Book reviews, art, gaming, Objectivism and thoughts on other topics as they occur.

Nov 10, 2005

The Saga Begins

I've had a lot of interest from my online friends over the past two days about my progress with the book I've been writing. Well, I've stopped writing it. Actually, what has happened is that I got completely bogged down in the book I was writing before (Working Title: Epic) and I realized that I'm just not in a position where I can deal with the enormous scope I had planned. I'd like to be able to do justice to the idea.

So, instead I've put aside my notes for that novel and I'm working on another. It's going quite well; I have the list of characters fleshed out, the plot outlined (apart from a few small details that I can tell will need fleshing out) and an actual title, Ratbreed, not just a working one. In fact, I've got preliminary ideas for 2 sequels, to be titled Dog Law and Cat . . . um . . . something. That's a ways in advance, so I can come up with a title for the third one later, like, when I actually know what it will be about.

I've heard that all writers work differently. Ninety percent of the time my idea for a book begins with a character. I think this is largely because of my history as a role-playing gamer. It's so easy for me to, in Ayn Rand's words, concretize a character, whether it be a hero, a villain, or just some mediocrity, because I have a lot of practice in doing it. When I think of a character, I know from just a few descriptive words what they look like, how they speak, what clothes they'll wear, what gestures they'll make, etc. Sometimes I will sit down and sketch them in order to have a physical record so that I won't forget my previous thoughts in the jumbled rush of inspirations that always hits when I start a project.

My ideas for the plot always start with a scene, some image so immediate and clear I can almost reach out and grab it. Usually I have no idea how this scene connects with my characters; the fun part is getting the two to fit together in a way that is so seamless you could never imagine them being apart. Generally, though, this "fun" part is also the most difficult and frustrating of the writing process.

Titles are a thing I know many authors struggle with, but for me they are effortless. Usually I have a title for the book before I even know what the plot is going to be! I think this happens because I like words. Not particular passages in books, but actual individual words. Some words have such strong sensory connotations for me that hearing them has an instantaneous impact; it's an automatization of the context where those words are most often used. I've found that it means I can almost always pluck out the essential thread tying everything together and give it a name, just on the strength of it "sounding good".

I owe a lot of my understanding of how the writing process works to Ayn Rand's The Art of Fiction. With her invaluable assistance I may actually be able to realize my goal of becoming a novelist. Oh, Tore Boeckman deserves some credit for that book, too. Thank you, Tore!

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