John "The Gneech" Robey (the_gneech) wrote,
John "The Gneech" Robey

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Thoughts About My Last Novel

Haven't had a nice, long, rambly post in a while, so I figure I'm about due!

Anyway, I picked up my fantasy novel last night and started skimming around in it. With the benefit of a couple of years between when I wrote it and last night's reading, I made some interesting discoveries about it.

Keep in mind, when I wrote it, I knew it wasn't complete; I look on what I've got there as a solid first draft really, and at 59,910 words, it was no small feat on my personal development scale. But, given the changes I've made to Ethangea since it was written, it requires some heavy-duty revision.

One thing that pleased me was how well it held up, all things considered. Maynard was still charming, Soloman was still mysterious, and so forth.

However, I quickly discovered that when I wrote the book I had a tendency to summarize. There are sketches of scenes, such as Queen Vindara's breakdown, that are mentioned almost in passing, when really they should be included in the book. Once Varakh was gone, I fast-forwarded to the words "The End," with very little denoumont (sp?). A lot of that, I think, is because the scenes didn't directly affect the main protagonist (Lyonne), and I was attempting to keep the viewpoint fixed on her whenever possible.

I also found that, particularly after spending the evening watching Fellowship of the Ring, the book felt lightweight, the same way Willow seems like fluff compared to LotR. Some of that was deliberate on my part when I wrote it -- I didn't want Lyonne to save the world, I wanted her to save April and Soloman. Varakh, while powerful and dangerous in his own way, is certainly no Sauron. While there is a larger threat there -- Varakh once ruled the north and intends to again -- it's on a much smaller scale.

The last thing that struck me, or I should say, struck me again (because I knew this when I was writing it), was that Lyonne just isn't that compelling a heroine. She's tough, smart, and tenacious, but has no core personality of her own. I basically took the words "tough, smart, tenacious," slapped the name "Lyonne" on them, and started writing.

(Note to myself: Given level_head's penchant for noble heroines, maybe I should send a copy to him and get his input re: Lyonne. I suspect he may find her to be unpleasantly brash compared to the rather demure ladies he seems to prefer. But anyway...)

Similarly, as a villain, Varakh doesn't exactly shake the pillars of heaven. He's basically an uppity ghost, although as the story progresses and he gradually gains strength, his threat level increases. But really, at the climax of the story, he's got a double-handful of trolls for minions ... intimidating perhaps, but hardly a world-class baddy. The story of his original attempt to conquer Highgate (and subsequent death) is a lot more epic in scope than the story of his ghost coming back and making April's life so difficult. When the backstory's more exciting than the current narrative, you know there's a problem somewhere. ;)

The novel, I think, is imminently salvageable, or at least it has the seeds of something that is. I don't actually know if it's really worth doing or not, tho. Perhaps it should be left as simply a piece of world history to help develop things in my mind. The world is a very big place, after all, and there are more tales to be told in Ethangea besides this one, I'm sure. On the other hand, perhaps I could use this story as a building block for something larger and less fluffy, so to speak.

I tell ya, this thinkin' stuff is hard!

-The Gneech
Tags: ethangea, fantasy, reading, writing
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