A Whole New World

In writing my Sci-Fi/Fantasy novel, I am finding a lot goes into building a novel. But the building of a fantasy novel goes so much further. There is a lot of preliminary work. You have to construct a whole new world, a whole new society, a whole new universe. Then you need to get to know who your characters are and how they would react in that world.

I have only one more week to finish another chapter of my novel. I struggled to figure out where I should go next with my characters, then just yesterday inspiration struck and I outlined my next chapter.  I hear repeatedly in my classes that you should just write. No outline or planning is necessary. However, I am seriously questioning this advice the deeper I get into my novel.

I started out with some great ideas and built on top of that to some extent, imagining the environment, the main characters, and how their situation might play out in the beginning. But, after this chapter, what will happen next? How will it end? These are questions that still concern me as I continue to write, somewhat blindly along.

I love the library. I always find such great information there. I mentioned in my last post that I recently picked up another stack of books. There are two books in that stack I believe will help me get to the end of my book without any detours. The first is by Sarah Domet, 90 Days to Your Novel,and the second is The Writer’s Complete Fantasy Referencepublished by Writer’s Digest.

90 Days to Your Noveltalks about creating a road map for your novel up front before you begin to write one word. You use an outline and get to know your characters through pre-writing and other exercises designed to provide the foundation for your novel. The idea behind the planning is to allow you to write your novel in just ninety days. While I’m not sure my first novel will be completed in ninety days, I’m allowing myself permission to take a little longer on the timeline. I’ll try for ninety days, but I won’t beat myself up if I don’t meet that goal. The true goal is creating an imaginative and entertaining novel.

Some of my initial ideas need some development. The Writer’s Complete Fantasy Referenceis helping me with this. It’s not about taking this information and using it verbatim. It is allowing my imagination to merge my ideas with the information in the book to create something totally new and fun.

For instance, my new world is based on magic and magical abilities. My heroine has the ability to travel on the “astral plane,” although she doesn’t realize it yet. There are several references to the “astral plane” and this subject in The Writer’s Complete Fantasy Reference,but several things caught my eye as I read. “Astral travel” is about more than just travel. It is an actual place, which the book describes in detail, sparking my imagination to a higher level, and you can work magic in it. Two things I never really thought about before.  This book gives me more grist for my imagination mill.

Then other things I’m learning about magic have sparked other ideas in my mind. As I read, my new world comes together to create a more complete picture. The more developed this picture, the easier it will be to tell my character’s story. The more clear I can make it in my mind, the more real and convincing it will be to my readers.

It’s also a lot of fun to imagine a whole new world. If you could build your own world, what would it look like? Think about it. I am. And it’s a blast!

Lastly, I need your opinion. My class questioned which category my novel falls into: science fiction or fantasy. When I said both, they questioned whether that made my novel idea too dense. What do you think? Can you mix science fiction (technology) with fantasy (magic)? Or is that just too much going on? Let me know what you think.

  1. #1 by Rachel on April 15, 2012 - 3:01 am

    I am glad to have chosen your blog as the one I comment on this week because your post is on something that has been on my mind. I read a lot of science fiction/fantasy and have been pondering the very fact that you have to go so much deeper in writing science fiction or fantasy.

    As for mixing the two… It seemed to work in Star Wars.

    • #2 by ltreadway on April 15, 2012 - 4:52 am

      Thanks! I hadn’t thought of that!

  2. #3 by Eliza Quinzet on April 17, 2012 - 5:00 pm

    Someone recommended a book to me How not to Write a Novel. http://www.amazon.com/How-Write-Novel-Misstep-Misstep/dp/0061357952. I have not read it yet but someone working on an MFA told me about it. I think the fly by the seat of your pants method is not a good idea myself. I understand you don’t probably want a rigid outline but its good to have enough of a road map you know where you are headed. Its okay if characters surprise you and make a left instead of a right though! lol I did a lot of reading about and in the letters and journals of Virginia Woof. It was interesting to see her ideas and plans unfold.

    Its also quite true, Sci Fi and Fantasy demand much more invention. I wish you luck it sounds like a fun challenge.

    • #4 by Eliza Quinzet on April 19, 2012 - 4:40 am

      I agree. freewriting, though valuable, does not a novel make !

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