Writing Another Book: Look-and-Feel

So, this is a fantasy novel. A quick glance at the Wikipedia definition will reveal that that’s not much of a description. Let’s try to define our project better (without falling into spoilers territory, of course.)

Of the listed subgenres, I think the story I want to tell is closest to heroic fantasy or sword-and-sorcery. It’s about people and their relationship with their world, not so much about world-shattering prophecies. At least, not at the start.

That said, to me, sword-and-sorcery reminds me of the works of Fritz Leiber and Robert E. Howard. And… that’s not what I’m doing. As wild and exotic as Aquilonia and Lankhmar are, I want my setting to be a bit more civilized.

For some value of “civilized”, at least. Think dastardly plots to discredit political opponents, secret alliances between baronies, the wheeling and dealing of merchant princes as they send explorers across the world to search for new luxuries and new markets.

Then add semi-common magic, fantastic beasts, and legends. And a fledgling scientifico-magical revolution, with scholars trying to find the rules governing the hedge-magic of the village midwife and the mysterious ways of the various faiths.

… makes me want to get back to writing, actually.

Writing Another Book: Authorial Intent

Since I have to do something besides waiting for answers to my queries, I might as well write a bit about Book the Second.

I’ve already stated that it’s not the sequel to Book the First, but I should probably state that I’m trying to write something significantly different. I’m switching genres (somewhat) by going for a classic secondary-world fantasy novel instead of First’s contemporary setting, but I also want to switch tone and voice. The point is to stretch my wings a bit and to exercise my skills more.

And that means making a few design decisions:

  1. This Isn’t About Me: I’m writing this book in the third person. I’m not quite sure which variation I’ll use yet, but I’m guessing I’ll err on the omniscient side;
  2. No, It’s Really Not About Me, I Mean It: A lot of the superficial traits of Book the First’s characters were either mine, or inspired by people I knew. I don’t get to use that trick this time. These guys are going to stand on their own.
  3. Let’s Have a Party (Maybe): I’m not quite sure on how far I’ll go with this yet, but I intend to have multiple viewpoint characters. I’m almost certain I won’t go as far as G. R. R. Martin, but writing something more like The Wheel of Time appeals to me. Well, the stylings, at least. I like my ideas and worldbuilding for this novel/potential series, but I don’t think it’ll be my cast-of-thousands, takes-a-whole-shelf fantasy series.

Obviously, I reserve the right to change those rules at any time, but I don’t intend to.

Next time, I’ll talk about the general look-and-feel of the fantasy world I’m envisionning.

Query Report 2: Don’t Panic (Yet)

So, it’s been roughly a month since my first query report, and since I said I’d try to do those monthly, I might as well get to it. Plus, there is something to report, so…

  1. Potential Agents Identified: 16 so far, and actually a bit more as some agencies don’t have in-house referrals, meaning if your first contact at that agency isn’t interested, you’re free to query the rest of the agency in due time. I didn’t get much research done in the last month, as I ran out of mental stamina a few days after the first Query Report post.
  2. Query Letters Sent: 10. That includes the first six I’d sent prior to the first Report, two more I sent in early December, and the two I sent yesterday. In this case, the low progress was deliberate: I didn’t want my queries to fall into the huge pile agents have to sort through as they come back from vacation.
  3. Rejection Letters Received: 4. I’m trying very hard not to over-analyze those, as they’re more than likely only form letters. Still, one in particular was surprisingly positive. But the fact remain that they’re still rejection, and so I’ve began looking at ways to adapt my basic query to up my success rate.
  4. Ignored Queries: Rapidly approaching 3. Of those, only one is from an agency that doesn’t clearly state their response/no response policy. But it’s been on hold for long enough that I’m calling it dead.
  5. Manuscript Requests: And that’s the good news. One of the agent I contacted requested a partial manuscript. So far, I count this as a 1/8 success rate for queries (the two queries sent yesterday don’t count, obviously. )

So let’s hope for further good news this month!