Book Review: The Enduring Flame Trilogy

Hello, my readers, I hope you’re all doing fine during the Quarantine. I finished a fantasy series a while ago, and wanted to do a review while it was still fresh in my mind.

I did a review of the first book here. While I enjoyed the first installation very much, the rest of the series was disappointing. I’ll keep spoilers to a minimum.

Anyway, let’s dive in!

Premise

The first book of the Enduring Flame series started strong. There was plenty of worldbuilding, two heroes called on a wild adventure, whimsical magic, and horrible dangers lurking everywhere.

While the second book did a decent job elaborating on the first book, the third installation fell short. Resorting to mundane storytelling and cliche fantasy tropes, the book ruined everything that the first two books has built up.

By the end of the story, I was ready to shelf the book and forget about the series entirely.

Length

Each book is around 400 pages. Chapters can be long, but are broken down with several scene breaks that alternate between character perspectives. Personally, I enjoyed the many scene breaks, as it makes it convenient for taking breaks or stopping for the day.

Characters

The two main protagonists, Harrier and Tiercel, had a degree of charm. They acted as if they were siblings, always arguing in an amusing way. The third heroine, Shaiara, I found the most interesting, however, as her worldview is vastly different. This contrast in character perspectives added color to the worldbuilding and is one good thing that the series maintained.

Magic System

The magic is whimsical and unpredictable. This offered many fascinating scenarios throughout the book, but also created a variety of plot holes and asspulls from characters that seemed contrived. Overall, the magic system damaged the story by the end of the third book.

Conflict

The tension was steady and drove the prose well through the first two books. In the third book, the conflict became dull and tedious, though there still was an element of danger and risk.

The Good

The Enduring Flame Trilogy has excellent worldbuilding early on and sets strong tension with its initial installations. The characters are amusing and likable. Character’s magic is powerful and can lead to some jaw-dropping scenes, some which had me quivering with excitement. The antagonist has good backstory, weaving into the magical system.

The Bad

The prose is filled with excessive adverbs, fair dialog, mediocre characterisation, and a story that decays by the end of the third book. The magic system led to several plot holes and contrived scenarios that almost made me want to put the book down.

The Ugly

All three books have a lot of mundane “travel time” and inappropriate detours that take from the direction of the plot without adding to subplots or character growth. The main characters, while relatable, are sometimes snobbish or stupid—and not in a likable way.

The Enduring Flame series is a flower that wilted early in the season. Many of its fans from the first two books will be disappointed with the conclusion. All in all, the trilogy is nothing noteworthy, nor is it a piece of garbage that should never have been published. There are a few pearls within its pages, for those willing to look deep into the quest of Harrier and Tiercel.

Thank you for reading!


I’m playing around with some new designs with my blog and testing them out. I’m also merging my blog with Mailchimp (still in testing). I plan to send out blog news and free gifts once I get it up and running! 🙂

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Antagonists and Villains in Fiction

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Hello, my readers, to another installation about fictional worlds! It’s been a stressful time for all of us, so I wanted to entertain you with another post of mine: Villains in Fiction!

Last time, I discussed the purpose of disease in fiction. In many ways, disease is like an invisible antagonist that cannot be seen—but what about the villains that can be seen? What are they all about? What different types of villains in fiction are there? Let’s dig into it!

“Each film is only as good as its villain. Since the heroes and the gimmicks tend to repeat from film to film, only a great villain can transform a good try into a triumph.” â€” Roger Ebert

Throughout human history, each movie, each story tale, has a villain. Some love them, others hate them, or even love to hate these nifty characters. They are the individuals who forge dynamic prose and brilliant screenplay—epic scenes and heart wrenching moments.

Antagonists

While a villain is selfish, naughty, or seeks to harm people, an antagonist—strictly speaking—is the opposing force of the protagonist, the lead of the plot with sympathic values towards the audience. Quite often, villains are the antagonist. However, you can have a villain as the protagonist—or even a hero as the antagonist!

Antagonistic Perspectives

An antagonist can help drive the narrative forward, develop the protagonist, and add color to worldbuilding. A villain is seen as “evil” to the eyes of the hero, but this is subjective. You could, for example, have a character appear as a villain from the viewpoint of most of the characters, but to others the villain seems neutral or even righteous.

Here are some types of villains I’ve chosen to examine. This list is by no means exhaustive.

I. The Anti-hero

In the case where the villain is the protagonist, you get an Anti-hero. Although evil, the Anti-hero believes in doing what he or she thinks is right. The Anti-hero establishes sympathetic relations with the audience and drives the plot forward through heinous acts. An Anti-hero usually has three important traits, which you can read more about here.

2. The Anti-villain

Conversely, an Anti-villain is a character with strong morals, yet accomplishes evil in the long-run. Perhaps an Anti-villain is a priest, wishing to purge “evil”, but he or she commits heinous acts to achieve this. Once again, “evil” is subjective to readers and other characters.

3. The Visionary

The Visionary sees the world in a demented state and wishes to fix it. These types of villains believe they are doing good—despite the fact they may be collapsing economies and killing millions, and they see the hero as an “evil” interloper.

4. The Madman

These types of villains are psychopathic and enjoy being evil, causing mischief, or hurting others for the fun of it. The Madman may have a sense of humor, in the case of the Joker, or even a ruthless, calculating demeanor like Lex Luthor. They will throw whatever resources they have at the hero, even if it costs them their life.

5. Femme Fatale

Seductress, siren, temptress—the Femme Fatale is a female character with malicious intent. Often she seduces the hero in clever ways, provoking him/her towards actions of moral ambiguity. The Femme Fatale may promise the hero power, clout, wealth, or even sex for surrendering to her.

6. The Beast

The Beast is a feral animal or a monster, with a desire to feed, gain territory, rampage, and reproduce. It has a primitive mind and cannot be reasoned with. Some beasts may appear justified for their rampage, like in the case of Godzilla. Others are confused and lost in modern society as with King Kong.

7. The Machine

Similar to the Beast, the Machine has one motive: disrupting the hero’s plans. The Machine is pure logic and can be even more dangerous with its lack of morals and emotions. See the Terminator series as an example.

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8. Evil Incarnate

Some villains are pure evil by nature. Dark gods or devil embodiments do heinous acts because it’s what they do. Sauron in The Lord of the Rings is innately evil, and opposes Frodo’s quest to destroy the Ring. Sometimes these types of villains have certain morals they follow, a code that guides them to destroy.

9. The Outsider

The Outsider is an outcast or disliked minority, detached from the world. Though intelligent and experienced, the Outsider is bitter towards society and holds a degree of vengeance. Outsiders may also have a cult following who champion their cause. Motivated by this revenge, the Outsider is led to commit vile acts, often opposing the society-accepted-protagonist—whom the Outsider also despises.

10. Nature

Nothing can oppose the will of Mother Nature, and unlike other villains, this variant can seldom can stopped. The hero must discover how to mitigate the damage, whether from a storm, a virus, or violent earth changes. Fortunately, conflicts caused by Mother Nature typically resolve on their own once balance is restored.

11. The Authority Figure

The Authority Figure is in charge of a lawful system, and he or she seeks to maintain said system through rules. This villain symbolizes restriction and control, whereas the hero may want freedom. Authority Figures are seen in a wide variety of genres—and they can be anything from a school principal, a police chief, or an emperor. While not wholly evil, Authority Figures only wish to maintain the status quo and do their jobs.

Other Villains in Fiction

There are numerous categories of villains in fiction, such as the Mastermind, a criminal overlord; the Henchman, who follows the Mastermind—and others. Some villains fall in multiple categories—they are a difficult breed to classify, and considerably more interesting than the clichĂ© heroes that are often repeated. I encourage you to check these two articles out for more information.

An original hero will often break away from traditional stereotypes and establish his or her own set of moral values, not necessarily agreeing with society. Perhaps this is why an audience finds Anti-heroes more engaging and reflective of human nature. Anti-heroes also struggle more internally and this plays better with the audience.

Thank you for reading! Stay tuned for more content during this Quarantine with yours truly—and stay safe. 🙂

#fiction #worldbuilding #writing #reading #literature #villainsinfiction

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Happy New Years!

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Hello, everyone, and Happy New Year! 2019 was an exciting year for me—and a lot happened. However, in this post, I wanted to reflect on what’s ahead. I’ve compiled a survey of questions that should help me think more about what I want to achieve in 2020 in regards to my writing and other pursuits. Hopefully, it’ll inspire you too!

What Are Your Initial Impressions of 2020?

It’s the beginning of a new decade. That means big changes and shifts in everyone’s lives. For me personally, I see it as a milestone. Looking back reminds me of how far I’ve come and what lies ahead for me. In short, I’m excited to get started!

Any Literary Goals for the New Year?

Well, I’ve been busy the past few months with the holidays, family gatherings, new projects, my meditation sessions, and some fun game releases. Other than NaNo and my Havok submission, I’ve spent less time on writing that I would have liked.

In general, my goals would be thus:

  1. Polish Dragonsblade and find an agent or self-publish by the end of the year
  2. Finish my alpha manuscript, Tempest of the Dragon
  3. Submit one or two more short stories to online magazines
  4. Read more books! 😛
  5. Observe the spiritual changes in myself as this all happens

How Have You Changed As a Writer Since Last Year?

Overall, I’m more confident and I have a higher pool of knowledge to draw from. I’ve done a lot of research into health and spirituality, which has indirectly benefited my abilities as a writer. The healthier and calmer I get through practices like meditation, the better I can focus and utilize the infinite creativity within all of us.

I’m nowhere near perfect by any means, but I’m constantly growing  as a writer and as a soul. The way I see it: if you aren’t healthy, you can’t enjoy or perform as a writer. If you’re without a divine goal, you don’t have a strong enough drive to get your writing done.

I now realize I want to write to inspire and encourage people through my stories. Maybe, years down the road, readers will appreciate such tales and grow as individuals in subtle, but meaningful ways.

Do You Have Any Fears About the Coming Year?

Yes, actually…

I’m worried that 2020 will pass and I still won’t have found an agent for Dragonsblade. I am building my writing resume through online magazine submissions to make me look attractive to agents, but it’s no guarantee. I’ve never done this before as a writer, so it’s unexplored territory for me.

Do You Have a Specific Event or Goal You Are Excited About?

I may try to attend a writing or spiritual convention sometime this year if time and my finances are looking good. There are a few events that I have in mind—one being in Hawaii, and another in Colorado. I just bought an Omega 8008 Juicer, so my wallet is rather empty right now.

Any Last Comments About 2020?

As I said earlier, it’s the start of a new decade, so it’s time to make big changes in our lives—for the better. I’m anticipating a productive year, filled with victories and failures found in any good fiction. Regardless, a writer must do what he or she must ro persevere. The creations of a wordsmith transmute fictional characters as much as they do the author.

That is the path of a writer and a spiritual alchemist.

Now that you’ve finished this article, I challenge you to create your own survey, questions that will help you reflect on your goals for 2020. You can use the questions above if you’d like.


Thank you again for reading! Click that “follow” button below if you like what you see. Enjoy the new year! 🙂

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Book Review: The Phoenix Unchained

 

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Hello and welcome to my latest book review. It’s been a busy month between family, work, and NaNo; that doesn’t mean I can’t offer another informative review from yours truly.

A writer friend recommended this series to me, and I decided it give it a go. Needless to say, I enjoyed the read and plan to read the following books at some point.

—The Phoenix Unchained—

Premise

The Phoenix Unchained is an immersive story with a rich amount of lore and enjoyable cast of characters. Book one includes staple mythology like dragons, goblins, mages, and unicorns. What I found most interesting was the magic system and how it weaves into the character arcs—but more on that below.

Length

The book is around 380 pages. Chapters can be long, but are broken down with several scene breaks that alternate between character perspectives. Personally, I enjoyed the many scene breaks, as it makes it convenient for taking breaks or stopping for the day.

Characters

The other week, I submitted a short story for an online Publishing company called Havok. The submission had what was called Dynamic Duos, or two characters that interact with each other (e.g. Frodo and Sam).

The two protagonists in the Phoenix Unchained strongly share this trait. One is soft-spoken and thin, the other is hot-tempered and burly. I enjoyed the character interactions and especially the dialog; it left me amused and satisfied, as any good cast should.

Magic System

The magic in the Phoenix Unchained initially comes off as generic and uninteresting. However, I was amazed at how the authors cleverly wove it into the character development for one of the protagonists. It even plays a part in the antagonist’s arc. The lore behind the magic system is deep and left me interested.

Conflict

The tension is a rollercoaster of stressful encounters to peaceful resolutions, as I expected in any fantasy thriller. What caught me by surprise was the death of a main character halfway through the book.

The monsters and demons are portrayed excellently, some at a Stephen King-grade level that left me shaken and worried for the protagonists.

—Overall Summary—

The Good

The Phoenix Unchained is a great read for fantasy buffs with its rich amount of lore, tension, amusing characters, and clever magic system.

The Bad

Despite its enjoyable dialog and immersive environment, several prose errors caught me off balance. At other times, I felt like I was reading a manuscript that wasn’t well edited. It wasn’t so much as finding a typo as it was the excessive amount of adverbs used. The POV also wasn’t as detailed as it could as been, leaving some distance between reader and character.

That said, the prose concision was poor, lacking a fine polish that you may find in another fantasy novel.

The Ugly

There is a lot of travel involved in the plot. The authors failed to include a map that would have been helpful as I read through the story. There was also no chapter index—but that’s a minor nitpick.

—My Rating for The Phoenix Unchained: 4/5 stars—

This is a solid book for anyone interested in fantasy. As long as you don’t mind lacking a world map and the plethora of adverbs—and prose concision for that matter—, then you should enjoy the story. The characters will entertain you and some scenes will leave you at the edge of your seat.

I may do another review when I get through the second book.


Thanks again for reading. Remember to hit that “follow” button below. I really appreciate the likes and comments you leave below. Cheers.

 

 

Book Review: Bridge of Birds

 

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Welcome, my readers, to another book review. This time I went for a more exotic pick, delving into Asian mythos. I figured this would help me write Tempest of the Dragon since both stories are based in East Asia.

—Bridge of Birds—

Premise

The story of Bridge of Birds is set in ancient China. The themes presented in the book include adventure, humor, and fantasy. Many of the Chinese mythoi are fascinating, and the author did a superb job weaving them into the plot.

The main character, Number Ten Ox, leaves his village to discover a cure for a disease afflicting his village. During his journey, he encounters a host of bizarre and unusual enemies throughout ancient China. Surviving assassins, ghosts, sultry concubines, and immortal dukes, Ox and his partner unearth the legacy of a fallen goddess and how to save her from damnation.

Length

The book is around 280 pages and chapters are straightforward and short; although I would have appreciated a table of contents to guide me through it. Oh well.

Characters

The characters in the story are amusing and oftentimes comical. Number Ten Ox is a youth built for strength and not so much for wits.

His adventuring partner, Master Li, is the opposite: an experienced old man with a “slight flaw in his character”. He comes off as a wizened individual who is both wise yet daring.

The side characters make brief appearances throughout the story, adding amusement in creative ways. There are a few gruesome scenes and deaths among the characters, but the overall story remains jovial.

Magic System

Bridge of Birds makes full use of Chinese mythology with its inclusion of ghosts, alchemy, ancient medicine, and other Taoist concepts like immortality. The magic system may appeal more to historical fiction buffs than fantasy fans.

Romance

The romance in the story is undeveloped and shallow, as the protagonist often jumps from one partner to the next. However, the author often incorporates elements of comedy into these engagements and I never took each romance scene too seriously.

Conflict

The tension in the story is present but lacking, offset by myraid comedy relief that lightens the story. At first, many of the obstacles faced by the protagonist seem dire, but a creative or amusing solution always result a page or two later.

—Overall Summary—

The Good

Bridge of Birds has excellent comedy relief with a sense of whimsical adventure that grabs the reader. Its good balance of themes makes each chapter a fulfilling read. The characters are engaging and fit their roles well.

The Bad

The prose construction was sloppy in several areas, leading to verbose paragraphs and a dearth of descriptions in others. The protagonist’s emotions were not well internalized, as the story was told from a third-person distant narrative.

The Ugly

A few scenes had graphic detail, which was surprising for a book that wavers between jovial themes and gruesome concepts so readily.

—My rating for Bridge of Birds: 4/5 stars: a decent read—

Bridge of Birds is a pleasant book, with its lighthearted spin on a fantasy adventure. It is very entertaining with its cast of characters, themes, decent pacing, and East Asian mythology.

Parts of the story were weak from a dearth of descriptions, emotions, or character development, but the ending was very satisfying and worthwhile.

A reader looking for an amusing fantasy novel that isn’t too serious should enjoy this story.

 


Thank you again for reading and remember to hit that “follow” button below. Enjoy the fall weather! 🙂

 

 

Book Review: Edgar Cayce, the Sleeping Prophet

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Greetings, my readers. I decided to switch things up a bit and review a nonfiction novel. This installation is Edgar Cayce, the Sleeping Prophet by Jess Stearn. It’s a fascinating read and covers a variety of information that should appeal to a broad audience. Anyway, on with the show!

—Edgar Cayce, the Sleeping Prophet—

Premise

Edgar Cayce was an unnatural man, the book claimed, with his ability to enter a trance and procure insightful information. Upon waking, Cayce wouldn’t remember any of it, but listeners would jot down his words.

Many sick people were cured after following Cayce’s directions—and he often supplied complex or unusual ingredients for each cure. Cayce’s work also mentioned reincarnation and theories of Atlantis, delving deep into conspiracy theory and spiritual suggestion.

Prose

Unfortunately, the writing fluctuated between exciting and dull. If you don’t know what to look for, reading this book for the first time may seem overwhelming.

Much of the book is organized into case studies where a patient comes to Cayce for a diagnosis. Cayce provides a curse for a particular disease and elaborates on why it occurred. Some of these studies were intriguing.

Length

Chapters are relatively long, and the book runs around three-hundred pages in a fine print.

Information

The ideas in this book may come off as far-fetched to some readers—but in general, Cayce had some wise advice, particularly with health and spiritual outlook. The many people cured through Cayce are scientifically documented, suggesting there is a method to his madness.

—Overall Summary—

The Good

Edgar Cayce, the Sleeping Prophet has an abundant amount of detail across a wide variety of topics. Any open-minded reader would value the wisdom within this novel, able to apply it to his or her own life.

The case studies are straight forward and enjoyable, ranging from cancer patients to migraine victims and paralysis. Cayce also mentions topics like Atlantis, geological upheaval of the planet, and spiritual concepts. Stearn did an excellent job portraying Cayce’s information.

The Bad

This novel isn’t for everyone and requires an open mind. The prose can be difficult to understand sometimes, and you can easily get overwhelmed in all the information. As an aid, I highlighted specific portions of the book that I could reference later.

The Ugly

This book was written in the mid-twentieth century, so some of the information may be outdated or obsolete.

—My rating for Edgar Cayce, the Sleeping Prophet: 4/5 stars: an excellent read—

Jess Stearn produced a fantastic book on the mystic, Edgar Cayce. For me, several of the topics hit home, and I found most of the book very enjoyable and informative. Much of what Cayce suggested can still be applied today, empowering readers’ lives with his cryptic words.

As I mentioned above, parts of the book are dry and serve as filler content. It is highly recommended that you underline or highlight specific passages and later—after finishing the book—use it as a reference guide.

Overall, if you’re an open-minded reader with an interest in alternative medicine and new age theories, then this book is for you.


Have you any thoughts on Edgar Cayce? Are you a Cayce fan who has researched his work? Leave it in the comments below. As always, thanks for reading!


Bonus: My Published Poetry!!!

My published poetry will be available starting this Monday the 29th! You can view and order the collected works here. Look for New York’s Best Emerging Poets 2019: An Anthology. My pen name is Ed White.

The book is a collection of poems from like-minded authors, compiled into a beautiful collection. Many of the poems are quite beautiful to read. I get a portion of any profits, so if you’d like to support me, I’d really appreciate it! 🙂

Book Review: Dream Waters by Erin A. Jensen

 

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Hello, everyone, I’m back with another book review—the Dream Waters series by Erin A. Jensen. I’m currently on book three of the trilogy (the author may write a fourth) and wanted to give my impressions of the story so far.

I’ll keep spoilers to a minimum. 😉

—Dream Waters—

Premise

Dream Waters is a fantasy/romance series set in the present day. The gimmick of the story revolves around worlds set in dreams, where people can turn into fantasy creatures like fairies, elves, and dragons when they sleep. Sometimes the dream world can overlap into the real world.

There isn’t much action, and the worldbuilding is more on the mild side. Instead, the story focuses more on dialog and character interaction.

Length

The word counts for the first two novels are around 400-500. Chapters are usually short and keep the prose moving.

Characters

Jensen does an excellent job with her characters, and the exchanges are very amusing, pushing the prose forward through humor and drama. The main characters are easy to connect with, as the story uses a first-person multiple POV scheme. Each character’s POV sounds unique and breaths life into the chapters.

The antagonist is compelling and acts more like an anti-hero who works with the protagonist, albeit the two are also romance rivals for the same woman. It isn’t until later that the real villain reveals himself.

Magic System

Dream Waters uses a fickle and whimsical magic system in the dream world that isn’t explained much. The author could have fleshed it out more to create story depth and intrigue for the reader.

Romance

The story is loaded with romance scenes, some of them rather graphic and very promiscuous. Dream Waters uses this heavily to create romantic tension between the protagonist and his love.

Conflict

Dream Waters sets our protagonist against romantic conflict and the paranormal reality of the dream world. He meets strange, fickle creatures with a diverse set of magical ability. Only by mastering his own skills in his dream world does he have a chance to save his love.

The diverse tension keeps the reader interested and set steady pacing with the short chapters.

—Overall Summary—

The Good

Dream Waters demonstrates an exciting combination of fantasy, romance, and paranormal concepts I’ve rarely seen elsewhere. It has solid pacing and excellent dialog. Any lover of romance or fantasy will enjoy this book.

The main characters are well written and provide fascinating story arcs.

The Bad

The descriptions of characters, places, and emotions leave room for improvement in certain scenes. The emotional details are cliche at times and without much diversity.

The Ugly

When descriptions kick into overdrive, Dream Waters has heavy use of profanity and graphic details, which may turn some readers off.

—My rating for Dream Waters: 3.7/5 stars: a worthwhile read—

Dream Waters has a special place in the romance and fantasy genre. The unique combination of tropes and characters makes for an entertaining novel that keeps the reader turning pages and moving the story along.

The story excels in certain areas, while it lacks in others; and the prose isn’t the best. The use of graphic scenes might turn some readers off. Additional details on the magic and dream world systems would have strengthened the world-building aspects.

Overall, if you’re a reader who loves amusing characters, fantasy tropes, fluid dialog, and deep romance scenes, then Dream Waters will be an excellent choice.


Have you any thoughts on Dream Waters? Leave it in the comments below. Thanks for reading and have a great July 4th! 🙂

Book Length, Word Count, and Readability in Writing

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The length of a book can be a vital factor in its success. It may not appear to be at first, but there is a formula followed by countless writers and publishers. Depending on the target audience, genre, readability, and book type, the word count in a book can vary substantially.

That said, there are always outliers—books that have done well outside of word count brackets. If you’re a writer with questions about how long your writing should be, this article is for you.

—Book Length Guidelines—

Although there is no fixed word count, there are generally recognized guidelines depending on genre and audience.

Audience

Younger audiences have smaller attention spans and therefore cater to short, fast-paced book length. Adults are more tolerable with longer manuscripts. For example, YA (young adult) will—usually—be less than the book-length for a more mature audience.

Age group word count examples:

  • Poetry: 5 to 3k
  • Picture Book: 400 to 800
  • Play: 1k to 32k
  • Middle Grade: 25k to 40k
  • Young Adult: 50k to 80k

Genre

Book genres, of course, play an essential role in the word count of a novel.  Science fiction and fantasy works tend toward a high word count since the writer develops a fictional world from the ground up. This takes time to describe all the new rules and phenomena associated with such a fictional universe.

Historical fiction, Young Adult, Westerners, and Mysteries prefer a lower word count—of course, there are always exceptions.

Genre group examples:

  • Romance & Erotica: 40,000 to 100,000 words
  • Mystery/Thriller/Horror: 70,000 to 90,000
  • Horror: 80,000 to 100,000
  • Historical: 90,000 to 100,000
  • Sci-fi/Fanasty: 90,000 to 140,000

General Book Types

Depending on the type of book you intend to write, word count plays another significant factor. Flash fiction and short stories are, of course, brief, but powerful tales. A novella—for those who don’t know—is a compact novel, longer than flash fiction and short stories, with a fleshed out story and characters; ideal for a quick read.

Book type examples:

  • Flash Fiction: 300 to 1,500 words
  • Short Story: 1,500 to 30,000
  • Novellas: 30,000 to 50,000
  • Novels: 50,000 to 100,000

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—The Endgame—

You can have your long epic fantasy and do well with it. However, for new writers, it is best to start small and work your way up. A book-length that is simple and sweet reads best.

Legacies

Once authors have a handful of books under their belt—and a fanbase—they can gamble a little more. Agents and publishers can reference this track record, and this increases the chance the book gets published regardless of word count or even prose finesse. If you have enough avid fans who will buy the book, publishers will overlook certain shortcomings, since they know the books will rake in profits regardless.

For this reason, some authors have started small in self-publishing like Michael J. Sullivan before they hit the goldmine.

Quantity Versus Quality

Quantity alone does not a good book make.  You have to earn your manuscript, one word at a time. If a document is 150,000 words long but fills its pages with redundant vocabulary, it probably won’t read well to the eye of an agent or a casual reader.

Adverbs and excessive prose often slog writing; an attempt by the writer to look professional. As a general rule of thumb, the shorter the word/phrase is, the better. The simpler a manuscript is, the more people can read it, and the more can enjoy it.

Reading Level

The average reading level for America is around the 8th-grade mark. If the author wants a book to read smoothly among a wider audience, then a book should read close to this level. By using simpler and shorter phrases, the readability of the prose goes up.

Higher reading associates with scholarly articles and doctoral theses; that’s the point of them, to demonstrate a graduate’s intelligence. Informational articles like this one can calibrate higher; their purpose is to inform and advise. Fictional novels, especially YA and children books, are for people to enjoy and immerse themselves in an easy-to-read environment.

Word Impact

Each word in a manuscript should contribute to the book in at least one of the following ways:

  • Character progression
  • Plot development
  • Environmental immersion
  • Reader enjoyment

There are exceptions, but if you find a word that doesn’t fit one of these criteria, it can usually be removed. You don’t want to be overly descriptive either as that slogs the pacing and reduces readability.

Chapter Impact

Chapter length can also have an impact on readability and word count. Short chapters organize a book better, improve readability, and leave readers with a sense of satisfaction when they count how many sections of the book they have finished. Shorter chapters also make for good stopping points when a reader needs to put the novel down.

Longer chapters are tedious, but sometimes necessary when a section of a book demands enough information or plot progress to benefit the story and characters. In this case, scene breaks are good for breaking down long chapters.

Reader & Writer Relationship

Half of telling a story comes from the reader’s imagination; give half and let the reader form the rest. This stimulates the reader’s mind, bringing with it a sense of fulfillment.

A book is as much of a journey for the writer as it is for the reader. If you can provide that opportunity—for a reader to have fun and explore—they will flip pages nonstop and won’t care about book length.

—Conclusion—

The length of a book is up to the writer, depending on his or her goals and ambitions. Identifying core variables like the audience, genre, book type, readability, and the author’s legacy are essential to the process. Authors who have built up an impressive resume of stories can skirt the rules.

A writer must first do the research, just as a builder must first draw out blueprints for a house—and research the terrain. Each brick of a manuscript’s foundation should be carefully placed with meaning. If you do this, your house of stories will last against the elements of agents, publishers, and critics alike.

Here’s a free online program called WordCounter that not only checks the word count in a written document but also checks the reading level, reading or speaking time, and word frequency. Just paste your work into the program, and it will analyze everything for you automatically.

Thank you for reading and good luck in your writing endeavors.


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Fantasy Book review, Mistborn #1: The Final Empire

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Hello to my readers. Cheers to another book review. I read a fascinating series weeks ago and thought I’d share my thoughts on it. I’ll keep spoilers to a minimum.

With that said, let’s delve into Brandon Sanderson’s world of intrigue, magic, and adventure.

Mistborn, the Series

Premise

Mistborn is an epic fantasy series that spans multiple books. The story also incorporates some dark fantasy elements. Each book is long—and well worth it. Expect to invest time in each installation if you so desire.

If I could describe Mistborn in three words, it would be—gloomy, epic, and intricate. There is a strong sense of adventure too, though most of the plot takes place within a capital city. This didn’t stop Sanderson from developing detailed worldbuilding.

Characters

The main character, Vin, struggles to understand herself in a turbulent world of war, oppression, and darkness. She meets many characters in her journey, most that popped out of the page for me, the reader.

Sanderson did an excellent job with the characters. The cast came off as likable and amusing. There were a few scenes where I laughed and had to reread for the fun of it. Sanderson knows when to cut the tension with old-fashioned comedy relief—an essential element in manuscripts, by the way.

The villains were sadistic enough—and arcane enough—to warrant interest. The antagonist in book 1 is practical a god who survives decapitation, experiences immortality, and can manipulate thousands of people at will. Talk about a challenge for the protagonist!

Magic System

The magic in Mistborn is intriguing—an alchemical system where a person burns metals within the body. Each metal provides a specific power when burned. The effect is usually temporary and limited by the metal resources at hand.

Superhuman feats are common in Mistborn, so, expect some Avengers-grade thrills. The action blew me away and kept me reading. It is refreshing to see supernatural action mixed it for once rather than the usual sword or gun fighting.

My one complaint is that the action is a little confusing with all the unique terms. Brandon Sanderson could have improved on the readability during these scenes. I sometimes skimmed over the fight scenes because they weren’t easy to follow.

Romance

The romantic interest for the main OC, Vin, starts late in the book and builds up gradually. It may not read like the best romance novel—and came off a little flat to me—but it fits in well enough with the plot and characters.

Romance does play a stronger role in the second book, Well of Ascension; admittingly, Sanderson did a better job of it in the second installation.

Conflict

Mistborn is rife with conflict—another good detail of the book. I couldn’t go ten pages without feeling sympathy, pain, or anticipation. Sanderson knows how to keep the pages turning—never a dull moment.

I sometimes compared the feeling to Dragonlance—another favored series of mine.

Overall Summary

The Good

The characters, magic system, conflict, and atmosphere of the book are my favorite elements of Mistborn. It set the proper tone for a dark fantasy epic novel. I imagine I’ll be rereading it again in the future.

The Bad

The action/combat scenes were confusing, and the romance was not deep enough. I feel Sanderson could have developed these scenes more. Regardless, they weren’t terrible and never impeded the book’s flow beyond a few pages.

The Ugly

There were a few graphic scenes in Mistborn, some which made me pause (not in the wrong way, mind you). I’m all for gore and blood if it helps add dimension and immersion to a book. That said, this book isn’t nearly as extreme about it as Song of Fire and Ice (another excellent book, by the way).

Still, Mistborn isn’t for the light of heart. After all, it is a dark fantasy novel to some degree—and I still enjoyed it.

My rating: 4.5/5 stars—outstanding

Thank you all for reading. This review post was a first for me. If you have any feedback, comments, or suggestions, let me know in the reply boxes below. Love and gratitude to my readers. 🙂


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Book Review: Eragon book 1, Inheritance

 

 

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Greetings and welcome back to yet another book review that I’d love to share with you all! 😀 I recently returned to the Eragon series to enjoy Christopher Paolini’s writing. Eragon is a fantasy epic series spanning several books.  This review will focus on the first book, and I’ll keep spoilers to a minimum.

Eragon, book 1: Inheritance

Premise

Inheritance is a big book at around 600 to 700 pages. The plot focuses heavily on worldbuilding and adventure. There are some great fight scenes and a subtle flair of romance—although this is more apparent in book two: Eldest.

Describing Inheritance in a few words, I would say—adventure, travel, and whimsical. The plot feels very unique, although it builds off traditional fantasy tropes such as elves, dragons, and dwarves (nothing wrong there).

Characters

Sadly, there aren’t many main characters in Paolini’s first book. Eragon is the young hero who finds his mentor, Brom, and a dragon hatchling named Saphira. They travel together, meeting a few characters along the way, but the overall cast feels small and lacking.

On a brighter note, the dialog and pacing within the story are excellent and some of the best I’ve ever seen. Paolini’s books are easy to read and have a fantastic immersion factor.

The main villain, a mad king named Galbatorix, you only hear about remotely, and he comes off as your traditional psychopathic villain. That may seem cliché, but Paolini presents the mad king in a charming and workable manner. Galbatorix also has lore that helps explain his past.

Magic System

The magic in the Eragon series is whimsical and fantastic, producing everything from fireballs to flight and object manifestation. It’s a soft magic system as has few rules others than the practitioner being gifted and trained in the arts.

I was surprised how quickly Eragon acquired magical techniques from Brom; then again, Eragon is the main character, so I let it slide.

Romance

Inheritance has very little romance, but it sets the stage for Eragon’s love interest in book two. Paolini did a better job at it with his second book, and it shows progression in his writing ability. Keep in mind he wrote book one when he was seventeen.

Conflict

The tension in Inheritance is predictable yet entertaining. It illustrates the timely fantasy battles you’d expect with orcs, elves, dwarves, and other creatures. At times the conflict felt drawn out or lacking, but overall it’s enough to keep the reader at the edge of the seat.

Overall Summary

The Good

Inheritance has incredible pacing and detailed dialog in a convincing fantasy world. You’re guaranteed to immerse yourself in this unique, whimsical land filled with dragons, magical swords, and evil kings.

The main characters are well written and suit their roles well, establishing a fantasy epic that ages well into later books. The reading is fluid and dynamic while challenging readers on occasion.

The Bad

Although the characters are excellent, there are only a few of them, and the cast feels small and compact. At times the premise and tension slogged or felt linear, reduced to nothing but traveling with little plot.

The Ugly

Inheritance feels linear and could have used more characters and subplots to enrich its premise. Fortunately, the second book does it all, and more—once I get to a review of that novel.

My rating for Inheritance: 4/5 stars—good

Inheritance isn’t a perfect book and suffers from a dearth of main characters and plot depth. Yet it has a beautiful, simplistic design that just works. In particular, the magic system is enjoyable to read about, and the ancient language shows immense worldbuilding that Paolini emphasizes in his later novels.

If anything, Inheritance is the stepping stone that introduces readers to the world of AlagaĂ«sia. If you’re a fan of fantasy, I would certainly recommend this book—but then continue on into the second novel to get a better idea of the series. Eldest fleshes Paolini’s world out in ways that Inheritance never did.

Thank you for reading. Have you any thoughts on Inheritance or the Eragon series? Leave it in the comments below. Love and gratitude to all my readers. 🙂