Another character chemistry archetype

Years ago, I wrote a post about character chemistry archetypes in which I defined the five most prominent character relationship archetypes I could think of. I thought of another one while watching the recently released film Big Hero 6 (which was a good movie, by the way):

The Human and the Inhuman / Less-human

Examples: Baymax and Hiro, Toothless and Hiccup, Stitch and Lilo, ET and Elliott, Terminator 2 and John Connor, The Iron Giant and the kid in that movie, Groot and Peter Quill & company, Ludo and Sarah in Labyrinth

In this relationship, one character is clearly human (or at least more human-like), while the other is less human. The less-human character might be an animal, a robot, an alien, or even a human with, for example, a mental disorder that makes him more difficult to relate to. These characters usually communicate differently; they may have limited vocabularies or be completely mute. They are often closer to nature than the human character; they may have a special relationship with plants or animals (or even rocks in Ludo’s case). They may have a healer’s touch, in the case of E.T. and Baymax. Often the human character will try to teach the corresponding less-human character how to be more human, sometimes with humorous results. On the other hand, the less-human character will often teach the human character something important with his unrelenting loyalty, courage, persistence, and willingness to sacrifice himself for others. In this way, the less-human character, while he may be difficult to relate to and simple and ignorant in many regards, is also closer to the divine. In fact, in stories in which these relationships are at the center of the plot, it’s the less-human character who often gets the “martyr beat” instead of the main character. In Big Hero 6, Terminator 2, The Iron Giant, E.T., and even Guardians of the Galaxy, these less-human characters sacrifice themselves to save the main character (sometimes resurrecting, sometimes not). How to Train Your Dragon is interesting because Toothless and Hiccup actually share the martyr beat.

These human / less-human character relationships can be quite powerful when well-written. I think the reason they can work so well is that the less-human character represents something already inside the main character that the main character must learn to reconnect with. That is, the less-human characters leads the human character to a needed self-discovery.

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Morrowgrand redesign


I spent most of the weekend redesigning Morrowgrand, which is intended mainly to host news and information for the products I release (as opposed to the informal blathering I do on this and my other blog). I ended keeping WordPress installed and modifying an existing theme that was simple and elegant. I think the results came out very nicely.

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Son of a Dark Wizard ebook release!

I have finally released Son of a Dark Wizard as a free ebook on Smashwords!

It’s also on Amazon Kindle!

A CreateSpace print-on-demand physical version is also almost ready. I’m just waiting for the proof to arrive in the mail, and then I’m sure I’ll tweak some things.

There are still some other things I need to do to get my whole “indie-published author” brand setup online. I’ve claimed a Goodreads author page, which I’m waiting for approval for. I need a nice photo of myself taken to upload to various sites. I need to create an Amazon author page. I need to redesign the Morrowgrand website. On my Facebook page, I changed myself from being a “musician / composer” to being an “author”, which I hope won’t too greatly anger the few people who’ve followed the page for my music.

I’ll admit this whole attempt at indie-publishing is a bit awkward. For example, you’ll notice that I refer to it as “indie-publishing” rather than “self-publishing”; even though they’re the same thing, the latter term is, for me, still tainted with the connotation of a wannabe author’s failure to find an agent. (Or perhaps I should say impatience with finding an agent?) Then there’s the issue of how “promotey” I should be; blathering about my fiction can feel like I’m trying too hard to get attention. (I guess that’s always a weird feeling when you’re trying to promote yourself.) And finally there’s that disconcerting feeling I get as I browse the competition, as I look through other people’s self-published books. It’s easy to feel hints of fear and doubt. Can my work actually compete with the established indie authors and popular books that are doing well? Is my storytelling actually as awful as some other self-published work out there? Will my work simply get lost and buried in the vast competition?

At the same time, though, there are indie-publishing success stories out there, and the rational part of my mind says there’s really no reason I shouldn’t be one of them if I can just be thoughtful, persistent, and patient enough.

Anyway, I’ll continue to work on these various author-online-brand things over the weekend. Then I should finally be able to get back to some writing projects!

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Son of a Dark Wizard cover reveal

This is still technically a mock-up, as I might do some minor tweaking to the lettering, but the final cover for Son of a Dark Wizard will look something like this:

Son of a Dark Wizard cover

For comparison, here is the rather crude illustration I drew to let artist Jonas Akerlund know what I was going for. My drawing is bad, but all the elements are there: the main character, his raven, the owl, the moons, the castle, the airship. The awesome artist Jonas was able to take this and a written description and turn it into the fantastically epic illustration above.

Cover Sketch

I’m currently eyeing January 2nd, 2015 (two weeks from today) as the release date.

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Son of a Dark Wizard gets an illustrated cover!

I recently commissioned an illustration for my forthcoming book Son of a Dark Wizard from artist Jonas Akerlund. I’m not revealing the cover illustration in this particular blog post, but I’ll post it here soon; I just have to work on the title lettering for it. You can rest assured, though, that it looks appropriately mysterious and fantastical. I’m very excited to have it as the cover! I’m hoping it will generate some “hmmm-that-looks-interesting” thumbnail clicks. Since this will mark my first foray into wildly-competitive world of indie-publishing, I’m hoping it will help make a good first impression with book browsers.

The book itself will be officially released some time in January. (It’ll be mostly the same as the draft posted now on Morrowgrand, with some minor edits. I’ll remove that draft when the book’s released, though, especially since the whole Morrowgrand website needs to be redesigned. As it really only needs to host product information pages, I don’t think a full-blown WordPress installation is necessary.) As I’ve said before, as the first of a series, the book will be free. (Well, at least free on Smashwords; Amazon’s Kindle publishing won’t let you make it free.) My intent with this novel is not so much to make a profit as it is to help me start building an audience. I know earning a regular income from indie-publishing will take time.

As for the accompanying soundtrack, it might take a bit longer. I have all the main themes written, but I want to do more experimentation in terms of harmony and orchestration and really try to expand my musical palette. Not sure how successful I’ll be, but I figure it’s worth taking my time on.

So check back soon to see the cover! In the meantime, enjoy the holiday season!

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Son of a Dark Wizard release

I have started posting my upper middle grade fantasy novel, Son of a Dark Wizard (previously referred to as The Dark Wizard) over on Morrowgrand.

Summary: Thirteen year old Prince Sorren may have survived the vicious attack on his castle, but the young wizard’s life is left in ruins. His father’s been assassinated, he was forced to flee his castle, and he lost his left arm. But after using his powers to build himself a fully-functioning mechanical arm, he’s ready to take back his throne. He doesn’t care if his father’s assassin is a boy believed to be the Chosen One, or if the prophecy that foretold his father’s death also calls for his own death at the same boy’s hands. He steals an airship and sets sail in search of the boy, eager to battle the Chosen One face to face.

But when he’s almost killed by the weapon the Chosen One possesses, Sorren realizes even a dark wizard’s powers are no match for what he’s up against. Pretending to be a powerless traveler, Sorren explores a forest called Owl’s Grave, where lives the small community of outcasts that raised the Chosen One. With the Chosen One determined to fulfill the prophecy by killing Sorren and taking over the kingdom, Sorren will have to look beyond his power if he’s to have any chance of defeating the boy who destroyed his life. And the answer he’s looking for is probably right under his nose, there in Owl’s Grave, if only he can find it before the Chosen One finds him.

I don’t expect many (if any) readers to actually read the novel as I post it to Morrowgrand, but if by chance anyone does and finds any typos, grammatical errors, continuity issues, etc., it would be awesome if you could email such feedback to me at seanthebest(at)gmail(dot)com. If you do, I’ll acknowledge your name in the ebook / physical book, and mail you a free copy of the physical book along with a CD of the score as a thank you (when they’re ready for release).

My current plan is to release the entire novel on Morrowgrand, chapter by chapter. Then I’ll release a free ebook to places like Smashwords, followed by a companion musical score, which I’ll upload to bandcamp and release a physical CD (probably through Kunaki or a similar low-run CD replication service). Finally, I’ll release a physical copy of the book through CreateSpace.

I will post a chapter on Morrowgrand every day until all 27 chapters are posted. So the last chapter should be released on Saturday, December 6th. I’m going to try to have the companion musical score ready to release at that time, but it may take some extra weeks. (I just got a new part time job, and I’m putting in an application for a full time job, so I’m not sure how much free time I’ll have. Plus, November to December is holiday and birthday season here.)


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Stormground, update 4

I still haven’t finished plotting this thing! But I’m getting closer. I’ve plotted the ending, so I’m now working backwards and forwards to connect the end and the middle. Writing will commence whenever I finish. (I’m currently focusing more on a sort of freelance programming project.)

While I still haven’t finished plotting, my friend and I did finally finish our co-authored short stories (one turning out to be a novelette). I’m really pleased with how they came out; they are definitely not stories I could’ve written on my own. Our co-writing process took a bit too long (almost eight months for two stories), but they are much more polished than anything I’ve written on my own.

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Stormground, update 3

Still plotting away on this novel. I spent yesterday plotting my way through the novel’s midsection; I think the midpoint came together very well. The four main characters are following their own paths, which all then collide at the midpoint. I’ll be very excited to actually start writing! But first I must plot out the novel’s second half, which will also be complicated due to the attention needed to make the four character story lines collide once more in an exciting climax.

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Stormground, update 2

I had to restart plotting Stormground from scratch. My previous plot featured a character who just wasn’t working, just wasn’t fitting in with the other characters and whose actions and plot arc were making everything else difficult. So he’s out. (He may show up later in the series, or get his own series.) He’s been replaced with another character who I think is a better fit for the spirit of the book.

Anyway, I’m still plotting. This is one of the most complicated stories I’ve ever plotted. (Not that I’ve plotted enormous amounts of material.) There are four main characters whose storylines all affect each other’s. I’m giving each character about sixteen scenes, four for each of the story’s four acts. Since each scene will likely be its own chapter, the entire book will have about sixty-four chapters. Each chapter should be around one to two-thousand words, so we’re looking at a novel between 64K and 128K words, though of course I’m going to try to keep it on the shorter side.

So far, I’ve only finished plotting the first act. I’m working on plotting the second act right now.

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Stormground, update 1

Woohoo, the beginning of updates for a new novel!

Stormground is my tentative title for the first book in my new fantasy series, Moonrise Ink. I’m still in the plotting phase, which is proving tricky. The plot is more complicated than both The Dark Wizard and the previous incarnation of Moonrise Ink. The last novels I plotted that were this complicated were left incomplete. So we’ll see how it goes. There are four point-of-view characters, all of them teenagers, and I’m guessing this will be more of a YA / adult novel, not middle grade. Anyway, their storylines all weave in and out of each other, so it takes a good bit of organizing to make sure everything fits together. I’m in the scene-planning phase of plotting, which means I’m deciding what each scene will consist of and how they’ll be organized. It’s easy to start imagining how a scene might play out, and it’s tempting to rush through this phase just to get to the writing. I’m restraining myself though.

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