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About my novel January 12, 2009

Posted by pacejmiller in Fantasy, Novel, On Writing.
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So, what is my novel about? (NB: I’m about five chapters in)

My fantasy credentials

If it has to be categorized, it can only be described as a fantasy novel.

Why fantasy?  I don’t really know.  I actually read very little fantasy.  I’ve, of course, read the seminal Lord of the Rings (as well as the Hobbit), which I must say was only about 1/3 enjoyable.  Though not the traditional high fantasy, I’ve also read all the Harry Potter books.  Apart from those series, I’ve only read Terry Brooks’ Genesis of Shannara series (Armageddon’s Children, The Elves of Cintra and The Gypsy Morph, which I will review shortly) and the first two books in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials Trilogy.  I have in my possession a couple of other well known fantasy books: Terry Brooks’ original The Sword of Shannara series as well as Raymond E Feist’s Magician.  That is the extent of my fantasy reading.  I know, it’s pretty limited.   Very limited.   I’m hoping that’s going to be a good thing (see below).

Why Fantasy?

But the great thing about fantasy is that it can be whatever you want it to be – within reason; I’ll discuss this at some point later in another post.  Though the genre is becoming more and more cliched these days, there is still a lively market for such books.  There is something about the epic adventure in a parallel world that stirs readers.  It just has to be written well.

The Basic Gist

The setting for my currently untitled novel is as follows: think of the Tolkien world of elves, dwarves and swords and sorcery – and move forward in time by about a thousand years.  Systems of developed society have emerged.  Multi-culturalism, economics and trade, religious fanatics and political tensions are all prevalent.  Technology has improved, and magic is considered not much more than legend.  This is the world where my story takes place.

It is also fundamentally a chase novel – except in this case the progagonists are chasing the antagonist.  I intend it to be action-packed; non-stop, exhiliarating action, and I think I’ve laid the foundations for that to be facilitated.  Short chapters and lots of tension at the end of each is the key.  There are also significant plot twists thrown in and my trademark dry humour littered throughout.  Themes will include conflicts about fate, destiny, coincidence, faith, duty, friendship – I guess the usual.

As with most good novels, the characters are going to drive the story.  That’s where I envisage the most difficulties for myself as a writer.  I’ve planned and envisioned each major and minor character in my mind’s eye and written them down, but it still worries me.  And no, the main character is not a simple farm boy who becomes a great warrior (we’ll discuss cliches later)!  He was the best athlete and swordsman at school, and also did well academically, but he’s now stuck in a dead-end job unsure of what he wants in life.  He’s then unwillingly thrust into this wild adventure chase and begins to question his purpose and destiny.  There’s also going to be a few unique characters and creatures which I don’t want to divulge too much about at this stage.

What’s going to be different about it?

Fantasy novels tend to have a certain style (old and serious and mystical), and I’m hoping to break that mould a little bit with my own writing style (which aims to be more modern and reader-friendly).  I think one of the things that put me off fantasy novels is the back-cover blurb, which is often confusing, muddled, and meaningless unless you’re already accustomed to the author and his/her style – otherwise it’s just a bunch of long, hard-to-pronounce names and a story that doesn’t make much sense.  I’m hoping my novel will be easy to read for those that have not yet read fantasy or have just dipped their toes in the fantasy pool.  If nothing, I hope it will be enjoyable.

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