Open for an Adventure

Taksara abides
Taksara abides

The best laid plans and whatnot. I can take comfort in the fact that everyone has a different process, and that what works for one person doesn’t work for everyone. I can tell myself that you have to follow the passion and write what you’re driven to write. I can even admit that there are tons of ideas out there, and they’ll turn into stories or they won’t, but they’ll happen in their own time.

This doesn’t really help that much when I set aside a book that I’m about halfway done with. That Americana road “urban” fantasy I had been working on, that I had been EXCITED about only 4 months ago? Haven’t touched it for more than a read-through and light tweaks since early December. It’s fair to say I’ve been spinning my wheels. Yes, I did finish two short stories that I’m super proud of, and they’re out in the world, being considered for a pair of anthologies.

But long-form…that’s another story.  Other than sending a querry for my novel Ink Calls to Ink out to a selection of new potential agents, it’s been hard going.

That said, I firmly believe that if you leave yourself open, the universe will surprise you.

See, I used to love epic fantasy. I’ve even toyed with writing it. And why not, really? I developed a very detailed fantasy world for the purposes of an RPG, intending to publish it as a sourcebook. And a key element of epic fantasy is the world-building, and almost by accident, I did that. With the world of Anwat just sitting around, what stories could I possibly tell there?

With that in mind, I put together the idea for a trilogy (because that’s how these things are done, right?). The first book was completely outlined, and the other two were roughly sketched out so I knew the bulk of what was to happen. I had nine characters and three (and a half) interweaving pieces. (The “half” is the POV of someone who falls in with the enemy, and I expect that part to get larger in later books, if not in a revision of the original outline.)

The tragic thing, at least from my perspective, is that I wrote the outline in December of 2007. The outline for a fantasy novel I REALLY wanted to write had been written over five years ago. Then things got in the way.

I can’t complain, really. I got a lot of other things done in that time. It wasn’t like I devoted my life to watching reality television. I did a lot of writing in that five years. I got kind of good at it. Maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t try it then.

But looking at it again with fresh eyes, I can feel that initial spark. I can see what I loved in these characters. And I can see how I can do a bit more and make it even better. I realize that even then, I wanted to work with strong female protagonists, and diverse characters. My primary character is Preston the Lesser, a tomboyish academic living in the shadow of her famous necromancer father, Preston the Black. A big part of her journey is learning to trust her intelligence while she forges her own path and identity outside of the university.

In fact, I broke the entire outline down by chapters. Of the thirty-two chapters in the original outline, Preston the Lesser gets thirteen of them. The next closest is Ulls, the disgraced hunters trying to outlive his reputation for cowardice, who only gets eight chapters–and he’s paired with two strong females for most of the book. Of the nine characters, five are female, and there isn’t a weak one in the bunch. That goes double for the one who embraces the evil at the heart of the story. Holy doodle, she’s incredible.

So where does this leave me?

I suspect that epic fantasy might be having a bit of resurgence thanks to a certain HBO series based on an unfinished fantasy epic which shall remain nameless. But who knows if that trend will continue long enough for me to write, rewrite, polish, and shop this?

And really, do I even care?

It’s not like I’ve ever based what I want to write on market forces. For crapsake, I wrote a pulp sci-fi novella called No Escape From Planet Motherfucker which is best described as Tarantino  in space! It’s not like I thought the market was clamoring for that nugget of weirdness!

There’s only one reason I should revisit the first book  in The Ravensgate Chronicles, and that’s if it excites me enough that I can picture knocking out 100,000 words of it and then following up with two more books of similar size. Based on my reread of the outline, I’m feeling it. I need to break it up a bit, add in a few more chapters to space things out more evenly and motivate the story a bit more. I can get that done this weekend easily enough.

It looks like I’m open for an adventure after all.



2 thoughts on “Open for an Adventure

  1. I do miss Anwat. I hope that, one day, the bug will grab you and you’ll want to run something in that world again for us.

    I wonder about your love of strong, female protagonists. I wonder how that interacts with your view of strong, male protagonists. Is it that you feel that the latter is overdone? Or perhaps you feel that strength for the one differs in a fundamental way from the other? Also, I wonder how you would, one day, write about a weak protagonist, male or female? That’s quite a list of wonderment. I am sure that it will be some time after your fourth or fifth series is in the can before anything like that really resolves clearly in your characters. I can’t wait.

  2. I supposed it depends on what you consider strength. Oftentimes, strong protagonists are merely given agency over their story, whereas that’s pretty much the given for male characters of a certain prominence. A strong character is a well written character, one who has real motivation and is well rounded, rather than a prop. Ideally, ALL characters should be strong characters.

    That said, of the nine core characters for this book, one of the characters who shows the greatest weakness (and thus the greatest potential for growth), is male. Ulls Sturmgard, the Yellow Wolf, is a character who is defined by the culture by a single but significant cowardly action years earlier, and he spends the bulk of the three books trying to redeem himself. I quite like working with flawed characters. You could make the case that Simon “Mr. Grey” in Cobalt City Blues is also a character who suffers from some character weakness, as it’s his wanting his old life back regardless of the risk that endangers the city and the world.

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