Wednesday, October 17, 2007

And their coming up to the starting gate...

"I shall now begin this novel. It shall have no prequel, and no sequel, and shall be independent of any other saga. And I shall call it 'Unbeknownst to most people'."--Me.

I don't start a lot of novels. I've just realized this. The first thing I ever started was a novel about Jedi, but I meant it as the beginning of a series. And after that everything was practice while I worked out what exactly it meant to put words together and form ideas and communicated thoughts and tell stories. I wrote beginnings and I had no plan where they were going, and I didn't really think of them too seriously as having a point. I made characters, I made scenarios, Jedi fell to the wayside, and I mostly thought about magic. And then I had a breakthrough--a really "ah-hah" moment, which sent me into a run around, snapping of fingers, unable to stay still, style of minor adrenaline rush.

Fantasy has always been one of my favorite style of story. And, rather intuitively, I wrote a lot of fantasy. Independent fantasy thoughts--no characters, no places, in common. But something they had in common was magic. Or, more accurately, a lack of knowing how magic worked. There was a piece here, an attempt at explaination in that bit with the lost king, some ethereality in the outline about the blind hunter, and a lot of ambience. But no real understanding. A good third of everything I wrote for a few years had this similar ambience, and this similar question, "Magic? Egads!"

There was a story of a lost king, who was thrown from the womb of his mother in the fantastical and magical world, and swapped with a child of Earth. And then, when he came of age, he made his way back, to his throne in the wake of several great heroes.

That was the "ah-hah" moment. I had already written about several great heroes in quests before a lost king. Well, one; and a couple other characters fit the mould with perfect continuance. This put five stories all together all at once, and after that I found a few more, and some more. Pretty soon, a third of everything I'd written for years had become a purposed style of monster saga, far to big to have anything much done with it yet. But I began defining the magic by leaps and bounds. And I continued adding to it, till this past year when I got the critiques for Shivers, and finished answering the question, "Magic? Egads!"

So in one fantasy universe, I know how magic works. I have thought of it, and it makes sense to me, and it pleases me.

From that "ah-hah" moment, I pretty much had two projects: the fantasy saga, and my sci-fi saga. I didn't really have them set up in my head as series, but more as universes from which to fish out various stories to tell. In my sci-fi universe at least I've discovered one series that's just a pretty straight forward point A to point W piece.

But just recently, I've realized to myself that I've never really put forward in my mind a novel, which I mean to be entirely self-contained.

I think it's time, though.

Now I must relearn starting.

I have a first chapter, I have a situation and characters which intrique me. To work!


-John said...

Starting is the easy part, continuing to completion is the harder part, I think.

Ali said...

Indeed. I tend to be cautious about sagas that are just beginning. I'd say get through book one first, then go from there.

By the way, Whit. It's "they're" not "their" :)

Whittaker Luckless said...

It occurs to me that I don't actually write or set out upon sagas. I have universes, and they look in my head to be epic scale, and they have a great many characters in them with interesting stories. I call them unwieldly monster sagas because I like the way it sounds.