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The Maze Runner Series: A Lesson In How Not To Write

I read the Maze Runner series probably sometime in September. I can’t remember exactly, since this whole year has kind of gone by in a blur for me and I can’t remember exactly what happened when, but I think it was in that ballpark. Anyway, I read it after watching the first two movies (a terrible mistake for a reader, I know), and after accidentally reading spoilers (just a hint: never look up a book or movie on Pinterest before reading the entire series). Let me just say that after watching the movies I was severely disappointed. I NEVER say that when I read the book after watching the movie. Never. But the book was terrible. Another thing I never say: The movie was better than the book. And now I will stop complaining and actually tell you WHY these books were so terrible. I tried to keep it spoiler free, but it’s really vague that way, so spoilers for those who have already read it will be in parentheses and colored blue.

1. Dislikeable Characters

Three things you need for a good story: An interesting setting, a good plot, and perhaps most important of all is likeable characters. The Maze Runner had an interesting setting, no plot, and characters I wanted to punch for the majority of the series. I’m not even kidding. The main character and the love interest were quite possibly the most annoying of all.

Lesson number one from The Maze Runner: Make your characters likeable.

In the entire series I liked three characters. Three. And out of those, two died. Which brings me to my next point…

2. Unnecessary Character Deaths

Oh my gosh. You really don’t want to get me started on this one. In the first book alone, four characters died. Three of those four were significant characters. Was there any reason for their deaths aside from dramatic effect? No. Nothing in those deaths moves the story along, except for the first one, which was the one with the insignificant character. But the deaths of significant characters? No use. No reason. Just drama.

Which takes us to book two, the Scorch Trials. Only one character (that I can remember) died in this book, but I’m nearly sure that others did as well, given the fact that it seems James Dashner’s favorite hobby is killing off characters. This one was another major character, and another death that was mostly useless. The death had a lot more purpose in the movie, and I commend the screenwriters for fixing this.

In the third, two characters (again, this is just who I can remember) died, and again they were important characters, and again only one of them has any significance to the story.

Lesson number 2 from TMR: Don’t kill off characters unnecessarily.

It’s actually kind of funny timing, considering that at this time I was considering killing off one of my own characters and had been told it was unnecessary… (P.S. I did not kill the character.)

3. Disproportionate Emotions

All of what is mentioned in this section is in regard to the main character, Thomas, and most pertains to character deaths.

First, there’s the fact that Thomas considers one particular character to be extremely annoying (said character just so happens to be one of the three likeable characters in the entire series) (Said character is Chuck). When said character dies, Thomas beats the guy who killed {character} to death and then is emotional over {character}’s death for the entirety of the next book and into the third. What’s up with that?

Second, in the Scorch Trials Thomas meets a character who he just immediately trusts, right away, no rhyme or reason to it, just trusts him. This can happen sometimes, but it’s not super common and in this instance it’s just completely unbelievable. (This character being Jorge.)

And then there’s that one character, let’s call them character A (Teresa), who Thomas just connects with right away. Their connection is really weird. I can’t really explain it without giving stuff away, but they’re pretty much best buds from the start and then A is a jerk and stuff happens and Thomas still is nearly fine with being best buds with A! All that A did and you’re still only marginally distrustful? What is up with that?

Third, when one of the characters dies in the Death Cure dies, it’s a very emotion-heavy scene. They literally kill him in the most painful way possible for everyone involved. I’m not even exaggerating. How long does Thomas mourn him? Two chapters, maybe five. HELLO! He just died the most painful death possible and you brush it off just like that while you mourned the “annoying” character for a whole book and a half?! Where is your heart, man?

Lesson number 3 from TMR: At least make an attempt at getting emotions right? Please?

4. The Scorch Trials

Yes. The entire book.

Lesson number 4 from TMR: Never write a book in which your reader doesn’t know who to trust and who not to trust from one scene to the next. That’s just not cool.

Yes, I just put the lesson before the explanation. TMR did the above. Don’t ever do that. It makes your reader want to throw the book at the wall and leave it there. Don’t do it. Just don’t.

5. The Conclusion

Or lack thereof. At the end of the trilogy, nothing was explained or resolved. As a friend of mine put it, “It felt like my mom had been hinting at a really, really great Christmas present and I wasn’t sure what it would be but I knew it would be amazing and then it was just some hand-me-down clothes.”

The Two Good Things About The Maze Runner

Remember those three likeable characters I told you about? And remember how I said that the series had some interesting settings? Well the settings were well developed, and two of the three likeable characters were downright loveable (Newt and Chuck). If Dashner had fixed all his other mistakes, it would have been a good book. As it stands now, The Maze Runner is a terribly written books with some good ideas and characters thrown in just to keep you from throwing your book across the room at two o’clock in the morning.

So in conclusion, read the Maze Runner if you wish, but analyze it from a writer’s perspective and take notes.

 

Deep Worldbuild Project Part 6: History

Well, this post could be interesting. I don’t usually go real deep into the history of my countries. Aside from the one world in which most of the history is told in the series, so… Yeah. But before we move onto that I’ll give you the link to the past posts, in case you missed them. You can read them all here.

And now we start our history lesson. *takes a deep breath* Here we go.

Backstory first… Yep, backstory to backstory. This is already such a clear, concise post. Oh dear. Well, Themar is in a star system I created quite a while ago called the Alleruus System. In it are the majority of the rest of my story worlds. So, yeah. Backstory of backstory is now done. Now we get to the actual backstory. (I apologize for my rambling. Tired brains are not the best for clear writing. Please bear with me.)

In 4,000 BE (Before Execution), the Alleruus Star System was created. That comes with a whole bundle of planets, countries, peoples, etc. At this point, only the Morressir and the Dwarves lived on Themar. On other planets were humans, Elves, other Dwarves, etc.

For four thousand years the Morressir live in peace with each other, even though they’re probably at war with the Dwarves for a great majority of that time. I just don’t see the Morressir and the Dwarves getting along. They’re so entirely different that I can’t imagine they’d even try to find one thing in common. (I’m making all of this up as I go, so you’ll get a small look at my thought processes and whatnot. We’re learning this all together. :))

Then in about… 10 AE? The Elves from Titania (a rinky-dink, nearly forgotten world of mine) discover that they can create ships that can travel through air and space (because apparently their scientific advances are a lot faster than ours). They call them, creatively, airships. *gasp* So creative, right?! Yep, definitely tired brain. And I’m going off-topic yet again. I apologize. Anyway, these Elves decide to do some exploring and find Themar. They take a liking to it, and to Roenor and Adrelia in particular, they name them (apparently Hurg and Kira weren’t satisfactory, they had to rename them Elvishly. Elvishly? Yep, that’s a word now. Okay.

Anyway, they had some wars with the Morressir and Dwarves, of course, since they didn’t want to give up their land (who does?), but they eventually defeated the Dwarves and came to an agreement with the Morressir, because the Morressir are actually a very peaceful culture. They can be very stubborn, but they’re peaceful. So they were happy to make an agreement with the Elves. I’m repeating myself and being redundant. And I did it again. Oh well.

There was tension between the Elves and Dwarves for several hundred more years (until about 712 AE), during which some humans from Titania decided they wanted to move to Themar, as well. More conflict! That’s always fun. Anyway, they shoved the Elves out of the way, which meant tensions between their two races, as well. So at this point, the Elves like neither the humans nor the Dwarves, the Dwarves don’t like the Elves or the Morressir, and the Morressir pretty much try to avoid everyone. And humans honestly don’t really care, as a group.

So several hundred years later, in about 1420 AE, people are finally (mostly) at peace, and everyone’s (usually) happy. Hooray! Cheers all around!

And I’m thinking that the story that spawned in my brain will take place in approximately… 1994 AE? That’ll work.

Anyway, this is obviously a very loose history of the planet Themar, and I may or may not dig deeper later. I apologize for my rambly weirdness and invention of new words (actually, I’m not sorry for creating new words. Creating new words is awesome.) Thank you for sticking with me to the end despite my tired brain. Hopefully some small fraction of it actually made sense and you were able to learn something from it or at least enjoy it.

Bye!

(P.S. No one who looks back on this blog will ever think it was run by a professional. Oh well. It’s not run by a professional, so we’re all good.)

Deep Worldbuild Project Part 5: Religion

Welcome to the fifth installment of my worldbuilding series. If you missed the first four you can read them here: Map Outlines, Landscape and How It Affects Culture, Wildlife, Technology and Magic.

And now onto the subject at hand. For most of my stories I stick to the one I created several years ago, the Abban faith, which mirrors Christianity in every way. Usually I don’t bother with any others. For this series I’m still going to stick with Abban as the true faith, but Kaloris and Roenor are going to have one pagan pantheon as well, and the Morressir believe in something else, as well.

The Morressir’s beliefs are simple. They worship the elements. A few of them have been converted to Abban by the Adrelian Elves, but for the most part they worship the elements.

For the pantheon of Kaloris and Roenor I’m going to borrow an idea I had and barely explored for 2015’s NaNoWriMo story, The Queen of Feanor, that there are couples of gods for each thing. For instance, instead of Zeus being the god of thunder and the skies and whatnot, Zeus and Hera share the role.

These gods are called the Lankádi and are arranged thus:

Sahar & Luna – the moon

Misae & Kalinda – the sun

Tatsuhiro & Tamesis – evil/death

Calder & Naida – water

Callias & Nava – beauty

Davion & Asmara – love

Abridan & Abra – parenthood/marriage/home

Wilhelm & Aeron – war

Vayu & Arenda – air

Daichi & Sonia – wisdom

Barid & Vesna – messengers

Kaysar & Rane – rulers of the gods

The founders of Roenor and Kaloris believed in the Lankádi, and the Abban religion was introduced by foreign visitors, so at this point in time the Landákian and the Abban believers are fairly evenly numbered. Adrelia has the smallest Abban population of Themar, but word is spreading there, as well.

You may or may not want to put a wrong religion in your stories, you might just want to stick with Christianity or a Christian-based religion for your stories like I usually do. For this I just wanted to add a little more opportunity for conflict and redemption and whatnot in whatever Themar stories I might end up writing. It’s entirely up to you what you want to do.

I think that’s about it for this post, and I hope to see you again for the next post on the history of Themar.

Bye!

Deep Worldbuild Project Part 4: Technology and Magic

Welcome to the fourth installment of the Deep Worldbuild Project series. Yesterday’s post was about the wildlife, and before that we talked about map outlines and culture. Today’s post is about the technology and magic in Kaloris and its neighboring countries.

Let’s start with Kor-Baen, just because it’s at one end of the country and it’s my favorite. ;D

Kor-Baen is home to the Dwarves, as well as a couple of rangers. Well, “home” is a bit of an overstatement for the rangers, but whatever. Like with the rest of Kaloris, cities are placed at key locations, and like in the post about landscape we’ll see how it (landscape) affects culture, but with a narrower scope this time.

What kind of technology places have depends on what materials are available, which depends on the surrounding landscape. With Kor-Baen there’s a lot of rock and metal and not a lot of lumber. What lumber they do have comes from the small evergreen forest down by Dakineth, and with there being a large Patharai population in those woods, even the dwarves aren’t in a hurry to go in there for lumber.

That being said, they do go into the woods on occasion, usually about once every two months and then only in large numbers, to carry back as much lumber as they can because they know they need it.

In the three chief mining cities – Avuineth, Onolineth, and Istrineth – the technology is very simple. I mean, this is a medieval fantasy world, so all of it’s simple, but the technology in Kor-Baen is particularly simple. In the mining cities they have mining carts and tracks to assist them, and they use hand tools for the actual mining.

After they’ve extracted the ore they toss it into furnaces until it becomes liquid and they send it through a simple sieve to catch the rock and whatever else is mixed into the ore. From there it’s poured into molds and set aside to cool.

Sometimes the mining cities will send the purified iron to the river cities where it’s turned into wrought iron. Those facilities are powered by waterwheels. Those river cities also provide fish acquired from their ice fishermen.

In the rest of Kaloris, as well as in Roenor, the technology is fairly simple. They have a crude sort of plumbing that involves wooden seats over holes in the ground that lead to sewers, and the rest is medieval-esque. Stone ovens and fireplaces; letters and messengers for long-range communication (or carrier birds, sometimes); horses, wagons, carts, etc. for transportation; etc. Their navy consists mostly of fishing boats and a couple of caravels, so they’d better hope they don’t get into a war with Roenor and their large navy.

Audrelia has very little by way of technology. They use cooking fires, they have yet to adopt the plumbing systems that their neighbors use, and they walk everywhere unless they can find a stray flamingo. Yes, I said flamingo. The Morressir use spears for their fishing instead of the nets that even their Elven countrymen use. They stick only to necessities whenever possible.

Roenor has much of the same technology as Kaloris, but they have a more advanced navy, as mentioned above. In addition to a few fishing boats and several caravels, they also have quite a few galleys, longboats, and barques.

This post is titled “Technology and Magic,” but I think the latter will be very sparse on Themar. If there’s any at all it will belong to the Elves, who don’t use it very often because it’s unnecessary. In that case, the Adrelian Elves would use it more, and out of a wish for comfort. The Adrelian Elves are more foolish than the Elves elsewhere. I’m not entirely sure why, yet.

I guess that about wraps up this post. I’d share another chapter of my WIP, but I haven’t written more yet. I should do that. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the post and I hope you’ll stay tuned for tomorrow’s post. :) Bye!

Deep Worldbuild Project Part 3: Wildlife

Welcome to part three of the Deep Worldbuild Project. Part one was on map outlines (you can read it here) and part two was on terrain and how it affects the culture (read it here). Today we’ll be talking about the wildlife. That includes both the animals and the vegetation.

I hinted yesterday/Thursday at a couple of animals I was planning on making for this project. One was a panther-like cat for Kor-Baen and the other was a lot more vague: some sort of reptile for Egath Baen. Well I’ve fleshed both of those out a bit more, as well as come up with some new ones, and this is what I came up with.

Fauna

The cats are called the Shahr. One Sha, multiple Shahr.

Black panther

Black Sha

cougar-mountain-lion-puma-concolor-big-cat-53001

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In addition to black and tan, the Shahr also come in dark brown, white, tawny yellow, and even dark maroon and navy blue. Some have tufts of fur under their chins like bobcats. They’re extremely strong and aggressive, and they’re excellent hunters. They’re nocturnal and you don’t want to be caught by one; It’s nearly promised death.

I had an idea for another Kor-Baen animal yesterday morning, as well. A golden bear with grey, stone-like scales on its back. They’re called Patharai (or Pathar, for the singular), and though they’re a lot less aggressive than the Shahr, they’re more dangerous if they do decide to attack you. They’re twice the size of the ordinary bear, and between their claws, teeth, and armor, there is very, very little chance of you getting away from a battle with one alive.

 

In Egath Baen I decided to expand out from the reptiles and I also have a toad and a few butterflies in mind. But here I’ll just share the snake and the toad.

Horned Bush Viper Green

This is a Bush Viper, aka the inspiration for my Egath Baen snake. I’m combining it with a Horned Bush Viper to make it more menacing-looking.

Horned Bush Viper Yellow

Horned Bush Viper ^^. Those horns are going to be vital to the Egath Baen snake, the Varean. The singular and plural are the same for this one. A real Horned Bush Viper can be almost two feet long. The Varean can grow to three and a half feet. The Varean also has longer horns than the Bush Viper and can shoot venomous scales from them, each tipped with enough poison to kill a grown man in seconds. You don’t want to mess with one of them.

The toad we’re using as a base is the extinct Golden Toad of Costa Rica:

Golden Toad

We’re going to give this fellow some interesting attributes, as well. For instance, he can freeze anyone who looks at him. They don’t even have to look him in the eyes, they just freeze if they see him. For this reason he is called the Basilisk Toad. After he has frozen his victim, he gives a deep croak that brings all his reptile buddies slithering over to start their feast. It attracts the smaller lizards and snakes as well as the larger, and those unfortunate small ones become his own dinner.

Flora

I’m not going to be real creative with this part at this point. I’ll probably make some more stuff up later, but for now we’ll stick mostly to real life plants.

Adrelia has the most interesting flora, being tropical and whatnot, and a lot of its wildlife is in common with Egath Baen, since they have similar climates and terrain. Adrelia, for instance, has the same venomous reptiles and amphibians.

But in addition to the deadly, they share the beautiful. Here’s a sample of the flowers that grow there.

African Daisy Bird of Paradise Blue Water Lily Ombre Hibiscus Pink Hibiscus Pink Lotus Pink Orchid

Pistil Bloom Passion Flower Blossom Exotic Flower

Red Bihai Flowers Junction Heliconia Caribaeae

Unknown purple

 

This gives you the basic idea. Lots of bright, colorful flowers. They also grow dragonfruit, mangoes, pineapples, etc. (You should look up “dragonfruit plant.” They look like weeping willows meet cactus. They’re wild looking.)

 

I always hated this part of worldbuilding, but I think that was because I was trying to make everything completely from scratch. Basing your wildlife on something familiar is a lot easier, both on you as the writer and on your readers so that they have a point of reference.

Have fun making stuff up and playing around with ways to adapt existing things to your story world. :)

 

And here’s the next two chapters of my WIP, as promised. Enjoy!

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