Author Archives: Frank Morin

About Frank Morin

Frank Morin loves good stories in every form. When not writing or trying to keep up with his active family, he's often found hiking, camping, Scuba diving, or enjoying other outdoor activities. For updates on his sci-fi time travel Facetaker novels, his popular YA fantasy novel, Set in Stone, or other upcoming book releases, check his website: www.frankmorin.org

Embracing the Pain – Receiving Editors’ Feedback

EditsReceiving edits back from an editor is like opening a Christmas present on the set of a horror film: exciting and terrifying at the same time.

Don’t get me wrong. I love editing. The process of revising and editing and polishing a story transforms it into its final, awesome form. It’s like taking a house that’s got external construction mostly complete, and internal walls roughed in and completing the construction, painting, and furnishing every room to make it a livable home.

Even so, that first scan of an editor’s comments can be painful.

As much as I know the draft I submitted is far from perfect, there’s a part of me that still clings to the hope that the editor will simply say, “Wow. I’ve never read anything quite that amazing. I can’t imagine how to make that better.”

Never going to happen. Instead, a good editor will shine a spotlight on every flaw, point to every weakness, and ask for clarification of every inconsistency. They’ll highlight every issue part of me was secretly hoping they’d never notice.

Feedback is something we authors desperately need and usually crave. When we’re new, we’re usually terrified by it, sometimes take it personally, treat is as an assault, or embrace the righteous anger of a parent protecting their precious child. All the wrong answers.

I still feel flashes of that sometimes when I’m first reviewing edits, and I’ve learned to laugh at myself. My pride is meaningless, my vanity useless. The story is what matters, and a good editor helps identify weaknesses and make suggestions to help that story fulfill its potential.

They do point out the things that do work, and that’s also extremely helpful, but the work and the growth comes from the constructive criticism.

So I always complete an initial quick scan of the feedback, then take a break, breathe deep, consider what I read, and sometimes take a walk as I mentally update my assessment of what I had thought I had written to the reality of what I had actually produced.

Only then can I get to work.

That’s when the fun begins. When I embrace the feedback, accept responsibility for the flaws, and embrace the work required to fix and improve the story, it’s always amazing how fast new insights and ideas flow. Sometimes that’s the point when I finally understand what story I’m really trying to tell. That’s when I can make it amazing.

Some authors are smarter than me, and perhaps their experience with editor feedback is more like a gentle, encouraging massage. For most of us, it’s a bruising beating that helps us grow stronger.

PerfectionWithout fail, when I keep an open mind and honestly review suggestions and critiques, not only do I see ways to better tell the story, but I gain insights into my own weaknesses as a writer. With every story, I grow. I discover blinders that I had on that prevented me from seeing weaknesses, I gain insights into higher forms of craft, and strengthen my skills.

So next time my manuscript will finally be perfect on the first try!

Or not. And I’ll fix it.

About the Author: Frank Morin

Author Frank MorinRune Warrior coverFrank Morin loves good stories in every form. When not writing or trying to keep up with his active family, he’s often found hiking, camping, Scuba diving, or enjoying other outdoor activities. For updates on upcoming releases of his popular Petralist YA fantasy novels, or his fast-paced Facetakers Contemporary Fantasy/Historical thrillers, check his website: www.frankmorin.org

When Torcs Fly – Celebrating a Launch

When Torcs FlyIt seems we don’t get nearly enough days to celebrate a completed project. We work for weeks, months, and sometimes even years to release a book worthy of our fans. The celebration is never big enough or long enough, but there’s nothing like holding a new book in your hands (even if it’s a kindle copy).

Today is a celebration day!

When Torcs Fly – a Petralist novella – released in ebook form Marcy 30th!

It will release in paperback in May.

Tomas and Cameron enjoy good insults as much as they enjoy great bash fights. These elite fighters and determined goofballs have an unbreakable streak of disrespect and contempt for authority. Even the mighty Captain Rory depends on them.

Their places were not always so secure.

Rewind a few years to the day they first try to win acceptance into the Fast Rollers special-forces company. Their brawn-over-brains approach is exactly the wrong way to make the attempt, and chances of making the team are less than winning a kiss from an angry pedra.

With their most cherished dreams on the line, these two bash fighters must risk thinking deeper thoughts, learn to work together against a band of crafty Grandurians, and prove they’re smarter than the average torc.

Fans of fast-paced, humorous fantasy will love this hilarious adventure.

Check out When Torcs Fly, along with the main Petralist series on Amazon,

or on my website.

Petralist Series 1-3

 

Balancing Multiple Viewpoints

AvengersOne of the coolest things about a series is also one of the biggest challenges for the author: managing a large cast of characters.

One film that I think managed a large cast of characters well is the original Avengers movie. There are a lot of strong characters, and somehow they all got good screen time and some memorable lines. Part of me wonders how successful the upcoming Infinity War movie will manage the balance, now that the cast of heroes has grown so much.

As authors, the challenge of balancing our cast of characters can be even harder because it takes longer to develop characters in book form than in a movie. Precious words must be dedicated to the effort. Luckily, there are many options available to us.

Depending on the story and choices the author makes, the entire series may be told exclusively from the main POV character. For example, I can’t remember any scenes in Harry Potter not from his perspective.

Other series are told from multiple viewpoints, or even from an omniscient point of view. The popular Rangers Apprentice series has such an omniscient POV, with the focus flowing constantly between characters. Then there’s the Warded Man series from Peter V. Brett, in which each book has a different main POV character.

Each approach has pros and cons, which the author needs to understand to make sure they’re leveraging their story for best effect. Some of the advantages of using multiple POVs include:

  • Deeply exploring different aspects of a central theme from different points of view.
  • Leveraging multiple, different story threads and weaving them together into a more complex plot.
  • Exploring multiple socio-economic aspects of society that would be impossible to do with a single POV.

When done well, stories with multiple POVs enjoy a depth and complexity that is hard to rival. Unfortunately, handling multiple POVs is hard to do. Some of the disadvantages include:

  • For every major POV character, you need to spend time developing their voice, their plot, their character arc far more than other supporting characters. You’ll likely need to add at least 10,000 words to the length of your novel for each major POV character you decide to use.
  • Weaving multiple compelling plotlines is hard to do. If you start your story with a teen-age boy with a snarky, rebellious voice and attitude, your readers will grow attached to him. If you then try to weave that story with a middle-aged, reserved woman trying to protect the status quo, will your readers lose interest or grow confused?
  • Those emotional connections you’re building with your readers are fragile, and the more opportunities you give readers to break away from your story or lose interest, the more of them you’re likely to lose.
  • Can you bring all of the various plotlines to a satisfying conclusion through the final climax? Will readers who feel most connected to each of the POV threads all feel like their favorite character was given enough screen time?

Set in Stone CoverIt can be a daunting challenge but it’s doable, and the payoff can be amazing. I love big, epic stories, and I write multiple POVs. I personally find it’s useful to focus the majority of the story on the main character, and develop alternate POV threads with caution.

In my Petralist YA fantasy series, Connor is definitely the main character, but I decided early on to make three other characters POV characters too. Each of them needs to get enough focus to develop their stories and satisfy the fans who love them the most.

The temptation to keep adding more POV characters can be insidious. As a reader, I hate it when big series I love get bloated with too many side stories that interrupt the flow of the main narrative.

So imagine how embarrassed I was when my editor pointed out in my first draft of my latest novel that I havd over eight POV characters. Oops. Although each POV shift had seemed reasonable during the writing process, the benefits of those additional POV characters did not outweigh the cost to the story. So I went back and re-wrote those chapters, restricting the number of POV characters. It made the story flow better and carry a more powerful emotional weight.

So decide carefully what story you’re going to tell, and make conscious, deliberate decisions about how you’re going to craft your story. Will it be first person, or third? Omniscient narrator, or maybe deep penetration into one or more main POV characters. Study authors who handle similar stories well and analyze what they did.

In the end, you have to decide. If you’ve got solid reasons for your choices, your story will be stronger for it, and your readers will appreciate it.

About the Author: Frank Morin

Author Frank MorinRune Warrior coverFrank Morin loves good stories in every form. When not writing or trying to keep up with his active family, he’s often found hiking, camping, Scuba diving, or enjoying other outdoor activities. For updates on upcoming releases of his popular Petralist YA fantasy novels, or his fast-paced Facetakers Contemporary Fantasy/Historical thrillers, check his website: www.frankmorin.org

Thor: Ragnarok – The Brilliance of Humor

Thor trailer imageThor: Ragnarok is one of the best Marvel movies ever.

Why?

It’s funny.

Other Marvel movies have done a great job of incorporating humor into otherwise serious films. The Guardians of the Galaxy movies are excellent examples, and I love all the excellent one-liners in the original Avengers movie. But Thor: Ragnarok is the first Marvel superhero movie that sets out to be first and foremost an action-comedy.

If you haven’t watched this latest installment in the Thor franchise, you might want to stop reading now to avoid any spoilers.

I love well-crafted humor. I include a lot of it in my Petralist YA fantasy books, so my professional interest is stirred in addition to simply loving the fun of this movie. I consider Thor: Ragnarok to be a masterpiece for the rest of us who utilize humor in our works to study and learn from.

There are those who claim that the humor actually undercuts the movie’s effectiveness by diminishing the stakes. It’s a tricky balance sometimes, and some decisions boil down to how the work is being positioned. Thor: Ragnarok was always positioned as an action-comedy, and as such it works brilliantly.

If they had chosen to make it a brooding, dark, serious film, the world-ending topic of Ragnarok could have tipped it into a real downer. Instead they dealt with that difficult topic brilliantly, turning the moving into a fun and very entertaining ride.

People have responded well to it. It has received the highest Rotten Tomatoes score of any Marvel movie (https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/thor_ragnarok_2017/), and has been a huge commercial success. Even though it still ranks near the bottom of the other Marvel movies for total worldwide commercial sales, it’s rising fast through the ranks. It’ll be interesting to see how it tops out in the coming months.

One of the cool things I learned while researching the film is that New Zealand director – Taika Waititi – was actually the voice of the super-funny blue rock monster, Korg. I also learned that a lot of their scenes were ad-libbed, including the funny dialogue between Korg and Thor when he’s trying to pick a weapon for his upcoming duel with the then-unknown Champion.

And for those who want to know more about that, here’s a great article by Jesse David Fox, interviewing Taika Waititi. Well worth a few minutes to listen. http://www.vulture.com/2017/11/thor-ragnarok-funniest-scene-taika-waititi.html

The humorous focus of the movie is set immediately with Thor talking to a skeleton while trapped in a cage, then having to interrupt the babbling of the scary fire demon, Surtur, while the chains holding him suspended from the ground slowly turn him in circles. The conversation both shares important information and includes ongoing funny beats.

Then we jump into a fun fight scene between Thor and the demon, Surtur.

Then immediately back to humor when Skurge (Karl Urban) fails to summon him back via the bifrost because he’s distracted by some beautiful women.

Take a look at the movie, study the different beats, from humor, to action, back to humor again, with some seriously dark scenes mixed in, usually thanks to Hela (Cate Blanchett) as she wreaks havoc on Asgard.

Some critics have claimed that the heart of the movie was missing since the humor can serve to diminish the stakes, but I disagree. Their homeland is destroyed, but Thor focuses on the need for change and the fact that it’s more important to preserve the people than the location, and that Asgard will live on through them. I found that message of hope, despite desperate situations worthwhile.

Works for me.

I’ll close with a few favorite quotes and images from the movie:

“It sounds like you had a pretty special and intimate relationship with this hammer. . .”
~ Korg

“The devil’s anus.”
Need I say more?

When Thor gets smashed back and forth by the Hulk and Loki leaps to his feet and shouts, “That’s how it feels!”

“Another day, another Doug”
~ Korg

 

About the Author: Frank Morin

Author Frank MorinRune Warrior coverFrank Morin loves good stories in every form. When not writing or trying to keep up with his active family, he’s often found hiking, camping, Scuba diving, or enjoying other outdoor activities. For updates on upcoming releases of his popular Petralist YA fantasy novels, or his fast-paced Facetakers Urban Fantasy/Historical thrillers, check his website: www.frankmorin.org