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.

Back to the Keyboard

No more excuses!

As the holidays come to a close, it’s time to get back to writing. I’ll wait until the middle of next week to start querying again for Book the First, but it’s time to get started on Book the Second (no relation.)

This one is a more classic swords-and-sorcery fantasy novel. It’s actually my third try (lifetime) at this particular genre, although none of the other two got even close to completion. They did show me some of the traps of the format, however, which is why writing is never a waste of time.

So… as I head out for the evening, I’m 133 words into my next novel. Hey, I didn’t say I’d done a lot, only that I’d gotten started.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Worldbuilding on the Cheap

As I mentionned earlier, I want to work on yet another synopsis/outline before starting on my next novel. But while both my novel and my other outlines take place in worlds close enough to the real one, that last outline is for a straight fantasy novel.

That means that before I can even get started on the outline, I need to do some worldbuilding. An idea won’t go far without context, after all.

That said, while I generally enjoy reading those complex prologues and essays on magic system… it’s probably overkill to write one just for an outline. Besides, I’m a big believer in the idea that reference materials should be easy to parse. So I kept to the essentials and produced enough content in an evening to allow me to get started on that outline.

Specifically, my document looks like this:

  1. Basic Tone: here, I described, in a couple of paragraphs, how I want the book to feel. Is it grim and gritty? Is there a central philosophical issue I want to tackle? Would the movie/series inspired by the book be dark and depressing, would it be a comedy, would it be an action fest? What would the sets look like? Ultimately, it’s my elevator pitch for the book as well as my mission statement.
  2. Cosmology: it’s a fantasy book/series. Obviously, I need some sort of weird pantheon of divinities and beings of power. For some series, this would be very important (David Eddings’s Belgariad springs to mind: the conflict between the Gods drives the plot forward.) In my case, however, it’s not the case. My deities are important in the vague metaplot I have in mind, but they’re not going to be the main drivers of the story, at least at first. Consequently, I can get away with a really generic description.
  3. Magic System: that, however, is really relevant to the story I want to write. I don’t need to go into the actual mechanics at this point (beyond the very general) but I do need to know what’s possible and what isn’t. Moreover, the magic system defines what my characters will be able to do: am I working with Aes Sedai throwing fireballs, or with Magisters who know lots about herbs?
  4. History/Backstory: I also need to know the basic political/social makeup of the world, and that means figuring out how things got that way. At this stage, I make a conscious decision not to use dates or timelines, but vague references instead. I don’t want to overcommit to an idea at this point, and besides I don’t need that level of detail yet.
  5. Geography: a.k.a. the World Map. I love world maps in fantasy novel. I like them gorgeous, detailed, and filled with hints and promises of things to come. But I have no artistic talent, and so I settle for a very basic drawing in Paint. Right now I only need to know where the countries are located.

And that’s it. Two pages of text and ten minutes of Paint-ing. Now I have more than enough to get started on an outline for a novel. I’ll probably work on a series outline too, but I suspect I’ll need to do more worldbuilding then. I’ll let you know when I get there.