Thursday, April 2, 2015

B: Brent Weeks

My theme for the A to Z Blogging Challenge this year is a mishmash of books, movies, writers and TV shows that have in one way or another taught me something about writing and helped me be a better writer. Some inspired my own stories and a few taught me what not to do. Each post is a one minute lesson on writing. Also visit the IWSG where all the co-hosts are participating in the challenge. It will be inspiring.

Brent Weeks is one of my favorite authors. I enjoyed his Night Angel Series but I love his latest series, The Lightbringer Books. I read a lot of fantasy which means there are lots of magical systems being explained and created. But in the Lightbringer books, starting with The Black Prism, Brent introduces a form of magic unique to any other book I've read. It takes a bit or reading before the reader understands what the magic can do and what a Prism is. Then he takes that unique magic and twines it into social standings, wealth, reasons for war and even the personalities of the people using it. The magic is based on colors and just to give you a hint, if you're a Green, you're pretty wild and emotional. Weeks taught me not to fear inventing something beyond any preconceived ideas of what magic can be. If you're looking for a unique, fantasy world and an entirely new way to use magic, you can learn a lot as a writer from reading Brent Weeks.

Another thing Brent Weeks does really well is create heroes who do bad things for the greater good. Really, really bad things. Sometimes the reader is quite unsure of which character is the hero. He weaves secrets and springs betrayals that hurt as if it was personal. He's not George RR Martin, but Weeks has no trouble putting his characters in great jeopardy, burdening them with horrific losses and even sacrificing them. How can a fantasy writer not learn from such an author?

Lesson: Don't be afraid to create unique magic and strange worlds. Make the magic an integral part of the society. Put the main characters in major difficulties and make sure they suffer.

Are you familiar with Brent Weeks? Can you think of the oddest magic you're read about and wish you'd created? Can a writer make their characters suffer too much?


50 comments:

  1. This is great! It is fun to learn about different authors. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. I like the idea of a hero who does bad things. Life isn't black and white, so why should fiction be.

    Annalisa at Wake Up, Eat, Write, Sleep

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    1. Exactly. It isn't all Snow White and Prince Charming.

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  3. I'm not familiar with this author, but I understand the evil hero. We all routed for Walter White in "Breaking Bad," didn't we?
    ~Visiting from AtoZ

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  4. I haven't read Brent yet, but we are Facebook friends, and my daughter is a big fan. I was once at a wedding where the program quoted one of his books!

    2015 A to Z Challenge Co-Host
    Matthew MacNish from The QQQE

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    1. My daughter is an over the top fan too. Must have been a cool wedding.

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  5. I like the idea behind the magic. Are the characters anti-heroes though?

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  6. I love flawed characters--they're so much more relatable.

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  7. I'm not familiar with Weeks, but I don't read a lot of fantasy either.

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  8. anti-heroes are subject to the same... that same might be bad!

    Jeremy [Retro]
    AtoZ Challenge Co-Host [2015]

    There's no earthly way of knowing.
    Which direction we are going!

    HOLLYWOOD NUTS!
    Come Visit: You know you want to know if me or Hollywood... is Nuts?

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  9. Good guys who go bad for the right reason are fun to wrestle with and read

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  10. I am not familiar with Brent Weeks, I have to admit I'm not a fan of sacrificing characters. I blame Lord of the Rings - I read the first book at an impressionable age and the fact Boromir died scarred me for life ;).
    Tasha
    Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

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    1. My daughter likes to rewatch the movies just to see Boromir again. It was a very sad death.

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  11. His heroes sound fascinating! Thanks for introducing this author to me.

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  12. I don't read much fantasy (though I've started reading Game Of Thrones), but I think we can all relate to the idea of taking risks as a writer and making your characters suffer (even though that really hurts!). It makes the book better.

    I will make a point of checking this guy out. Thanks Susan!

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  13. I have not heard of Brent Weeks, but I think I want to check out his work.

    betty

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  14. Interesting post and I'd love to read more by this author, largely because you've written so beautifully about him. I'm involved personally with various magick systems but found in my first novel, I completely made up the practices the characters used, which came as a surprise. I did an amalgamation of several systems.

    I'm concerned also that my protagonist in my first novel, which is a W.I.P., suffers too much. I'm working it out in the second draft but for some reason she needs to suffer.

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    1. Suffering protagonist are the most interesting kind.

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  15. Hi, Susan,

    Thanks for sharing BRENT WEEKS with us. His new series sounds really different. It's wonderful to see a different and usual spin on magic...

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    1. I really appreciate writers who come up with something unique

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  16. Thanks for sharing Brent Weeks and the lessons you learned from him. I'm going to have to find that book since I have a magical system with colored swords . . . hmm. :)

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    1. His series might give you all kinds of ideas.

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  17. I haven't read anything by Brent Weeks but now I really want to read this series. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. It's worth it just for the complicated characters and the shocks and betrayals.

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  18. Intriguing! I love colors, and color-based magic is a great idea. I wonder what color I would be... :) I'm gonna have to check out those books!

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary - Epics from A to Z
    MopDog - 26 Ways to Die in Medieval Hungary

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  19. I haven't read much fantasy. I believe it something that I must venture into. Looks very intriguing. Thanks for sharing, Susan.
    *Shantala @ ShanayaTales*

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  20. I like the advice about not being afraid to create strange worlds. . .but I haven't heard of the author. Thanks for the info. Sometimes an author will just click with us as a reader, and we're lucky to find those books. That happened to me with a few scifi writers.

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  21. Happy B Day!

    Actually, I think authors are far more likely to be overprotective of their characters.

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  22. I haven't heard of those. How cool. I wonder what color I am.

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  23. Sometimes I come across a book or a movie and I think, "Man, I wish I'd come up with that!" Sounds like Mr. Weeks writes about real people, doesn't it? I guess we all do bad things every once in a while.

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  24. Sounds like the kind of book, and magic system, that I would enjoy. :)

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  25. "Lesson: Don't be afraid to create unique magic and strange worlds. Make the magic an integral part of the society. Put the main characters in major difficulties and make sure they suffer.

    Are you familiar with Brent Weeks? Can you think of the oddest magic you're read about and wish you'd created? Can a writer make their characters suffer too much?"


    No, no familiar with Brent. x( Don't throw tomatoes at me! I do love the lesson you outlined there. I don't like going by traditional things. When my character wants to whip out her magical rock, boy, she will. There are no spells to memorize or wands to utilize. She doesn't need to use her fingertips to direct the magic, either. I love inventing worlds and magic according to me! ;)

    Elizabeth Mueller
    AtoZ 2015
    My Little Pony

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  26. I don't know Weeks but I'll remember the name now.

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  27. I haven't come across Weeks but am intrigued to get hold of these books now. They sound rich and I can see how you've learned from these books. I love to read, but I also find reading to be a great teacher when you're a writer.

    If you get a chance, please pop over to my blog to see what I'm doing with A to Z. http:www.tdharveyauthor.com

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  28. I haven't come across Weeks but am intrigued to get hold of these books now. They sound rich and I can see how you've learned from these books. I love to read, but I also find reading to be a great teacher when you're a writer.

    If you get a chance, please pop over to my blog to see what I'm doing with A to Z. http:www.tdharveyauthor.com

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  29. Fabulous post! I've never read this author but you've sold me. It was enough that he does something really different and unique with magic, something you don't read in every fourth or fifth book . But, what really captured my attention is that he creates heroes who do really bad things but for good reasons. I like reading non traditional protagonists whose philosophy is that the end justifies the means. I definitely want to read his books

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  30. harry Potter got away with it. Other than that, yes a character can suffer too much. Its so easy to cross that line and the reader says, "Yeah right."

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  31. Sounds like a great read. I just finished Margaret Atwood's Handmaid's tale and was blown away by the book. Just a note, I am not keen on dystopian themed books. So I may give this book a try.

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  32. I haven't heard of this author before, but I love the idea of a hero doing "bad things for good reason." Very interest-piquing... *strokes invisible mustache*

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  33. Never heard of him. Thanks for the rec!!

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  34. whether i would eventually read the book or not, i can't say but your review is very persuasive, great job

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  35. I hadn't heard of Mr. Weeks. However I do think you can make a character suffer too much. But, that is my struggle as a writer.
    Scribbles From Jenn - Visiting from A to Z Challenge

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  36. Brent Weeks is still on my TBR list! Must get to him soon.

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  37. Haven't heard of Brent and don't read books with supernatural magic. I do like stage magic however and have read some books about that.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    A Faraway View

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  38. Sounds like a fantastic fantasy writer. I haven't heard of him but I'll keep him in mind.

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  39. I'm familiar with his earlier books and enjoyed them. I'll have to check out the Lightbringer stories, because that sounds like an intriguing magic system. Do you read Brandon Sanderson? He creates good systems too (in his Mistborn series) and I think you might enjoy his standalone book Warbreaker.

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  40. I'm not familiar with Brent Weeks.
    To be honest, I'm not clued up when it comes to the fantasy genre.

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  41. I hadn't heard of him before, but I think I'll check him out.
    You had me at ...bad things.

    Heather

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