Monday, December 28, 2009

Art for The Shard

I love art. As a child I had some small talent at it, but I didn't pursue it. I really admire those who have the talent to create great art. My favorite artist is Alan Lee, though Ted Nasmith and John Howe are not bad also. Obviously, my love for Tolkien bleeds over into my art interest, but I have to say that Alan Lee is just amazing. His colors and subtle attention to detail blow me away.

I have long dreamed, in an ideal world, of being wealthy enough to commission Alan Lee to do loads of art for my novels. Of course, that would never happen. I am trying, though, in some small ways to hunt around for some art that I can afford. I am doing a little search here in Azerbaijan, and a friend of mine has a daughter that wants to take a stab at a painting. I have also hired an artist, named Shane Tyree, to do a scene from my novel. He is very good and seems to be a nice and reasonable fellow. He has similar tastes in fiction as myself, which is what made me try writing to him in the first place.

Today he sent me a position sketch, and I think it is very promising. I can't wait to see what he does with it finally. Naturally, it is too brightly lit for a single torch, but that is just because it is a position sketch. This is a scene where the ancient elf lady Alvanaria enters the lair of the terrible black dragon Kathkalan only to find it has died a natural death. Lord Midas, though frightened half to death, is more than fond of Alvanaria, and so has followed her into the beast's lair (a vast hall inside a deserted city under a mountain). He just about has a heart attack when Alvanaria lights a torch...

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Despite my basic worship of the writing of George R.R. Martin and J.R.R. Tolkien (or anyone with R.R. for middle initials?), my manner of writing is very different from both of them. They tend to write quite significant chapters, telling a full story in each one, while I like writing small chapters. I am not sure that my style works professionally, because I can not think of other writers who use this 'snapshot' style that I like.

I view it as if I am showing photographs, that when shown all together tell a complete story. I don't worry about whether any individual chapter tells a tale or not. The reaction from those who have read the book has been mixed on this element, though mainly positive. Several of the readers have specifically told me how much they liked the short chapters. It was only when I tried the Share Your Work pages on Absolute Write that I got some negative comments.

These comments basically stated that my small chapters did not have enough character development. I don't disagree that this is the case; I just disagree that it is necessary. I prefer to be faithful to my Point of View character and describe things completely realistically, and thus have my character development spread out through multiple snapshot chapters. I can't, for instance, have Midas describe himself in his intro chapter, because he is the POV character. He also is not in the mood to be talkative (not to mention it is not in his character to be so) given the scene he is viewing, so I can't develop much of his character through dialogue in that intro chapter either.

So, a critic may ask why even include that chapter? Well, to me the point of my snapshot chapters is to hit important moments, and what could be more important at the beginning of a book than to show the moments that completely changed the life of the POV character? When Midas is gazing at the dead at the edge of the forest, he knows that the 800 years of peace the lands have known is cracking, if not shattering completely, and he is internally despairing, because nothing matters more to him at that time than to raise his sons and daughter to be healthy, happy people.

Is it wrong to do snapshot chapters? I honestly would like to know. I do it because it feels natural to me, and I enjoy unfolding the story in this manner. But, I can see why many readers could be put off by it.