July 4, 2018 at 2:53 pm #40612
Hello, my name is…. That Guy. Some who don’t know any better call me Thad Gee, but they’re wrong.
Kidding. Actually I’m Jonathan Wong. I’m just a hermit trying to shed his shell and actually make a career of my talents. I’ve joined a number of writing communities at staggering personal expense (Stinginess, not David, is my middle name), but I still struggle to make the time commitment necessary to get my full value out of them as well as get adequate time in on my writing – and actually remember to read as well as write. That has been a problem.
I guess my main genres are medieval historical fiction (hey there @Northerner), science-fiction, and fantasy, though they always seem to blend together. At the moment I am also writing an RPG adventure for an up-and-coming publisher local to my area in the hopes that it will be wildly successful and my lack of an advance will be repaid by my stupendous royalties, so I guess you can add supernatural spy thriller to that list as well.
One of the main features of my writing I am most self-conscious about, and particularly in the Christian writing communities I’ve joined like Kingdom Pen, Young Writer, and now here – is the dark tone and content of my writing. While I’ve sworn off the use of graphic content since coming to faith (besides those grim details associated with brutal fights and merciless wars), my themes, content, and characters are almost uniformly on the cynical or despairing side. The MC of my novel would be a shoe-in for ‘villain of the year’ award, her squire is a blindly loyal, self-aggrandizing hero-wannabe, and the only good people seem to be a maid and a former thief, and the latter’s bland, humbly self-sacrificing goodness in the present draft bother me tremendously. My hastily constructed entry for the inaugural short story contest was, in a word, “grim.” I often wonder whether the beams of hope that I try to shine in my work look like parody compared to the darkness they are meant to illuminate.
I am slightly less bothered by just how long I can go on tooting the flute of my worries. I really do complain too much.
On a more positive note, since I do have more free time at the moment, I would be glad to review and edit other peoples’ work. Without trying to sound my own trumpet, I know for a fact that I am good for style, dialogue, setting, and tone, and though I seem to unerringly write in the shadows, I am quite happy to read upbeat and optimistic works.
I need smiles and hugs. Pls send help.
Non nobis Domine, sed nomini, Tuo da gloriam.July 4, 2018 at 3:24 pm #40614Buddy J.@wordsmith
Welcome to the embers of light! 🙂 My name is Wordsmith (or at least that’s what they call me). As you have asked for hugs… Here is a hug *sends hug*.
Published author, reader of many books, Student in writing, and Lumenite!July 4, 2018 at 3:40 pm #40615Andrew Schmidt@andrew
@the-inkspiller, welcome to Story Embers!
I write all types of stuff, I don’t have a particular genre I write in. Though I do really like fantasy, because I can make up my own world. I used to write sci-fi more… but whatever! Characters are also fun to come up with. Then you can create your plants, animals, and all the different materials of your world! I once wrote a mystery one too.
You like medieval historical fiction, science-fiction, and fantasy (and sometimes have them all blend together), that’ll be fun to play around with! And happy Writing Day!
"Muhahaha!"- Unknown VillainJuly 4, 2018 at 3:51 pm #40616
@The-inkspiller ooh, another hist-fic writer, nice! What periods do you gravitate toward? And combining historical and science fiction could be awesome. I don’t have a head for science, myself, but I admire people who not only understand it but can make it enjoyable to read about. I suppose everyone read the Ender’s Game series before I did (finished last week), but that’s science fiction which I could get into — in large part because that genre offers lots of potential for good ethical dilemmas and this series did not shy away from that. It was philosophical as much as scientific.
(By the way, should you ever want book recommendations to help keep you from forgetting to read. . . I am here to help.)
On the subject of darkness in fiction, especially books by Christian authours: if the ray of light in the end is stuffed in because your audience or category expects it, and not because it’s natural to the story, that’s as much of a problem as if it isn’t there at all — it will ring false that way, and have the opposite of the intended effect (at least with discerning readers; I do know of some who will tolerate any amount of trash as long as it’s got a “Christian message” tacked on). As far as dark tone and content go, apart from that: what authours or books do you admire, and what’s the darkness like there and how do they handle it? If they are truly masterful at their trade, they’ll be able to go into the kinds of blurry areas which take a lot of discernment and expose the issues for what they are. Have you read the Space Trilogy by Lewis? That Hideous Strength, the last book, is the kind of book I will not read before bed (and this is the kid who at eight years old read The Return of the King and went to bed in the middle of the battle before Minas Tirith, and had no nightmares whatsoever (greatly to the surprise and relief of her parents, I’m sure)). There’s all kinds of evil in it, some incarnate, some as bad ideas spreading around, some as evil powers. The good does win in the end, though it would be quite a stretch to say the good guys are uniformly good — they’re flawed and human and some of them very nearly give in. Ancestral Shadows, by Russell Kirk (the famous Conservative, for those of you who know of his nonfiction) is a book of ghost stories as creepy as anything you might expect in that category — ghosts looking for revenge, ghosts + witchcraft, but always the evil is defeated and the good — even at great cost and when you had no guarantee the good guys would have the strength of character to pull through — always wins. (Some of the ghosts are good guys, sent to exact justice from the still-enfleshed bad guys, which is a nice twist, I think, on the usual ghost story.) Also not a book I’d read right before bed. Still a good book.
When it comes to “good” characters, that is “they’re on the side of right but as far as personal qualities go, they’re different from the bad guys only in the ends for which they fight, not the means they use”, you might well question whether they are good guys at all, if they act that way consistently. Generally a bad guy will have some redeeming qualities, like fidelity to a wife (and did you know Hitler was a vegetarian? Had a moral objection to eating animals), though even human villains sometimes kill the last speck of their conscience (“We all have our flaws,” the Duke said, “and mine is being wicked.”). And the best and noblest people I know all struggle with sin. (I mean, original sin, we still have to live with its effects even after conversion.) But good and evil, the absolute standards by which we judge acts, will not change. So try aligning your characters with the moral framework of your story’s universe, and see where they stand. A good book will raise questions in the reader’s mind about what makes an act or a human good or evil. “The bad guy was going to bomb the city, full of noncombatants and women and children, and the good guys said that was horrible and mustn’t happen — we’ve got to save our families’ lives, and all these innocents — so we’re going to bomb the city he’s in, to prevent that from happening, despite the fact that it’s got women and children in it too. Wait, what?” But at the end of the day the book won’t justify evil acts (the end does not justify the means, never has, never will).
Have you read Tolkien’s On Fairy Stories? A lot of what he says is applicable to more than fairy stories, and it’s one of the things I recommend to every writer, because it’s Tolkien explaining why he looks at writing the way he does, and it’s hard to go wrong with that. It’s available for free online, so no excuses. . .July 4, 2018 at 8:24 pm #40635Brink@nuetrobolt
@northerner, I would read That Hideous Strength before bed, in fact I believe I did read it before bed.
Your story is yours and no one else's. Each sunset is different, depending where you stand. -A. PetersonJuly 4, 2018 at 8:30 pm #40636July 5, 2018 at 8:59 am #40658Thomas (CrØss_Bl₳de)@thewirelessblade
Look at the ink mess you made!
*Hugs computer screen*
You’re welcome. Real quick, though.
“Whoosh whoosh whoosh whoosh” *Sends encouragement*
*Forum Signature here*July 5, 2018 at 9:33 am #40661Parker Hankins@parker
Welcome, @the-inkspiller! You like some interesting genres. Hmm. You offered help to critique others’ work. I could use some of that.
Living in a world of mystery and dangerous predicaments while working with the AWESOME Meraki's.July 5, 2018 at 10:35 am #40664
Thanks for the response everyone (and the hugs!)
@Northerner, thanks for the recommendations and the lengthy post of helpfulness. I downloaded that Tolkien essay and I’m busy going through it while trying to keep up with my writing until I finally leave my job this Friday. I think I should have to look into more of C.S. Lewis’ work to inspire my own so that I’m not stuck in the same ruts for ever and ever.
Regarding your finishing paragraph, covering the goodness of motives and action and playing with the ‘end justifies the means’ – I think I have new ideas for Kyreleis. I might end up having to tell a very different story from the one I began with, but I think telling the story of her change of heart would be more impactful than telling it solely via introspection.
@Parker Hankins I’ll be glad to read and review. You’ll have to give me until the start of next week to start, but shoot me the story via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or via the forums here, and I’ll get on it.
Non nobis Domine, sed nomini, Tuo da gloriam.July 5, 2018 at 11:03 am #40672
@The-inkspiller I’m glad I could help! Also, out of curiosity. . . Kyreleis. . . where does her name come from? Because it looks a lot like it could be a contraction of Kyrie Eleison, which given what you wrote about her in the first post is very interesting. Or just an accident?
And good luck with having to end up writing a very different story from the one you started with. It’s risky and can be painful (always keep a back-up copy of the original, please) but can be an immense improvement.July 5, 2018 at 11:25 am #40674
@Northerner HOLY COW YOU’RE THE FIRST PERSON TO GET IT WITHOUT ME TELLING THEM.
I HAVE PROBLEMS.
What may occur is that I end up writing more episodes of her life from her youth to adulthood, although I do have a tight timeline to work under – from 13 to 29 is the span of her life as a Baroness Regnant over Zmeyorod (her fictional barony in the north of the Kingdom of Bohemia), and 16 years is a short timespan when you’re packing in duplicity and conquest. Previously she had been unwedded throughout her life, the purpose being that she needed to be a ruler in her own right and not through a husband – but I may revise that into her being a self-made widow.
I have no idea what I just said but it sounded smart in my head.
Non nobis Domine, sed nomini, Tuo da gloriam.July 5, 2018 at 11:27 am #40675Evelyn@evelyn
Hi @the-inkspiller! Welcome to Story Embers! (I love your profile name by the way. 🙂 )
I’m Evelyn and some of my story turn out pretty dark too. I try to use it though to contrast great light. Like @northerner mentioned stories don’t have to have explicitly the Christian gospel tacked on at the end but through darkness and how the characters deal with it, light can be shown. Isn’t that in fact the way that as Christians we are commanded to act? (Off the top of my head, makes me think of Matthew 5: 14-16 as well as 1 Timothy 4:12.) It also makes me think of every writer’s advice: Show don’t tell. Through the darkness, show the light.
I know analogies like of light and dark and good and evil are cliched but I still really light physical examples of what can go on spiritually in people’s lives. My current story is even about that.
On a lighter note… what kind of books do you like to read? And how long have you been playing the flute? (I play the piano. 🙂 )July 5, 2018 at 11:29 am #40677Parker Hankins@parker
@evelyn, you posted some great thoughts.
Living in a world of mystery and dangerous predicaments while working with the AWESOME Meraki's.July 5, 2018 at 11:38 am #40681
@Evelyn, thank you for the encouragement. I wish I had more to say at the moment but my brain’s jumping between two entirely different modes of thinking.
As for the flute – I actually don’t play the flute, I was just using the analogy. I played the cello and piano in middle school, but I was never very disciplined in my practice, and my writing felt more important to devote the long hours of practice to – though I hear that there are great mental and artistic benefits to learning instruments.
Books, books, books – I used to read Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, I still intend to finish my Chesterton anthology, I read Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, and I forgot what #4 is called because around the time it came out I was ‘too busy’ to read books. The habit’s in disuse at the moment, but I’m trying to make time for it once I quit my job – and then go to study like mad for my TEAS exam in August. Once nursing school starts in Spring, it’ll be game over for my free time. Unless my writing can bring in income by then, it’s going to have to take a backseat to school and whatever part-time work I can scrounge up so I can propose to and marry my girlfriend.
Also I love Steinbeck, as well as his version of the Knights of the Round Table, Mark Twain (Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court!), and a newfound respect for Shakespeare, particularly Macbeth (which was the instigating spark for Rest for the Wicked).
My grammar is atrocious.
Non nobis Domine, sed nomini, Tuo da gloriam.July 5, 2018 at 12:02 pm #40683Evelyn@evelyn
@the-inkspiller Wow your life sounds busy! (And good luck with your girlfriend! That’s really exciting!! 🙂 )
I’ve read the Inheritance Cycle too and enjoyed it. I also really enjoy Shakespeare, (Macbeth is amazing and I also really like Twelfth Night) but I am not a fan of Mark Twain – especially Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. 🙂
I have to admit that I had to look up the definition of “atrocious.”
I noticed your signature is in Latin. Do you study that language? I do. 🙂
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