Thursday, January 27, 2011


So I'm still editing the Butterfly Lady and I'll doubtless start on its sequel at some point soon but as that's all nutted out, I'm thinking of preparing a stand-alone novel that I can write alongside the sequel in case the series sputters out at Book 1. The stand-alone has suggested itself in bits and pieces. By the way, stand-alone makes me think of some cool titles such as 'I stand alone' and 'Alone I stand' but I don't think either is appropriate for this particular novel as one of the themes will be a community coming together to battle some horror (which is rare in fantasy so this'll probably be more of a horror novel in a fantasy setting).

So, time to mention the basics and then brainstorm on what each 'basic' means.

Setting: A mining community in the Realms outback in my fantasy milieu.

Theme: Community versus a terrible calamity.

This will immediately make it a bit unique in fantasy novels. Most such novels involve one person, often with some form of super power, or a team of specialists, seeking out danger and making a difference. In this instance, several members of the mining community will be responsible for the salvation of the town ... or in the bid to stay alive. It'll depend on how bad the big, bad Thing will be.

Mood: Hope and Horror. Always. This is me we're talking about. Unlike with the Butterfly Lady series, it'll be more about the Enemy Without than the Enemy Within (though of course internal conflict will feature).

This means that the protagonists will be a little more vulnerable than in most fantasy novels. The few with magic will have an edge against the enemy but not the answer. Cuts can, and will, get infected. People will struggle and get tired. There is no Chosen One. No powerful soldier to save the day. No obvious hero. In fact, I have in mind a miner's wife / kitchen hand who is physically abused by her ailing husband as one character.

Technological Setting: Early-to-mid Victorian in certain places though technology has gone in a different direction.

Gunpowder (which is antithetical to life / spirits in my world) isn't used and this will make the mining technologies quite different to Victorian mines. The steam engine and telegraph have also not been invented so the place will be all the more distant and isolated although the mine itself will likely be closer to the cities. There will need to be greater self-sufficiency in this community.

Characters: There will be multiple POVs in this instance. I'm thinking five. One will be the aforementioned battered kitchen hand. Another will be a foreman (not sure if that's the right title, haven't researched it yet) in the mine who will be rather gruff and straightforward and take issue with the university graduate. The university graduate is a member of House Carrington (a noble house full of bankers, so to speak) but he's married into House Rosentia (a noble house renowned for its eccentric and malevolent people). So he'll also have to deal with a lot of social stigma despite his wealth and status. He's here to research his thesis on Improved Mining Technologies. There'll be a rather bored low-level Auditor (sort of a cop / judge / Homeland Security mish-mash) who keeps an eye on the community and deals with the Work Permits and who'll also clash a bit with the graduate and the foreman. I'm not sure who the fifth person will be. Perhaps a child in the community? Or one of the town elders?

So already, just from this small brainstorm, I have a wealth of ideas and I haven't even touched upon what foul contaminant or entity might be affecting this mining town. Originally I was just thinking a Mine Gone Bad but I've now decided to widen the lens and look at both the town and mine combined. It'll be more Horror than Fantasy but the setting will be strictly in a Fantastical World and that means there'll potentially be issues of sidhe (embodied spirits), spirits (ephemereal intelligences), an orc-troll hybrid (another animal race similar to humans), though I'll want to keep the mythology simple to emphasise whatever horror lies within this place.

Thus far, much of the brewing has focused around dialogue snippets that suggested characters. By doing this exercise, I now have a far greater understanding of the depth of the research I'll need to undertake alongside this novel. I also have a better understanding of where I'll need to branch out to or from. So while percolating the novel, I'd strongly suggest sitting down and starting to organise it. Simply through the act of organising your ideas, you'll start generating more.


  1. This sounds awesome!

    I am busy with rewrites, so I don't get to create any new worlds for now.

    Still, discovering my own is fun..


  2. Sounds great! I write film scripts, I still havn't wrote a feature film yet and intend to start this spring. How long do you usually spend writing per novel? I'm thinking along the lines of one script per year.It Will take a lot of energy to make a start though.)x

  3. I've been working on the Butterfly Lady since the start, approximately, of 2010 but as this is the first novel I've written in awhile (took a writing hiatus over my university degree and Year 12 high school) and as this is the one I intend to try and get published, I expect it to take longer. Once I've got this one polished (I've given myself to March), I'll actually be working on two novels in one year. The Butterfly Lady vol. 2 which should be relatively simple to draft as I have the plan already (though not the full structure, as some of it will doubtlessly need to be cut, added, or swapped around - what works in a list doesn't necessarily work in a book).

    My mining book that's percolating in my brain will take more effort but I don't think that's the kind of novel that should be outlined. I feel confident I can keep both cranking.

    Ideally, I'd love to get to the point where I can write two per year. It would really make keeping a readerships' attention a lot easier (presuming I can sell two a year). But I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

    For now, I'm editing one and percolating on another and resting on my laurels on the outline of the third.

    Oh, no one feel bad if you take a year or three on your first novel-to-sell. Always have a lot to learn the first time around!

  4. I agree, I'm going to make my first feature film this summer. I'm just going to do it all myself - not in the mood for waiting around to get funding for a couple of years.

    In order for it to be done on a low budget i'll have to have the story take place in one or two locations and have no more than 3 actors. Things are much diffrent when it comes to film-making yourself - its a bit of a hit on the imagination to have to narrow things down for the sake of cost.

    Either way around on or two features a year is good for the sake of fans and making profits. The average feature film script is only 90 pages long (a page per minute)- all I need now is a good story.