Monday, July 12, 2010

O, is it all forgot?

I have not forgotten Emergent. Honestly, though, there would not have been an update here if Chas hadn't come by, read, commented and re-sparked a series of thoughts I'd been having. (Thanks for that. And for freaking me out. I'll never get published.)

Very little in the way of actual writing has taken place since (eep!) January, although I have turned over many mental stones and poked at ideas until I've more or less arrived at a system for magic that will hopefully be lots more interesting than mana pools.

There are still a number of problems I need to resolve before delving too far into writing.

Firstly, I still haven't gotten to know Jeyne at all. She's a mystery to me, so perhaps sticking with third person isn't the worst idea in the world.

Secondly, I have some notions as far as the major events in the story, but I want to be able to fit several rather large pieces together and I'm not sure I have them all assembled in a way that I understand how the presence of one will affect another or even where the major alliances will fall. (Which is to say, in as unclear a fashion as possible, that I need to settle in my mind how the military, clergy and ruling powers all interact. And whether there are more factions to consider, such as merchants or even the peasant classes, etc.) (To be even more succinct, I want the world to be rich and varied but clearly understood.)

Thirdly, and perhaps relating to the first point, I need to determine from which subset of the overall populace Jeyne comes from. The more I consider, the less I like the idea of her being an inn-keeper's daughter. I want to stay away from the most common clich├ęs as much as I can, and I feel that "commoner who rises to power and/or glory," "girl who stands on her own in a man's world," and "princess who doesn't act like a priss" are all done to the point of being somewhere well past dead.

In fact, most fantasy novels also contain patriarchal societies, except for the ones that are matriarchal and usually very bad due in large part to the fact that they seem to be written by bitter women who hate men and make their male characters whiny, emo bitches.

I don't want either, thanks.

In fact, I really enjoy Scott Lynch in that regard. His books have a refreshing lack of gender bias, in my opinion. Men and women alike are sailors and soldiers, powerful and powerless, thieves and nobles.

With that in mind, I am thinking of moving Jeyne closer to where the heart of the story will take place - the seat of power in the realm - and thrust some events on her swiftly enough that perhaps it won't matter what she started out as.

Although, you know, I am thinking maybe she's a palace guard. Standing in the drizzle on a cold autumn's night and about to find some naked dude. Because for whatever else I don't know about this story, I do know it should start with a naked dude. And rain. Naked dudes and rain are where it's at.            


  1. Hiya! Glad I got you thinking about this again.

    On your protagonist. I know (or think I know) *exactly* where you're coming from on this one, and I think it's a very easy trap to fall into. It's very easy to work out an idea for a world, or even a whole story, and not have any idea who it's actually going to happen to.

    What I'd suggest is: you've got some ideas for the Big Events you want to have happen in the story, perhaps you should make Jeyne the driving force behind one of those events.

    A mistake which I think is very common in this kind of thing (I do it myself all the time) is to make your protagonist somebody who *encounters* the thing you're interested in writing about, rather than just writing about the person you're interested in directly.

    You could, for example, make your protagonist a man, and have him start the book naked in the rain.

    (Working a bit blind here, because I'm not entirely clear on a lot of the details)

  2. Revelations! I had not seriously considered focusing on the naked guy in the rain as a protagonist because I do tend to prefer first person and this naked guy doesn't have a name or a history - so it would be rather difficult to write him as a first person POV without running too hard into a whole lot of internal confusion with all the "but who am I" and "how did I get here?" stuff.

    But if I do go third person, well, I can stay away from that to a greater extent.

    /target Chas

    /wanders off to try to rewrite the first chapter

  3. Perhaps you could open with:

    "Perhaps the first thing I should explain to you is how I came to be standing naked, in the rain, outside castle Overlook"

  4. Well - spoiler alert, I guess - what I do know about the naked guy in the rain is that the reason he doesn't have a name or a history is that he just sprang into being at that moment.

    This does give me an idea though. Who knows? Maybe someday I'll get that first chapter rewritten.

  5. Oh I *see*,

    When you said he hadn't got a name or a history, I thought you meant you just hadn't worked them out yet.

    I don't think there's anything wrong with writing first-person from the viewpoint of somebody with no name or history, if you did well, you could do quite well with the reader gradually working out that this guy had no idea who he was. It could be really cool.


Constructive criticism welcome. However, I am not looking to have anyone point out every grammatical error. I know they exist and I just can't care about those while trying to write.