Sunday, July 13, 2014

Tim Marquitz: Five Things I Learned Writing EXIT WOUNDS


Actions have consequences. For Frank “Triggaltheron” Trigg, those consequences involve prison. Specifically, an extraterrestrial prison where he and pretty much everyone he cares about are now trapped.

Bereft of weapons, magic, or a good lawyer, Frank plots a break out but the indigenous convicts and draconian guardians stand in the way. With time running out on Earth, Scarlett battling to control the mess left behind, Frank must find a way home before he ends up serving a life sentence.


1. Evolution is a must…but not too much, mind you.

When you’re writing anything, there’s a need for evolution within the characters and world, as well as the concept. It doesn’t have to a massive shift, the great quake of 1906, but it needs to be felt, to be noticed subconsciously, at the very least. The reader has to grow with the character, advance with the world or you’ll lose your readers. They need change to hang around, but never too much, which is the catch.

Go from bad guy to hero in the span of a book, and people are going to run their back on you. Go from pauper to prince, you’ll get the same reaction. While readers want to see these changes, they have the inherent understanding that life is difficult. They want to see the wrinkles forming, not turn the page and realize the guy they’ve been following the last few hours is suddenly older and graced with wisdom. No, they want to feel the miles trodden underfoot and suffer the bumps and bruises of that growth.

2. Originality is a burden not everyone appreciates.

As much as everyone openly pines about and lauds originality in fiction, there’s an even larger group of people who are hesitant to try it. They want different, but in small, easily digested bites that don’t upset the balance of the genre they’ve come to love. They read it for a reason and don’t want to muckabouts coming in and reinventing it too much. Genre boundaries often exist as a guideline for the readers as much as they are a border for authors. It’s okay to dabble across the line, but step too far and you’ll lose folks.

3. Subtlety is often your enemy.

Sometimes people just want to be smacked in the face with what’s going on it a book, and that’s okay. I’m often guilty of being too subtle, tossing a single line into a book that explains everything early on while the reader is still trudging through the rest of the story. And while that one line was brilliant—bias in full effect here, obviously—it can often be too subtle for a reader to recall. As such, for all its supposed brilliance, I’ve stumbled in weaving the plot together in the only way that matters: that the reader get it. It might well have been literary perfection, but if the reader overlooks it and never puts the pieces together, you’ve failed.

4. It’s okay to take a step back if your next is two steps forward.

Retreat IS an option. For me, writing the Demon Squad is a fairly linear task, each book building on the previous in an effort to eventually create a satisfying conclusion to the series. That said, you can’t just ramp up story after story, each building tension, and never have it break. That works for trilogies and standalones, but a series requires an ebb and flow of high and low, of action and introspection, of redemption and failure. Not every book can ratchet the series up in the same way, with the same intensity. It’s okay to take it down a notch, make a story less impactful upon the world and more personal to the character, but always bring it back up. Life is a roller coaster, full of dips and climbs and sudden falls. Your story shouldn’t be any different.

5. Go your own road.

While I mentioned earlier that originality is a burden, there is, and always will be, only one of you. While few appreciate a work so original it becomes a chore to comprehend, always—always—let yourself bleed onto the page. In the end, it’ll be your voice that makes the difference between a reader settling in or putting your book back on the shelf. Make everything you write a part of yourself, bring your experience and voice and loves and hates to your work, and people will gravitate to the honesty on the page.


Tim Marquitz is the author of the Demon Squad series, the Blood War Trilogy, co-author of the Dead West series, as well as several standalone books, and numerous anthology appearances including Triumph Over Tragedy, Corrupts Absolutely, Demonic Dolls, Neverland's Library, and the forthcoming No Place Like Home and Blackguards.

The Editor in Chief of Ragnarok Publications, Tim most recently compiled and edited the Angelic Knight Press anthologies, Fading Light: An Anthology of the Monstrous and Manifesto: UF, as well as Ragnarok Publications' Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters.

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