July - December 2020

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Name July - December 2020
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Date July 1, 2020
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Entries 31
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#1 Copy

Kommunist Keth the Kandra

Ok so hear me out on this one. I've been noticing a trend in will's books. first we had traveller's gate. orphan main character. Then Elder Empire. Calder only has his mother. Then Cradle. Lindon has both parents. next series traveller's blade or something will likely feature both parents as well as another parental figure in simon, unless im drunk again

Will Wight

No joke, I try to switch up how many parents the main characters have to avoid the “every hero is an orphan” thing.By which I mean yes, the next main character I write will be born from the fusion of six individuals who all combined their DNA in a cloning spell gone wrong.

#2 Copy

True Ruler of None

What are the chances that in the process of writing 7 books of Cradle the conclusion and outline in Will head of OKAK changed ?

Will Wight

Tbh, the scenes with Ozriel are now a lot less elaborate than they were in the original outline.   As I originally envisioned, all the pre-chapter text in Kings was going to be excerpts from a conversation Ozriel was having with Sector 11 Control. Where they had brought him in because the Elders were loose so he was supposed to erase the Iteration, but he kept jerking them around as Sector Control became more and more panicked over the course of the book.   Until they finally appeal to another Judge who basically goes “Idk guys, we can’t control him either.”   And then only at the end does the situation become dire enough for him to actually be willing to do his job, and then the good guys resolve it right before.   I actually wrote out most of that conversation screenplay style.It’s saved on my phone from my original OKAK notes from 2015.My only reluctance for [releasing] that kind of thing is that it wouldn’t be edited at all. It’s literally off-the-cuff dialogue thoughts from 2015. And I know you might say “Oh that’s okay, we don’t care, any content is interesting!” but there will always be that guy who goes through and points out the issues in the comments.   There’s always some guy.
#3 Copy

Madeline

I would love to see more of Lindon updating the Path of Twin Stars manual, like he did in the first few books. Not having that seems so weird, given that a big part of his background is the fact that up until the last few years he was not considered worthy of being taught a Path, and now he is forging one of his own. It feels like him taking a moment to write down what he's learned is something that was cut in the editting process, but in the process, the Lindon of the last few books has gone through changes that don't make sense, as there's never a reason given for NOT having those scenes anymore. Even a throwaway couple of paragraphs of "wow the last year or so has gone by in a blur and I haven't had the opportunity to update this even though I was previously determined to add to the Path manual immediately to get my thoughts down right away, it seemed like with the later techniques I really should perfect them first" would go a long way towards explaining what otherwise makes no sense.

Will Wight

That's actually a good example of something that I don't think is necessary to explain at all.In Uncrowned, he takes notes on things several times. In Underlord, he's repeatedly referring to and studying notes. And in all the previous books, we've seen him again and again take notes on everything he learns.Why would that be shown every time?To me, this is like having a character with a beloved car, and in the first few books there are specific scenes showing him in the car. In later books, those scenes don't show up as much, because he's established as someone who loves his car.I don't see those reminders as particularly necessary.

#4 Copy

Kris

The Uncrowned timeline is all over the place, specifically about Yerin and Lindon's calls.

Will Wight

This timeline thing was interesting!I pulled up my Uncrowned timeline, and I compared it against what's in the book, and I figured out what the issue is. Well, what the issues are.1.) "five times in the last week"That was just me using "the last week" as an approximation. Of course I know every other day for a week =/= 5, but in my mind Lindon wasn't being precise.I still should have phrased that better to prevent confusion, though.2.) It hasn't been just one week, it's been months.That week he was referring to wasn't the first week, it was the latest one.I had intended to convey that BY showing that the fight against the other Underlords is the next day, so it's clearly been months, because we established already that this wasn't going to happen for months. And then I have Dross refer to the effect the calls are having on his mentality like they've been going on for a while.But!The transition between Charity handing him the construct and then cutting to him talking on the roof suggests that very little time has passed, and then the only specific amount of time I refer to IN THAT SCENE is a week.I was relying on the fight with the Akura Underlords being the next day to be that concrete anchor in time rather than saying "X months later," and then him being in a different place with different clothes while they all talk as though a lot of time has passed to be subtle details that supported that.But the quick transition followed by using the word "week" implies that it has only been a week in a way that I didn't realize.Interesting! I've learned something to look out for! Thanks!

#5 Copy

emperor_calder

Interesting Contradictions in Lindon's FateWhen Suriel first examines Lindon's fate:

The boy fights against a relative of his, a young man with long black hair and an iron badge. The boy cheats, releases emerald hornets, ekes out a technical victory.

With a bulky brown pack on his back, he bends his head over a scroll, studying a Path by candlelight in someone else’s home.

And when she shows him his fate later:

The frozen world was wiped out, replaced with another. He was still standing on the stone of the arena stage, but the clouds Li Markuth summoned had never appeared, and the sun beat down out of a clear sky. Wei Jin Amon faced him, and though he resisted longer than anyone expected, he still lost.

That night, he nursed his wounds alone when the First Elder barged in without knocking. The old man slapped a book down on his table: Path of the White Fox.

Will Wight

This is intentional. She’s showing him something that is equally likely to occur as what she saw earlier.

The details change, but the broad strokes don’t.

#6 Copy

Slogfarts

Is Lindon's name a reference to Lyndon Hardy?

Will Wight

My choice of name for Lindon had nothing to do with him, sorry to disappoint!

I’ve read his books, but they don’t have any sort of special place in my heart or anything.

#7 Copy

Thelonelypartygoer

It's repeatedly mentioned in the text of Traveler's Gate that Lirial, as a territory, is ill suited to open combat, but I don't see how to reconcile that with the Lirial powers we've seen. The ability to call Lirial crystals alone seems like it would be an overwhelmingly powerful combat ability and it's one that I don't think we've seen any good answers to from other territories. The fact that Leah easily dispatched grandmaster Endross seems telling. Is this a contradiction or am I missing something?

Will Wight

Leah is extraordinary by Lirial standards, though I didn’t convey that very well because of the lack of other Lirial Travelers to compare.

They mostly have entirely utility powers. Her being able to call crystal so much and on such a scale is extremely unusual.

It’s like you have a Bard class who specializes entirely in support magic, only there’s one specific bard who strides into battle with a flaming electric guitar chainsaw and goes around slicing dudes in half to the tune of his own sick riffs.

If you saw that guy, you’d be like “Wait a second, who said bards aren’t a combat class?”

Leah is that bard.

#8 Copy

Ray745

 I saw this sentence in the same chapter we first see "web of madra" used and it caught my eye

"Well this is a lucky daym" he said, hopping down from the wall. His blond hair flowed behind him like a banner, and a simple Endorcer technique made him drift slowly to the muddy ground.

I know of no Enforcer technique that would be able to slow someone falling. In fact, the only way Eithan, specifically, could slow himself would be with soulfire controlling aura. Either Will made a typo there or just hadn't fully mapped out the sacred arts system in his head yet, this is Chapter 5 of Soulsmith, our first meeting with Eithan, so I can't say for sure which it might be, I'd be interested to hear /u/Will_Wight 's answer to it.

Will Wight

It’s a construct that makes him lighter.

Middle of chapter eight (Soulsmith):

Eithan skipped along behind, touching down with one foot and using an Enforcer binding to launch himself far enough that he almost appeared to be drifting through the air.

In my original character sheet for him, he used the construct all the time, and we were going to explore it in Blackflame. But he didn’t really need it, so I just didn’t go into it.

#9 Copy

chrisisbest197

This is just a guess, but I'm thinking Will will probably write Wintersteel, another Cradle book, and then start a brand new series or start writing the Travelers Blade.

Will Wight

That was my initial plan. Wintersteel, Cradle 9, new thing (Traveler’s Blade is still on the table), Cradle 10.

That’s a very, very soft plan, though. We change plans all the time. And even if we write them in that order, they might come out in a different order.

Like I could write Cradle 8 & 9 and then the new thing, but write and release Cradle 10 first while holding the new thing back.

Point is, I don’t know. Always in motion is the future. But that was our original goal!

#10 Copy

UserInterface7

I often wonder if you sit at home with a drink and laugh your arse off reading these theory’s (or maybe sit the drink down very carefully when someone guesses something you have planned for the future)

Will Wight

Every once in a while I’m boggled at what people guess with such little information, but in general I just enjoy seeing people discussing the books at all!

UserInterface7

Do you ever get nervous that someone is close to a plot point, then keep reading and find out they are way off?

Will Wight

Yeah for sure, but despite what you might think I don’t really care if a plot point is guessed in advance.

Any multi-book “twist” will be guessed if there are enough people guessing, and in a popular series, there WILL be enough people guessing.

So the value of a reveal can’t entirely rely on surprise. The moment should land whether the reader guessed it or not.

Also, I feel like people think I value surprise more than I do. Surprise doesn’t really have any inherent value.

It would be incredibly surprising if Lindon transformed into a chipmunk and spent the rest of the series trying to steal a magical Roomba, but that doesn’t make it a good story decision.

#11 Copy

GuitarViking

Zorrus does "gather up golden fire in her mouth" in Uncrowned, so I went from there - but I agree, you're probably right that she's not on the Path of Flowing Flame. Fingers crossed we learn more in Wintersteel, haha. Thanks for reading, I'm glad you liked it!

Will Wight

Well I can’t speak to whether or not she appears in Wintersteel, but I can say that Xorrus is on a variation of the Path of the Wasteland. Her sacred arts are not exactly the same as Sesh’s, though they are similar.

In my notes, I have Xorrus on the Path of the Burning Wasteland (although that name is not final unless it makes it into the books).

#12 Copy

Ray745

So in the Uncrowned King tournament there are 8 Monarch factions, 8 sets of teams, 8 factions giving gifts etc, etc. However, everyone believes Northstrider died 6 years ago. Everyone also knows Northstrider has no faction of his own, so it's not like the Arelius faction which still has people who are able to choose competitors and give out gifts to the other teams. If the 9CC truly believed NS to be dead, as the 9C Soul stated, then why would they have a NS team in the tourney? Who would have been selecting the competitors or giving gifts? The Beast King? It doesn't seem to me like they are together in any official way, just friends and allies. Has this ever been brought up before? Was everyone not surprised to see 4 full teams of Underlords for NS before he showed up at the beginning?

Will Wight

It was more of a surprise that House Arelius showed up.

There are lots of unaffiliated Heralds and Sages who compete under Northstrider’s banner, so it was always expected that they would show up in his name until one among them ascended to Monarch.

#13 Copy

flanixx

Will, in the 'Reports' that are not marked with someone's name (such as Suriel) are we supposed to be reading that as a mystery and figuring out who it is that is accessing those reports or is that just your way of giving us info and backstory?

Will Wight

It’s not a mystery. 90% of the time it’s just Suriel.

#14 Copy

LonerActual

What happened to story resolutions/denouements?

A major component in a story seems to be atrophying as I continue to read. You've got your narrative hooks, your expositions, rising action, climax, etc, but it seems like many authors don't bother to write more than a token resolution/outro to their stories anymore.

Remember Harry Potter? After the big battle, there was always the hospital scene (resolution), where we learn of the fallout and changes that the results of the climax are going to have on the world or story as a whole, then the end of the year feast, serving as a decompression, and finally the train-ride home.

Ok I saw Return of the King also, and I agree, endings can go on too long. However, endings in the vein of A New Hope to me are even worse. "Here's your medal, now go away!" is to me jarring and fundamentally unsatisfying.

The last few books I've read, to continue with the Harry Potter example, have only given me the hospital wing scene. The beat-to-hell hero is told how things fell out after they lost consciousness. End of story. No Feast, no train-ride, no decompression.

I bring up "A New Hope" specifically because I remember reading something from author Jim Butcher that this was what he modeled his conclusions on. I love me some Jim Butcher but I disagree with this specific conclusion of his completely, and I wanted to know what people who are a bit more educated than me on the subject might think, and this seems like a good place for that.

Will Wight

That’s a really good question, and I can speak for myself/hazard a guess, though of course I can’t speak for every writer out there.

The style right now is to get out as soon after the climax as you can, in order to make the third act feel like a memorable gut-punch rather than a punch to the gut followed by a lengthy period of recovery that gives the reader’s emotions time to cool down.

There’s also the series component, as in “If the next installment is coming out in six months or less, why would I tie up lingering story threads after the plot of this installment has been resolved? I can just do it in the next one.”

People tend to lose interest quickly when there’s nothing to work toward anymore, and once the climax has ended, then the goal is either achieved or not achieved. And it takes a lot of confidence to say “Now that you’ve read my story about fighting Godzilla, I’m sure you’ll also want to see my characters going back home and starting an ordinary life again after Godzilla’s dead and buried.”

Having said that, I think the one exception is at the end of a series. You DO want to see the characters going back to their boring ordinary lives after going on an awesome adventure for years, because that’s the payoff. That’s what you were really reading for all this time. And if you made it to the end of a massive series without investing in the characters and their lives to some degree, then...how did you do that?

And having said THAT, nothing says there can’t be actual falling action and resolution in each book of a story. Harry Potter is a good example, but part of what makes it work for Harry is that it’s a narrow scope, and that each book is structured after a school year.

Narrow scope: it’s just Harry. We get to see the fallout of the book’s events on Hogwarts at the end-of-term feast, then Harry and Ron and Hermione separate with implications of what they’re going to do that summer, but we don’t follow Ron or Hermione home. We follow Harry home, because there’s one main character and we can stay focused on him.

Structure: you’re not really reading Harry Potter to see if he finds the Philosopher’s Stone and saves the school or if he gets murdered, you’re reading to see him go through an imaginative school year of magic and adventure.

Sure, the plot part keeps you reading, but with a structure like that you don’t immediately lose narrative momentum as soon as the primary plot question is resolved. You can get away with three more chapters of no danger because there’s still magic and imagination on display and the school year isn’t over yet.

Books that don’t have such a structure aren’t working with quite as much leeway, because the assumption is that the readers are reading to see the conclusion of the plot. And once that’s over they want the book to be too.

That’s the theory, anyway.

ConeheadSlim

Your theory may illustrate the difference between plot-based and character-based readers. As said elsewhere, at the end of the Wheel of Time we have much invested in a large number of individual characters, and we want to see what happens with them regardless of the outcome of the Last Battle. If one doesn't put much effort in their characters, I can see why they wouldn't want to stretch their plot out.

Will Wight

I see what you mean, but I don't think I agree.

In Wheel of Time's case, the series DID need a more thorough resolution, and (I suspect) would have had one if Robert Jordan had been around to write it. But of course it needed one: like I said above, the end of a series generally needs proper wrap-up regardless, and how would any reader get to the end of such a huge series if they didn't sympathize with the characters?

It's not really about the amount of effort you put into your characters. While there are readers who prefer a tight plot and readers who would be fine reading a story about a handful of fascinating characters doing nothing in particular, I also don't think it has to do with one type of reader or another.

Even if you don't have a drawn-out denouement and resolution, you still want strong characters in the entire rest of the story, so not having those things doesn't really reflect an emphasis on plot over characters.

A properly executed resolution is part of a well-structured plot, so that also doesn't mean choosing characters over plot.

When you're designing a story, you have to assume what your readers are primarily reading for, and plot accordingly. If you're writing a mystery where the driving motivating factor is supposed to be the reader's curiosity as to who killed the Space Pope, then it makes sense not to stick around too long after the killer has been revealed.

If instead you're writing a story about (just off the top of my head) a boy going to wizard school, then the thing driving the reader to keep reading is presumably "I want to see what happens to this guy at wizard school." So you can afford to spend a little extra time on that.

Which doesn't have much to do with the amount of effort invested or not invested into your characters, because Harry Potter is a bland character with very few unique personality traits. He's...brave, and...other things, probably.

But that doesn't impact the series almost at all, because you still sympathize with Harry, his decisions and actions usually drive the plot, the side characters are great, the world is great, and generally speaking the plot is interesting and very engaging.

TL;DR - I don't think any kind of "plot vs. character" dichotomy affects this decision at all.

#15 Copy

Nugget Monkey

Would Lindon have won in Uncrowned if he had fought Yerin from the beginning and not been weakened a decent amount before beginning to fight?

Will Wight

Possibly! That would have made it more likely for sure.

#16 Copy

Nugget Monkey

Have any sacred artists on a pure path ever advanced to a high stage, like sage or herald or above?

Will Wight

No, not really

Nugget Monkey

Do you think if the Heaven and Earth Purification Wheel was common knowledge pure paths would be equally viable as a path choice, and pure paths would be more developed by now?

Will Wight

I don’t think so, no

#17 Copy

Questioner

Why doesn't Will have more merch?

Will Wight

It takes a lot of time, effort, and money to develop a single product like that. Laura Verdin, the artist responsible for developing some of the merchandise you linked, is a professional designer and illustrator who makes a living designing excellent merchandise.

I make a living selling books.

The only reason we have merchandise at all is because people asked for it, and said some merch is better than nothing, and they just want a Cradle shirt to wear.

Okay, great! We have that now.

Would we make more money if we developed higher-quality merchandise and put effort into promoting and selling it? Yes!

But there’s a massive amount of up-front cost in both time and energy to doing that.

To me, not selling merchandise is not a problem that requires a solution. It’s not a problem at all. I don’t care if we sell merchandise or not; if you want something we have, cool! If not, no problem!

Those Undertale shirts you linked? Toby Fox didn’t develop those. A quick search around the site suggests he didn’t hire anyone to make them either; they’re fans who are providing a product to other fans under an official license.

If a professional merch designer wants to jump on Cradle and start making official products, we’d be willing to talk.

LLJKCicero

That all makes sense. I'm not saying you should care solely because of revenue you're missing out on, I think people would view it as a cool thing to do for your fandom.

Now, I wouldn't want to burden you personally with managing this kind of thing, I'm sure you're quite busy enough as it is. But as Cradle gets more and more popular, surely at some point it makes sense to hire a businessperson to manage all the things related to your books that aren't actually writing them? Like, I doubt Toby Fox is personally managing all the Undertale merch at Fangamer.

Will Wight

I already do have people who handle stuff that isn’t writing, and if we were to expand our merchandise, they would handle it.

But our current level of merch requires minimal management, and even that takes time and money to do. To expand our merch would mean hiring someone to run the store full-time, contracting artists to make better stuff, and managing the people involved.

Minimum, that requires more money and time and attention from me just to get the ball rolling. And that’s if I’m never involved in it again.

On top of which, that energy from my team is going to merchandise instead of anywhere else.

My Undertale example was meant to illustrate that Undertale has thousands of professional-quality artists making professional-level art for Undertale for free because they love it so much, so then the task is “Hire one of these people and get them to do their thing under our official banner.”

And even if we were in that scenario, just THAT is three orders of magnitude more difficult and expensive than what we’re currently doing.

Not to mention that Undertale has a hundred times the fanbase.

This stuff just takes more time and energy and money than people realize. For tertiary products that, quite frankly, we aren’t sure would be self-sustaining no matter how great they are.

We would need a LOT of Cradle fans to buy merch to justify that kind of expense. A higher percentage than is realistic to expect.

Could we make our money back on one incredible shirt design? Maybe. But we’re very far from certain that we could, even if we hired Leonardo Da Vinci’s ghost to draw us T-shirts.

#18 Copy

Will Wight

Let me clarify some things in this post, since I’m getting some common responses here and in the blog comments.

Elder Empire didn’t sell well compared to Traveler’s Gate and Cradle. It actually sold fine, it’s just that the books were spread out over such a long time that the income was unsustainable.

If I could have released two pairs a year, it would have been perfectly viable, but my fingers would have fallen off like a leper’s.

And when they read something like this, a lot of people react by explaining to me why they’ve never tried to read the books.

First off, that’s fine! Any new story concept is going to have people it turns off, and I understand that going into everything I write. And this one in particular is weird and confusing on the surface.

I think there’s this perception that I blame readers for EE not selling as well as TG or Cradle, and that is ridiculously not the case.

Though I tend to mention it a lot, Elder Empire selling not-quite-as-well has never bothered me emotionally very much.

I never expected to succeed as an author in the first place, so I saw Traveler’s Gate’s high sales as the fluke and Elder Empire as the expected outcome.

My business manager mentioned to me not too long ago: “You know, you really never got upset by Elder Empire not selling well.” And I hadn’t thought about it much, but it genuinely never did bother me.

I would characterize my reaction as “Eh, I wish that had sold better. Oh well. I hope they enjoy the next one!”

I definitely take some things too personally, but EE’s less-than-stellar performance isn’t one of them.

Footnote: In reference to this blog post.
Sources: Reddit
#19 Copy

Questioner

I totally understand Will's point about they don't currently sell, therefore doesn't make sense to put a lot of effort into it.

Will Wight

Yeah, let me elaborate on that a little bit.

While what I said was and is true, it’s less about “current merch sales are low, so we won’t invest more in them,” and more that we have little indication that merchandise is worth investing in at all.

The only reason we have any merch whatsoever is because when we didn’t, we got REGULAR requests for “Something. Anything. Even just a book logo on a shirt!”

Okay, cool! We have that now.

Anything more than that requires a lot—and I do mean a lot; like, more than you’d think—of time and attention to get rolling.

In order to be willing to invest so much into it, we would need to think that there would be enough of a market that we would break even on our costs and time.

YOU would buy a Path of Twin Stars decorative book or a sword-replica letter opener. I believe you would, and frankly those sound really cool. I would be proud to sell those.

But how many people do you represent? Are we talking ten sales? A hundred? A thousand?

I have no idea.

We have to price it so that we’re not taking a loss on the individual item, AND assume that we sell enough to break even on the investment to develop and maintain these products. Which is a lot to take on faith.

And I, personally, would not buy either of those products if I were a Cradle fan. So it’s hard for me to say that we would sell enough to make the investment worth it.

TL;DR - Current merch sales being low aren’t the only reason we suspect we couldn’t sustain a line of high-quality merchandise.

#20 Copy

Sage of Quotes

Tim said heaven's glory school jades would die but they have treasures in their halls unless they share the other entrances which seems to generous for SV

Will Wight

HG has been into shallow labyrinth before. That’s how they know there are treasures inside. The Unsouled quote is referring to the Fallen Leaf school and (pretty sure) the Nethergate, the biggest and most famous entrance in SV.Yeah, just checked. It’s the Nethergate. That’s in a totally different mountain.

#22 Copy

kcudlow

All Yerin needs is the house Sophara got to put the team in so she can teleport them to wherever she wants to go. Would that work? It's essentially what Lil Blue does when she's inside Lindon's void key.

Will Wight

Unfortunately it can’t work with the outlined rules of spatial travel, or (for instance) Charity would have tucked Lindon inside a special void key before teleporting directly to Sky’s Edge.

kcudlow

How does it work for Lil Blue while she's inside Lindon's void key? Is she outside it when he travels with Charity or is she exempt from the rule?

Will Wight

Spirits and living humans “weigh” differently, and even among spirits at her state of existence, Little Blue is particularly “light.”

A regular undeveloped Riverseed would “weigh” virtually nothing.

#23 Copy

OrdinaryOrder

I felt so bad about the Black Dragon lol Will why would you do that ?

Will Wight

Don’t worry, he’s fine.

He was sent home from the battlefield after having been drained by Lindon, so he missed the big battle afterwards in which he would likely have been killed.

He goes home and spends time with his family, eventually stabilizing his spirit and living a long and productive life away from the violence he never really cared for anyway.

Also he weaves delicate wicker baskets and always stays hydrated.

#24 Copy

ArchonFu

You described the Dawn Sky Palace as a "tiny pocket world - smaller than some void keys - containing only an opulent home". Are void keys and pocket worlds the same thing?

Will Wight

You’re going to have to let me get away with some lax phrasing when I’m casually answering questions. What I meant by a “special void key” was a portable space that can allow people to survive in it instead of the normal void key, which is a portable space that doesn’t allow that.

#26 Copy

OjoGrande

In the scene prior to Sophara's semi final round, when she is reviewing her prizes she expresses disgust that Ghostwater is a product of Northstrider.

How the hell could she not have known this?

Will Wight

It’s mentioned in Wintersteel that she bought that drop of ghostwater. The Herald she bought it from knew where it came from.

Footnote: This might have been cut, Will could have forgotten that.
Sources: Reddit
#28 Copy

Will Wight

You shouldn't be looking for the “right” names for your progression tiers. The ones that fit your world perfectly and really click for you.

The truth is, literally anything works.

You don’t need to look for the terms that fit your world now, just pick names you like and then change your world to make them fit.

Cradle has Copper through Gold for the first advancement levels, but precious materials have absolutely nothing to do with the sacred arts. That was just an easy way for me to visually show progression, so I picked valuable materials and then changed the setting to support that choice.

You can pick any labeled sequence. Materials that increase in value or hardness. Luminosity; maybe someone starting out is Dull and a master is Radiant (or a Windrunner ayooo). Someone mentioned colors, which would absolutely work because a rainbow is a labeled sequence.

You could still DO colors that don’t progress in order of the rainbow, but it’s less intuitive.

There’s increasing physical scope: he’s a room-scale mage because his spells can only affect anything in the same room he’s in, but this archmage over here is a national-scale mage who’s shaping the weather and sending his eye familiars all over the sky to watch you.

Increasing size: Tiny, Medium, Large, Massive. Sounds stupid? Sure it does, so tweak it: “His brontosaurus shook the earth with its steps, so its body contained enough mana to bury their entire camp. She hid inside the doorway, closing her eyes, clutching her shivering baby velociraptor to her chest.”

In that case, you don’t need official categories. Big, Bigger, Biggest. You just need to know that the bigger your dinosaur is physically, the more magic power it can hold.

In that way, a progression system doesn’t need discrete tiers. If your magic capacity is measured in balloons, and you have fifteen balloons of magic but the enemy has figured out how to get one massive hot air balloon, who has the advantage? How does that affect what spells you can both cast?

That’s something where the comparison isn’t as clear-cut as it is in Cradle (a Jade beats an Iron every time), but there are still crystal-clear methods of progress (increase the size of your balloons or the number).

I say all this not to give you more ideas, but to encourage you to stop spending time trying to think of the one that fits your setting BEST. Any of them work.

The one that fits your setting best is the one that you make fit your setting. So spend an hour brainstorming, pick the idea you think sounds the coolest, then work it into your setting.

If you finish your first book and your readers tell you that your tiers of progression are dumb (which I can’t imagine unless they’re intentionally ridiculous, like you measure power output in Spirit Clowns), THEN you go back and change it. It’s no big deal to change it later.

Any tips on how to overcome this hump?

Yes, pick literally any progressive sequence, attach it to your setting, and move on.

#29 Copy

UncleObii

While I immensely enjoyed the ending of WS I never doubted Yerin was going to win the tournament. Not because the stakes were too high to be a serious threat (and I agree! Will did such a good job weaving everything together) but because you know it's Yerin. Will loves her so much that a defeat was unthinkable.

Will Wight

Wait, what?

That’s news to me.

I understand the “a defeat was unthinkable” part, since there’s only one main character left in the tournament so there’s a greater-than-normal likelihood that they’ll win, but I don’t recall having any extra attachment to Yerin.

I mean, I’ve been writing her for a long time so I’m attached to her like I am to all my major characters, but in terms of who I personally like writing the most among the main cast she might be in last place.

Her manner of speaking is still a pain to write, her conflicts and relationship with Lindon mean that I have to write a higher-than-normal number of relationship scenes when she’s around (which are difficult for me), and on a personal level I feel like I’d get along with every other member of the main cast except her.

So again, while I love Yerin like I love all my main characters, hearing you say that I love her in the context of a comparison between other main characters makes me scratch my head a bit.

What piqued my curiosity is that he or she seemed to think that Yerin is my favorite character or something, and not only do I not feel that way, I wasn’t sure what gave that impression.

You could make an argument that Yerin suffered the most of the group, or the least of the group, or anywhere in between. Any of them are valid reads, and I don’t really care about where someone thinks she falls on that spectrum.

My answer to any of those arguments would most likely be “Sure, you could see it that way.”

But I don’t “reward” characters because I like them, or make characters I dislike struggle more. That’s what surprised and confused me enough to make the comment.

Why would you be able to tell which character an author likes or dislikes more based on how difficult their life is? Surely that would mean that most writers write their main characters with a sense of seething hatred.

#30 Copy

PlaceboJesus

So, Will, you tried some new things in your writing method, how do you feel it worked out for you?

Will Wight

I plan on blogging about this soon, maybe this week. I wanted to wait until as many people as possible got to read the book before I commented on the writing process, so now that sales are starting to slow down (relatively speaking), that indicates to me that most fans have had a chance to read Wintersteel and form their opinion on it.

In short, I feel like it was the most efficiently I’ve ever written a book. I was therefore able to write more in less time without killing myself.

However, I try to improve my writing process in some way for every book, so this is really just another step in a long iterative process that most likely won’t ever end.

Also, while I’m pleased with how efficiently I wrote Wintersteel, not all books I write in the future will be this long. For instance, Bloodline probably won’t be. It is (or it should be) a much more focused story, so I don’t need things like two competing primary storylines.

I feel like the answer I’m supposed to give is “I loved this process so much because it gave the story the room it really needed to breathe, and I felt more free to explore and flesh out the world,” but I didn’t really feel that way.

I felt paralyzed with fear over what to cut and what to leave in, shipped it off full of dread, received the positive reviews with a massive sigh of relief, and retroactively look over it with a feeling of “Well, I’m going to write the next book in a similar way but tweaked based on what I learned last time, and I hope they like the next one just as much but there’s every chance they won’t.”

Same as usual!

#31 Copy

Willow-o-Wispily

Firstly, I wanted to thank /u/Will_Wight for writing the blogs on the new writing technique he undertook for Wintersteel. I found the process very fascinating and eased the wait anxiety between books. I agree with his conclusion that perhaps he was over-cutting.

I do not think that he came to the complete solution to the problem of Uncrowned.

The problem with Uncrowned was what was missing, not what was cut.

Uncrowned was only missing two scenes, but those two scenes were deeply unsatisfying blank spots.[Read full post for entire question]

Will Wight

First of all, let me say in all sincerity that I appreciate the level of thought and care that you've put both into evaluating these issues and into writing them up. You clearly put consideration into this, and it shows.

Second, I very much appreciate the constructive spirit in which this is posted. I absolutely take this for the constructive criticism that it is, and I respect that.

It is because of that respect, in fact--and because you tagged me directly, implying to me that you want my thoughts--that I will give you an honest response.

More honest a response than I perhaps usually give, though I always try to be as real with you guys as I can.

Here goes:

You're putting together a picture with more than half the puzzle pieces missing.

The lesson learned from Uncrowned should be to add one more step to the editing process.

I really don't mean any offense, I mean this as a very literal observation, but you don't know what steps are currently in my editing process.

I know, from your perspective, that it must seem self-evident. A.) There were scenes you felt were missing, therefore B.) the beta readers weren't looking for gaps, because if they had been, they would have made that note and C.) I would have written the scenes. A-B-C.

That is not at all how it works.

The beta readers are virtually never looking for scenes to cut. Hilariously enough, Wintersteel is the first time where we've had that as a beta reader step. They're only ever looking for what they feel is missing or broken.

The notes I get from beta readers overwhelmingly fall into one of three categories. Here they are, from most common to least:

1.) Things they felt were bad. Out of character, poorly phrased, confusing, whatever.

2.) Things they felt were missing or that they wanted to see that weren't there.

3.) Typos and minor sentence-level corrections.

Since I know you were primarily looking out for #2 on this list, I'll address that one specifically: that's the one where I could always add more. There's no end to it. I always, always, even with Wintersteel, cut that off early.

We have a couple of weeks after the beta reading phase, during which I'll add whatever scenes I can write in that time. But when I run out of time, that's it. That's the number of scenes you get.

"But Will, you sterling stallion, why the arbitrary cutoff?" There has to be an arbitrary cutoff. I could keep going on that step for years, but each addition of a scene means more material to read through, and there's no outside force giving me a firm deadline so it has to be arbitrary to some degree.

I say all this just to illustrate that there's a lot going on under the surface that isn't necessarily evident to the post-mortem analysis of a story.

Most times, when people are unhappy with an ending, it's because the author did not put in an emotional climax.

I don't want to put words in your mouth (or keys under your fingers), but I suspect you're talking about the emotional resolution.

The climax of a story is the point of greatest conflict, and in Uncrowned in particular (this isn't true for all my stories, but it is for this one) the emotional climax and plot climax are the same moment.

The point of greatest emotional conflict with the highest stakes is between Lindon and Yerin as they clash in the tournament. The resolution is when the fallout of that climax is resolved and we get to see how things turned out for those involved, which (in terms of the emotional arc) occurs at the beginning of Wintersteel.

So there very much was a climax in Uncrowned. You might hate it with a burning passion, but structurally it is there.

I do agree, however, with your ultimate point that Wintersteel felt a lot more fleshed-out than Uncrowned, and I'm hoping to learn from that with Bloodline.

It's harder than it seems, though. There's a lot to juggle in Bloodline. But I'm doing my best!

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