fantasy writing

Monday, August 11, 2003

Here we are, trying to write again. This is the first time I’ve sat down in front of the computer in a long while. I’ve mostly been scribbling into my little yellow book. It’s a nice change. I was thinking this morning: what am I doing writing these “realistic” world type of stories. Why am I not focusing on fantasy? I think I’ve been trying different types of writing (i.e., classical fiction) because of the types of books I’ve read lately. For the most part, they’ve been classical (or modern) fiction. I’ve stayed away from fantasy, only reading fantasy or sci-fi novels when I participate in cardio at the gym. What causes that, of course, is the relatively low quality of most of the fantasy and sci-fi novels (more so for fantasy than sci-fi. Sci-fi tends to have great stories. Fantasy has good character development but is weak in the story (except for the world building). Both lack quality writing, focusing instead on selling to a lower common denominator, or perhaps less exacting audience).

After playing Shadowbane (which made me much happier than playing SWG, which was sci-fi and much closer to the modern equivalent of the MMORPG known as “life”), I remembered how much I enjoyed fantasy. I love pressing a button and seeing something happen. For example, pressing a button and seeing my character transport miles away. That (for an obvious reason of wanting to change the world I live in with just a thought) is much more interesting than firing a laser gun or running around in our modern society. That lead me to think about why I was writing short stories (and planning longer stories) that were in this world. My reasoning when I started was pretty sound: I’m pretty good at writing what I see. When I have to invent different stories or places, I tend to get bogged down. My drawing is a good example. I could copy well, but when I came to actually drawing something from scratch, I couldn’t do it. (Or rather, I could do it, but it wasn’t of the same quality.) It’s a lack of creativity, of “seeing” the image or stories in my mind.

My idea today was to take the story ideas I’ve been working on and translate them to a medieval fantasy world. Research is available on what life was like then, and pictures are available from different fantasy sites and especially paintings and drawings from books and games. What’s most interesting about this is I will be interested in finding out what happens. I’m going to want to know or play with the powers that my characters will have. That’s the exciting part. I’m excited because I can create worlds and introduce characters and societies that are markedly different from modern society and how we think about it—i.e., different not just in looks, but in thinking. For example, societies where infanticide is a normal practice, or witches are hunted down and magic is real and feared by the public.

To do this, I’m going to take the scared-of-a-mouse boy and change where he lives and what he does. You think that’s a good place to start? How about one of the simpler stories? This is as simple as it gets, in my mind. Okay. Synopsize away:

A boy (12) raised by an overprotective mother realizes that he fears everything. A traveling bard convinces the boy to face his fears and leave his village to travel the roads with him. The bard recruits for a magical guild and sees potential in the boy. The boy must leave the village without telling anyone (WHY?). The boy’s sickly younger brother (9) sets out to search for his older brother because of his mother’s depression. He believes if he can bring the boy back, his mother would get well. Their father died a year after the birth of the younger brother. The father left behind a large holding that supported the family.

The world has changed much in the past 500 years. A battle between two great nation-states resulted in the release of horrible magic that left the world broken and decimated. The nation-states were broken into feudal holdings and learning and magic were lost. The common folk fear magic, which before the apocalypse was used much like we use technology today. The magic-users all went underground to continue their development. Their leader, the Guildmaster, foresaw the apocalypse and began preparing for the dark age of magic. He trained bards to recruit, planning a day where the guild reunified the world under the guild’s control. This is what the boy will come to learn.

His younger brother will not be able to catch up to the boy. He will instead fall in with a new religious order that arose to ensure that a cataclysm never happens again. The religious order is also seeking to control the world, but they are doing this by massing armies and introducing an organized religion to the world (the world where spirits and superstition were the controlling force). The religion is not “evil,” but seeks to control its members through brainwashing, but all for a larger purpose. It gets its funding from the guild. The guild plans to use the religious order as a way to control the populous. Most members of the order do not know of this relationship. The order does its best to hunt down the guild, after learning of them (need a story here).

How does the guild hope to use the order? Unless it underestimated what would happen when it participated in the growth of the order (i.e., it was the guild that provided the “special effects” that convinced the disbelievers that the order was in touch with the gods).

Also, what’s going on with the feudal lords while these the guild and order fight it out amongst themselves?

The bard begins to introduce the boy to his guild after members of the order attack them on the road.

The boy becomes involved in the politics of the guild, and begins his training in the magical arts, where he must learn to overcome his fears to control the magic. While he is not an exceptional magician, he does have great political insight, and quickly rises in the ranks of the guild.

Likewise, the younger brother rises in the ranks of the order, mostly because of his magical powers.