Archive for September, 2009

True to form, as I’m starting to make progress in the rewrite of Tear of the Mountain – 13,000 words in – another new idea comes along.

Cept it isn’t like any idea I’ve had before. A couple of days ago there was nothing. Next thing I knew, without even trying, I had, well, near everything. Five main characters came along and I knew what they looked like, their personalities and how they interacted with one another. In addition there were five minor characters with similar details. Much of the overall plot was there, as well as some minor plot details. Various scenes and conversations were whirling around as well.

In all my time fiddling around writing I’ve never had a project just jump so vividly into existence before. Stopping Tears of the Mountain when I’ve done so much already would be a bit silly, but this new project has really taken a hold and refuses to let go. At the very least I’m going to have to make some notes so I don’t forget it.

Sport in Fantasy

Posted: September 22, 2009 in fantasy, writing update
Tags:

The grand final of Australian Rules Football (better known as aussie rules or footy down here in Australia) is on this weekend and it got me thinking about sport in fantasy worlds and stories. Man has played sports as long as they have been around – the Greeks and Romans had their Games and the origins of a number of modern sports such as soccer, rugby and cricket are centuries old. I was delighted to see in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World the sailors playing a version of cricket when they were on the Galapogas islands.

Many fantasy worlds and authors seem to glaze over sports – I guess that when you are busy saving the world there is little time to kick a ball around. Gladiator style games seem the most prominent, though other types of sports do crop up. Raymond E. Fiest has a soccer style game develop though a number of books, which is a nice touch, while other authors make up their own bizarre and often highly dangerous types of games.

In an effort to make a believable world I realised I had to include some form of sports to it. Of course, being Australian, this will be flavoured by what we play here, notably cricket and aussie rules (though most likely not exactly as they are currently played). Other sports will have to be played in different nations, so there is amble opportunity for other styles of sports and games to make appearances.

Speaking of aussie rules – I highly recommend people check it out of they can. It is a truly spectacular sport which is happily slowly gaining followings in other countries. Initially this was spread by the Aussie Diaspora but it is being taken up in numerous nations and now has proper amateur leagues in such places as New Zealand, USA, Canada, the UK, Denmark, South Africa, Samoa, PNG, Nauru, Ireland, Germany and others. It’d be great to see it become a major world sport – a dream I have if I ever became a successful author would be to actively support such moves.

Making good progress on the rewrite of Tears of the Mountain so far, hitting 5400 words already. Feels like I’m making decent progress, though there is still a long way to go. I’m adding a excerpt from early on in the story – this is still the first rewrite so hasn’t been polished yet, and to me at least it feels like it still needs a decent amount of polish put on.

Walking down the path that lead to the doorway with its supporting peacocks, the rain mizzling down around him, the man rapped on it twice with his knuckles, quickly and quietly. No reply was immediately forthcoming and after a short wait he was about to knock again when the door finally opened a fraction. A beam of warm light spilled through the gap it out into the dark, wet night. The silhouette of a head appeared in the crack.

“Yes, what?” it asked brusquely in a rough voice.

“It is Sanjhar,” the man out in the rain replied. “I have news.” The door was opened quickly in response and Sanjhar stepped in, the door just as quickly shut and bolted behind him once he was inside. There was only one other man in the entrance parlour, a villainous looking man with a shaved head, a long curved knife shoved through the sash around his waist and in one hand a cocked flintlock pistol. He eased off the flint and pushed the pistol into his sash which was tied over a knee-length sleeveless grey tunic. Sanjhar turned away from the gaze of the dark eyed man who had been studying him with almost contemptuous hostility.

Now that the rough draft has been completed (for a given value of complete) and I’ve been through it, making some notes on what needs some changes or added, as well as trying to sort out the chronological issues, the rewrite has started.

I find rewriting something from an older draft much easier to do – rough drafts at time I struggle getting down, but rewrites seem to fly along, even if things change a fair amount between the draft and the rewrite. Getting the drafts done is still something I need to work better at.

Following my normal method, the rewrite is turning out much longer than the draft. So far 572 words of rough draft has turned into 1278 words in the rewrite. At this rate the rewrite will turn out at 80-90,000 words, which is a decent goal to aim for.

I’ve got a couple more Cahuac short stories in the works. I’d been turning over ideas in my head for what to do next with him and not one but two stories started taking form. Given how short they are and how fun and easy to write they are, it shouldn’t take long for them to do.

Currently they have the working titles of Wolf chases the Stars and The Bee and the Flowers

Now that the rough draft is finished I’m going to be doing a few posts while doing the rewrite exploring the story; its locales, peoples and background. Nothing that will give away too much of the plot though.

The first post will be about Adranatti, the City of Dreams.

Located on the northern shores of Amaralii, the Sea of Amar, lies the city of Adranatti, the largest, oldest and most prosperous of the Amari holdings in the land they call Hovendriun. Legends say that the city is two millennia old. Epic poems of the event describe how a pair of fishermen were caught in a fierce storm and swept them far to the north, where they were washed into the bay upon which Adranatti sits. There they met the primitive natives who, according to the poems, took them as their chiefs.

Few scholars take the poems seriously.   Adranatti – more properly Adranatti Vesa Criporo, that is the Colony of Adranatti Lesser – seems to have been founded in the period when the Amari city-states were establishing colonies around the Amaralii, during the transition between the bronze and iron ages. Adranatti Vesa Criporo was the daughter colony of Adrantti Traduin; Greater Adranatti. The colonists subjugated the native Gajaru, simple subsistence level farmers and fishermen who couldn’t stand up against the technologically superior colonisers.

In the years following its colonisation, Adranatti slipped into obscurity and became something of a backwater. Wars gripped the Amari city-states as they clashed for dominance, during which Adranatti Traduin was destroyed. In the end the Amari Rhapernumi was founded, a unified nation under the Rhapernum, the High King, though intrigue and plots were never far away as the Amari cities still sort dominance within the new nation.

Adranatti itself, all but forgotten, became more a Gajaru city with each passing century. The discovery of gold changed all that. For the five centuries after its founding, it was known small amounts of gold could be found, mostly traded with the Tchirrik, a alien race of insectoid men who dwelt beyond the northern hills in the arid lands beyond. When prospectors found vast quantities of not just gold, but silver and gemstones as well in what was nominally Tchirrik lands, all that changed.

Men flocked to Adranatti, seeking fortunes and it thus acquired the name the City of Dreams. Not just fortune seekers, but the full might of the Rhapernumi. Adranatti had at the time something of an experimental democracy running the city, but that was set aside as one of the Blood, a Prince of Amari was sent to take over the city and its wealth. War soon followed, a by-product of the greed for gold. The Tchirrik nation was destroyed as the Amari sought access to all the sources of gold and precious gems and the surviving Tchirrik were driven deeper into the arid lands.

Rumours surfaced during the last years of the war that the Tchirrik had hidden a vast wealth of treasure in a city that lay deep in the deserts, a city that grew in fame and legend as the story was spread. The Amari called the city Illiatorian and it became a lure for explorers, adventures and treasure hunters.

Amar has seen great upheaval in the following centuries, with rebellions and coups, dynastic changes and assassinations. The power of the Rhapernum has waned into little more than a figurehead, the city-states mostly independent once more. Adranatti too has seen its fair share of change. At its height it was one of the most powerful cities of Amar, controlling vast stretches of the north. But the gold mines began to play out and its wealth diminished and its northern holdings shrunk. Given its locale though, it remained an important hub for trade in the north and, while not as powerful as it once was, is still a prized possession.

As the Rhapernumi begins to break apart, foreign powers circle hungrily, chief among them the Empire of Hakset and the Maedari Commonwealth, eager to bind Amari city-states to their side for a coming war that seems inevitable. Of those cities in the north, Adranatti is the most prized. A city filled with betrayal, intrigue, bribery and corruption, with a young and untested ruler, it seems primed for one side or the other to snap up.

The rough first draft of Tears of the Mountain is complete, more or less. It is very rough in parts, little more than an extended synopsis with minimal descriptions for large parts of it. All up its is only around 43,000 words but that will expand out to a more normal length once the rewrite starts.

It is going to require some extensive editing over the net couple of days before the rewrite starts though. Various plot and character changes happened during the period of writing the first draft. Names changes, ideas changed, new plot ideas came about and more. The first thing that will need doing is to fix up the time line, trying to mesh it all together properly. Currently some of the chronology is a little skewed and needs fixing.

Actually having finished a rough draft is good though and I’m looking forward to this next phase, even if it promises to be more difficult.