Yesterday was my first critique session with my new writing group, which really is an excellent one. One of the subjects I was concerned about, and a subject we discussed a few times, was names.
There’s a few issues at play here. One, for me personally, names are incredibly important to my characters. My names almost always mean something, whether because of the sound of the words or because the etymology of the name reveals some aspect of the character’s personality or appearance. Naming stops me dead in my tracks when I’m writing. Until I have the perfect name, and I won’t know it’s perfect until I stumble across it, I can’t write a word. It’s not such a hard block with secondary or tertiary characters, but for my main characters, the name must be perfect.
This can be tricky with normal modern names, but it’s even more difficult for names in fantasy worlds, because of course fantasy names aren’t necessarily modern, familiar names; in fact, it goes against the genre if they are, at least for traditional and high fantasy.
47,768 words, still working on the first scene of episode three. I’ve got a name for the episode now, and a good idea of where I’m headed as well as what dangers Marrok, Iolië, and their merry band will face as they travel. The phrase of the week is overpowered. That was really the hinge on which my plotting turned, as I have to come up with problems and obstacles for them to face, and some real danger for them in facing it. It makes me glad–for the thousandth time–that I’m waiting to publish any of this until The Red Book is complete. It’s an easy trap for an author to fall into, making their characters too strong in the beginning, and giving them nowhere to grow and no minor dangers that are still a challenge to overcome. There are a lot of different things that can kill you in the world. Or at least there should be.
Considering that led me to expand on the lore behind the world, which is always a treat. I ought to write a post talking about the supplemental documents that go with world-building, as the 47,768 words I’ve written on the actual story are nothing compared to the word count of my supplemental files; the total word count for the story and the additional files is probably around 200-250k words. It would be interesting what, if any, supplemental files others keep to organize their world-building.
I have officially completed episode two, which (if it were a TV show) would be the end of the two-part introduction. Episode two is longer than I wanted, but I think I am happy with the ending. I think it got the payoff it needed.
But now I am adrift, with many major milestones ahead and no idea how to get them. I have a map (which I am pretty proud of) so I have a literal roadmap; the question is, what happens on the way there.
This is a trick of mine that over the years I’ve ended up employing more and more, almost to the point that I consider it the first and roughest draft of anything I write. I sit down and write to myself. Just thinking about the problem doesn’t help me; it’s too easy to get distracted. So instead I write it as if I’m talking to myself, asking myself questions, answering them, exploring the different options, identifying problems and figuring out why it’s a problem, then what to do about it. Here’s a little example of what I was working out earlier today:
Happy New Year to all!
I have a number of important things I’d like to happen in 2018. Most of them are writing related, of course, but I don’t mind including a few personal goals in there.
What are your resolutions?
First, I officially finished the (now) second-to-last scene of this episode, and am sitting proudly at 43,952 words. It actually took rewriting the entire previous scene to kick me back into gear, but I’m so glad I did. I was never happy with the point of view I’d selected for that scene, and it’s much better from Iolië’s point of view.
The next challenge was deciding how much to show and how much to summarize in the next scene. This is already going to be a long episode compared to the first one, and while I don’t want to adhere too rigidly to a word count, I also don’t want to leave any room for arguments about whether my readers are getting shortchanged compared to the previous episode. If one episode is 30k words compared to the previous episode’s 20k words, that is definitely a place I don’t want to be. I think 25k words is about as long as I want to get, and this episode is already at 23,863 words. Episode one was 18,245 words.
I am not going to contemplate that right now, this is about summarizing. Read More