Friday, January 30, 2015

My Epic Intentions for 2015

It's kind of hard to believe that this is my first blog post of 2015. But maybe it's not.

I'm all about best intentions. Jules Winfield is talking to me when he says, "You were saying something about best intentions." The road way of my life is littered with the burnt husks of my best intentions. I am ambitious about my intentions and what I intend to do, even though I frequently fail at meeting my expectations for my intentions. And I'm laying down some intentions for the rest of the year that I would dare say are epic. I'm sure you're confused as to what I'm saying,,,so allow me to explain what I mean.

I write epic fantasy. I love epic fantasy. I cut my teeth on Tolkien then Dragonlance. From Dragonlance I wandered from tie in to tie in for many years. I became engrossed in a space opera series called Deathstalker by Simon Green that I never understood why they weren't bigger. It was brilliant and fun and I learned a lot about writing epic from it. It formed early images of the way to tell a story from multiple POVs.

My own writing languished. I was still in love with the idea of being a writer not actually writing. I was spending hard earned money on writing books not books to read and study as a writer. I was writing an epic fantasy without some of the foundation that I would need to write what I wanted to write. I'd been writing the same basic concept of the epic fantasy novel I would eventually dub THE FALLING DARK. It was an allusion to a line in a Dave Matthews song called "The Dreaming Tree." It had undergone several title changes and I butchered and rebutchered the beginning several times, but after reading Thrones and Greg Keyes' The Briar King, I moved forward on the project, completing the novel in draft form on December 24, 2003. I felt like it was gigantic...epic in every way.  I knew most of it was crap, but I thought I had some interesting concepts and ideas in it...enough not to just throw it out after I printed it out. I workshopped that draft on the old BWB Writer's Group and messed around with a rewrite that I had some people read for kicks. But did nothing else with it. It was a trunk novel. Plain and simple.

For kicks, since my main laptop is down and I have been in a massive slump at the beginning of this year, I went back an messed around with the draft a little. It wasn't as big as I thought it was, about 164k or 551 double spaced pages. Only about 30-50k more than the YA fantasy I've been writing. It was kind disappointing to find that out. The cool thing about this DARK is that I culled some things from it to write my YA fantasy adventure SISTERS OF KHODA. Actually, KHODA is a prequel to DARK. I intended for it to be a lighter story but one of the realizations I had when rewriting it last year was that it needed more epic. So I've resolved to become more epic and these are my intentions for 2015. I'm going to engage in more epic reading and writing. The plan is as follows:

I intend to up my reading of the epic doorstoppers that I love. I'm looking at books that are beyond 600 pages. Here are a few of note:

  • The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu. I was sent a bound MS ARC of the book by Saga Press (my dream imprint) and I am presently reading it. (640 pages)
  • The Name of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. (662 pages)
  • The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. (1007 pages)
  • Books Six through Fourteen of the Wheel of Time (7,925 pages)
  • The Fell Sword by Miles Cameron (640 pages)
I'm going to spend some time reading this year, cutting back on my social networking and really hunkering down on what I want to get done in the reading department. There are other, smaller works that I am going to read too that are considered epic fantasy. I'm in the middle of listening to the audiobook of A Wizard of Earthsea, for example, and there are some omnibuses I'm going to read as well. I'm really going to shore up my epic fantasy reading this year. Study the genre so I can, in fact, make KHODA more epic. If you have any suggestions that aren't Malazan or Bakker, please make them.

I've got some plans for writing. I want to stop dicking around (broken record, I know) and get some words. Here's the layout:

  • LABORS: A contemp YA project I've been puttering around with for the last few years. It's about half way done and needs a good rewrite of the first half to finish the second. While it's not epic fantasy, I think there is some epic in it, especially since I am alluding to Heracles's famous Twelve Labors. 
  • KHODA: As mentioned above. This rewrite stalled ,I talked about it already, and I need to restart it. I came to the realization is that it needs more "epic" in it and that as much as I wanted this to be a fantasy adventure, that's not the story it wants to be. I've come up with a concept and I want to sort of arc it out a bit before moving forward on the rewrite. It'll still be YA as far as I can figure, but I may borrow more from the DARK in tone at least. 
  • FRESH TRACKS: A nostalgia piece that I've hinted at a few times. It's going to be YA in tone and content but take place in 1991ish. What does that have to do with epic? I'm going to write it in a similar fashion as I would my epic books: multi-POV and third person.
  • SEASONS: The rewrite of book two of SEASONS that I just finished, SPRING'S TEMPEST, was such a major departure from what I'd originally wrote that book three is almost going to be completely new and what is written doesn't really apply, for the most part. SPRING still needs a polish/continuity pass that I am going to tackle as soon as freaking IT decides to fix my damned laptop (that's an epic fail). SUMMER __________, I've got about three or four title ideas for book three. Do I go with the Shakespearesque motif? (Discord, Tempest) Or do I go with Sacrifice or Strife? Or something else with a little more finality? Glory? (The original titles, when this was a tetralogy not a trilogy were going to be SUMMER'S SACRIFICE or SUMMER'S STRIFE followed by AUTUMN'S GLORY.)
New Writing/Planning
There are three projects that are clearly in early planning stages in my mind and both will be epic in nature. But I've decided not to rush into them, but instead take some time to build them from the ground up. Do some serious world building for the worlds of these three things and craft the story accordingly:

  • SCIONS: We're locked in the midst of Winter here in Syracuse. It's been brutally cold but not very snow. In light of the Snowmaggedon that never came and the flurries we've been struck with today, I have been moved to writing some kind of northern epic. It's sort of based off of something else I'd been conceptualizing for a while. This is the book I want to be a real door stopping fantasy.
  • QUEST: I want to write an old fashioned quest novel. Play with the tropes and put my own spin on it. This is early gestation, but it's out there. 
  • TOURNAMENT: I've talked about this project before and the world building I've done on it. I intend to move forward on this project in the very near future and start writing it probably ahead of the other things on this list. 
So, that's my epic intentions. I'll probably come up short, but it's okay to dream a bit isn't it?