Today’s word count: 1411
Nanowrimo begins today, and I have some words down on the page. If I am to meet my goals, I will need to do much better, but it is a decent start.
I have been an avid reader since I first learned the marks on a page could tell a story. I devoured everything I could find. As a child, Jack London was a particular favorite, but I enjoy The Chronicles of Narnia and others as well. When I was fifteen I read Anne McCaffery’s The Dragonriders of Pern and I was hooked. Fantasy came alive like no other genre could.
I saw myself in the characters. Lessa was strong and respected, and had been rescued out of her childhood unhappiness to be one of the most powerful people in that world. I, too, wanted to be rescued from the depression that gripped me, and to be someday respected. I wondered what I would have been if I had found myself in that world instead of my own, and that started a mass of bad fan fiction that will never see the light of day.
For the next ten years, I read as much as I could find. This was before e-books, and libraries did not always have a comprehensive selection. I read, and read, and read, and then went to college and read more non-fiction. I still read for pleasure, at least for awhile.
I started to see flaws in the worlds the authors created. I tried to patch them in my fan fiction, but it was haphazard working within someone else’s rules. The geography didn’t work, in many cases. It seemed all the people of the world spoke the same language, except the nobles and the educated, who all were trained in the magical old language. That is not how language works!
Then I saw the same peoples, culture, and geography being repeated over and over again. This was not the typical tropes that one would expect in fantasy, but one author using the template of another’s in order to create a culture (Fremen=Aiel). I pick on Jordan here, but he was by far not the only one. Also, deus ex machina was pretty prevalent in several series, and people did not react like humans, especially in the face of trauma. There were often very little stakes, and I did not really fear the character would not survive and save the day. I grew bored.
I remember one day, speaking with a friend who was also reading the new book released by a famous author, and my friend was awed by a twist affecting one of the main characters. My reaction was less impressed. I felt that reveal had been telegraphed two or three books prior. Who wouldn’t realize the main character was the special, prophesied to be born? It was obvious, wasn’t it?
Perhaps my disillusionment was not unusual. Perhaps I expected too much. I wanted the mountains to be like the ones from my youth, the languages reflecting the history and geography of the people, and the cultures to be more than mongols, but blonde, or Arabs, with freckles. I wanted the characters to be strong, and make choices for their own destiny, and sometimes choose wrong. I wanted the villains to have real motivations instead of evil for evil sake, and the heroes to have some realistic flaws. I wanted religions that made sense in that world, that could be real or false, depending on the perspective of the believer.
What I really wanted were the characters and worlds I had created in my head. I searched for them, and gave up reading a novel as soon as I read the typical fantasy blurb: Bumble, ordinary peasant farmer of Gerlach who only wants a normal life, who everyone in his village hates because he is special, is visited by a beautiful woman, Splederial, who is a magical princess/sorceress/seeress who will guide him on his quest to take his rightful place on the throne of Kerchak. She will help him defeat the dark lord Bragnnahgak, who wants all the world of Finnellia to serve the lord of the underworld, cause EVIL.
That’s not a real novel, by the way, but sure sounds like one, doesn’t it?
I stopped reading fantasy for several years, except for Harry Potter, but that was just to see what the fuss was about. I didn’t binge read for several years until I finally found George R.R. Martin, and The Song of Ice and Fire. Still, I wanted more, and my expectations had been raised. Every time I saw one of those typical blurbs, I rolled my eyes.
I decided, if I wanted to read about these types of characters and worlds, I couldn’t just wait until a found ones wanted. I had been building these in my head for so long, giving them history and motivations, why not write it myself? I hopefully am able to do them justice, and readers will eventually find them and have the same awe my friend did when a twist is revealed. Hopefully it won’t be too predictable.
If you want to read what I write, check out the first episode of the serial: Betrayer Awakened, Season 1 Episode 1″Escape”.