I promised a sneak preview of the book I’ve been writing and today is the day I promised to deliver. Well, here it is. Simply click the link and you’ll be taken to the complete Chapter One of Wildwood. Grammar may be all over the place, punctuation definitely is and there are probably a couple of hundred typos affecting the spelling (because auto-correct doesn;t recognise fantasy style words or even English on a regular basis), but the story is readable and in a state I’m happy with (not counting the much needed editing run). I set it up on another page because the chapter is quite long (3,894 words according to my compilation software) and needs its own space. Simply click back in your browser to come back here when you’re done. If that doesn’t work, stare into a mirror and say “Bloody Furie” over and over until someone has you committed and coming back to this page isn’t a worry anymore.

Don’t worry about not enjoying it, by the way. I’m perfectly aware that it won’t be for everyone. I just want to know what you guys think. We’re any jokes lame (I’m actually aiming for groans with some pop culture references), were any concepts hard to grasp or overly explained, were the events hard to follow? These are the things I need to know from you, my word minions. So, what are you waiting for? Oh yes, the links. They’re around here somewhere. Hmmm, oh there they are, just below this line.

Online Version | Downloadable PDF


24 thoughts on “Wildwood

  1. You’re able to hold the mystery till the end. I think it has kind of Harry Potterish feel to it. But it’s a good read. :up:

    • I do like the appeal that Rowlings writing has. There are so many people in so many different places and age groups that she appeals to. Part of that is that she believes in her world and describes it well enough for others to do so too. If I can capture that essence then I’m on the right track.

      One thing I tried to do was keep swearing out of the book completely. Swearing is an enhancement to the vocabulary in my hands but I felt that it wouldn’t suit the story I’m trying to tell here. As you can see from the end of the chapter, that lasted. I do keep the swearing to a minimum though and usually describe a character cursing rather than say what they said out loud, but the occasional “bloody” and “bugger” add a specific flavour to the characters in ways that are impossible to do otherwise.

  2. I noticed an anomaly with the tenses. The third paragraph, not counting the discourse between Monroe and Timmins, is written in the present tense. (Well, except for the last two sentences)
    Other than that, I rather liked it and now I want to read the rest of it!
    Style wise, it has a strong resemblance to Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea Trilogy! 😀

    • The main character in the book (not seen in this sample) is presented in present tense first person while the others are third person past tense, except one who journeys with the main character and is in third person present tense. It’s been a challenge to write such different styles and keep them from being too much of a shock to the system to be readable but I’ve not done too badly.

      As you can see though, my autocorrect gets a little confused occasionally though and changes tense on words. This can then lead me to write entire paragraphs the wrong way if I don’t catch it. It’ll all be taken care of in the editing though.

    • Most of the action takes place in Wildwood, a vast forest that takes up some of the plains and climbs the hills into the mountains. Dozens of villages are situated in and around the Wildwood. The plains city of Dunwall grew up around an old fort as villagers flocked to it for safety and as an easy place to trade. Villagers still go there every so often to trade their craft for things only available in the city.

      The entire trilogy takes place on these plains, though there are asides to other places (a pretty unique desert setting, for example). This small area has a hell of a lot of history to it, dating back well beyond the start of the first book. Throughout the trilogy we’ll be finding out more layers to the story of the place and how things connect together, but my main concern is making sure everything stands alone as an interesting story in its own right. I wanted this small area to feel lived in and have its own sense of history and I think I’ve managed that quite well.

      One thing I can tell you is that there was an event years ago that is the source of most of the monsters in the world, in one way or other. I’ve worked hard to ensure that everything is organic in that way but allows for maximum flexibility of design as well as truly interesting designs. Some of these ideas started on the Fable forums as ways for creatures to be more tactical in combat. It was that which inspired this, particularly a conversation you and I had once.

      • Really? Haha, I can’t remember which conversation :p to bad the old LH forums are gone, otherwise I could start looking for that conversation now :/ though I’m glad that I somehow helped out with this (feels like I’m finally usefull for once 😉 )

        • It was specifically about adding tactics to the combat. I was talking about caves that spawn creatures and rolling rocks in front of them as well as creatures that affect how things play out, like some that boost all magic for you and enemies making you either move the battle closer to or further from them. It got me thinking about how games don’t really tie tactics into how a creature would act naturally beyond the occasional “he has armour, use a different spell” or whatever. Thinking about that set me about creating some creatures that have many stages to them, each of which could be a highly tactical battle or even create new creatures to fight. My monsters are probably the most bare bones list in fantasy history, but unique in their abilities in that way. Each can be a unique entity within its own race, depending on location or surrounding creatures. Hard to explain without spoilers.

  3. I’ll get back to you. In order to give you a critique, I’ll have to read your sample some times. I’m not the best to judge fantasy or fantasy-ish stories, though, since I haven’t read any fantasy since the early nineties. I’ll give you my opinion in a couple of days. Alright?

    • That’s cool. All I’m looking for is to see how people react to it. No need for a major breakdown (the unedited grammar and spelling couldn’t hold up to it), just anything that throws you is what I’m after. Take your time by all means, but don’t feel an obligation to be professional proofing man about it. I particularly want personal rather than professional opinions, especially those of people who didn’t like it or don’t get it. That sort of feedback will help me refine my style to a degree.

  4. I have never read any of Rowling’s books (nor I have seen any of HP movies btw) so I can’t make any comparison on that level. What I was thinking is that maybe some game initiate that whole idea about the story. However, this genre is not my cup of a tea actually, but I can understand why a whole world is interested in magic and mystery – such genre has been off main stream way too long. Since fairy tales I was reading as a little boy and that was a long time ago.
    So I will wait for the rest of the book. Not my favourite genre, as I said, but I am curious now 😉

    • As someone not interested in the genre, how did it hold your interest? Was there anything in particular that either put you off more or interested you more?

  5. The answer is simple. I don’t give up on reading any book until I am certain I won’t like the rest of it. And it is rare that I stop reading until I reach the end. There are two points: first, I don’t like to leave book unread; second, whether I like it or not, if I read it all the way to the end, I will have enough information to elaborate what I like and what not; and why.
    I spent 6 months reading Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings”. I didn’t like it from the beginning – and it was not a story but the way it was written. But it was worth the effort, ’cause I could stand my ground later when some people were annoyed by the fact I didn’t like it 😛
    Rowling’s book were repulsive from the very first sentence/page. So I just didn’t want to waste my time. Luckily, I didn’t buy a book but started to read while I was in a book shop 😛

    • After seeing so many pages with the majority of comment replies relegated to a single column that fits three characters in, I decided to limit how many indents were allowed when replying here. The original comment goes up and then everything that replies to that counts as one thread. All other threads come as replies to different comments. It’s all the organisation that is needed really and looks much neater.

  6. Largely I found it enjoyable – definitely want to read more of it. The switching of tenses and perspectives doesn’t bother me, the chapter reveals enough to intrigue but not enough to be able to know for certain how the story will unfold, and the same goes for the characters.

    I enjoyed the Timmins sections, although at the end of the first bit the smirk on Monroe’s face appears to hint at something deeper/darker, then it cuts to Martha’s scene, and whatever Monroe’s undertone is supposed to signify is forgotten when returning to Timmins. I may be reading more into the smirk scene than you intended, though.

    The Martha bits are a bit different. You mentioned previously that you had been finding it tricky for your characters to have conversations without it sounding like you talking to yourself, and I still see some of that in her dialogue with her visitor (although if they’ve spent a lot of time together, and she’s the one you identify closest with, that might be hard to avoid). I’d break it up a bit too, intersperse a few minor actions to make it clearer up who’s saying what (as the back-and-forth is a bit too much to follow that).

    Also, the very first paragraph for me is a bit awkward. The bit up to “too long” is fine, but I’d try and rework/shorten the remainder of it somehow as it feels like you’re trying too hard to explain the joke to the reader.

    All in all, rather promising, and any issues I have don’t require the story to be butchered in fixing them 🙂 I’m genuinely intrigued about the ‘gentleman’ too 😀

    As a side note, I’ve never read any Harry Potter so can’t comment on any similarities. As for Terry Pratchett…not sure. I like his early stuff much more than his later stuff, so I’m not sure if I’d view similarities as a plus or negative now. Although if you’re after a best-seller, similarities to those too aren’t to be sniffed at.

    • The smirk was mostly that he’d still gotten one over on the younger generation and shown the young mage that he didn’t know everything. Obviously that could do with some clarification, perhaps a line later where he chuckles to himself about it.

      The Martha section is indeed in need of a re-edit. I said as much on my other page. There are plans for it. One problem you picked up on is that of the piper and her lack of a distinctive voice. She and her sister (who will show up later) should act almost exactly alike, although their motivations are at odds with each other. Those characters are in a bit of flux at the moment, hence their lack of identity. It doesn’t help that they’re social chameleons to a degree either. I’ll get there with them. Having a bit of success defining them by the way others react to them and I’m hoping that can help me find their voice.

      The fact that life in the village centres on the city is something integral to the story, even though we likely won’t be visiting the city again in this book. There are a few such lines about this in other chapters that give a hint of this fact, but I felt that it needed more clarification early on. It also helps establish how naive about the world the mages are. Perhaps a little more of a flyover of the city leading between the paragraphs would help with that, giving more dirt to contrast against and coming across as more than an extension of the opening joke (and yes, I started with the worst I could think of so that anyone who stuck with it has only themselves to blame).

    • With Pratchett, I loved his Gnomes works as a kid but wasn’t fond of his Discworld at first. It was only when Rincewind was well and truly gone and the witches and guards became the true focus that I enjoyed his stuff. He has a talent for surrounding a straight man by ridiculous cohorts and still making them stand out and be hilarious. Personally I think the only real similarity is that it’s fantasy and aiming at a less than serious tone.

      It’s a hard tone to hold onto, in fact. Most of my characters are pretty tragic in their own way and yet they’re the source of some great funny moments, alongside those that are added simply to lighten the tone. Keeping them funny enough to flow without taking away from who they are is tough enough. Making them follow a plot as well… I don’t know how you’ve kept Aldernak in line for so long. Mine keep wandering off and giving lectures about the intricacies of how the world works (which are noticed, cut and kept aside for a companion volume should there be one) or musing on things from beyond their world.

      • Aldernak does as he’s told, or he doesn’t get any more stories 😉 My stories (to date) haven’t been long enough to have my characters wander off on tangents, and the full-length one I am painfully and slowly creating is likely to feature a few rambles, hopefully entertaining ones. At the current rate it’ll be a decade before I finish it, though.

  7. Thanks for the pressie Mik! I hope you enjoyed your day! 😀
    I’ve already let you know what I think, but in short – I agree with Darko. I’ve never been into fantasy and haven’t read or seen Harry Potter and his ilks.
    However, I did enjoy reading this first chapter, and especially the Timmins parts. I would like to read more, and the reason for this is I’m curious as to where the story will go.

    If you’re going to give us a taste like this on each birthday, I hope you live long and prosper! 😉

    • I feel almost like a cheat with the Timmins part leading the book as he has such a bit role in this part of the story. His role is one that helps frame the books (I’ll always be starting with him for example) although he has a major role to play in the second book in this series and I’ll be using him as the voice of the companion volume that is being slowly put together from junked facts about the world. He’ll be evolving alongside the world with the developments that occur throughout the story. Seeing him go from naive and innocent apprentice mage to [REDACTED BUT PRETTY AWESOME] should be an interesting side journey to follow alongside the main storyline and the individual book stories.

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