Doing Busy-ness

As many of you will have guessed from my lack of posting, it’s been a busy couple of weeks for me. Most prominently, I have been devoting a lot more time to a new fantasy novel, tentatively titled The Crown of the Blood.

It’s been a slightly different, and lengthier, process than I would go through with a 40K or Warhammer title, requring more conceptual work in terms of the backstory and world. I started out by writing a character biography that I discussed a while back. The story has changed dramatically since then, but that initial work has stood me in good stead for this central character. My next phase was to write a few speculative chapters. These were to establish the tone and style of setting for myself. I am now in the process of nailing down the details of the story in a chapter-by-chapter synopsis.

As I say, the story has fundamentally changed, and now takes place much earlier in the saga than I had originally thought. This has introduced a different cast of characters, one of whom simply sprang into being as I was writing the sample chapters. I don’t know where he came from but he has added another interesting thread to the plot.

It’s turning out to be a simple tale with complex sub-plots, which require some attention to timing. The requirements of that timing meant that I needed to better understand the relative positions of the characters at different times. I had been fairly firm with myself at the outset that I wasn’t going to draw a map – I think of world building as an extension of the storyline, with the world existing to tell the story rather than an end unto itself. However, to visualise where characters had to be and when, a map became a handy visual aid. I have kept it to only those locations required by the story and so it is deliberately incomplete and lacking in detail. This means that I don’t feel wedded to any particular places until they crop up from the needs of the story.

The map had another use too, in that it made me look more closely at the cultural relationships between the various geogrpahic areas. This ties in with some of the thinking on language (which I will write a post about soon, I promise!). Although I have been careful not to define the story with an artifically created world, the organic process of exploring the national and cultural relationships between the various plot-required locations will hopefully add some of the depth that readers look for in a fantasy novel.

From this, the synopsis contains not only basic information on the characters and plot, but also notes to myself (and the editor) about what each section does for the story but also to create the reader’s vision of the world. My latest synopsis has included much more of this detail as a reference for when I am writing and I have found it to be a great help to remind myself not only what I am writing, but also why.

Sometimes a writer can get caught up in the story, which is good because the language flows and the reader hopefully gets drawn along with the enthusiasm of the author. The danger with writing by the ‘seat of your pants’ is that one can get side-tracked exploring a new idea or place or character and forget what one originally intended for the chapter or section. So, while I won’t be slavishly and constantly referring back to the synopsis while I am writing, it will provide a useful tool for that first read through when the job is done. I can use it to pose questions of the text in a more conscious way than I might have done before. Does the written word do the underlying job that was set out for it?

I am starting to find a balance between the sheer creativity of making up stuff as you go along, and the necessities for a novel to move along the story and develop the characters in a meaningful way. Discovering the best practices for one’s own writing, be it long stints at the weekend in a stream of consciousness writing or meticulous planning to the nth degree, helps us all develop our skills.

Hopefully, I’ll have more news in the coming months regarding the fate of The Crown of the Blood. I’ve also been toying around with some other ideas – a sci-fi novel currently called Total Destruction Inc and another fantasy thread that I’m exploring – as well as working out future projects with the Black Library. It’s a great time to be writing, with a build-up of commissioned work to keep the bank manager happy and time also to get ahead on some other projects.

Event News: This Saturday I will attending Gamesfest3 in Tring, along with a plethora of other sci-fi and fantasy authors. Information can be found at the Gamesfest website and there’s also a Facebook page. I hope to see you there!

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thanks for sharing your process. It’s interesting how we all create so differently … and yet how much remains the same. I look forward to reading your new work.


  2. Awesome!

    I think we’re all pretty proud of you, Gav. It’s a tough decision to spread your wings and fly by yourself, but you’ve shown talent, discipline and fortitude.

    Good luck.


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