Click the cover to download a delightful tale of addiction, co-dependency, genetically modified spiders, and internecine gang warfare in the high-rise slums of 22nd century Manhattan. And now in .epub and .pdf format as well! I added a sample chapter from EPIC FANTASY 0.9b to the end, so hopefully having more eyes on it will help with my renewed marketing efforts; more on that to come (check out the new cover on the EPIC FANTASY 0.9b page by the way; I think it’s pretty sweet).
The following is a cleaned-up version of my personal notes on how to create characters. Any discussions or suggestions of things I missed are welcomed.
Why think about character construction?
No two authors create characters the same way. Often characters are created intuitively, seemingly popping into our heads fully-formed. Sometimes they may be based on real people, either whole or as an amalgamation of several individuals.
But other times, an author may be held back from creating great stories by their inability to imagine new characters. This is seen most often when an author falls into the trap of creating a cast of characters who are all essentially the same person with different ages, genders, races, etc. Other times, an author may have a “stock set” of characters that they deploy for every story, and as a result every story they write is at heart just a copy of the previous one (although some authors have actually made lucrative careers doing this).
Science fiction, for all its great successes over the decades, has at times earned a reputation for producing too many works that are cookie-cutter or derivative. That’s why it’s refreshing to see a book like Khe which, while taking the form in interesting new directions, still nails the basics—a sympathetic main character, exciting adventure, and world building that unfolds gradually and leaves room for surprises at the end.
The nice folks at All Book Reviews have posted their review of Epic Fantasy 0.9b. This actually comes at a great time; I’m in the process of having the cover re-done and generally putting more time into marketing it as the work on my novel (gradually) wraps up. The review itself is very positive, although they do make a couple criticisms which I think are somewhat fair. It looks like their blog is getting off to a great start, so I urge you all to subscribe to them if you want to find more great books to read.
Yes, you read the title of this post correctly. Dean Koontz wrote a craft book. Please let that statement sink fully into your consciousness, so that you’re prepared for the wild ride we’re about to embark on together.
Now, one thing I want to make clear from the start is that it is not the intention of this review to “bash” or otherwise diminish Mr. Koontz. On the contrary; he’s exactly the sort of person who should be writing a how-to book. Unlike some of the half-baked yahoos out there handing out writing advice, he has a specific talent, is demonstrably good at it, and can articulate his method with extreme clarity. It’s just that, given the nature of Koontz and his work, one needs to set certain expectations as to what is to be learned. Writing Popular Fiction does have some information about the process of putting together sentences and paragraphs, but its main concern is writing to a market. Meaning: understanding what the market wants, and how an author who actually wants to make a living from writing can focus themselves on producing the right kind of work to actually accomplish it.
That being said, there are a couple of twists involved that make this book especially fun to read. For one thing, it was published in 1974. There’s no mention of self-publishing (obviously), and lots of talk about subjects like whether or not it’s wise to use carbon paper in one’s typewriter (Koontz says yes). Essentially, the book is a time capsule from the wild world of publishing in the mid-1970s, and you’ll probably be amazed at how much has stayed the same even more than how much has changed.
The second twist element is Koontz himself; from the first page, where he admonishes the reader not to send him feedback saying he missed anything, he comes off as a man who has too many other things to be doing to put up with any of your bullshit. Even at such an early phase in his career, he’s clearly put in an astonishing amount of time in front of the typewriter, and he knows it. When he says something, he’s not gonna mince around with “maybes” or “shoulds.” Take his advice and reap the benefits, or don’t take it and end up penniless and ignored—just don’t ask him to repeat himself–he’s got too many other books to write.