I first read The Silmarillion many years ago, back in high-school, and was blown away at just how epic the book was. It is pretty much my favourite book of all time, and if there was one book I wish I could have written, it is it. Now days epic seems more commonly used to describe those twelve 1000-page volume door-stoppers with more characters than a phone book. The Silmarillion is small by comparison, and the epicness in it comes from the characters and history and events, not from the verbosity and length.
Ever since I have wanted to right my own sweeping epic backstory for the history of my mythos, in the manner of The Silmarillion. Of course, being young when I first started out, it wasn’t particularly good, and borrowed too much from The Silmarillion. But as I got older and pulled the world apart and rebuilt it more than once, things changed and the backstory faded away and was mostly forgotten.
The recent announcement of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, and the accompanying trailer, got me thinking about it again. The idea of unleashing a cataclysm on the world of my creation has been one I’ve toyed with for many years, but only in the distant past has it really been appropriate and considered. And so the old gears began to churn again to put together that epic backstory.
I don’t want to do it in the manner of The Silmarillion, which is a straight out narrative telling of the events, but to leave it a bit more open. In particular I want to do it as told by one group, in this case the Arduq, and be their view of the events that transpired. In this regard I am drawing ideas that have intrigued me from two games, or game settings actually. One is the Warcraft setting the other the Elder Scroll setting. Both have a lot of history and backstory scattered through them and built up on but, with the Elder Scroll setting in particular, you are never quite sure if all the little bits of lore you come across are the actual events or not. There are whole websites devoted to the discussing and arguing of the lore of those settings, trying to piece it all together.
If I have a dream, it would be that my words become popular enough that it would inspire that kind of behaviour and that kind of debate. A lot of my stories already have scattered tidbits of history seeded in them, helping to give the world a more fleshed out feel. Some of them are fairly straightforward and make sense, others more obscure and may seem irrelevant so far. Others yet may be stated opinions that may or may not be true. In the upcoming Echoes of Dark Reflections short story, the Minotaur Nhaqosa is talking about the Arduq, and says ‘they were old when the world was young’. It is that kind of thing that leads to debate, hopefully :)
Of course, also working out the details properly now means less chance for errors to creep in. If I know what happened and how everything works, I wouldn’t be contradicting what has been said in earlier stories. It is too easy to do and is often seen in sequels that were never thought about when the original story was written – some things just don’t mesh.
The big thing now is to make it suitably epic; the characters, events and history. I have a few ideas already. Hopefully some will make an appearance here at some stage. While it will be the story I have always wanted to write, it is not the kind of story easily sold and is likely the kind of thing that only ever sees the light of day if one becomes very successful and popular. One can only hope and work hard to try and make it so.