Posts Tagged The Machiavel

Your Protagonist Does Not Need to be a Hero

8 July 2011

Really, they don’t. They don’t need to be an anti-hero, either. Protagonist doesn’t mean “good guy,” it means the main character, the lead, the person who does the most stuff. Greek words are nifty that way. Your main character doesn’t have to be likable, either. At least not in a “I’d be happy to sit down at dinner with that person, she seems swell” sort of way. They can’t irritate the reader so much as to be unreadable, but they can be a jerk, or evil, or both. Let’s face it, heroes have gotten boring and a little unbelievable. And in fantasy writing, loosing the audience’s suspension of disbelief is a bad thing. While there is perhaps a need for the better than us all sort of hero there is also a need for the just like me or worse protagonist who comes out in the end not to save the day but just to come out in the end.


I have both kinds of protagonists in my writing. On the one hand there is Dr. Ezekiel Jones, exorcist and all around good guy. He, like Harry Dresden, tries to do the right thing, even if it puts himself in harms way. On the other hand there is Marcus Faust, demonologist, sorcerer and assassin. He is officially not a good person. He does what is necessary to live to see the next day, and if he can kill off someone whose been harassing him in the process, so much the better. He’s rich, arrogant and powerful, and he knows it. He’s also a really fun character. Not that Ezekiel isn’t, but Marcus, due to a Grosse Point Blankian moral compass, is capable of doing things Ezekiel isn’t.

Because Ezekiel is a hero. Marcus is a villain.

Short Stories

27 February 2011

Oh, if you haven’t done so already, check out my short story “Fortune’s Fool”. It is available in the short stories section of the website. A new one, “Withering on the Virgin Thorn”, will likely be available tomorrow. If you love them, or me, or like clicking buttons, be sure to hit the “like” button on the story’s page.

The story thus far.

21 July 2010

It was a dark and stormy . . . er, never mind.

Alrighty, where are we then? Not existentially, of course, that’s a different blog. In the world of Ezekiel Jones . . . well, let’s not talk about that now. There may, or may not, be news on that in the future. Maybe.

Marcus Faust, then. I have one last set of edits to go through on The Machiavel. It should only take a few days. So far I’ve knocked 500 words off of the book, about 3500 fewer than Ezekiel I, even though I ran them both through the same editing process. Practice does make perfect-ish.

What does this mean? It means I’m getting close to needing some beta readers.

What’s a beta reader you ask? They’re like alpha readers, but get a more polished version of the manuscript. The alphas get to see it in a sorry state, after some rough editing but little else. They get to hack and slash their way through the jungle of my mind, helping me cut out the utterly useless clutter that’s hiding in the corners.

Beta readers, on the other hand, get something a bit nicer, even if their job is essentially the same. A beta reader still looks for the things I’ve missed (spelling, punctuation, crappy grammar, etc.) and is also looking for things like plot holes, continuity errors, etc. Stuff the alphas have looked for but might have missed while wading through the rest of the debris. In theory a beta reader’s job is easier, I should have caught most of the stuff already. So why is beta reading necessary? Because I and the alphas can’t catch everything. Its like reading your own work; you already know what it says, so in your head it makes sense, even if it doesn’t to anyone else.

What is the awesome reward of being a beta (or alpha) reader? There is, of course, the knowledge that you’ve helped your fellow human, but mostly its your name in the acknowledgments. There might be a signed book in the offing, but that’s assuming I sell the bloody thing and I get more than one copy for myself . . . we’ll have to see.

So, that being said, I’m hunting for beta readers. Let’s go with five, because its a nice number, very pentagonal. If you’re insane enough to be interested (i.e. you’re seeing the fnords), please reply here. You know, so I can keep the awe inspiring numbers of fanatical legions all in one place.

Wherein I blather on about writing. Predictable, huh?

12 June 2010

Okay, let’s talk about where things are and where things are hopefully going, shall we?

The first draft (which is really like the third or fourth draft; I do a lot of editing while I’m writing) of is done and in the hands of the alpha readers (who really should come up with a cool name for themselves). In its current form the book is just over 101k words; some 380 MS pages in length. So they will read and get out the red pens and go to town on all the things I missed the first four or five times. And yes, I missed stuff. Its almost impossible not to. I told my students the same thing when I assigned them term papers. Once you’ve written something you tend to gloss over things when you re-read; after all, you already know what it says. After the alpha readers are done looking at the really crappy version of the book and I’ve fixed things I’ll possibly ask for volunteers for beta readers. They’ll get a somewhat less crappy version of the book and find all the things that I and the alphas missed. And so it goes.

So, what do I do while waiting for critiques to come back? Well, I’ve been painting, but I’m also working on the next Machiavel, tentatively titled Something Wicked. I like to write after all. I’m also eventually going to start going through The Machiavel again. There is at least one troll joke I want to add in and I’m sure I’ll catch even more things that don’t make sense. At nearly 400 pages, continuity errors happen.

What does this mean? It means, amongst other things, that by the time The Machiavel (which may not be its final title) is sent out to agents it will probably have undergone 10-20 drafts. If (when) accepted by an agent it may undergo more and if (when) bought by an editor it will definitely undergo more. How many? I have no idea, I haven’t gotten that far yet. I’ll let you know when I do.

Who’s writing this thing, anyway?

10 April 2010

As it turns out, it’s not always me. I’ve always kind of known that, but generally its a bit of give and take. Sometimes my ideas are better, sometimes the characters know what they’re about. Sometimes we’re both right, just not at the same time. Remember those 30k words I took out of The Machiavel a few months back? I reused some of them, because they were perfectly good words (especially the participles). The rest may get used in another book. Maybe. But those 30k words were where the characters wanted to go. Their story just wasn’t appropriate just then.

Today I realized that where I thought the book was going, and where the characters were taking it, were in relatively opposite direction. “Relatively” here meaning “precisely.” And you know what? The characters are right on this one. This time, anyway. Sure, I got them moving in the right direction, but their plan, I think, will work better. So I guess that means it’s their turn to get me moving in the right direction.

I think I have to refer to the original question: Who’s writing this thing, anyway?

Moving Along and a Contest!

1 March 2010

Well, after axing 30k words from The Machiavel I’ve almost regained 10k of them. Its been a slow week for writing but things should pick up presently.

So, no onto something you want to read about.

In an effort to get some more people on the Facebook fan page its contest time! For those of you on the fan page already, you know I’ve designed the seals for both the Circle of Harmony and the Circle of the Bridal Chamber, two magical groups that are part of the Academy, the group Ezekiel Jones and Olivia Monroe belong to in Agrippa’s Heart.

So, I will give away a t-shirt to both the 100th member of the fan page and the person (if any) who recommends them to join. The winners will get to pick the design and color from the Zazzle site (which is from where I will order them). Each shirt will have either the Harmony or Bridal Chamber seal on the front and the name of the Circle and “Agrippa’s Heart” on the back.

Once the winner(s) have been determined I, or Olivia, will get in contact with them and make an announcement about it on the fan site and here in the Tome.

So, what do you think? Want a free shirt?

It’s not just about story telling

19 February 2010

It’s about telling the right story, too. I just axed 30k words from THE MACHIAVEL, which is about half of what I’d written. They were a fairly good 30k words too. I liked them, they told a good story. They just didn’t tell this story. It was too complex. It was a good story for a third or fourth book, moving into an overall story arc. I like story arcs. I’m a Joss Whedon and J. Michael Straczynski fan, after all. But it wasn’t right for this first book, which needs to be more visceral and just plain mean. Marcus is not good people and he’s not a hero. I mean, he’s an assassin who kills people with demons. So, 30k gone and a hundred or so re-written to re-finish the end the chapter where things went off. Time to get moving again.

Moving along then

8 February 2010

Work continues. All three of the sample chapters of AGRIPPA’S HEART are now up, as is a little profile of Ezekiel. I’ll probably trickle in other profiles through the week and might even get a bit on the Academy up and running. Eventually I want to do some cool-looking map thing that shows where each of the Circles of the Academy are located. You know, something Renaissance looking, ’cause I roll that way. That’ll be about it, then, until I get THE MACHIAVEL finished.

If you have any friends who like Urban Fantasy or occult fiction, please pimp the site, the FB page and Olivia’s twitter out to them!