(Don’t you hate it when people begin a sentence with that? Can you imagine typing dialogue that way? Hmm… there begins a tangent to explore another day.)
The new beginning.
When I read it is almost exclusively fantasy that I pick up and yet, when I write, I can’t engage my mind to write it. I have numerous stories plotted and characters screaming at me and yet, I have had to restart any fantasy tale I touch numerous times. Am I comparing myself against David Gemmell, Terry Brookes and other fantasy writers and cutting my confidence? To be honest, no I’m not. Each opening chapter has been pleasing to me as writing but it doesn’t tick the box for how I want the story to start.
As an example, I have a convoluted saga (Kingship), that has an original plot and engaging characters. The first chapter begins with the murder of the Lord Protector who is adored by everybody. He’s a nephew of the King, a gentleman and the foremost swordsman in the land. The reader doesn’t even witness the killing, they learn of it as the second in command is woken and informed. Needless to say, there are myriad questions that arise from this action that are to be slowly eked out through the first third of the book. I’ve written that opening five times now and I know it doesn’t work.
Do I have an explanation for my discomfort with those opening words? Why is it if I write a story set here and now, the story flows for me and yet, when I try to report on the events of another world and another time, I can’t satisfy myself? I have a suspicion. I think that because my mind lives in these fantasy worlds and has since I was about eight, I know too much. I’m not trying to write a story, I’m trying to report what I have witnessed. The story is over-plotted. I’ve stripped my freedom to imagine.
Am I advocating writing without a plot? Without a plot the story will not have direction. Her Name is James, Dark Angel and Hell on Earth worked for me so what was different there?
James is set in the present and occurs in places that readers will find familiar.
The Dark Angel books are also set in the present and are set exclusively in London so the reader can identify with the locations.
Kingship is set in a fictional world. The walls of the city are yellow stone, cemented with a crude, dull tan mortar. The mortar has that cast as the local sand has a dirty appearance. The Buildings of the city are pressed tightly together with barely enough space between alleyways to permit horse drawn carts to pass each other. Narrow walkways cross as bridge-spans from rooftop to rooftop, the crenelations engineered to permit a defence should the city wall be breached.
That is an example of the issue I have. James can walk up the steep High Street toward the public house. The Commander has to stride effortlessly along the dark, cobbled walkway as he cautiously approaches the tavern.
My stumbling block is I have to have to find myself a skeleton of a plot. If I put flesh on those bones prior to writing the book the body will be so bloated as to not fit through the door. Bare bones! It worked for my other books, I had plot points to head for; signpost to point my way. Either I abandon fantasy or learn to curb my imagination.
Am I alone in this? Do others live a story to such an extent they can no longer create? If you have every event consigned to memory, do you struggle to convey what you have seen?
With regard to fantasy, maybe I am not an author but an imagineer.