Filler, The Foreigner and Protagonists

I just watched the Foreigner, Jackie Chan’s latest Western film.  It was decent, though significantly less action oriented than his previous owrk. No surprise there, he is getting old.  It did have some serious acting by all involved and was quite decent in that regard.

However, Jackie Chan was a filler protagonist. After watching the entire movie, I was left with the realisation that nearly nothing that Jackie Chan’s character did actually had any effect on the plot / the bad guys. If we removed him from the entire plot, nearly everything would have played out very similar to what happened.  The bad guys would have been caught and punished (in one form or another).

He was, as mentioned, a filler protagonist.  Now, filler scenes / episodes are pretty common especially int erms of TV series / any on-going medium. You see it a lot in Anime TV series like Naruto or Cowboy Bebop or even in the Adventurer’s Heart.  In many cases, these scenes are either to flesh out characters or just to change the tone / mood.  I am, not surprisingly, not opposed to filler episodes, especially when they are done in moderation.

However, a filler protagonist is not moderation in my view.  The protagonist needs to have an effect, if not on the main ‘plot’, on the small portion of the plot the character is involved in.  Daniel in the Healer’s Gift might not change the course of the battle with the Orcs, but he does effect the small portion of the fight he is involved in.  Jackie Chan’s character, while getting the revenge he sought, ends up not affecting the plot at all.

Contrast this to Taken which is another revenge story where Liam Neeson’s character exacts his revenge and gets his daughter back.  At the end of the day, the difference is scope – the Foreigner attempts to showcase Pierce Brosnan and other sides of the story, attempting to give us a broader scope of the story.  I believe if they had focused instead much more on Jackie Chan and his story, we would have had a better overall film rather than a weird story that just didn’t satisfy in the end.

Paperback released!

I have just uploaded the paperback version of Life in the North: An Apocalyptic LitRPG.

There won’t be a paperback version of A Healer’s Gift or An Adventurer’s Heart but once I am able to create a box set for that, I’ll create a paperback version.  Since each of those books are only 40-50k each, I figure a full paperback of all 3 would make sense.

The other thing is the cost of producing paperbacks.  Just to get the backcover images, it cost an additional $100.  Now, knowing that each 1,000 eBooks I sell, I (might) sell a single paperback copy, you can see how it would take a VERY long time for covers to be paid back.

Thus, only producing for the System Apocalypse series for now.

Exclusive Side Stories

I’d like to write a short story or two that’s exclusive for our newsletter readers.  On that note, what would you like to see?  Options that come to mind are:

  • An Asin (Tales on Brad) side story
  • A Lara (System Apocalypse) side story
  • A Roxley (System Apocalypse) side story

I considered and have actually decided against writing the background of what happened to the poor ambassador on Earth.  There are a few reasons:

  • I want to keep a little mystery in the universe
  • I’m deathly afraid of a prequel mess-up.  Literally anything I write will not be as good as what you had in mind.  I know I was incredibly disappointed when the prequels came out because for me, the Clone Wars were this huge, amazing battle that happened hundreds of years ago.   Then we got the prequels.  And somehow, the magic was lost.  While I’m not writing Star Wars, sometimes, the reader’s imaginations are better than anything we can write.

Leave a comment for what you’d like to see.  I do not promise the stories would be written anytime soon… but they will be written.

Writing Update

Should be getting the proofread copy of Life in the North this weekend.  I shall edit and upload the new version ASAP and we will finally have a fully edited and ‘clean’ copy.  Kind of excited.

Redeemer of the Dead is in editing right now.  Nothing to report.

An Adventurer’s Heart is now available on iBooks, Kobo, B&N and Google Play as well as Amazon.

Book 3 of the Tales on Brad series is being written. I’m about 1/3 done on the first draft.

And that’s about it…

Newsletters & Social Media

If you haven’t seen it, look to the left and you’ll see a newsletter.  At some point, I promise to release some exclusive short stories and content to newsletter subscribers.  I’ve already written portions of some of my short-stories that need to be posted, so if you enjoyed any of those, do subscribe!

Secondly, did you know there is a Facebook page?  It’s true.  It’s at https://www.facebook.com/taowongauthor/

 

The anatomy of a book

Let me start by pointing out that this is my process, not others.  However, currently this is the way a book for me is created along with the timelines of development.

Action Timeline Notes
Plot Outline 1 I generally put together a rough plot outline.  This is actual writing time to put it on paper.  By the time I’m ready to write a plot outline, I’ve got a shaky idea of what is going to happen already.  However, writing it down often crystalizes my thoughts.  I’m an exploratory writer though, so what is written in a plot outline and what ends up on paper can be quite different.
First Draft 2,000 words a day I write approximately 2,000 words a day if I’m focused.  For the System Apocalypse books, each book is roughly 90,000 words.  That works out to about 45 days of straight writing.  At best, that’s a month and a half if I don’t hit any writing blocks.
Break 1 week Taking a small break lets me re-read the book fresh.  Often, I’ll be editing or writing a new book during this period.  This break lets my brain ‘reset’ and find gaps in the plot to fill in or to review the second draft.
Second Draft Approx 5,000 words a day For 90k words, that’s approximately 18 days. 5k words is actually a bit conservative here, I often end up getting obesses with fixing things and do more.
Beta Readers 2 weeks I give my Beta Readers 2 weeks to check out the book.  The last time, they all came back to me within 4 days.  Good beta readers are so important – they can tell me if I’m doing something really silly with the plot.  Or they find plot holes for things I forgot about.
Revising 2nd Draft 2 – 3 days Often, there’s a few scenes that need to be brushed up or new scenes to write.  Redeemer of the Dead saw me writing 2 new scenes from comments and rewriting about another half-dozen
Professional Editing Variable.  Often 2-3 weeks minimum At this point, I’m ready to send it to my editor.  I do NOT use a development editor at this time (who offers professional critique of the book’s plot / etc.).  Mostly, they are doing line editing and proof-reading.  I have to book editors weeks in advance, sometimes months.  In Redeemer of the Dead’s case, it’ll take about a month from when they are booked to start
Third Draft 3-5 days Again, this is variable.  The editor comes back with fixes, I go through the document and fix issues.  Depending on the level of editing (and who I’m using), I might get notes about scenes that need fixing which means I’ll be writing new scenes or fixing older scenes.

Now, there are a bunch of things that can happen in-between:

  • Alpha readers might be brought in.  Sometimes, as a writer you have no idea if you’re on the right course.  Alpha readers who end up reading a REALLY rough draft get to check that
  • Developmental Editing is an option that happens after the First Draft (or perhaps even during the course of the book).  I don’t do that because I’m poor and paying $0.08 per word would make the book cost US$7,000 before it was even published.
  • Multiple readthroughs / edits for the 1st / 2nd draft might occur.  I occasionally pull out the book before I send it to the editor for more fixing.  Often this is to fix phrasing / clumsy sentence construction.
  • Writer’s block & burn-out.  Yeah, writing at this pace can be a lot.  So taking a few dysy off happens.  Sometimes I run away and spend a weekend reading and with the family.
  • Work!  I do have a day-job and if that eats up my time / energy, writing slows down.

You can see how writing really varies depending on length of book and inspiration.

 

Again, remember, this is my own process.  It also is evolving constantly.  When I first started writing, there was no plot outline, no professional editing.  It was just write for the fun of it.

Questions? Comments?

Author page and Blog for Tao Wong