There is a book which I bought in February, when it was released, with the intention of reviewing it shortly afterwards. I didn’t get very far in it. I did, however, make some notes. I thought characterisation was lacking – the reader is told what the character’s feel, but it feels shallow, forced, like a stick man with facial expressions drawn on. By comparison, the world was very well developed, and described well. It has a sense of wonder, and some strong visuals.
The author was treating the book like a movie – strong on what would be special effects, but relying on very visual representations of emotions, without giving the characters any depth or subtlety.
King of Thorns is the second in Mark Lawrence‘s Broken Empire Series, following on from Prince of Thorns (which I reviewed here). It tells the continuing story of Jorg, now a king as the title implies, showing two stories running parallel – one set only months after the end of the preceding book, where Jorg sets out once more on a quest for answers and hope, and finds more than he bargained for; the other about four years later, and centres around a battle in which one of Jorg’s rivals for the Empire’s throne seeks to defeat Jorg at his castle, and Jorg and his followers do their darndest to stop them.
Like its predecessor, this is not a book for the faint of heart, or those who believe that protagonists should be towards the white end of the shades of grey spectrum.
When writing a novel, language is important. You need to portray the right actions and emotions so that the reader understands what is going on. For that, you need accurate language.
Immersion is also important: it keeps the reader reading. Immersion is about keeping the reader focused on the events of the story, and not distracting them with unbelievable actions, unrealistic use of resources (I recently read a book in which the writer implies that a palace has been built of obsidian – a material wholly unsuitable for construction) or language.
If you don’t want your reader to think about the language you’re using, you need to use it well, in an unobtrusive manner. The best way to do this is to use the most efficient language. Efficiency in language is about conveying an idea accurately to the largest proportion of readers in the fewest words, using the shortest words available.
Bane of Souls by Thaddeus White tells the story of a town experiencing a spate of murders, and the attempts of various characters including mages, the guard captain and others to find and defeat the culprit.
Okay, my next post was meant to be a review (almost finished the book, won’t be long) but I just saw this and I had to share. As someone who loves books, every now and again I go looking at images of medieval gospels, personal libraries and other beautiful book related things. I recently subscribed to /r/bookporn on Reddit and today a user called mktoaster posted this thread, featuring the below image:
So I’ve been doing this blog for six months as of today. And I’ve enjoyed it immensely. I’ve learned a lot from it, about structure and marketing myself and all sorts. So here are a few things I’ve pulled out of my experiences:
Be active, we are told as writers; don’t say “he was walking”, say, “he walked”. Active language is more engaging, and often better paced. It enables stronger prose. It lifts your writing. By contrast, passive language slows the pace and saps excitement by using two words when one will do or placing the character in the position of the object, the thing to whom actions are done. Any writer who’s spent much time on the internet or reading writing advice books knows that (and in fact my friend Brian recently posted on this subject).
On the micro level – on the level of individual sentences and phrases – this advice is followed. On the macro level – with characters over the course of a novel – often it is not.