Welcome to my Writing Diaries #2, fellow writers and readers! This one is a bit long, so bear with me. Today’s post will include my inspiration sources, my novel cover REVEAL (what?) & title, and thoughts about research and outlining.
Lesson of the day
The most important lesson I got from my reading material and general interactions with other writers:
Have a specific time slot to write. Only write.
No editing, no revising, no researching, just write. So, this is what I am going to do, starting in November. I am going to commit myself to 1 hour of writing every day (1 hour at least). During this hour, I won’t be tempted to revise or go back and edit. I won’t be tempted to check Grammar or inconsistencies, only allow my creativity to flow and write, write, write. This is a bigger challenge for me than you’d imagine.
Outside my writing slot, I might dedicate some time to revise and edit (or not). Only if I have the time, but this is not mainly important at this stage. My priority is getting those first 50k into my novel (I say first, because I’d figure I’ll go beyond 50k for a Fantasy novel). After that initial draft is done, I am positive I will be much more motivated and compelled to finish my novel.
When it comes to research, I am trying to get as much of this done before I start NaNoWrimo, but I am sure I will still need to keep researching along the way – which is fine, as long as it is not during my writing time slot, as mentioned above.
Title & Synopsis
After having read Lori’s post, I decided I’d finally do some research on my title. The problem is that I haven’t put much thought into the title, it just came to me automatically. I wanted it to be “One Deadly Sin” because it’s actually a literal representation of what happens in the world I have created: Simplifying everything, their world is ruled by Four Goddesses, and there is One Deadly Sin. And “Deadly” is literal too: you commit that specific sin, you die. I remember Orson Scott Card mentioning that we have to be careful with metaphors when writing Fantasy & Science Fiction because so much of it can be actually literal. So there you go. This title makes perfect sense to me because I already have the main outline of this novel and I know already how the whole thing ends. Well, in the end, after some additional thought, I’ve ended up calling my novel just ‘Sin’, which is even more generalistic. But, in my head, this is part of a series, which would be called ‘Four Goddesses’s Justice’, so calling the first volume just ‘Sin’ sounds acceptable.
So, why wait, right? Nah! Well, this kind of happened by ‘accident’! I’ve noticed that a DA artist I liked was doing speed-painting commissions, and my first thought was that I wanted to work with her! Then I thought: Why not take the chance to get something done for my potential book? I’ve hired her to paint my character (no background), half-body. I have to say that she was a pleasure to work with, very fast and efficient! Thanks again, Suzanne. This is her original work:
In case you are wondering, speed-painting is not supposed to contain huge amounts of detail, she had already ‘cheated’ a bit. She captured the essence of this character – I am not sure I can consider her ‘the main character’ because this notion is a bit blurry in High Fantasy but definitely one of the main characters and responsible for many of the conflict and events that will happen throughout the book.
And this my first draft for the cover (R. M. Harper is my pen name, at least for now):
I have purchased this beautiful stock image to include in the photo composition, and I think it works very well, at least for the ideas I have in my head.
Ok, so I do read every type of book. But deep down, I am old-school, what can I say? So my main inspiration is Anne Bishops’s The Black Jewels. But breathe! Nothing nearly as dark as her series! I am still not sure whether my work will end up as something that can be classified ‘Dark Fantasy’ or simply ‘Fantasy (High / Epic)’. In any case, it won’t be YA, that’s not what I am going for. For those who are not familiar with her work:
The Black Jewels is a series of dark fantasy novels and short stories by Anne Bishop. The first three books were originally published individually and then together as a trilogy in a single omnibus collection. The series takes place in a world where those born with dark power/magic rule in a deeply matriarchal society.
Right! What matters here is not the individual story and plot in each of her books and stories, but the main concept! The matriarchal society and the feminist aspect of her world. I intend to do it in a different way than Anne did (obviously) but there is that aspect. The first line of my synopsis (under construction) makes it clear, I hope:
Twenty years have passed since the First War, the biggest conflict between two nations in the history of the world of Aestus. But so long as women retain most of the magical power from the Goddesses, there will be men craving it.
Who wouldn’t crave Magic, right? Now, it’s a bit more complex than this, but I don’t want to give everything away in the book’s short synopsis. There are different nations / countries in this fictional world, and each of those operates in a different way. I have also based each of these in real locations to make my fictional world as realistic as possible. You’ll have different cultures, societies, races, and classes – and there comes my second inspiration.
Roleplaying videogames! Yes! So, again, for those who aren’t familiar with RPG, this is how it basically works: Each of your characters has a special ability. So some can use Magic, some might not, some might excel in a specific type of Magic – like healing, for example, and so on (I am trying to keep this simple). There are many, many, many systems of classes out there. So, how does this fit in my book? There will be classes, yes, but I tried to incorporate those as part of the world in the most realistic possible manner. For now, all you’ll need to know is that not everyone will be able to use Magic, and not everyone will be able to fight. – This is not new, in order for Magic to make sense in a fictional world, there has to be limitations. The second limitation is related to that ‘One Deadly Sin’, but I will keep you wondering for now.
Now, as predictable as this might be, another work that inspired me was George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. Now, I haven’t even finished the series (for reasons unknown, and yes, I did finish the TV show), but there is something amazing that George has done: He made the general masses read Fantasy! Almost everyone loves Game Of Thrones, even those who are not even into Fantasy. Now, isn’t that amazing? So, of course, no wonder A Song of Ice and Fire series are undeniable inspiration for anyone who is thinking of writing a Fantasy novel.
It’s almost starting!
As I’ve mentioned above, I want to do as much research and outlining I can before the real writing starts. I have the Prologue done, but I am not counting that.
I am using Scrivener, and without wanting to promote it or anything since I am not even affiliated, NaNoWrimo is offering a discount for the participants. Or you can just get a 30-day trial and see if you like it. I personally love it. Not only my outline and research is so much more organized now, but I can also split my beautiful (ahem) work in chapters and scenes, and have it all automatically compiled and formatted for epub, mobi, etc.
I am attaching below a screenshot of my Scrivener’s workspace just so you can have an idea of how I am organizing my folders, research, and ideas. The software has already a premade template sheet for your characters & settings as you can see, but you can also import your own sheets or someone else’s sheets – Randy Ellefson has some useful ones.
This is good for inspiration / mood boards too! I am also using Pinterest for that. I have compilled a few visuals (actors, illustrations, etc – but not a specific cast as I want my imagination to run wild), and matched them to my characters for inspiration purposes. Feel free to visit my Pinterest boards and check!
I am sure you’ve had enough of me today! So, I will leave the rest for the next Writing Diaries – this is my attempt at creating a cliffhanger! Ah! Coming next: The Map! I am not sure if anyone is doing this, but I think it helps a lot when trying to picture scenes or writing about each character’s journey. I will let you know of my process and how it’s looking like now, in the next post.
Can’t wait to connect to everyone and know of everyone’s ideas too! Let me know in the comments and / or link me to your writing posts.