Saturday, September 04, 2004

Seven out of Ten! Woo-hoo!!

Or maybe not.

I've just read through "How to Write a Best-selling Fantasy Novel", a compendium of ten things you must do in a fantasy book, and I realize that to a certain extent, my work-in-progress, The Promised King (books one and two), conforms to seven of these dicta.

In my defense, though, I don't fully conform to the entire list, even in the ones where I am guilty.

Here's a quick rundown:

1. Create a main character.

Yup -- but mine's not a loser, and she's not a male. In fact, she (Gwyn -- short for Gwynwhyfar) is revealed as being an extremely important personage quite early on, although the exact reasons why she is this personage ("the Welcomer") until the very end of the story.

2. Create a Quest.

Guilty as charged. But I think I've at least given it a few twists along the way.

3. Create a Motley Bunch of Companions.

Yup. Except that the "motley bunch" in my book is pretty small, and it only really applies to Book One; in Book Two, my heroine is only in the company of a single other character most of the time. (This, by the way, is by design. The story wouldn't work otherwise.) And my characters are all human; no Tolkienesque halflings or elves or dwarves or gnomes or whatnot. I do have "Fair Folk", which I suppose could be seen as having Elf-like characteristics, but they're not Elves, and they are never Gwyn's companions.

4. Create a Wise but Useless Guide.

Yes. But my Useless Guide, the Lady of the Lake, fully admits her uselessness, because she simply doesn't know everything.

5. Create the Land

Duh, except my geography is fairly realistic (I hope), since my world is based on the existing geography of Great Britain. (I've made some changes to the geography, though, and I explain these changes as the work of the Gods or some such thing.)

6. Create the Enemy

Again, duh. But my book has two enemies, an earthly one who has his own difficulties and a non-earthly one -- a God, actually -- who has other difficulties. I don't have vast armies of Orcs marching without stopping for dinner, though.

7. Make it long.

Guilty as charged. Book One's manuscript is around 160K words; Book Two will likely be in the 180K-200K range. And I am a bit heavy on the detail at times. But then, I like detail.

8. Skip the hard parts.

Hmmmm. I don't think I'm guilty of this in the way that the list suggests. I do it occasionally, just because I like dramatic breaks now and then. But I don't do it to avoid writing the hard stuff.

9. Lead up to a cataclysmic battle.

Oh, my, YES! What's the point, otherwise?!

10. Kill almost everybody.

Nope. Too many deaths, in my experience, deadens the emotional impact of the ones that really count. I think only two or three of my named characters buy it by the end, and only one of these is, as far as I know, to be a Grand Noble Sacrifice.

So there it is. I'm writin' a good book, y'all! (Or maybe I'm not. Hmmmm....)

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