Thursday, September 19, 2013
Everything starts with an idea. How does someone like me, who was a fan of epic fantasy, but liked the occasional urban fantasy, wind up writing a light and funny YA fantasy adventure?
That probably started with me joining a writing group on a forum I frequent. Like many online writing groups it started with excitement and a flurry of activity, and I fear like many online writing groups as that initial burst of enthusiasm faded and life outside of writing intruded on the participants time, posts dried up and the group unfortunately died.
At present in the fantasy genre the king of the subgenres is epic fantasy. This isn't anything new, it's always been the king as long as I can remember. Epic or high fantasy refers to things like Lord of the Rings or The Wheel of Time or A Song of Ice and Fire. Big fat books that can do duty as a door stop if needed.
Of late there's been a shift to writing low magic, gritty epics that feature fairly graphic descriptions of violence and lashings of profanity that take place in what TV Tropes refers to as 'sad crapsack' worlds, and they must feature at least one or more morally ambiguous anti hero. If said hero is a thief or an assassin, well so much the better.
When I looked around the group I was a member of it seemed that many of the offerings were of this type. The current term that many use is 'grimdark'. That's all well and good and it makes sense, there's a lot of that on the market and it's obviously quite popular, I read a lot of it myself and at this time my work in progress was along those lines (in fact one of my three main characters was an ageing, alcoholic, warrior mage full of self loathing. The other two were a thief with a smart mouth and a hidden talent and a member of an elite warrior race). The problem with this is that if you're going to enter a crowded market then what you write has to be superlative. I didn't get that from my own work. It had it's moments, but I just wasn't feeling comfortable with it and at times it was a struggle to write.
As I said the group died and later on another one formed. This was smaller and less formal. Again a lot of what the participants were working on was in the 'grimdark' format. I'd kept plugging away at my thing, but I didn't want to necessarily trot that out again. What to do?
I'd had a number of thoughts floating about in my head for some time about a group of loosely connected worlds or Realms. I called the concept Realmspace, and at about this time the ideas seemed to come together and coalesce into something coherent, so that was what I wrote.
The group again seemed to die, but this time I kept working on Realmspace. I feel it more than anything else I've ever written, and while I've not been published, I have written a number of complete novels (I'll talk about that tomorrow). It seems to come alive for me as I write and it never runs short on ideas.
One idea that works, is all it takes.