My guest today is Fantasy author Tyler F.M. Edwards! His most recent novel, The Books of the World Spectrum, will be published soon. He has some great insights into how to effectively (and not effectively) write in the budding fantasy genre.
If you are interested in participating in the program, you can submit here.
Tyler F.M. Edwards
1. Tell us your name, and a link to where we can find you (blog, Facebook, etc).
Tyler F.M. Edwards. Yes, two middle names. Parents got trigger happy with the baby name book. You can learn more about my books at http://worldspectrum.net/ or follow my freelancing work and general interests at http://superiorrealities.wordpress.com/
2. How many books have you written? This can include both published and unpublished works. Describe each of them in 1-2 sentences apiece (if published, feel free to include the links as well).
The Books of the World Spectrum (releasing through Smashwords in the coming weeks):
Children of the Gods: Still reeling from the return of the Old Gods, humanity encounters a corrupted offshoot of their race, and the resulting conflict threatens to destroy what good remains in the humanity.
Human Again: Not much I can say about this one without massively spoiling the first two, but I’ll say that it’s a more personal, character-driven story, and it deals with the aftermath of preceding books.
The Reordering series (not a final title):
Reordering: Separated for thousands of years, two disparate human races must come together to save themselves from a terrifying magical cataclysm.
The New Order: With the world tearing itself apart, the race is on to defeat the ruthless Sky King and restore the natural order of things.
Plus a couple books I’ve never finished.
3. Tell me a little bit about your current WIP.
I just finished the first draft of Human Again a few days ago, so I’m between projects at the moment. My focus for the immediate future is on promoting the World Spectrum books, and once I’ve let it settle, I’ll go back and edit/proofread Human Again.
I’m not sure what I’ll be writing next. I have rough ideas for more World Spectrum novels, but I’ve written five books with the “magitech” theme now, and I’d like to go back to some more traditional high fantasy. I might work on something new, or I might go back and finish some projects that I abandoned in the past.
4. What does writing preparation look like for you? Do you do full outlines and character profiles, or do you just start with a general idea and write?
It depends, really. When I first started out, I was militant about preparation, methodically planning out each scene and character beforehand. Later, I went to the opposite extreme and didn’t plan ahead at all. These days, it’s usually a little of both. I find both techniques have their strengths and their weaknesses.
If I’m writing in a universe I’m familiar with, I tend to plan less. I’m already comfortable with the world and characters, so the story can evolve naturally. If it’s something new, I might do a bit more in the way of outlining and writing down bios for the characters beforehand.
5. Editing is a challenge for many writers. Give us some of your tips for editing efficiently and well.
I’m a bit weird in that I do very little editing. I work very hard on making everything right on the first draft. I know conventional wisdom says you should just let the creative juices flow on the first draft and worry about making things perfect later, but I find it extremely tedious to work that way.
My technique means I write very slowly, but that time is made up by rarely needing to do much more than a basic proofread and line edit after the first draft.
Anyway, end result is that I don’t have a lot of good advice on editing.
6. Research is another challenge writers face, but is an important part of the writing process. What are some of your research tips?
I write almost exclusively in secondary world fantasy settings, so research is a relatively small part of what I do.
My main piece of advice, I suppose, would be to write to your strengths. Minimize the amount of research you need to do by writing on subjects you’re already interested in. Even if you do have to research, it will be easy, because you’ll be learning about something you’re interested in.
Otherwise, just use whatever resources are available to you. Google, the library, friends and family. They’re all useful. I once had an acquaintance who was one of those anachronist types. As someone who actually gets into sword fights on a regular basis, she was a useful resource on improving my own fight scenes.
7. If you have been published (self or traditionally), what type of marketing did you find worked the best for you? What was the least helpful?
I’m just starting to look into how to publicize my books. Congrats, actually; you’re my first major attempt at marketing.
Ask me again in a year or so, and I’ll tell you how well it worked.
8. What genre do you write in? What are some of the challenges to writing this particular genre well?
I write fantasy almost exclusively. More specifically, my books to date have been in the vein of magitech/science fantasy, meaning I merge traditional sci-fi concepts with a high fantasy universe. Magic robots, man. Magic flippin’ robots.
The main challenge in fantasy is keeping everything logical and consistent. I frequently encounter the perception that you can just do whatever you want in fantasy and explain everything off as “because magic” or “a wizard did it.”
You need to think through all of your fantastical elements. You need to make sure they are consistent, logical, and verisimilar. You need to think about the consequences of everything you’ve come up with and how it will shape societies.
Fantasy affords you the freedom to create whatever kind of world you want, but once that world is created, you need to work within its limits. At that point, you’re as bounded by logic and consistency as someone writing a story set in the real world.
It’s an odd example to draw, but I always think of the “plate bikini” issue in fantasy art and video games. A lot of people argue that it doesn’t matter that such armor is unrealistic, because magic. They say you can protect yourself with enchantments or talismans. But these people have fundamentally misunderstood or ignored what makes good fantasy. If armor exists in a universe, it has a reason to. If an enchantment was all you needed, armor — even skimpy armor — wouldn’t exist at all.
That’s logically inconsistent, and it’s that kind of lazy writing that fantasy writers need to avoid.
Apologies for the long answer.
9. What advice would you give to a writer who is starting out?
If you really want to become good at writing, you need to accept that it’s a job, not a joy.
That’s not to say that you’re not allowed to enjoy yourself. If you’re doing a good job, you probably will have fun sometimes. But the point is that your enjoyment is not the goal. It’s a side effect.
Your goal is to create the best stories possible — stories that other people will enjoy and want to read. That means a lot of hard work. That means you have to write even when you’re tired, even when you’re stressed, even if you don’t believe in yourself, and even if you don’t have any good ideas at the moment. It’s a craft like any other, and you need to put in the work if you want to be good at it.
On the plus side, I believe writers are made, not born. I think that nearly anyone can become a good writer if they are willing to put in the work — though it may be harder for some than for others.
But no matter who you are, writing is hard work. You need to accept that a lot of blood, sweat, and tears goes into making a good story.
10. What are your writing, editing, marketing, and research goals for 2013?
To get as many people to read the World Spectrum books as humanly possible.
11. Pretend I am from a publishing house and you are looking for me to take on one of your books. Pitch it to me in 1-2 paragraphs.
Ugh, I suck at these. Here goes…
Rage of the Old Gods is based on the premise that humanity was not born free. They were created to be slaves to the Old Gods. Though they defeated their masters in ancient times, that legacy still haunts them. The corruption of the Old Gods whispers in their hearts, turning them against each other.
Rage of the Old Gods is very much an action adventure novel, full of dangerous journeys to bizarre alien worlds and epic battles, but it also attempts to raise deeper questions. What is the true nature of humanity? Are we essentially good, or are we doomed to endlessly repeat the mistakes of the past?
12. Finally, is there anything else you would like your readers to know?
There is a black, icy void where my soul is supposed to be, and the only thing that can fill it is the adoration of others, so please read my books.