World Building: Fantasy-Lands, Nations & Administration in ‘The Precipice Dominions’

Any Way is Possible

Some writers have great fun with literally creating lands, others skirt around preferring to deal with the persons and circumstances. As with all writing both alternatives are fine, if handled correctly. ‘Correctly’ being that for the former, the reader enjoys or is interested by the visit, for the latter that the reader doesn’t notice it too much. And there of course are varying degrees of both. For I would never claim one approach is better than the other. As for myself I work in the middle ground, this may be due to a certain impatience to get selected things done. Always looking for flexibility and trying to avoid anything which might to bog down the narrative

Setting Up A Land

Since my ‘world’ could be fixed in a sort of future of this world AND my personal current location is on the western edge of Europe there was a tendency to look to this continent as a basis for the lands and nations. There were a few obvious similarities to the current distributions of populations and shapes of the continent, but great detail was avoided. Justifying this was quite easy. There had been ‘The Ethereal Arrival’ and in consequence a number of upheavals in climate and land masses (the latter probably caused by flooding and changes in sea-levels; the records are still sketchy). Overall though I had ‘A Europe’ in mind.

Any Maps?

I have some seen some marvellous maps portraying the lands in which fantasy books are set. I did try this on a couple of occasions, but the narrative tended result in far too many re-drawing of boundaries, there were even a few rather pronounced geological events, so the idea was dropped as not conducive to my processes. It was hoped folk could roughly envisage the overall picture from the narrative.

Peoples and Nations

Having set a background of a past Great Disruption allowed me to play fast and loose with the general population spreads as suited the narrative. Actually a positive minefield should these books ever became good sellers. Whereas places such as Tuscatalia had some sort of vaguely recognisable Italian base and some could be identified as sort of Germanic this was not always so. I fear some people of some communities and nations would be upset that they appeared to have been supplanted by others, for this I apologise, there was no slight intended. Bear with me, your turn might well come in future volumes. On this subject I would cite our own….

Deep History

A journey throughout history will show that folk tend to move around a bit. Consider Burgundy, currently identified as being a central France, to the east. The folk started off somewhere in Scandinavia, were in part of Poland and moved westwards. In the turbulence ‘my’ world experienced `, once more I cite upheavals.

Politics

Since a great deal of Fantasy which is not ‘Urban’ tends to be set in eras prior to the era we would recognise as the late 17th Century, empires, kingdoms and princedoms proliferate. I decided on a ‘Europe’ wide empire. HOWEVER since I personally find all encompassing (and suspiciously efficient) cruel empires places where clichés tend to lurk, my option was for somethings little more chaotic and resembling the Holy Roman Empire. In my empire The Oakhostian the standard administrative unit is a princedom (with large smattering of city states and other favoured units). The princes themselves have to be wary of their grand dukes who are often the ones with the vicious backbone. Emperors in all shapes, sizes and levels of effectiveness have come and gone, often reliant of the ‘organs of state’ to hold the whole thing together. These backgrounds allowed for a degree of flexibility in an era where no one is totally in control, states within states conduct their own agendas, princes try to survive their own grand dukes and a young emperor who no one rates plans his own means of imposing his will. This avoids the often ghastly cliché of the ‘Emperor’s Finest’ who are either from a religious office or some proto- palace guard and if not handled properly pop up like a clutch of pantomime villains grinning (possibly twirling moustaches) and picking on usually defenceless folk, with no one thinking to pick them off in guerrilla warfare.

Religion

First I am a Christian, by choice Catholic, with beliefs on Inclusivity which would probably get me finger wagged by a bishop and this I daresay has some sorts of influence. Historically once a religion becomes subsumed within the state apparatus there can be a tendency to become moribund in fervour of faith and more concerned with inconsequential minutiae. Thus was created in my world The Ecclesiastes. Whereas religion and its apparatus is all about the place its influence is mostly by convention, its feet on the ground The Translators are a mixed bag some heroic, some benign , some mean, others quite hopeless. There are the Custodians who are a sort of Inquisition and do scare folk when they turn up; Meradat is one but is scathing of his own brethren for avoiding the foremost threats. This area was something of a platform where I could poke a bit of fun at the needless excesses of all sides of the argument (including having positive figures in the religious organisations….that does annoy some dreary and sour folk, though they’ll probably not get to read my books). And there is The Libratery, the convents, if you like, who are quite independent, what their exact agenda has not been made clear, readers will have to either guess or wait. As per usual in Human Interactions there are also schisms and heresies none of these have figured much, yet.

And of course there are those who worship The Zerstorung (Demonish….). Well those ‘believers’ are idiots for a start off. Anyone who reads Vol I & II would realise those creatures are not going to give out any prizes to the bozos who show adoration to them. The Zerstorung are simply another bunch who have taken their place in and around the world and want (or ‘wants’) it. Nor do I care how ancient they are; they take their chances against things which in a very big way go ‘bang’ (Shadow Lords and Humans being very good at producing them).

Conclusion

Overall, once more, a lot of fun in creating this and again being flexible and avoiding too much detail, which with a sneaky thing such as The Ethereal/Stommigheid makes matters easier. I assert World Creating should be enjoyable, if you have to write up a small encyclopaedia of your world then I would advise you plan to do at least fix or six volumes otherwise your characters will never get a word (literally) in edgeways amongst all that detail being mentioned or explained.

Hope gives you some ideas on how to go about your own creating process.

World Building. ‘Powers’ In ‘The Precipice Dominions’ Series

Fiction and World Building

The Precipice Dominions- One Writer’s Journey

 

 

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World Building. ‘Powers’ In ‘The Precipice Dominions’ Series

Setting the Scene

In the last post I wrote a brief overview of some of the challenges a writer will encounter in world building. This post is an account of my own experiences.

Once again I stress this is not a How To….. This was a great deal of fun putting together and honing, thus has more in common with someone’s account of a strenuous holiday. It is hoped the enthusiasm will seep across and encourage other writers to experiment in their own style, at their own pace and in their own direction.

Basic Strategy (employing my own weaknesses or inclinations)

My own imagination does not sit still on a facet for very long and so jars with my experience as a UK Civil Servant leaning for a requirement for order. To avoid these two quarrelling and getting in the way of My Muse ( delicate fellow at best) the world of my stories needed to have a degree of flexibility to aid the narrative. To help me here I called in the part of me fascinated with history, science, the history of science and the social approaches to science, religion and so forth, while trying to avoid detail. The lessons taught to us on the great panorama of Creation from cosmological scale down to the quantum, along with our own jagged historical paths were enough for me. For I needed an easy background to work with, one the narrative could dip into. The stories would centre on a group of individuals the web of relationships and personal challenges, around this would be their various ways of dealing with their world, survival and getting whatever job thrown at them done. This was complicated enough. The detail of the world had to be background.

Sleeves Up Times

Firstly I took this World of ours, or maybe a world so similar as to be nearly indentical. In a cosmos of 14+ billion years in age and at least 50 billion light years in size (I think) the situation of two very similar worlds would be perfectly acceptable; just think of the number of possible worlds in Time and Space. Whether it is this world, or another is not to be answered, great upheavals have distorted the deep historical record. The events take place after a great deal of history has passed. You might care to call it a future of our World, if you care. It is all very open. Again this gave me a great deal of flexibility, as I find rule books somewhat constricting. (my civil service career was a troubled one)

Inviting Cosmological Nature In

The event giving rise to the particular circumstances of this world was to introduce another possible aspect of Cosmological Nature. This I named The Ethereal. Whether it simply arrived in the area of this world or resulted from some incautious physics experiments is lost in various upheavals over thousands of years. Its actual nature is also kept somewhat vague. To take advantage of my own impatience and weakness in sticking to this sort of detail I relied on our current perceptions. This strategy was based on the premise of our own knowledge of physics, chemistry, weather, geology and so forth still being in an area of constant investigation. We simply do not know everything and nor do the folk of these stories. There are no tomes of all knowledge (forbidden or otherwise), lots has been written, about lots of bits and that is that. Just like today.

Powers and Utilities.

Folk can utilise The Ethereal in many ways; a force to move or destroy things, a type of communication and means of travel are the most common. Some folk have an inate ability, others uses complex, usually portable devices. Those wise and honest practitioners are the first to admit, these days they are wary of it. Whether it affects folk or folk affect it is also a complex matter subject to debate. In addition its presence has given rise to realms and pathways which occupy nearly the same place in Time and Space, some easier to access than others. It will also act in its capricious ways; like the weather.

Volume One Of Patchworks Warrior opens with a brief account of recorded history of the world and The Ethereal. Officially it is view with hostile suspicion and titled The Stommigheid (one dictionary I encountered inspired links to the Danish word for ‘folly’- I do a lot of that taking another language and its English equivalent then mangling it- lots of historical precedence). The State-within-a-State The LifeGuard name it The Astatheia, which has connotations of a warning (and I’ve forgotten where I stole the root for that from). The convent-like Libratery to indicate their independence are still terming it as The Ethereal. There are various regional terms none of which are complimentary. There are independents known as the Jordisk (another managing of Scandinavian this one for ‘Underground) and are best viewed as hackers; these having no single viewpoint but operate outside everyone’s laws. In addition there are a collection of crusty guilds collectively known as Mechanicals; these are home to cussed, conservative but inventive folk who believe the only safe way to harness this force is by solid, dependable (usually large) machines, they tend to grumble about and dismiss everyone else in particularly the Jordisk who they feel take too many short cuts . To add to the general variety and confusion, the empire in which these tales are based has officially banned the use of this power; except that all the official organs of the state have to use it to get their tasks done. All these views, contradictions and hypocrisies gives the power an unsettling quality, similar to our ambivalent views about nuclear power (as I write this it suddenly occurs to me where I got the notion from- without nuclear power’s history or detail of course!)

So there is a lot of talk and action involving this power, along with some theorising but very little of the latter. In fact the only time there is great detail arises in Of Patchwork Warriors when a conflicted captain in the LifeGuard, Dekyria is writing up a treatise on how he sees this power affecting the three central characters and speculating on whether they in turn affect it. It is therefore left up to the reader to gain an overall picture from the conversations taking place and descriptions of actions taken by individuals. A learning curve if you like.

Conclusion

This is one way to go about World Building. You may decide you have a better idea. You could think ‘This is not for me’. I am quite content with that.

In the next post I will talk about the politics, local, institutional, geo-political, religious, etc, etc, etc

Fiction and World Building

Fiction and World Building

Introduction: The Commonality of Writing

Whenever a writer embarks on a tale they are to a certain extent world building. If the story takes place in our ‘Here and Now’ this usually involves taking a scene familiar in day to day life and creating a small world of characters and fitting them in. Therein are many difficulties and challenges all of their own; authenticity, atmosphere, credibility (even in wacky comedy) and all the factors which go to making a narrative whose background the reader can relate to in some way. Therefore in most forms of fiction story telling there has to be an element of a credible creation. Something the reader can comprehend even if this is that situation is completely bizarre.

Otherworldly

When addressing SF & Fantasy this takes on a global and even cosmological scale.

There are those in SF who are versed in taking science facts or speculations and melding complex scenarios in which adherence to some laws of a physics must be adhered to. Others would have a broader view and leave the detail ‘as read’ while concentrating on the social implications (something I can relate to). There will be writers who will tend to ignore physics, some succeed because they have written a very compelling narrative with vivid characters.  Whatever path is chosen there will be a lot of hard work to make the story readable.

Fantasy and Its Own Requirements

Fantasy might see an easier option with a temptation to have wands waved and spells uttered. Whereas in some scenarios this works quite well, again if the narrative is compelling. However if handled sloppily it fails, the reader will know the writer has not been trying. Fantasy requires a certain measured approach and a respect for what might be possible and impossible in the world in question. If this is not adhered to then characters are leaping around the place at their own convenience and all suspense, tension and interest fade. If you are doing parody or satire, this might work even there it’s a tough call and requires a great deal of effort in honing the humour otherwise it comes across as just plain lazy. (a luxury only some established ‘names’ have got away with, I daresay due to the demands of publishers).

In some cases the writer has manage to meld sf with fantasy in a rich and complex scenario while at the same time inserting laws of physics and chemistry. My favourite example being Brandon Sanderson’s ‘Mistborn’ series.

A writer must bear in mind their own limitations, inclinations, weaknesses and strengths when going about this as these will have an unconscious bearing on the creation, after all you will be doing this in your own image (as it were). Of equal importance is the universal maxim for all writers…Remember Who You Are Writing For. By all means have fun but remember you would like someone to enjoy the result.

Fantasy is my own preferred choice. I have a smattering of understanding of some branches of science and this would cause me, personally a  great worry when writing SF just in case I was making some fundamental error. Fantasy gives me more scope to indulge my own peripatetic imagination, while mixing a smidge of science in.

Where this led me will be the subject of the next post.

Travelogue or Monologue. Something of Both

So this late 60s old & married white guy walks into a bar and says:

‘Nothing too strong, I need to concentrate. I’m writing this fantasy book with three women central characters, two of whom are in a gay relationship and the other one has dark skin and used to be a serving maid-but…’

And the barman says.

‘Not serving you chum. You’ve had enough already-‘

 

What?

Well I thought it was funny… in an observational ironic sort of way.

Whaaat?

Just goes to show, sometimes you are either embracing a challenge, being hopelessly naïve or just plain insensitive.

Or.

I.

Do.

Not.

Care.

It’s my damn book!

 

Anyway those of you who are still around. Pull up an allegorical chair, and if you are familiar with my posts you will already have your note books out and pages headed ‘Interesting’ or ‘Never Gonna Do That, that Way’ or ‘????’ or ‘Like, Wow!

This is not a ‘How To’; it’s not much of a plug either. This is more of an account of one writer, writing what they wanted to write and why they wrote it.

 

Down to business.

The whole idea is actually to explain about three central characters. If these books ever sold thousands of copies the profiles and depictions might cause ructions for all sorts of reasons. This account is how one writer did what they did, how and why.  As long as you subscribe to the view that at some stage the narrative and the characters may take over from a writer who themselves does not work with a detailed plan for a book

Characters in alphabetical order of First names

Arketre Beritt. (aka Flaxi)

Young. Pretty. Soldier. Likes Girls. Conflicted. When emotional or wheedling slips into her native faux US southern accent.

To avoid her being ‘alpha’ as ‘characters with an answer for everything can be irritating, she is a soldier way down the ranks, only gets told what high command thinks she ought to know, grumbles a lot; as a result of her battle experiences is in danger of slipping over the edge.

She likes girls. So what?

When you first meet this blonde, short and pretty ‘medician’ (think medic) you might believe, ‘Oh a kind, caring sort. How nice’. Then as the journey progresses, you gradually get to see her troubled side. A short blonde pretty girl tearing into someone’s face with their teeth does make for good contrast.

Southern accent. I like southern accents. Again so what? Anyway it’s part of the back story of the land of the Empire where things take place. It’s also fun to juggle with words, as long as you try and limit the use. It’s handy in that when she is being random stiff and formal she tends to speak without her accent (unless she’s being manipulative- oh she’s complicated person). ‘Flaxi’ is Karlyn’s name for her

Karlyn Nahtinee (aka Kitlin)

Uncertain of age but passes as ‘young’. Has her own logic. Doesn’t like boys. Has several ‘powers’. Athletic. Talks with a mangled London accent. Possibly not human. Uncertain ancestry was washed up on a shore.

The origins of Karlyn started long before I knew of Harley Quinn or Chyna (Farscape) and I was not going to be deterred, no sir. Even though I will be doomed to comparisons or stealing.

She is comic and irreverent, most of the time. Volatile and yearns for stable companionship. Displays an innocent emotional side when it comes to relationships. A number of contradictions; initially appearing scruffy and unkempt can be elegant and at times frighteningly regal and aloof, this hints to her possible past, which unfolds throughout the books.

A fearsome warrior, with a moral code, ‘they threaten me or mine, I kill ‘em’.

Her accent relates to her time spent in the large and morally questionable city of Elinid which is a complete steal on London and mode of speech is shared by a group of lesser characters. Again it’s fun to mess about with English, particularly as Karlyn makes up her own words, to the extent of mangling people’s names as a form of address.

Overall because she is who she is she cannot be categorised. Unlike her lover Arketre who is basically a trained soldier. ‘Kitlin’ is Arketre’s pet name for her.

Trelli (aka Whychie aka Trelyvana Waywanderer)

Young. Attractive. Trained Housemaid/Servant. Black-skinned. Orphan. Unwilling recipient of Powers. ‘Whychie’ is Karlyn’s fond name for her.

One approach in fantasy is having a character who did not want to be chosen for anything, anyhow, anywhere. Trelli as a babe was an orphan. She was raised in a sort of convent in a benign environment and found a job in a respectable household. She had spent five years building up her career of being the reason why The Hendrechan Family (her employers) could rely on their home being run very well. Because of their younger son’s dabbling in unsanctioned powers she now has these, and it takes a whole Vol I for her being sort of reconciled to them, even then because she is steeped in conventional and respectable ways is still wary of being tempted into evil ways. Still learning. Has given herself a ‘professional name’ to deal with ‘important folk’.

Because of her upbringing and her employment she is normally level-headed although being a normal person can get irritable and also has a tipping point. Has no interest in tracing her ‘natural parents’ as she feels she would have nothing in common with them.

If these books ever made it to the audio book stage I would ask if she could speak with a slight French accent, as she has grown up in land we would think of as southern France and probably came from the area now thought of as sub-Saharan Africa…..There’s no way I would try and impose any accent on her narratives!

 

The Parts Open to Criticism and Working With Them.

 

A Military Girl (in a military world)

Within Fantasy (and SF) it is often the case any major woman character  involved in the business side of warfare should be Dry, Humourless, Very Efficient but with a vulnerable side just waiting to be opened up. And very predictable. Either that or they walk about being very stiff-necked and a foil for the central characters. Not so Arketre. She is from very low ranking beginnings and comes from a rural rough ‘n tumble background. It seemed to make sense she would grumble a lot at not get told much of the picture and although trying to be orderly to begin with, once left to her own devices tends to be a bit of a loose cannon. She has been through trying times, hence her propensity to get very dangerous when in battle, survival of her and hers being paramount. Although inventive is more settled when getting direct and plain orders. Her contradictions make her somewhat free of stereotyping. When it comes to romance, she has a bit of mischievous and fulsome past.

 

The Wacky One

Maybe it’s just me but it seems when I see something Manga-ish on TV there’s always this wacky character, usually minor and with a big nose or a lot of facial hair; Karlyn is none of those.

Nor is she devil-may-care, always generous of heart while dismissive of authority and possessed of a constantly quick mind or amenable buffoonery. This works in small doses but in a central character of 400+ pages soon grows ‘old’ and worse irritating. She has, literally her bag of tricks, has ‘powers’, is nimble, tough and deadly; she constantly chatters away displaying a skewed idea of the world. And just when you are settled down with that, there comes a cold, aloof side to her, which probably harks back to her origins. Because she is uncertain of where she came from and why she is very vulnerable when it comes to personal relationships, devoted to those close to her and is easily hurt. In short you can never be sure what she will be doing on the next page, never mind chapter. Because of possible ease by which a reader will be able to identify her with High Profile characters in other realms it was important to distance her, this was not easy. I might have failed. However when I write her I am not thinking of any comparisons. And this is good enough for me.

The Ordinary Person Who Never Asked for This (and their race)

The fact that Trelli had black skin, evolved with the book. Originally this character was going to be a daughter of the family, but the narrative never worked, kept turning into a continual damsel-in-distress. A valued servant/housemaid was far more likely to, being organised, level-headed with their own sense of purpose and mildly conservative. Having ‘witchy’ powers imposed on her would be a challenge and also a burden.

The location of her home town suggested a cosmopolitan environment and the lack of comment about the colour of her skin confirmed this, it also enabled a layer in the portrayal of place where being civically respectable and orderly was a paramount quality. That, Arketre doesn’t comment on race suggests she also grew up in a multi-racial background or has grown used to people coming in all ‘shapes and sizes’. Karlyn’s initial problem is that Trelli displays ‘Whychery’ powers, something Karlyn is supposed to be against, even though she has some herself. Eventually this is reconciled.

In the narrative the complexities faced by the major characters and senior support characters are such that no one cares about race. For some its simply a way of identifying a person or their possible place of origin. Once in Vol II racism rears its vile self out of a swamp of ignorance only to get slapped (literally) down and that was a means to demonstrate Trelli’s growing physical robustness, the confidence of Arketre and Karlyn in her ability to look after herself (and a smidge of romance- handsome over-protective fellow, y’know the sort )

Trelli is therefore a person, who happens to have a black skin. What is more important in the narrative is Trelli coming to terms with the responsibility and liability placed on her shoulders, the importance of her in the dynamic of the three and her learning to cope outside of her previously safe environment.

Romance (and Sex)

In the initial early drafts there were all sorts of romances; tragic, standard, comic and any premutation, and they all fell very flat and seem to drag characters in all sorts of direction which were not part of the flow of the story. In one theme, only thought thank goodness, Karlyn is gay, but Arketre assures her ‘her secret is safe’….urrgh! (It’s what happens when I don’t have enough chocolate).

When the idea floated in out of the narrative that Arketre might well be gay, for no other reason than ‘because’ an attraction and deepening feelings with Karlyn became seamless. Of course the notion would leave the whole work open to an accusation  making lesbian women appear volatile, extraordinary, and ‘peculiar’. To which I have to say, this is a Fantasy work, folk live in a world far removed from are own, if they appear that way it’s because they are reacting to their environment. One is a soldier under strain. One is from an extraordinary background. You do not act ‘normal’ in those situations and anyway what is ‘normal’?

And of course, elderly male writing sex scenes between young women……just don’t try and defend yourself man. You have not got a hope. What can I say? I do like romance in my books, this couple are have fallen deep for each other I tried to portray their tender, caring sides in love scenes.

 

Group Dynamics

Having two (white) in love with each other and a third (black) was bound to cause issues and a certain jarring of the work, unless I went deeper into how people ‘work’ and remember my days of employment.

The central factor is the power; call it Ethereal or Stommigheid this is bonding the three women; this itself is a complex matter and it is never made clear whether it influences them or they as a trio or as individuals influence it. There is also a conjecture that even without it, they would bond anyhow. Originally Trelli is targeted as a source of concern by both Arketre’s commanders and Karlyn’s idiosyncratic mentor Meradat (think Inquisitor without all the usual tropes, predictable clichés etc), which is how they all meet.

Initially Trelli is terrified of her new situation and being ‘captured’. Arketre is sympathetic, Karlyn hostile. When later on Arketre gets ‘Gunnery Sergeant Hartmann’ on Karlyn, the latter finds Trelli is a source of friendship, through the confusion of The Ethereal. The first book lays down interactions of the three. Nominally, Arketre being Army is in charge, Trelli however by practice of her profession can be a strong influence, sometimes being dominating. Karlyn doesn’t get to lead but is a natural catalyst.

Both Arketre and Karlyn rely on Trelli for stability, the former because she is unsettled by the Ethereal/Stommigheid and as Karlyn is subsumed in it, Trellis is the reliable, understanding patient mentor in dealing with the proximity. Arketre in return being roguish is encouraging Trelli to take her careful steps into the raw outside world. Trelli understands Karlyn and why she is who she is, and Karlyn mentors Trelli in the deeper aspects of this power. Karlyn and Arketre are still in their honeymoon interlude, but are battle-hardened enough to be practical, Trelli sensing things troublingly deeper in both women is content and relieved they have each other. Having two rather physically tough folk near her gives Trelli a confidence to find her own feet in the changing world and develop her own life outside of the group

When one is threatened, the other two are there swiftly. When the three combine in battle so far they have proven to be unstoppable. Without one the others would be somewhat lost and much weaker in the struggle against malevolent forces.

Thus are the Patchwork Warriors, the Skirmishers of Steel, Fire and Lace loose upon a world, in battle against forces malevolent. As individuals they are who they are. I am still learning about them myself

I offer this therefore as one author’s journey, no more, no less.

Make of it what you will.

Stereotyping. Did I? or…. Did I now?….Or….No that’s Not What I Meant…Or…Oh Heck I Wish I’d Never Started This…

 

On Reaching a Place You Want To Be

Writing.

These days: when you see the word do you think of steep mountains reaching above the clouds, wastelands stretching beyond the horizon or lonely bleak shores lapped by cold seas and stroked by chill forlorn winds?

Before you started out it all seemed to promise much fun, redolent with pleasant spring and summer locations. Of course there would be challenges. Naturally.

And here you are. Weary. Discouraged. All those spring and summer places struck by a cold unforgiving winter.

It happens. It’s not you.

Thus this is another essay addressed to folk who feel they are getting nowhere with their writing. Here I will add my regular rider. This blog is the last place you should be if you want to seek advice on being published or making your work well-known. This writer is hopeless (and hapless) at such things. Here is where we talk and write about the basics which allows you get reach such the fortunate situation where you have to plan for publishing and readerships.

For the new writer a season’s worth of effort will lead them to the inevitable associations with:

Frustration at thoughts not forming into words

Refusal of plots or characters to behave

A sudden drought of inspiration

The misery of believing whatever they are writing will never be as good as…..

The horror of reading the first draft back to themselves. With typos, syntax, holes in plots and failures in continuity all combining with malicious glee to assail the confidence.

Problems with staying power and not drifting off to look at YouTube.

And those are only the first tranche of challenges.

Small wonder there is many of promising First Draft lying in a draft, gathering whatever. Or even worse is tragically out of disillusionment lost to a shredder or fire.

Been there, lived there, ached there, drunk bitter wines of envy too.

And yet, despite it all…

Just for this interlude, I am in a Happy Place.

Now those of you experienced in writing will be think ‘Shush…don’t.. .Not out loud’ Yes, I appreciate I am just begging for The Writing Muse to empty something allegorically unpleasant all over me and from a great height too. And I don’t blame other fellow writers in the weeks ahead to be saying, when things go wrong ‘You had that coming. Damn fool thing to say! You should know by now,’

Of course you are right, however this interlude of writer’s joy cannot be helped.

Two books in a series completed just the way I wanted them to be (let’s just not talk about typos write (sic) now). All is needed are the covers, which are in process and not in my hands this time.

Finally the narratives came together smoothly, the main and the principal support characters are satisfied with my interpretations, everything which needed to be put in is there. You can read one book and finish there, you could read the two books and be satisfied everything has ended there as far as you are concerned….never mind the other two which are in the metaphysical pipeline.

Yeah…yeah…never mind the typos already!…(Anyway Grammarly and Word are often not in agreement)

Uh?

Oh yes, sorry, I forget some of you might not have read earlier posts.

These are fantasy novels y’see. Mash-ups of humour, romance, war, crime, traditional fantasy ‘stuff’, politics, bits of observations, smidges of satire. Lots of characters weaving in and out. Heroes, of course. About 3 to 4 years in the making (with a back story of 30 years of terrible mistakes). Write, re-write, re-re-write etc. Launch, re-launch.

There is a very high probability these works will not even cause the least of ripples on the horizon. There is an even higher chance of obscurity. These are chances every writer with a minimal profile has to accept could be their fate. And I have written often that unless you are hoping to make a living out of writing this does not matter.Just a Smidge

What does matter is these books are together and they have turned out in a very satisfactory way, for me anyway, my own series

The Precipices Dominions

Volume I – Of Patchwork Warriors. On Kindle; edited twice and now ‘Revised’ . Just waiting for a cover.

Volume II – Our Skirmishers of Steel, Fire and Lace. Waiting for a cover, and then ‘launch’

Volume III-To be started- Working Title : Adjudicators from The Mists

Volume IV- To be pondered on- Anchoring Title for the thoughts: Saviours in Blessed Oblivion (it’s meant to be very opaque)

And Game of Thrones; Brandon Sanderson, Joe Abercrombie to reference a few….these an’t. That is all I should say- we shouldn’t give out spoilers.

The reason for this post is the moral, therein.

Follow your initial nascent spark. Never give up. Keep on writing and re-writing. Let no one suggest to you otherwise. Never expect fame nor fortune, even those small sorts where your followers/readers number; say 750 and you make enough to buy (ooooh I don’t know; a new laptop?). Just write, write for its own sake, write for your soul and your heart’s sake. Rise up onwards, create and set sail your craft. It is enough for you to have there, in a public domain a finished work which you can point to and say ‘This is mine,’

And if someone should say, one day:

Well, one of the many things which kept me going, was this series of blog posts about writing by this guy Woebegone- wonder whatever became of him?’

That would suit me fine.

The Return of The Wayward Writer

My Absence

 

There are times when it just gets you. Y’know?.

I appeal you who are writers of fiction to back me up on this. The time when The Book takes over, and all of your creative powers are drawing into the swirling nascent stellar body which is, to use the vernacular ‘Your Baby’.

I would tease out the cosmological analogy a smidge more by way of explanation. Stars commence as clouds of dust, an event causes the cloud to contract, gravity kicks in more and more dust gathers together, pressures build up, the event grows hot building up to a crucial temperature when nuclear fusion takes place and what was dust becomes a star.

There is a risk with using this description. Mean folk of negligible talent who carp but never write will pass cheap comments about arrogance and vanity for the writer daring to compare their work to a stellar event. HA! I say…in fact I say ‘HA!’ again. In a writer’s own universe, the creation of their book is as such, and a writer has good cause to celebrate.

Anyway, to clarify:

My Second Volume preceded by ‘Of Patchwork Warriors’. Book Cover 9(kindle -Amazon)
My second volume: ‘Our Skirmishers of Lace, Fire and Steel’ (or maybe ‘Our Skirmishers of Steel, Fire and Lace’, I’ve not quite decided). This continues the involvement of Arketre Beritt, Karlyn Nahtinee, and Trelyvana Waywanderer (an adopted name. For most of her life she was simply known as ‘Trelli’) in events in the physical world of the Oakhostian Empire, the otherworldly power which going by many names permeates all, the unsettling other realms which its existence made possible and the beings inhabiting therein.

Those of you who were following my many travails will know the original version of the novel when tested on the re-write suffered from instant ‘wheels falling off’. Here are few of the errors:

Humour, and pretty puerile humour at that, in the wrong places.

Plots wandering off into sub-plots with no immediate relevance.

Characters who made a big fuss at the beginning fading into obscurity half way through with no good reason

Circumstances from Vol I being repeated with new scenery in Vol II.

Minor characters who should have been important wandering in and out with a confused air about them to blurt out a few hurried lines then vanish again.

An excess of sub-plots.

A rushed conclusion with previously unforeseen events forced in to make it work.

And whereas I do like sort of happy endings, riding off into the sunrise just looked…. odd

Naahh it wasn’t working.

For those of you who have been through similar experiences you know the agony and the weariness which assails the writer on having to start up again, having to shed yourself of the notion all the time previously was a waste. The latter is a falsehood. If you’ve not been along this road yet you have to appreciate the first draft is always bad and the second one won’t be much better and so on and so on, you’ve simply found the way which won’t work.

A re-write is like that only far heavier. But what must be done must be done.

It was fairly plodding to begin with, trying to use large chunks of the previous writing, having to ditch them, pondering here, pondering there.

Then back to the star analogy, around about December the narrative took on a very strong momentum all of its own, the whole work was demanding to be finished, all the necessary parts were in place on paper on in my head, heart and spirit; the final coalescence was taking place. So, what with the seasonal activities joining in everything else had to take its place in line, all creativity was being fed into the book, all writing time subsumed into the finish. My own version of nuclear fusion was taking place right here in my universe.

And so, here I am on the re-read. Sure, aside from spelling, syntax and so forth one or two bits are being edited out, but only so the good of the main narrative.

Over the next few posts I will be going into this. This will not be an exercise in how I expertly navigated problems, nor a course in ‘How-To’ (In this blog?…….The very idea!). These will be simply one writer’s journal of their experiences. The reason for cataloguing them will be to share with other writers along the lines of:

Oh. Not just me then.

Hmm. Must make sure I don’t do that.

Oh yeah. That’s interesting I think I could improve on it though.

Ahh, I wonder if something similar might work for me.

Hey, there’s hope for me yet!

There might even be some time given to ‘The Marketing Thing’.

 

I wouldn’t have had it any other way!

PS: Thanks to Charles for pointing out it’s ‘fusion’ not ‘fission’…..curse that cup of coffee!

 

 

 

 

Re-rewrites, Highlights and Reality-Bites (A journey through writing of The Skirmishes of Lace, Steel and Fire-Part II of a Fantasy )

WARNING: Some images you may find disturbing 245px-1271754717_william-e.-gladstone

(No, not that one!)

Some writers understandably hate doing the rewrite. I can see their point. They’ve put all their effort into forging this narrative together, worked hard and heavy through all manner of issues and had to squeeze out the time to write amongst all the other demands made by Life. Victorian writingThen, what to they get as a reward? Typos, syntax problems, holes in the plot, main characters not coming alive and that’s before we even start to think of listing all the problems.Me

Me? I enjoy a rewrite. Taking the journey with the characters, knowing where they are going, how they are getting there and all the fun which goes with it.WIN_20180727_19_28_15_Pro

Hold on! What did I say?WIN_20180727_19_28_44_Pro

Look again sunshine!

Oh Frib! I’ve done it again. Gone and literally lost the plot.WIN_20180727_19_28_27_Pro

Y’ see this can be a bit of a problem when you are having so much ‘fun’ with describing all the adventures, banter, relationship interactions, personal hopes, fear and so forth, which you decided would be vital to brining the characters alive (Or in my case, help them travel from their world to ours).Handel_GF
The book now reads like a series of unconnected sketches and vignettes, as if it were some sort of comedy skit show with moral message.Illustration from 'Le Theatre' magazine, 1900s (litho)

Dearie me. All these lovely folk wandering from one circumstance to another and surmounting all manner of problems. And there’s no plot to indicate as to why they are doing all these things! Melodrama -idiot manOK a few minor characters turn up and make ominous statements of heavy portent then vanish again and someone leaps up with a seriously dangerous weapon, be it physical or ‘magical’ (crude word, it’ll have to do) only to be cleverly defeated, but sadly this does not make for a plot.

I had a sneak of bad feeling, WIN_20180727_19_28_23_Prowhen at towards the end of this volume the central characters were left stalwartly together basically affirming their friendship, loyalty and love to each other then effectively saying to the whole world ‘Bring It On’ to go riding off into, literally, sunrises.

Yeh that’ll work……If it was a Musical.
300px-Witchcraft_at_Salem_Village

So it is time for some serious crafting. Time for a serious discussion with myself….WIN_20180727_19_28_18_Pro

Here is the work. There, over there are bits of the plot. Now, go through the whole thing and weave those bits into one long thread which should run through the book.

But I might lose some of my favourite little vignettes.

Well that’s too bad.

This is not as much fun as it used to be.

It’s because you are taking things seriously.

Oh My! This means hard work!

Do you want folk to read the fribbin’ book or not?Lavery_Maiss_Auras

If you put it like that….Confrontation

And there we are everyone. Remember never lose sight of your plot. InventionsIt may change a bit, could even do a complete lurch in a way you did not expect.

9780393956238_p0_v1_s260x420cartoon-guy-laughing-pointing-bent-over-31869170

Whatever, but at least keep it on the horizonrunning training

 

All the best with whatever you are currently working on.

 

Launches, Re-launches. No time to sit back on my haunches (OK. You try and find a better rhyme)