If you have been with me on my blogging journey from the very beginning you will know that my focus back then was the novel that I was writing called “Tempting in Shade”. But over the past year I have written progressively less. Why is that?
No, I have not abandoned this project. It actually occupies a large proportion of my thinking. It’s just that I am trying to make it “right”.
What does that mean?
I guess I mean that I am trying to write something that I myself would enjoy to read and that I would not sit there criticising. That may seem fairly simple, but I am an appalling critic of books. This goes back to my educational background.
My first degree was in History and English. I won honours. But since then I deconstruct every society in every fantasy and science fiction novel and ask “could this society really exist?”. This means I look at whether the social structures are realistic. Whether the economy would work. Whether the levels of technology are consistent. Stuff like that. I mean, how often have you read a fantasy novel where there is no local industry of any variety? Or where one town has occupants who use, say, 17th century period armour and weaponry and a few hours down the road is a totally medieval town, or even worse a village of stone age primitives. I got more pedantic about this when I later completed a business related degree.
My second degree was in computer science, where a lot of my electives were in artificial intelligence and cognitive modelling. So when reading science fiction novels I tend to notice technological inconsistences and when I read fantasy novels I find myself deconstructing the story’s own laws of magic. I am also one of those people who gets annoyed when, say, I person turns into a mouse. What’s happened to physical laws such as conservation of matter?
Anyway, the result is that I am a real pedantic git when reading novels. It’s also the reason I stopped writing Amazon reviews (I think I insulted far too many authors) and it is also the reason that I rarely write book reviews here. It’s even worse that some of the authors I’ve read are actually blog pals here on WordPress. I really don’t want to inflict myself upon you, because I will take a perfectly fine novel and pick on minor stuff.
Anyway, the result is, I am trying to write something that would pass my own fussy criteria. Hence I find myself thinking “well how does that work? It doesn’t!!!” and then starting to jot down huge amounts of notes. I am a really painful person to myself! LOL.
Here’s an example:
Initially I imagined a society of “wizards” who lived in a mountainous crag overlooking a city. I called them Gnossians (using the Greek word gnosis meaning knowledge). My heroines were going to be part of this society and when they hit 16 had to undertake a rite of passage where they lived among the city people for 40 days. The Gnossians were pretty much wizard like, except that all their magic was the result of bioengineering with nanotechnology at some point in their long distant evolutionary past. This meant that I could impose some reasonable and consistent magical laws.
A few months go by in my writing. Then…But how do they function as a society? Okay, how about making them a religious bunch of wizards? In fact, let’s call them Magi. Hey, didn’t the Biblical Magi supposedly come from around ancient Persia? Let’s give them names vaguely based on Persian. And then use some sort of religious social structure. A Council of Elders?
Tick, tick, tick…
No. I really don’t like the idea of the Gnossians earning money by simply selling their services tot eh city below. I want something more interesting. How about the city existing in a valley and above the valley is a wasteland – a planet full of the remains of crashed spaceships and ruined cities. Not Earth. That whole dystopian post-apocalyptic Earth thing has been done to death. Some other place. I know! A planet destroyed in a space war. The Gnossians hire out their services to help expeditions travel the dangers of “out beyond” and then to loot the ancient wrecks. Cool!
More time goes by…
How do they feed and cloth themselves? Do enough expeditions go “out beyond” to support an entire economy? No! Arrrggghhhhh! Let’s rethink this.
Caverns! Huge caverns left over the civilisation that was destroyed millennia ago. Repurposed to grow food. Somehow they still have energy sources. Better figure that one out. But does that mean that perhaps other “things” are lurking around from the past? And how did the people get to this planet if it was desolated in a space battle?
Hmmmmmm. Different means. At one point the ancestors of the people in the city below restarted an ancient transmat device that is still going. Let’s send a canal through it. LOL. And have it maintained by a different group of wizards who hoard the knowledge and power of these devices. Let’s call them Pilots. But what about the Gnossians? No. They are descended from reanimated sleepers whose spacecraft orbited the planet following a disaster of some variety and who then came down to escape.
Wow – this is all becoming complex!
And so on.
So yes, a lot of thought is going on in the saga of my novel writing. On the bright side I recently found this TED talk and it gives me reassurance. :)