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rsbakker

Great Ordeal Feedback

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Two more thing.

(I realise that this thread is not for asking question of RSB, but for giving him feed-back.)

1. Sorweel really, really worked. Most readers seem to have been somewhat annoyed by him in the beginning – yet another self-obsessed, fretting character! Always “between dogs.” But his chapters in WLW were very exciting, and we’ve heaped enough praise on the Ishterebinth sections here. The Amiolas really shows him what “two souls” mean! And now he’s real, even to Serwa.

2. I’ve obsessed about the role of tree branches in the books from the beginning, since Kellhus’ journey from Ishual, and the tree in the background of Mekki in his first Nonman encounter. (And the twig in the sandal!) This has been a very good theme/symbol/analogy/whatever. Probability trance, choice, yadda-yadda. Well done.

And with TGO the trees are now inverted and juxtaposed with tunneling. And the branch role of height, grasping, reaching, and possibilities has been extended and inverted with depth, plumbing and filtering. (Filtering of the Dûnyain, I think – it says that somewhere about the thousand thousand halls.) And also with shielding, hiding, protecting. 

I find level of thematic ambition and discipline endlessly satisfying.

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1 hour ago, Happy Ent said:

Two more thing.

(I realise that this thread is not for asking question of RSB, but for giving him feed-back.)

1. Sorweel really, really worked. Most readers seem to have been somewhat annoyed by him in the beginning – yet another self-obsessed, fretting character! Always “between dogs.” But his chapters in WLW were very exciting, and we’ve heaped enough praise on the Ishterebinth sections here. The Amiolas really shows him what “two souls” mean! And now he’s real, even to Serwa.

2. I’ve obsessed about the role of tree branches in the books from the beginning, since Kellhus’ journey from Ishual, and the tree in the background of Mekki in his first Nonman encounter. (And the twig in the sandal!) This has been a very good theme/symbol/analogy/whatever. Probability trance, choice, yadda-yadda. Well done.

And with TGO the trees are now inverted and juxtaposed with tunneling. And the branch role of height, grasping, reaching, and possibilities has been extended and inverted with depth, plumbing and filtering. (Filtering of the Dûnyain, I think – it says that somewhere about the thousand thousand halls.) And also with shielding, hiding, protecting. 

I find level of thematic ambition and discipline endlessly satisfying.

Agree with HE - Sorweel came into his own in this novel. I wasn't a big fan of his being one of the central viewpoints for the Ordeal early on, but it was always obvious there were some big stuff coming down the line.

The Nonman helmet he was affixed to was a nice exposition device :)  

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Thanks to you all. I fear this weekend has been a hectic one, but I don't want to fall too far behind, so I apologize for the brevity of my replies.

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"tell me how neohobbesian piety has come to rule the impious."

Leading question. Presumes things were different!

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"Are things still looking good for TUC to be released in 2017? "

I think so. The deals are on the books. As soon as I have a schedule I will climb to the nearest rooftop!

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"It's a different type of series, and each book has its own feel. I just think that generally, it's not for most people. It's a tough sell, for a range of reasons."

I agree--and this is something I knew from the very beginning. The point is to give readers an experience unlike any they've had: the only way to accomplish this, I think, is via SHEER EPIC AWESOMENESS. The market is a crowded one, and it always pays to stand out in such commercial ecologies--so long as you can deliver on your narrative promises.

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"How muxh of the Dunyain is genetics/selective breeding and how much is mental reprogramming? No worries if this is something that will be revealed."

Thing is, the material metaphysics of the World is rife with immaterial exceptions, so that it is never *simply* the case that what comes before determines what comes after. This gives me plenty of wiggle room.

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"When you were young, did stories about the Black Donnellys ever spark your interest, being a part of the local history?"

I had an uncle who was fascinated by the story, so much so he took us out to the graveyard in Lucan, to the sites of the homes, etc. But I was unimpressed. Young SF readers tend to have no regard for local history.

 

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Thanks for the reply.  I was just curious if your knowledge of the local history had any influence on your writing in the series. What did spark a young SF reader's interest? 

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On ‎01‎/‎10‎/‎2016 at 4:41 PM, kuenjato said:

Questions from a technical standpoint...

Do you have a daily word-count you strive for? 

Do you edit as you write, or do you complete sections/chapters before revising?

How intense is the editing? GRRM, for example, constantly re-writes his chapters as the book progresses. Rothfuss is notorious for editing his books hundreds of times. Sanderson, on the other hand, apparently makes three edits and is done. Does what we, the reader, encounter on the page have much resemblance to the first/second draft, or is it a long, arduous process to nail down the mental image to the physical template?

Has writing and/or editing become easier in the last 12 years?

Do you listen to music while you write? Do you imbibe caffeine? I know you quit smoking around the time of TJE, did that affect your writing?

When writing blanks, I aim for a minimum one page which seems to average about 750 words given my preferred spacing and font. I always edit, always write forward in spirals, ready to restart or jump to any point depending where the laser pointer appears. For me, edits are the name of the game, though I do set aside a project for several weeks before beginning exhaustive rewrites. Sometimes its perfect the first time, sometimes the tenth. It always varies. It all feels easier now: in the very beginning, I found complex scenes enormously difficult to write, but now, if I can imagine it, I feel that I can write to my own satisfaction. Quitting smoking blocked me (I had thought 'writer's block' an affectation before I quit) for months, and then reduced my output by about 50%. I think I'm more productive now than when I was a smoker, but it has been a long, slow crawl. Absent cigarettes, I imbibe whatever my muse demands, with little hesitation beforehand, and tremendous regret afterward.

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"Also, as feedback, some of my favorite moments in TDTCB were when Kellhus was wrong, and how some characters could pick up on it (even if they psyched themselves out of not believing it, like Cnauir)."

I'm very proud of these moments. Every soul is lurking in the darkness that comes before some other soul in some way, shape, or form. Kellhus also.

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"Also, from Kelhus's dreams of the Monk under the tree. We've noticed that certain aspects has changed. So, as the Gods can see all of time, that doesn't mean that things can not change, correct? Like H has theorized, Kellhus is indeed directing Kellhus through these visions. Hence, in the first dream the Monk has the legs of a beast, in TGO this is not the case"

WAFO, alas. Some very interesting questions which, if not answered by TUC, will certainly be transformed thereby.

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"are they also nevertheless whom mieville has described as 'lumpen postmodernists'?"

As opposed to an incarnate reductio of Logos?

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"I think Esmi's entourage of royalty and appointed officers is too interchangeable, and they are replaced or get killed too often. It would have been nice for her to have a lover or a close friend she could fall back on."

This strikes me as a sound idea. I know it dawned on me that I could have ratcheted the interpersonal tension of those sections had I positioned Theliopa as an antagonist to Kelmomas from the beginning of TJE.

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"I do not know how you are able to keep a candle's flame burning in my soul with your writing, but you do, and it lights my way."

Thank you, William R. Hopefully things don't get too drafty!

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20 hours ago, Rhom said:

@rsbakker The map appears to have multiple impact points in far flung areas of the map.  Was there more than one Ark that hit Earwa?

Also, around these parts we have always referred to your proposed follow up sequence as The Series That Shall Not Be Named based on your prior assertion that even naming it would be major spoilers for TAE series.  So upon the release of TUC, will you then be free to tell us what you would intend to call it?

There's only one Ark, but many cataclysms appear to have wracked the Promised World.

After TUC is out, I intend to do that very thing. It's one of the events I have been aiming for all these years. To be so close is some crazy shit, let me tell you.

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"Maybe they were the source of previous 'scaldings'?"

Indeed. A close inspection of the historical record might turn up a few clues.

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"So, unlike Morlocks, Men came from Nonmen?"

Hell, no. I thought you were trying to be funny, and I was just doing my bit.

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"I just finished TDtCB yesterday, and have been up all night reading TWP. I've avoided reading through this thread for fear of spoilers, but I just wanted to pop in and say that your work is absolutely amazing. I'm going to be recommending TSA to all of my fantasy-reading friends."

Not half so cool as your handle, Let's Get Kraken!

I'm glad you dig the vision, and I hope the left turns to come don't throw you from the trackless tracks...

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Happy Ent: Thank you my brother. It's always a wonderful thing when someone catches details that you've put a great deal of cumulative work it. The metaphorics of forking incursions (branches, labyrinths) versus knifing penetrations (tusks, horns) is something I try to weave into the frame any opportunity I get. It's one of the things that makes the whole feel like one continuous novel to me, despite the inevitable mutations.  

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"What did spark a young SF reader's interest?"

Back then? Honestly, girls (though it would have helped if said young SF reader could have mustered the courage to speak to them). War... I was prone to argue the military unpreparedness of the West to pretty much anyone who would listen. And then, well, girls.

Cures for selective mutism. 

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Hey Scott! Just finished the book today! Last 150 pages I could not put down. Overall great story lines and I can't wait to read your next one!
Totally did not see the Scylvendi coming back at the end. Must say I loved the nuke in Dagliash!

Now for the criticism! Gotta say I agree with others here that your style has become more obtuse as the books have progressed. Its for this reason the first series is my favorite so far. Some parts, such as the Zero God, leave my head spinning trying to figure out what is going on. I love the whole religious aspect you have going, but sometimes I can't quite wrap my head around it.

 Mommem let me down, I was really hoping for a Fanim victory and for something to really mess up Kellus's plans.

The Akka chapters are my favorite, I was hoping for more of him than what I got. Hopefully he has a large role to play in tUC!

Now as an aspiring writer myself I was hoping you could give me some advice. I'd like to write a sci-fi/fantasy book one day without infringing on others established ideas. Obviously this isn't true, but sometimes I get the feeling all the good ideas have already been put to page. I need a way to spark my originality. Any help/prompts you could give me there?

Thanks for coming here and doing this! It's really an awesome experience, I wish Tolkien could've done this!

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1 hour ago, rsbakker said:

Hell, no. I thought you were trying to be funny, and I was just doing my bit.

 

I was, but I misread or misinterpreted EAMD as a serious reply >_>.

 

You've talked about writing an introductory prequel type thing to ease readers in - have you thought about the First Apocalypse or the period when the Consult openly operated in the Three Seas?  The latter especially interests me, since I can't imagine how or what the Consult did in that period.

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12 hours ago, rsbakker said:

Thing is, the material metaphysics of the World is rife with immaterial exceptions, so that it is never *simply* the case that what comes before determines what comes after. This gives me plenty of wiggle room.

Moenghus had found no exceptions, IIRC.

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Overall I really enjoyed it but its hard to give feedback on half a book. Unlike most people I enjoyed the Ishual arc the most, Koringhus' flashbacks were easily some of the most affecting scenes in the series. I feel like you did an excellent job of balancing exposition and implication, like Achamain said we are incapable of imagining what the Survivor went through but its enough to know that it was horrible enough to break a Dunyain.  Speaking of which i didn't understand how do the Dunyain define madness, compared to them shouldnt all worldborn thinking be mad ? In their language would it be a Dunyain that can't control his fragments ? I asked my other question on your private messenger.

As far as negatives go the Whale Mothers fell flat for me, felt like a needless atrocity inserted purely for the purpose of scandal. 

Oh and also unlike Happy Ent i'm a huge fan of your prose style. While it may flirt with opaqueness at times i think its well worth it for the lyric beauty of some of your passages.

edit - similar to Callans question - why are the Dunyain immediately so sure that Sourcery breaks determinism ? Surely its a system with its own rules, capable of being mastered just like any other. Isn't that why Kellhus is the greatest sourcerer the world has ever seen.

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I want to chime in that I felt like the TGO was a really well balanced work that dramatically elevated each of the four story lines to similar degrees. In fact, one of my favorite things about the book that I think is lost at the moment (as people have only done one (typically slightly out of order) read or selective storyline retreads of chapter series) is that although the story lines don't diageticly interact, they thematically and informationally interact in really smooth ways, thus things we learn in ishterebinth reflect things we learn in ishual and the reader can then synthesize these parcels of information to better understand the resonance or significance in momemn, for example. I thought this was subtle and very well done and this technique is something you excel at and is largely why the preceding five books have been under constant discussion for over a decade. Because we find out these things later.

i think this is why people are often talking about momemn as they have here, we haven't really gotten the chance for it to soak in yet. And there's also the trigger warning effect with Esmes storyline because no matter what happens in any of her scenes, triggers will happen given the priori involved. 

That said, one of the particular things I've enjoyed is how esme has come to psychologically resemble cnaiur from the first series, she had twenty years to ruminate on dunyain and how she is manipulated and has gone to the same places cnaiur went.

which has made me reflect that serwe in the first series is sort of an insight into what a young cnaiur was like around moenghus, and that in a way she is exposition on the state of young cnaiurs soul, and this is sort of how kellhus used her. I never realized it at first, I always thought kellhus was just only pulling a sexual lever of alpha male infighting with serwe, and seeing what has happened with esmenet becoming like cnaiur has really made me appreciate both serwe and cnaiurs stories anew. But then I'm really weird and think serwe is one of the very best and best written characters of the first series, so I'm biased to select for things that reinforce my position.

id also like to chime in that I think that what has been accomplished with sorweel over the arc of the series is really outstanding, I also thought that serwa undergoes really important transformations we aren't really aware of the depth of yet, but that happened in parallel to sorweels transformations. It made me kinda sad that we didn't have more of serwa as a viewpoint character from the beginning of the judging eye. 

I noted that theliopa seemed far more of a fleshed out character in this book and it really added to kelmomas story, perhaps because she no longer lived in fear of inrilitis? where did her name come from? My best guess is that her name is related to esmenets family.

You mentioned priors, and I recall you were once surprised at the acronym heuristic for "ever are men deceived" proliferating after WLW, were you also surprised by other stylistic  tics readers latched onto, such as "death came swirling down"? I know words are wind, if you don't mind me tugging my braid here a bit, but what's most surprised you that it became a "thing" associated with your style?

 

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2 hours ago, Michael Seswatha Jordan said:

@Callan S., did you get your book yet?

Nope, no call from the shop yet, so I risk spoilery damnation at every turn!

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"Now as an aspiring writer myself I was hoping you could give me some advice. I'd like to write a sci-fi/fantasy book one day without infringing on others established ideas. Obviously this isn't true, but sometimes I get the feeling all the good ideas have already been put to page. I need a way to spark my originality. Any help/prompts you could give me there?"

Thanks for the kind words, Ghjhero. First off, read what no one else is reading. A new 'angle' is often the best short cut. The best times to brainstorm is when you are wasted or tired, both of which have the effect of dampening down your brain's ability to filter associative information for relevance. Also, keep reworking whatever idea you initially come up with. Your brain is, among other things, a device for generating novel solutions to novel problems via the testing of mutations ('experiment'). Any thought you come up with may not be original, but *you are,* thanks to the plasticity of brain function. Every time you recycle ideas they accrue mutations. So if you come up with something that feels promising, don't rush to the presses, just keep recycling it. Sooner or later, it *has* to become distinctive, simply because you are. I always have a horde of promising ideas, and I'm dipping back into this silo or that to rework them, some I lose track of and they drift into oblivion, others rise up.

I generally let them decide. 

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I know you are probably catching up a bit, but I'll just lob this in here right now.  Considering how some people (myself included, more or less), especially new readers, find it difficult to parse some of the philosophical ideas behind the series, might it be possible to write a treatise on some of the more dense philosophical underpinnings of the series?  Obviously after TUC is done, since, spoilers/workload/stuff.  I've asked you about about some philosophy recommendations before and, as you said, most of the work is not "lay-person" friendly.

I'm probably a level below "lay-person" though, so parsing Derrida, Kierkegaard, Kant, Nietzsche, etc. into parts that I can then apply to better understand the series takes a kind of mental gymnastics I think I am too old, not mentally limber enough for and lack the free time to do.  I'm thinking less a full book, more of just essays or something, just to point what might be a confused new reader, or one who has read the series and is interested in diving a bit deeper, in the right direction.

It was just an idea that might perhaps make the series seem less daunting to a new reader.  Something of a "companion" of sorts, but less plot-wise and more philosophically.  Perhaps even a series of essays, sell them as eBooks for a couple bucks a piece from your own site.

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"You've talked about writing an introductory prequel type thing to ease readers in - have you thought about the First Apocalypse or the period when the Consult openly operated in the Three Seas?  The latter especially interests me, since I can't imagine how or what the Consult did in that period."

I have, but the problem with different era's is that they work against the point of such a prequel, which is to level the steep learning curve in TDTCB. I'm feeling good about Uster Scraul, but the problem here is that his story largely takes place after the First Holy War.

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"As far as negatives go the Whale Mothers fell flat for me, felt like a needless atrocity inserted purely for the purpose of scandal."

It's actually as old as the Dunyain, compositionally speaking. The controversy the books have incited has created a lot of different lens for a lot of different readers (myself included), I appreciate this, but the theme of patriarchy has been front and centre from the very beginning. From my standpoint, a great deal of narrative engineering underwrites the discovery. Whether it reads as ad hoc provocation or no, Mimara has *always* been marching to the room of the Whalemothers, I assure you.

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"is that although the story lines don't diageticly interact, they thematically and informationally interact in really smooth ways, thus things we learn in ishterebinth reflect things we learn in ishual and the reader can then synthesize these parcels of information to better understand the resonance or significance in momemn, for example."

The structural parallels were what made me realize that this was it's own book, and provided me with what felt like endless grist when it came to the subsequent rewrites. I appreciate the nod.

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"But then I'm really weird and think serwe is one of the very best and best written characters of the first series, so I'm biased to select for things that reinforce my position."

And her character remains a thematic lynchpin of the series. But people have difficulty identifying with waifs, let alone one trapped between two very different masculine brutalities, like Serwe. Few people are inclined to root for losers, and a good many are inclined to confuse rooting for losers with rooting for *losing.*  
 

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"You mentioned priors, and I recall you were once surprised at the acronym heuristic for "ever are men deceived" proliferating after WLW, were you also surprised by other stylistic  tics readers latched onto, such as "death came swirling down"? I know words are wind, if you don't mind me tugging my braid here a bit, but what's most surprised you that it became a "thing" associated with your style?"

 

Maybe I was surprised--I can't honestly remember. I have bad habits as a writer, tics, aversions, so on--every writer does. This is what makes it easy to identify things like the EAMD observations that I'm always looking for opportunities to lard into the text in rewrites as bad habits instead of bad *choices.* Arguing the latter is more difficult because it presupposes I'm up to something different and challenging, and this is generally perceived as something positive.

 

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