This time last year I was on a forum chatting to someone about video games. It was a video game forum and we had gotten into a discussion about adding tactics to the playing of action RPGs. The main focus was on creating creatures that had both a risk and reward built into them. We had the idea that these sort of enemies should be included in most games. Enemies who were not a threat to the player yet were dangerous enough to become a major threat and had rewards that made the very choice whether to attack them a part of gameplay.
That wasn’t all we talked about on that forum during those times. I was also involved in many discussions, including one with someone else about how enemies in the world seem to either be some massive thing that makes every travelling merchant in a game the hardest guy in the world, or disconnected from the game entirely. The few games that threw together any reason for these creatures from several mythological pantheons to exist together normally said “they’re from hell” and left it at that. To us that wasn’t good enough and creatures in the worlds of these games needed more to tie them into the backstory of the world. The same went for gods and magic and the like. We agreed that at a certain point you do have to suspend disbelief in these cases, but felt that the player should be able to follow some sort of background story that ties the world together somehow.
With those things in mind I set out to write a little story, about six A4 pages long, that showed how easily two very basic enemy types could have their risk and reward factor added in, and how they could be tied into the story of the world. I was known on the forum for my longer and more detailed posts, and had the idea that the story would be interrupted at points with an example of how these things would work in gameplay. It never got that far though.
The First Book
The idea kind of overtook me and in a couple of months I had written forty thousand words on this short story. Each part of it demanded more backstory, called for the characters to become more detailed, and screamed for more to tie it together. By the time I finished writing in January I had written and edited and rewritten a book that ended up just shy of a hundred thousand words.
Now I’ve wanted to write a book for a long time but have never stuck it out for this long so I was impressed with myself. I’d done a lot of editing on the book and counted it as all but finished at that point. However, while writing I had the feeling that the story extended further and that I could do something more with it. I could see where the mythology in my head affected the story I was telling, and wanted to explore that.
The Second Book
I started this extra storytelling in January and now, on the first anniversary of the day I started writing I can look at how much I’ve achieved with pride. The second book was a collection of five short stories that fit together to tell a sixth. The idea was that it would be able to stand on its own, as would the first book, but those that read the two together would get more from the series.
This book is almost complete, and would have been yesterday had I not been struck with inspiration and rewrote one of the short stories in a different format. The new format is shorter than the story had been but makes it flow a bit better now. The rewrite cost me a few days though. Still, it wasn’t the only thing delaying this book.
I’ve been making notes ever since I started writing. Some of these were for specific stories, while others were details of the world I’ve created. Over the time I’ve been writing I have somehow accumulated exactly two hundred and thirty three notes specifically about the world and its mythology. I spent last week putting those notes into some form of order then writing a highly detailed reference manual that detailed the history of organisations and geographical change during the eras I’ll be writing about. I detailed the creatures in the world and how they came into being, remembering those original conversations on the forum.
The reference was somewhat inspired by the same effort from the creator of Conan the Barbarian, who wrote an essay about these things that he would better understand the world he was writing about. As I wrote I came to see some of the problems I had built into the story and world, and was able to fix them before I started writing about them. The reference hit fifteen thousand words in no time and comprises everything from the true history behind common mythology to how magic works to common greetings over a meal, the calendar and even currency on two continents. It should help everything stay consistent and is in such a format that I can easily add new details to it as I write them.
There are still some sections that need to be written in book two, although as a prologue it really should be book one I suppose. Deciding on the numbering also needs to be done, as you can see. Then I need to rewrite the sections of the first book (Second book? The first one I wrote anyway) that relate to the short stories. This rewrite should see that book approaching completion. After that comes phase two where the short story book will be written first and then the main book will be written. Then comes phase three which should be the same thing all over again. Both of these phases have been plotted out already so they shouldn’t take half as long as this phase has done.
And then there is the final edit. You’ll see I’ve made no mention of releasing any of the books yet. One of the reasons behind that is that there are scenes that will play out from different points of view throughout the series and I want to be sure that they work well from both viewpoints. This final edit will be a series wide look at those scenes and tweaking them so that mystery is maintained where it needs to be yet the scenes still play out exactly the same in each book that they make an appearance.
So that is how much progress I’ve made so far, how much more there is to come and a little look at the ways I’m learning as I go on. I’ve found that I work best to a rough outline that has little details ready to be written into set scenes that must occur. However, I do go off the rails quite easily so I’ve found that tightly plotting means that I have little room to stretch my legs (fingers?). I’ve plotted each of the coming stories and books loosely enough that I can experiment within them and yet tightly enough that the story won’t go completely away with the fairies.
And yes, my fairies are unique and tied to the history of the world in ways that could only work in this series of stories.