Of Musings and Wonderings

{July 19, 2012}   A Love/Hate Realtionship

A few days ago, I updated my fantasy novel on Fictionpress. Dulce Bellum Inexpertis is not my first attempt at fantasy, though it’s my most, I’d suppose you’d call it ‘typical’ fantasy. Currently, I have twenty chapters up on Fictionpress. Previous attempts at the genre are on there, too, including ‘Fallen Leaves’, my NaNoWriMo 2010. Then again, I suppose you could say a lot of my stuff on there is fantasy….it all depends, of course, on how you define fantasy.

But that aside, writing something like DBI has been fun, but hard. I find myself having to keep constant notes on the characters and their relationships, their roles, what I have planned for them etc, as well as jotting down the different place names. It’s not something I mind, but not something I’m really used to. I am not a planner. Every time I’ve tried to plan a novel, I spend ages writing about characters and places and possible scenes and then I sit down and can’t write anything. Planning doesn’t work for me. And I don’t really plan anything for DBI, either – I have ideas I want to get in, scenes that I know need to be there at some point, but that’s about it. But so far, I have more extensive notes on the novel than I have on anything else I’ve written.

One of the things I love about writing something like DBI is the freedom. A lot of my stuff is set in or around Cardiff, mainly because I know the place and I enjoy changing it or destroying it or even writing about it through the eyes of my characters. But DBI is set in a totally different kind of world. I have the freedom to do what I like with it; there’s a herb which heals, but also releases latent magical powers in the right person smoking it, and in this world, it makes sense. There’s two immortals, one of which has blue skin and the other green. Again, in this world, it makes sense. That’s part of the joy for me, the world-building and the ability to have things in there that I just wouldn’t get away with in, say, a romance novel set purely in the realistic present. But, at the same time, it means I really have to focus. It means I need to at least mentally map out where the various places are, to know that from Tarka, you have to take a boat to reach the lands of the Shaylae Priests, but from Sharn or the desert you can reach it by land. I have to constantly be aware of how my characters are travelling and the kind of terrain they might be moving through.

Like I said, it’s a lot of work. But it’s fun.

Speaking of fantasy, I’ve almost finished watching series two of Game of Thrones. Plus, I’ve got the second A Song of Fire and Ice heading my way, which I’m excited to read. Although I wonder if George R. R. Martin purposefully sets out to make you really, really like a character before he kills them. And hate the characters that simply won’t die. Seriously, I’m starting to think that my best course of action would be just to become completely indifferent to all of them. I stopped watching Lost a few episodes after they killed off my favourite character, but with Game of Thrones I guess many of them are going to die. But, really, it gets annoying when one episode I’m thinking how much I really, really like a character, only to watch them die in the next episode.

I’m going to have to read the third book before the series comes out next year; save myself any surprises.

On that note, when it comes to genres are there any you really love writing, yet find yourself, for some reason, disliking it at times for some reason? And do you know any decent TV shows? Because with no Supernatural, Game of Thrones and with True Blood only once a week, I’m going to be at a loss for what to watch.


Greg Downing says:

I used to be a huge Dresden Files fan. Huge. I am still a fan, but as a result of my developing feminism, it’s hard for me to enjoy it as much as I used to because Dresden can not only be such an amazing dick, but Butcher himself is pretty feminism-blind… not in terms of women being people, but on the subtler aspects. Really, making Dresden chivalrous is the first sign of this, but there’s many other ways.

I tell you this to explain that even though my love for Butcher’s works has waned, my love for the world has not, entirely. While I’ve only written some short fic in regards to his world, most of it has been in the service of the larger RPG I’ve been running for my friends, courtesy of Evil Hat Games (who wrote the Dresden RPG book). In my world, I work on fixing a lot of the things I think wrong with it. And that’s fairly empowering, that *encourages* me to write, even though I no longer love the world my fictional works are now based on.

As far as shows…I can recommend many, but not many that are playing right now. Based on what you say you like, ‘Grimm’ is a good idea, mainly because it’s doing a lot of world-building that is fresh in comparison to the oft used vampire/werewolf model. If you don’t mind going back to boxed sets or streaming them from services, I recommend Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Dead Like Me and The Dead Zone.

One of the things I really love about world-building is the fact that I have complete control over how things are percieved. I wouldn’t write a world where things like sexism etc. didn’t exist, but the way characters are written and stuff shows a reaction to that. In DBI, I have normadic tribes where women are expected to marry who they are told to marry and have children, but there are other options open to them if that’s not what they want. I decided the two main royal characters would be women, because I wanted to explore that sort of situation in a world where people accept that sort of thing, but only because the characters are shown to be deserving of their roles. I never set out to create a ‘feminist’ story, but reviewers did comment that it seemed to have a feminist edge with the warrior character being a woman. I didn’t see it as that;I just wanted a strong female character.

I watched the first episode of Grimm, then really got into Once Upon A Time. Grimm kind of disappointed me, Once was, I thought, brilliant. I might give Grimm another go though. Buffy was one of my childhood favourites, but missed out on Angel (again, might watch them again simply because I love Joss Wheadon.) I really, really wish there had been more series of Dead Like Me (Mason was pure awesome) and I’ll made a note to try to watch The Dead Zone. Thanks!

Greg Downing says:

People told me Once was good, buy I have yet to see it. Angel is not as good as Buffy, but not bad: Boreanz has a better range in Bones than trying to play broody Angel. And if you liked Dead Like Me, you might try Wonderfalls…only one season, but wonderfully quirky!

My parents and brother have all very much got into Once. It’s very gripping. I’ll have to add Wonderfalls to my check out list, too. Ta!

Just watched episode 10 of Wonderfalls. 1. Can’t believe Eric. 2. Thank you very much for introducing me to another great show that saddens me because there is only one series. Real shame there’s not more of it. Will have to add it to my list of beloved, gone-too-soon shows.

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