Most fantasy worlds include some sort of religious belief. It’s such an ingrained part of real-world culture that it can be very hard to conceive of a world without some kind of spiritual element. Some authors use the opportunity to explore aspects of belief that are difficult to address in contemporary fiction, since real religions carry so much historical baggage. Some throw in as many different forms of worship as they can, for depth or to create conflict between groups. Occasionally a fantasy world has no religion at all (like Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series).
[Edited on 17th November 2013] So a few days after posting the first chapter of The Fire Mages, I’ve had five critiques. They’ve ranged from quite negative to extremely positive, full of glowing praise. But from the five crits together, I’ve got a great deal of feedback, both large and small. Some of it I feel safe in ignoring. The critters who wanted the main character named and setting described within the first few lines – it’s a common principle, but it’s hard to do in a first person point of view, and really, fantasy readers in particular are quite happy to wait a while longer to find out about the world (in fact, they enjoy having it revealed in tiny snippets along the way).
[Edited 17th November 2013] As I inch closer towards editing The Plains of Kallanash (Work #2), I realise I’m going to need other eyes to look over it, both at a low level (for typos and other errors) and at the structural level. That’s part of the reason for putting it out on this blog in the first place, but that’s rather a scattershot approach; maybe no one will read it? If they do, they may not provide any constructive criticism.
Wattpad is a website where authors can post their writing and readers can read it, free of charge. It’s been touted as a great way to bring your writing to readers’ attention, especially if you have a series of books out and are prepared to essentially give away the first in the series to draw in readers to the rest of the series. It can also work if you have novellas or short stories set in the same world.
When I finished the first draft of ‘The Plains of Kallanash’ (Work #2) back in May, I followed my standard policy of letting work simmer for a while before doing anything with it. For a blog post or book review, that might be a day or two. For an essay, maybe a week or two. For a book, I decided that three months was the minimum allowable. Ideally, a year would be better, but I wasn’t sure I could wait that long! So I created a new page in Scrivener, and typed in giant letters: ‘EDITING SCHEDULE: DO NOT OPEN UNTIL AUGUST 2013!’. Then I got on with ‘The Fire Mages’ (Work #3).
There’s a lot of advice swilling around on the internet for aspiring writers. I’n not sure whether I’d classify myself as aspiring (I just scribble stuff for fun, I don’t have aspirations), but I read any number of blog posts and even books on the subject. Writing fiction for dummies. The no-rules handbook for writers. The busy writer’s one hour plot. Your writing coach. Outlining your novel. Some of them even contain useful snippets of advice.
Most fantasy works, however outlandish or alien the setting, accept the standard customs for legalising the relationships between sexual partners and taking care of children. Marriage is (mostly) for life, is between one man and one woman, sex outside that pairing is frowned upon, children born outside that pairing are a matter for social disapprobation, prostitution is immoral and usually illegal. These attitudes, although drifting into a more liberal version in many countries, are still so prevalent in all modern cultures as to be virtually ubiquitous.
Vast amounts have been written about the process of writing, and one of the most contentious issues is that of outlining or discovery writing. Plotting or pantsing, in more colloquial terms. Outlining means planning every stage of the book according to whatever theory of structure the author subscribes to: the three act principle, or the twelve step hero’s journey, or whatever it happens to be. Character traits, plot points, sub-plots, dramatic twists, big revelations – all are set out ahead of time, before a single word of the book itself is written. Discovery writing is the blank sheet of paper system: the writer simply writes, following ideas wherever they may lead.
This blog is about the various books I’m attempting to write, and the background behind them. So that makes me a writer, right? Not really. There are lots of definitions of what a writer is, from the very broadest (someone who writes) to much narrower ideas. I’ve never thought of myself as a writer. I’ve posted on writers’ forums and said unequivocally: I am not a writer. Yet, I do write – fiction, book reviews, blog posts. I write a lot, and I write in one of these categories almost every day.
Welcome to the blog. There’s not much to see yet, but have a look round, leave a comment or email me if you have something to say (my email address is on the About me page).