Saturday, July 24, 2010

Maps for Epic Fantasy

I'm a big fan of maps, especially in Epic Fantasy; not only does it really ground the story for me (those Geography classes way back, boring as they were, planted this particular seed) but it also helps me to make sure that I know exactly where my characters are and what they'll pass when I move them around. Sometimes maps aren't needed at all (I'm thinking of Patrick Rothfuss' The Name of the Wind here) and sometimes they are most definitely needed (The Wheel of Time) but I tried my hand at them anyway.

I probably wont use these maps since I'm going to change many of them before I feel that they truly reflect the world my characters live in, and maybe they won't even be included in the novel, but anyway, I thought I'd give you a look at what I've done. :-)

Above is Arsarvis, my main continent - one of its iterations anyway; there was a meteorite impact ages ago that created the continent's weird shape - an impact-event that I've abandoned for now.

Above is Braeholm, the homeland of my non-human sentients; this, too, has basically been discarded, though I might return to this island in subsequent volumes.

This is Ramalka, another human-settled continent; when I drew this continent it was human-settled and was the original homeland of the humans (before colonising Arsarvis) and I might return here in future volumes, we'll see. :-)

This is Avidar, the main continent, where most of the story will take place. Yep, it's a bit empty, I know, but I'll be tweeking it plenty before settling on the final version. :-)

And now, back to the novel! Now that the main spectacle is done I'm tying up some other loose ends - this is where there are lots of smaller, more personal battles. :-)


Friday, July 23, 2010

Ending Battle-Scenes

I apologize for being away for such a long time. :-( The truth is that I just couldn't get going again with the battle scene because I had written myself into a problem - my main character needed an object that was in the possession of a character that had just had his face viciously clawed by something, and I hit a point where I had no idea how to carry on.

You see, I had the whole battle planned out; I knew how big both armies were, how they would move, where they would attack, how long the battle would be, etc. But then I allowed one of the characters to get clawed... I was thinking in terms of conflict and putting characters in difficult situations, you see. Well, spanner in the works and all that.

Anyway, a week later I had an idea that explained just why he had been clawed - 'why' meaning what it would mean for the plot and for him going forward (and it's pretty damn cool, though only time will tell if everyone agrees), but I still didn't know how I was going to let the battle progress, and end.

Until tonight. I cut out the 800-odd words I'd written (and was very unhappy with), saved them in a different document, and read through what I'd already written before attacking the scene again.

I ended up writing a measly 645 words (and yet, that's 645 words more than I had) and I think, I think, I developed a cool new strategy for my heroes - they're surrounded and outnumbered, hunkered down in an ancient fort, and I just got them a way out and have also maximised enemy casualties. :-) I quite dig it, though it does need plenty of more work before it's jaw-droppingly awesome. I'll fix and edit later, after I've completed the novel.

Anyway, now the end is in sight, and new paths beckon for my heroes. I'm also reaching the point where some will split up and some will come together, and this is the part I've been really excited to write - the succulent meat of my novel. :-) It just sucks that I'm also buggered after a full-day's work and am stopping for tonight because I can't even type coherently any more.

Anyway, haven't hit 40K yet:

Words written tonight: 645
Total word count: 39375

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Twsited Fairytale

Yep, the story's not here anymore. :)

I'll be revising and editing it as time passes to get it ready for submission, so I'm removing it so that it doesn't cause me any problems later on. :)

I'll keep you updated on how the submissions process proceeds. :)


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Putting Characters in a Pickle Can Be A Problem...

I've finished the first half of the Battle for Shorwin's Hold, and finished Chapter Eight, too.

It turned out to be a long chapter -probably because I deviated somewhat from the blueprints, and also probably because I'm a newbie when it comes to writing battle-scenes- and what I've come to realize is that upping the stakes for a character (especially one that sort of forced himself into POV-ness) might always be a good thing (we're in the business of creating conflict, after all) but it also creates unforeseen problems.

Case in point, one of my guys had half his face clawed off; not only is he unconscious but now there's no-one to control his side of the arena. And I'm not, NOT, going to let another character steal POV-ness, so now I'm left with the enviable position of having to, well, do something. No idea what, yet. The idea to put him in the position he's in at the moment came like a bolt from the heavens - it doesn't only up the stakes for him, but for everyone in the battle, so I went ahead with it, and now I have to let my subconscious run with it for a bit before I plunge ahead.

Not a bad thing, since my brain works this way -the ideas and situations have to stew a bit before they spring forth again, mostly fully-formed- but a bit of an irritation because I was really hitting my stride and hoping to charge my way into the 40K region.

Alas, battles must be hard-fought to be thrilling, right? :-)

Wordcount for the evening: 634
Wordcount for the novel: 38152

Friday, July 2, 2010


Last night I wrote just under 2000 words and I ended the stint with an event that finally launched my battle. Why'm I'm telling you this? Well, that event came out of nowhere and smacked me upside the noggin. I hadn't thought of what would actually begin the battle (think the arrow that the old guy accidentally fires off that starts the Battle of Helm's Deep in Peter Jackson's The Two Towers); in fact, I hadn't even worried about it.

You see, in many ways I'm a seat-of-my-pants kind of writer. About four years ago I sat down one afternoon and wrote out a synopsis of what I thought should happen in the novel I'm currently busy with (yes, four years ago; more on that in a coming post); It was very short-hand, summaries of events that led to events, etc what the characters were going to do, and so on. What has survived from that synopsis is the following: two characters and a non-human race. That's it.

When I attended the Random House Struik / Get Smarter Creative Writing Course from Feb to April this year I really began writing what I'm writing now and everything, every event, every character, has been evolving. Now I find that I'm planning chapters, and as of now I've got the middle and end of the big in mind, but not the in-between bits. I'm not really worried, though, because (so far) everything has been working well leading up to this battle scene; I've got my people in place, I've worked out strategies that both sides will use, and I know of one character who's going to die. Beyond that? Well, I'm open to surprising myself. :-) So far the characters have been living and breathing nicely (at least, in my estimation) and I'm mostly steering then while their attentions are focused elsewhere instead of turning their heads and moving their feet. I'm also discovering more about them as I write them - for example, the character that will die was, once, an extremely important character (albeit in a different guise) in the previous synopsis. Not any more.

Sure, it's taking me a long time to write this novel (30K in six months, yeah, I know) but I'm not working under a deadline -I'm not even published- so I've got the freedom to do this the way I want to. Maybe later I'll have to learn to make a detailed synopsis for every future novel (and there will be plenty, unless I die prematurely, of course) but for now, surprise and fluidity are the order of the day. That and some slack on the guide-ropes. :-)