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Advice to a Non-Reading Writer

I would not send a poor girl into the world, ignorant of the snares that beset her path; nor would I watch and guard her, till, deprived of self-respect and self-reliance, she lost the power or the will to watch and guard herself. —Anne Brontë, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

As an editor, I would not send a writer into the world ignorant, nor would I do all the work for him, depriving him of self-respect and self-reliance, of the power to learn, to improve, and to correct himself.

Most of the inquiries I receive for editing are followed by requests for free services or for writing advice. A good number of those requests are for manuscripts not yet ready for editing. But then there are some, such as the one received in February this year from a new writer for whom English is a second language. He prefers graphic novels over prose novels, and feels as if his head will explode if he reads more than a few pages at a time. And yet he wants to be a writer.

Although I have enjoyed helping fellow writers prepare their work for publication, my experience with non-reading writers has been mostly negative. Therefore, the decision to step aside was a matter of moments. However, not wishing to leave him without any aid, I offered this:

Congratulations on writing a book!

Since you asked for advice, allow me to be honest. I am concerned you’re not a reader, because one of the keys to good writing is good reading.

I write fantasy and science fiction most of the time, but my reading is wide: histories, biographies, mysteries, classics, poetry, and more. If all I read were other fantasy and science fiction novels, I might be tempted to imitate those stories rather than writing my own. Reading widely helps me to come up with fresh ideas for my work and fresh approaches to storytelling.

So, my first suggestion: Start reading. Read wisely. Read much.

Second suggestion: If you have not already done so, print out the entire manuscript so you have a copy you can hold. Then, as you revise the book, cut it up and rearrange it. Spread the pieces of paper out on a table or a counter or even on the floor, and then tape them back together as you see the order / the shape of the book.

Whatever scenes or parts you decide to omit, set them aside in a folder or paperclip them together (you might need them later). The stuff you intend to keep, tape those paragraphs back together.

Why do this with actual paper, tape, and scissors, instead of doing it digitally on the computer? Because it helps you see your work differently. In fact, your brain will process the information differently while you handle the physical objects instead of merely reading the words on the screen.

Once you have the manuscript cut-and-taped back together, the next step begins. Open a new document on your computer, and start typing the story in its new form. You may see scenes that need to be expanded, details that can be omitted, holes in the plot, and more.

Then, after the manuscript has been revised and retyped, now’s the time to find at least one trusted reader, but no more than five readers, who will read the entire manuscript and give you honest feedback.

Be willing to accept their criticism. Consider what they say. If their responses are too vague (“I like it” or “it’s boring”, but without any useful details), then ask questions until the readers can give you specific answers (“I don’t like the plot because_____” or “The middle part is boring because _______”). Honestly consider what they say, and determine whether or not it will be useful to your work.

Then, revise the manuscript again.

At this point, the book should be ready for other eyes. Go ahead and find a new batch of trusted readers, make any further revisions you deem necessary, and then search for an editor.

All through the process, be reading. Study the structures of other novels, the order of short stories anthologies, and so on. This will help your writing in more ways than I can name.

Writing is hard work, but it can be rewarding in many ways.

It can stab at your pride, but it can transform you, too.

No one will care about your work as much as you do. Know that truth. Accept it, and don’t be upset when other people aren’t as nice as you’d like them to be when they offer opinions about your writing or your storytelling. Allow them to be honest. It is the ultimate kindness they can offer, and it will help you grow as a writer.

My best wishes in your endeavors, and I hope to hear good news about you in the future.

As a young writer — still a teenager — my pride was wounded when I encountered a writer who offered criticism alongside her praise. I thought I was better than I was, and she showed that I still had a long way to go.

A similar sting may have accompanied my advice to this writer. He never replied. Perhaps he didn’t actually read the message. I can only hope he reads widely and sharpens his craft.

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Literary Scam, or Social Media Run Amok?

NY Literary Magazine has been shut down by social media negativity after an ill-timed contest notification was sent on Christmas Day.

Was such an attack warranted?

I don’t know the truth, but I do admit to looking askance at the “nomination”. I’d never heard of the publication, and was unsure of the contest’s legitimacy.

And the magazine sure seemed to cave easily to the accusations.

However, there is an endorsement from Writer’s Digest, and one from the NY Times, either of which could have been confirmed after a simply inquiry. Did any netizens investigate before crying “Fake!” to the world?

Below are the invitation and the response from the magazine. Judge for yourselves.


Merry Christmas and Congratulations!!!
Dear Keanan,
You were nominated for the NY Literary Magazine “Best Story Award”.

Click here to submit your entry:
https://NYLiteraryMagazine.com/Best-Story-Award

Submission period ENDS on December 31st, 2017.

Merry Christmas!

Best wishes,

The NY Literary Magazine

PS: You can now add to your bio and credentials
that you are a 2017 Best Story Award Nominee.

“The prestige of such literary awards is immense for an author…awards drive up sales” – The NY Times

“Can do wonders for your writing career… one of the best ways to get your writing noticed!” – Writer’s Digest


Re: NY Literary Magazine Scam

Dear Author,

This is an official email from the NY Literary Magazine (NYLiteraryMagazine.com) regarding the Best Story Award contest, the nomination emails, the scam complaints, and the cyberbullying attacks upon our authors and our magazine. (This is the last email you will ever receive from us.)

What is this about?
On Christmas, an email was sent from NYLiteraryMag.org telling authors they were nominated for the Best Story Award contest and inviting them to submit their book to our contest.
It appears these emails angered people and caused them to believe our contest is a scam.

We would like to apologize for any annoyance, confusion, disappointment, or aggravation which the marketing email you received on Christmas may have caused you.

Additionally, there have been many inaccurate accusations circling around and cyberbully attacks upon authors who were awarded our award.
This has ruined our business and caused us to permanently shut down our magazine and contests.
Everyone who purchased an entry into our contest has been refunded.

After years of work on this magazine, we have had to fire our entire team of loyal, hard-working, full-time employees.

Who are we?
The NY Literary Magazine was a print and digital magazine.
We published free-to-read digital poetry anthologies, ran free-to-enter short story contests and poetry contests, interviewed authors, and wrote helpful articles.

The scam allegations are regarding an email sent out from NYLiteraryMag.org about our “Best Story Award” contest.
This is indeed a book contest we started and were running on our website with an extremely affordable reading fee.

What happened?
Regretfully, we outsourced our marketing to an Asian company to help us spread the word about our Best Story Award contest.
We believed they were experts and could help us reach authors.
It was our terrible mistake to entrust the entire marketing campaign in their hands including the marketing methods, approach, and text.
They sent out a marketing email on our behalf, from an email at nyliterarymag.org, at an unexpected time for USA time zone on Christmas.

Unfortunately, it appears they chose the wrong approach and terminology when inviting authors to our contest by telling them they were nominated instead of simply informing them of our contest and inviting them to join it.
It was our terrible mistake not to closely supervise and monitor each marketing action they did and the text they used.

For other businesses such as VIP Entrepreneur clubs (with ~$1,000 annual membership fees), sending a nomination email instead of an invite to join their clubs worked very well. Our marketing agency, therefore, presumed this was a good way to approach authors as well. They even thought that authors who didn’t want to/couldn’t afford the $15 entry fee to our contest would still be happy to be nominated and be able to mention it in their bio.
They did not think there would be an issue with nominating multiple authors.
Nor did they think it would annoy authors to be nominated.

We apologize to all the authors who feel they were misled by being nominated.

In reply to the inaccurate accusations:

We are shocked at the number of inaccurate allegations which are circling on social media regarding us, our magazine, our anthologies, and contest. To make matters worse, some forum threads are locked and comments disabled on websites so we can’t even answer the accusations.

“The award seal is fake.”
The award seal is a PNG image. What exactly can be fake or “real” about a PNG image?
We never claimed winners would receive a physical, solid gold sticker for their book.

“You’re selling award seals for $15. Everyone is an award winner, you just have to buy the award to win.”
These accusations are completely false. We are not selling award seals. We never have and we never will.
Nowhere on the sales page does it say we’re selling award seals.
$14.95 was the initial entry fee (which was later raised to $19.95) for the contest. Award winners were to receive an award seal for free.
Stating “everyone is a winner” is also false. We have 1 winner per month per genre.
Obviously, those spreading these false accusations and outright lies didn’t even visit the website or the contest’s page.

“The nomination email came from a mailing list. Only scammers use mailing lists!”
It takes a lot of time to contact people one by one. Even authors use mailing services to contact all their readers in one go rather than sitting for days sending individual emails.

“The authors you say won an award don’t have it on their book covers. It’s a scam! They didn’t really win!”
It is up to the award-winners if and how they choose to use our award seal.
All we do is inform the winners. Whether or not they choose to use our award seal is up to them.
We showed 3 examples of how awards CAN be used on a book’s cover for illustration purposes.

“Their free contests prove they’re scammers. It’s a trick, a way to make you like their magazine.”
Interesting. So we’re a “scammer” if we charge entry fees and we’re a scammer if we don’t charge entry fees.
Hard to please everyone. At least our poetry contest winners were happy when they won our free-to-enter contests.

“They say you were nominated but have to pay to be nominated.”
Authors nominated were not required to pay anything to be nominated.
Some nominated authors posted the picture of our trophy statute they were nominated for and used it for their marketing without paying to enter our contest. They didn’t have to pay to be nominated.
If they did not want to enter our contest, they did not have to. No one was forced to enter.
Those who wished to have a chance to win the awards paid the low entry fee and entered their book.

“Your contest is a scam. You are stealing people’s money.”
Some authors think our contest and magazine is a scam due to the marketing email they received about being nominated.
Our contest was a normal book contest with a low entry fee.
Many contests have entry fees. Whether or not the marketing email was misleading or annoying is another matter but that does not turn our entire magazine and contest into a scam.

“There is no submission page! It’s a scam!”
Due to a PayPal IPN issue, clients who purchased an entry were not automatically redirected to the contest submission page. Moreover, after many people reported us as spammers, our confirmation emails no longer reached our clients’ inboxes.

We have been dealing for the past days with hundreds of support tickets.
Each of our clients has been given the URL to the submission page where they successfully managed to submit their work, while we worked on fixing the IPN and form issue. It was only today that we realized what the issue was after PayPal sent us the email you see us above.

There is a contest submission page. People have been using it to submit their work.
These allegations that there is no submission page are false.

“Your stealing money! People can enter the same contest for free on another page on your site.”
Someone claimed our Best Story Award contest (which is a full-length story/book contest) is the exact same contest as our free-to-enter short fiction story contest. These two contests are completely different. One is for books the other for short fiction stories up to 2,000 words. Seemingly, this person did not visit the contest page or bother verifying facts.

“Stop trying to pretend you’re a literary agency!”
This comment which was posted on our “List of 20 Top Literary Agents Representing Fiction Authors” really surprised us.
The article is a resource listing 20 top literary agents with contacts to them or links to their websites.
Nowhere on or off our site did we ever claim to be a literary agency in any form or manner. We are not a literary agency. We are a magazine.

“Scammers always put “NY” in their name. It’s a red alert flag.”
NY is one of the biggest publishing centers. We had no idea the city/state’s name has a reputation as a scammer. That person should perhaps inform the NY Times to change their name and branding as well.

“The reviews you quote from authors are fake! They didn’t enter your contest. You’re using them to bait others.”
The authors who were featured on our sales page were all indeed awarded the “Best Story Award” by our magazine.
Yes, they did not pay to enter this contest. They submitted their book for review to our magazine on their own accord at some point during 2017.
We awarded them this honor because we believe their book is great and they deserve the award.
We have a right to award an award to anyone we want to.
We quoted exactly what they said in reply to our email in which we told them they won our award.
We did not quote anything which they did not say. We did not invent, modify, or add anything to what they said.

“On the PayPal receipt, it says Goodwin Media Group not NY Literary Magazine! Scaaaaam!”
Yes, the magazine is run under the umbrella of Goodwin Media Group (GMG). Many websites are owned by companies which have different names than the actual website domain name. We informed our customers on the thank you page after payment that they would see GMG on their PayPal receipt.

“The quotes on your page are fake.”
We have a section talking in general about how winning an award can help an author.
We quoted what various reliable sources such as The Independent Publisher and others have to say about how winning an award or being placed in contests is helpful for an author’s career, for their credibility, and for getting more sales etc.
We quoted true facts about winning awards and contests in general. We did not lie and say this is what they said about our contest.

“Your anthologies are fake.”
There is nothing fake about our anthologies. They are filled with original art and with poems written by real people who submitted their work to our mag and were overjoyed about being published. We even offer the anthologies in a free-to-read digital format.

Since the founding of the NY Literary Magazine, we have worked long and hard to turn it into a beloved and respectable magazine. We worked hard to design each of our free-to-read anthologies, read through thousands of free poetry and short story submissions, write articles to help authors, provide useful resources, and grow our readership. We did all this work in the past years at our own cost.

“You hired an Asian provider. Ha! That proves you’re scammer.”
American marketing agencies charge extremely high fees.
Many companies outsource their marketing to Asia/India.
There are tens of thousands of Asian marketing companies on sites such as Upwork.com
It is very hard to know who is good or not.
Simply hiring an Asian marketing company does not make us a scammer.
If an author hires a Phillipino assistant for $300/mo to answer emails, this doesn’t make the author a scammer either.

“The poor Asians! All the scammers always blame them.”
We are not the only company who has had bad experiences with outsourced providers.
It’s a matter of luck.
Yes, we know we made a mistake by not monitoring all the marketing campaigns.
But that one wrongly worded email does not make us scammers.

A big apology to all the authors who are suffering due to the lies spread about them “buying” an award seal from us…

For two years, we’ve been running free-to-enter poetry and short story contests and publishing free-to-read digital magazines and print anthologies. We even spent time training and monitoring 20 interns who read through thousands of free poetry submissions this summer.

We made tens of writers around the world happy. Writers published by our magazine sent us heartwarming thank you notes. Some said being published is what gave them the strength to continue writing especially after receiving discouraging letters from agents and publishers they contacted.
Others from extremely poor countries (Nigeria, Botswana, India) were overjoyed to have an opportunity to submit their work for free to a magazine and to have their voices heard.
We featured writers of every nationality, gender, race, religion, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.
Even our interns enjoyed working for us and were grateful for all the things they learned.

Since our anthologies are free, our poetry contests are free, and submissions to our magazine are free, we needed a way to sustain our magazine for the future, which is why we launched the Best Story Award contest.

We are completely devastated and shattered from the extent of hate mail, comments, messages, tweets, lies and false accusations that were posted online which have totally blackened our name and destroyed our magazine – all based on a single email with one wrongly-worded sentence.

It’s shocking how many people have posted blatant lies which weren’t based on any facts and how many more people have shared, retweeted, and quoted those lies without ever checking to see if it’s true or at least visiting our website.

Worse still, it is truly horrible to see how cruel some humans can be.
Some unsuccessful, jealous authors are spending days contacting the fans of authors who won an award from us or received a book review, telling their fans lies in an attempt to ruin the author’s reputation, turn their readers against them, destroy years of their hard work to build up their careers and readership, and ruin their lives for no reason and under the guise of “saving them from a scam”.

We love our authors and feel terrible to hear what some of them are going through thanks to these misguided people! This has been a heartbreaking Christmas.

We hope those people who spread the lies and worked so hard to destroy honest people’s lives are now satisfied.
We have closed our contest. Refunded everyone who entered.

There will be no more free-to-enter contests. No more free-to-read anthologies.
No more articles. No more anything.

We had the heartbreaking task of firing our team of loyal, hard-working employees. 10 people are now jobless after Christmas.

Please leave the poor authors alone. They did nothing wrong by receiving a book review from our magazine or receiving an award from us. Stop ruining their lives for no reason. Go work on your book instead.

To all the rest of you, we wish you all the best success in your career and a happy life!

Sincerely,

The NY Literary Magazine Team

Copyright © 2017 NY Literary Magazine, All rights reserved.
This is the last email you will ever receive from the NY Literary Magazine.
Our mailing address is:
NY Literary Magazine
Unit 31321 808 Commerce Park Drive
Ogdensburg, NY 13669
 

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Advice to a Young Writer

Advice to a Young Writer

This message from a young writer arrived last week via my website:

I am interested in writing teen fiction light novels. The genre I would like to work with is fantasy, adventure, and space. What does it take to become a fiction writer? What steps did you take? and How did you accomplish your work? I am still working on my fiction story. I created a link [omitted]. Just to get a head start.

A few days later, when I had time to provide a lucid reply after sleeping hours and hours, I wrote back:

Welcome to the land of stories! We writers are an odd bunch, living so often as we do in worlds of myth and make-believe.

How does one become a writer? One writes.

A lot.

Like all crafts, writing takes time and practice. Often, the first book written will not be the first book published. Many writers have manuscripts that will never see publication, because those were their practice books. Maybe book three or book five is the one finally published, the one readers might think is the author’s first book ever.

Dragon’s Rook took twenty years from concept to publication. Most writers don’t take that long. I was busy making a living while writing short stories and poems, submitting them to contests or magazines, and then — at long last — finishing a novel.

However, there are many unfinished novels. Some I threw away, because the time to write them had long past. Some I kept, because I still have a passion to complete them.

I can’t give you any rules or checklists to guide your journey. It’s unique to you. However, all writers become writers by — drum roll, please! — writing.

Learn all you can about constructing compelling storylines, creating intriguing characters, writing dynamic dialogue, and even learn proper grammar and sentence construction. Good paragraphs are structured like good jokes: not that they are all funny, but that they build toward a strong ending. Write a strong sentence, write a strong paragraph, write a strong scene. Repeat until you have a chapter, until you have another chapter, until you finally have a book.

Avoid cliched phrases or trite characters. Avoid lazy writing. There may be only a limited number of stories in the world, but find a way to tell your story in a fresh way.

Be open to constructive criticism. Not nasty put-downs, but honest feedback meant to help your work improve. Be humble and teachable. Be ready to stand up for your story choices, if necessary, but also be ready to consider other options. Be willing to look at the story honestly, and to see its flaws as well as its strengths.

I saw on your website that you have some of your story posted. A word of caution: Avoid offering too much of your work for free, or too soon. A chapter or a scene might be okay, or a short story related to the novel not included in the book itself. (Many writers are offering free short stories or deleted scenes as bonus material for readers.)

I wish you all the best on your journey, and I hope to hear good things about you in the future.

Sincerely,
KB

Any other advice you’d give a young writer?

 

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Evocative

Took this shot with a 1:1 lens at sunset in December, and we were losing light fast, so settings for one shot weren’t accurate for the next shot. Still, I like this image. It’s been brightened and sharpened and filtered, and remains imperfect, but it evokes other images.

If this were a book cover, what kind of story would it contain?

Jamie at the campus
(c2016, KB)

 

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When Gaerbith Met Kieran

Struggling to complete this scene. I’ve already composed the first paragraphs of a scene that comes later, involving these characters, but am not sure how to proceed with this fight scene. It should be intense, I think, but witty.

Perhaps I am asking too much of it.

From the Plains rose a smudge of green that grew or shrank depending on the swell of the land as they travelled. Days later, it revealed itself as trees, and in two more days, the trees revealed their size, giants standing arm-in-arm.

Yanámari halted her mount on a grassy rise and looked East. “The Guardians.”

Gaerbith nudged his horse up the slope and joined her. Thick limbs intertwined, and massive trunks were separated only by the shadows between them. Somewhere beyond them light flashed, perhaps sun reflecting from the glass observatory built by King Meresh in long ages past. How had it survived the war and all the centuries after?

“The House of the Sky,” Gaerbith said, clasping Yanámari’s hand. “Home to your mother’s ancestors.”

“That blood is too remote to claim any kinship here.”

“Still. Almost home.”

By nightfall, they rested in a hollow among the tangled roots of the guardians. Fallen branches provided enough fuel for a fire in a small pit dug where the Plains sidled up to the trees, and a tiny brook trickled out from the shadows as if it had been awaiting their arrival before springing up from the ground. Gaerbith and Yanámari sipped handfuls from the rill spilling over tumbled stones, and the horses drank from the little pool it formed before disappearing into the tall, waving grass. Animals shuffled and snuffled somewhere beyond the Guardians—familiar night noises—but when a sudden silence fell, both horses lifted their heads, chins dripping, and pointed noses and ears toward the darkness.

A faint shrr of cloth against cloth sounded a moment before the quiet firmness of a careful footfall.

Reaching over his shoulder, Gaerbith gripped the hilt of his sword. “Come, you. No skulking. Show your face.”

He did not expect the answering chuckle, or the pleasant low voice that accompanied it. “That sword is nigh man-tall. Exchange it for a stave, and we will have fine sport.”

A thick staff flew from the shadows. Gaerbith caught it more by instinct than sight.

 

c2017, KB, for Dragon’s Bane, a novel

 

The connection between these two guys is a minor plot twist — revealed to the reader earlier in the story, but not yet known to Kieran. And, at this moment, not known to either guy, because Gaerbith does not yet know it’s Kieran who is challenging him.

 

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Story Mines: Dreams and Family Lore

Story Mines: Dreams and Family Lore

Dreams and family history are two rich story mines. Below are a couple examples from my life:

This morning, shortly before waking, I had a long and detailed dream about my old job. There were new faces and new ideas, and none of the rookies seemed unsettled to see me, but started telling me what was going on, whose idea was whose, what worked, what didn’t, and why.

However, before I could meet the new employees or reach the new workspace (a shiny new and bright concession stand, one of many places I oversaw in the old job), I had to pass people with whom I used to work. They didn’t greet me or smile, but immediately began complaining about my absence. They were sarcastic, passive-aggressive, unhappy.

When I tried to leave that little conclave of depression and blame, they followed me, still complaining, still muttering. None of them, however, set foot into the bright, new workspace.

I turned around from admiring the new setup and speaking with the smart, young assistant manager, and looked out the open door to where the conclave gathered in the dark. They shot ugly looks, quieted but never stopped muttering.

That’s when I woke.

That’s also when I was reminded that 1) those burdens are no longer mine to bear, and 2) vision and gratitude turn on the lights.

(originally written March 1, 2014)

———-

Most of my social media connections know what I think about racism, the pernicious, persistent misnomer that’s not about race — we’re all the human race, there is no other — and all about skin color and ethnicity: Racism ends when we let it end. When skin color and ethnic origins are simply allowed to be, without the assumption or the weight of something ugly attached.

I don’t tend to make ethnicity a big deal in my stories. People are who they are, who they decide to be, who their actions lead them to become, and sometimes their origins have an impact on that.

The Deer Place“, however, directly addresses racism, and mixes elements from family lore and my father’s childhood. He recalls being called a “dirty Indian” and other names when he was young. He also had a special place on the mountain where he met the deer, and one day he discovered where they went.

(originally written February 28, 2015)

 

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W: When Characters Attack!

W: When Characters Attack!

What happens when a writer grows weary of his characters?

What happens when they fight back?

One is reminded of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle attempting to rid himself of Sherlock Holmes at Reichenbach Falls, or the author in Stranger Than Fiction whose protagonists never make it out alive.

Or perhaps the writer realizes she’s dug herself into a literary hole and doesn’t know when or how to end the story. (Lost, I’m lookin’ at you. And you, too, Once Upon a Time, which should have lasted only a season or two, before you misused your great cast and intriguing premise to go screaming off the rails into soap opera badlands.)

W is a 2016 South Korean television drama in the vein of Stranger Than Fiction, Secret Window, The Truman Show, The God Hater, and other stories where the characters confront or interact with their authors, their audiences, or their creators. In this series, comicbook characters become aware of their fictionhood and enter the real world to confront their creator.

First, the protagonist learns why a shadowy figure is trying to kill him and turns the tables on his creator. then the villain also realizes he can enter the other dimension, and demands of the creator a face and an identity.

How the story begins:

Kang Cheol has a few loyal associates upon whom he relies, but when a mysterious woman saves his life more than once, he’s intrigued. Although the police are seeking her as a material witness and a suspect in the multiple attempts on his life, Kang Cheol hides her in order to protect her not only from the police but also from his murderous stalker.

Meantime, his television station, W—which stands for Who and Why—broadcasts and solves cold cases that the police have abandoned. He has earned a golden reputation in society for his ingenuity, wealth, generosity, and dogged pursuit of justice.

Oh Yeon Joo is alerted by her father’s fellow artists that he is missing. He went into his office one day, and although he was never seen leaving, he cannot be found. As she’s standing in his office, searching for clues, a bloody hand reaches through his art tablet and pulls her into the world of W. Without valid ID, money, or other resources, she attempts to navigate the comicbook world and find a way back to her own.

Oh Seung Moo has made his fortune and his reputation with W, finally rising from obscurity to fame with the bestselling series. Why, then has he written an abrupt ending for the protagonist—a bloody death without the satisfaction of a solved crime? After all, fans have been awaiting the revelation of the villain who killed Kang Cheol’s family.

But Kang Cheol will not die, and he begins to affect the story from the other side of the tablet. Seung Moo is no longer in control of his creation.

Has Seung Moo run away, unable to cope with success? Or is he suffering a common literary malady—an inability to properly resolve the story?

And why does Kang Cheol believe Yeon Joo is “the key to my life”?

The answer to that, my friends, is a plot twist.

At only 16 episodes long, W is fast-paced. However, it does slow down a little on occasion, allowing the viewer to catch his or her breath and often poking gentle fun at kdrama tropes.

The cinematography is excellent, and the special effects—as characters pass from one world to the next, or as pieces of the comic are drawn and then appear in the webtoon world—are top-notch and deceptively simple. Some effects are in-camera rather than digital, lending a level of reality to the cartoon world.

W would fit nicely into any of these genres: horror, fantasy, thriller, mystery, suspense, romance, action, and more. It is twisty, unpredictable, and references many kdrama tropes then refreshes the cliches to turn the story in unexpected directions.

The reason for so many genres intermingling is due to the story being hijacked by the characters, who don’t know the cartoonist’s plans but simply want to live. And to live on their own terms.

Story themes include existence, humanity, determining one’s own life/destiny/future, and the roles and relationships among god/creator, devil/antagonist, and allies and enemies. Choices have consequences—and the choices and consequences become manifold as fictional characters no longer follow the plot but assert their wills on the story. Viewers of varying philosophies or worldviews will find this an intriguing tale.

Currently, W is available on Viki, which allows viewers to comment during the show. However, during your first viewing of the show, I suggest turning off the scrolling comments at the top of the video window, as they can be distracting, annoying, downright funny. Best to watch without them, until you view the show a second time.

 

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