, and many have not the plastic appeal of the vampire romance, but each is unique and legitimately worthy of any attention received. That is art.

Art needs no justification. Art is. It is forged by an author with something to say. It is raw. It is real. It is deeply personal and cannot be understood by laymen. This is why there exists plaques for explanation. So those dispossessed of artistic inclinations can contextualise the art they behold. They are given a key, but to cross the threshold is entirely up to the individual.

Likewise, a written work of art can be equally misunderstood by those in need of perspective. One who expects a movie in words has not come for art, but rather to be entertained. They seek not to be stirred up into higher intellectual plains, but instead seek the “freedom” of the brain-rotting prison of cognitive auto-pilot. Thus, art is not for the masses but the enlightened connoisseur, elsewise, will never be appreciated in its time.

Honestly, this is one side of the writing coin. I doubt almost any writer who holds this view will make a living writing, but hey, if you’re not writing to make a living, you are welcome to put together as much literary art as you wish.

Otherwise, those interested in pursuing a career as an author need to strongly consider the business side of things. Writing is a business and business is about selling product or services. The idea that my disparaging literary author above about the masses looking for a movie in words is not far off or crazy. That’s what a lot of popular literature (genre literature especially) has become. To not be willing to cater to that somewhat is just bad business.

Take the Beatles for example. They made albums and albums of catchy music, catered to the masses, and became enormously successful. So very successful, in fact, that in the later years of their career, before John Lennon’s death, they were barely on speaking terms with each other, all had their own widely different musical ideas and directions, and would lay down individual tracks and let the others come in and record parts over the top of it.

They came out with some WEIRD stuff, but they had such a fan base by then that anything they did was lauded as artistic genius.

If you really want to challenge literary conventions and be a hoity-toity artist, which hey, you’re entirely welcome to do, you’re going to be a lot more successful (not to mention actually be able to earn a living writing) by appealing to the masses and building yourself a steady fan base first.

QOTB: Are you a literary hipster or do you prefer quicker-paced genre fiction like the rest of us? Comment below.

Also, if you are into quicker-paced genre fiction, don’t forget to check out my YA mystery romance, The Arthur Lien Abductions. With the release of Part Three: The Quest last month, Part One: The Secret and Part Two: The Mystery are now down to only 99c (US) each on Amazon Kindle.