On Fantasy Part II: Seyemi Spire

Since progress has pretty much come to a dead stop in the endeavor, I might as well make the most of it and do some form of wrap-up. Perhaps it was a mistake to begin reading Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire. The series is undoubtedly entertaining, but also illuminates the frailty of my own scribbling. Fact is – writing epic novels is extremely challenging. No wonder the most popular scribes are all old grey-bearded men, retired and writing full time for years.

Still, that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the experiment, or that the resultant product is without merit. The feelings that arise when reading these stories – the thrill of tense chase, noble quests, enchanted locales, colorful characters – are that much moreso when writing them. A vision of feasting or battle is always the most vivid when it must be captured and transcribed into word.

The chapters I enjoyed most:

One – the opening panels, the darkened gritty streets of Spire City, the rogue forced by addiction to stalk and kill. The tone and voice was introduced here – perhaps a bit wordy, but rich – as well as the geography.

Six – this was Aaralyn’s and Bryce’s Cominka ceremony. I liked most writing the banter, a prelude to affection, friendly flirting. The society of High Perch was a fun invention – the hierarchy of merit, the titles and traditions.

Seven – back in the gritty underworld, Cotter and Rai confront Boss Kremwell, and the rogue himself is confronted with his past. I enjoyed writing the battle scenes, especially Cotter’s lethal acrobatics.

Ten – finally the innocent children of High Perch meet with the dregs of the undercity. There is the darkened flight through the tunnels and finally betrayal.

Lessons Learned:

-Managing the World: One thing about these kind of tales is its a lot easier to create loose ends than to tie them up. If the various hooks – past history, conversation snippets, characters, locales, artifacts – are invented on the fly, it becomes a nightmare to manage them. And if you neglect to keep everything under control, the world ends up lopsided. Even now the economy of Spire City seems a bit off.

-Personal Allegory: Tolkien disliked the connections readers drew between his own time (WWII / Atomic Age) and that of Middle Earth. It was good of him to reject these allegories as being definitive, but certainly in his writings he drew from his own life. Much of Seyemi Spire (see ch. 6) deals with coming of age, leaving the comfort of cozy society, taking steps towards responsibility. It’s something I could identify with, and infuse the young characters with my own misgivings, questions and laughs.

-Emergent Storylines: As mentioned above, most of the plot hooks and twists come about on the fly. Writing is more like channeling a current (be it a raging torrent or a small trickle) through a prism. However, many of these tales reveal startling architecture and complexity. There is a real challenge to maintain the momentum of the narrative and keep the world building consistent. In a way, this was the curse. Once I had exhausted the initial musings and character sketches I was left with the task of generating interesting conflict.

-Finding a Style: My influences are diverse, ranging from Palahniuk minimalism, Heinlein pulp, to Conrad and Melville’s rich prose. If you’ve read fantasy (Tolkien, Jordan, Brooks), the style can become part of the appeal. It is plodding and steady, touching on a detailed setting (deep greens of the forest, damp grey stone, stunning winter skies), characters (scars, rotten teeth, greasy raven hair, weapons and armor), even battle scenes. There is an economy to the style, an omnipotent narrator that does not shy from violence or evil but has a tenderness for even the lowliest detail. By no means do I want to be a clone of Robert Jordan. I could even sense a bit of psychedelic jounciness on the binges and dreams, and minimalism in the conversations. But the main focus is being consistent.

Hope you enjoyed some or all of it, it shall remain as is on the recesses of the site. Perhaps I’ll resume where I left off next NaNoWriMo. Until then, I hope to wrap up this “study” of the genre with a look at World of Warcraft.

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