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Opening my Eyes June 5, 2009

Posted by thejinx in eyes of a dragon, writing.
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It’s been a little while since I’ve done an update on writing, and much has happened since the last one, so I think it’s time to bring you up to speed on my progress of late.

A few weeks ago, I read The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson, the second Mistborn novel. (I’ve really been putting off my book reviews, but short story, it was amazing.)  It proved immensely inspiring to work on my own fantasy epic and first attempted novel, Eyes of a Dragon, and development has proceeded strongly since.  The first thing to come together was, fortunately, the thing that had been bothering me the most about it, the much broader conflict only introduced in Eyes.  Though I ended up using the same ideas I had already come up with years ago, I finally solidified those ideas and now have a good idea of where the story is going after the end of Eyes.

Shortly thereafter, I checked out from the library Handbook to Life in Medieval and Early Modern Japan, to help define the elves in my novel as a more eastern-influenced, and singular, culture.  I’ve been making my way through it and aside from being terribly interesting on its own merit, it has given me some great ideas and a pretty good mental picture of what the elven society is like.  What followed was intensive character study, first of the leading elves and then the lead humans and those in between, that culminated in about two solid pages of text last night detailing the backstories of the six major characters in Eyes.  I’m really pleased with the way things have come together and now have a pretty good idea of where each character is coming from.

The only major point left, then, is setting, and for that I mostly just need to sit down and draw out a map.  I’ve done a thumbnail sketch in my notebook and have some concrete ideas about how the continent of Menois is going to look, I just need to flesh out the rest of the land and determine how the human and elven settlers laid out their separate countries from there.  More worldbuilding of course is also needed, for which I’m particularly looking forward to the final chapter in the Handbook, daily life, as well as another book I picked up recently, A Brief History of Life in the Middle Ages.  I’ve done a good bit of research on the topic over the years, but some more reading is never remiss.

Granted, I have already written quite a bit of Eyes – 58,000 words, by latest count here – but I don’t think I should have to change much to accommodate this development.  I anticipate adding a bit into what I’ve already written before I continue where I left off, but for the most part, I’m still pretty pleased with what I already wrote.

As to more personal reactions to all this, I’m thrilled.  I’m a little disappointed that The Fire Within is once again not working out as well as I’d hoped and has been securely back-burnered, but my joy at how Eyes is coming together is overwhelming that by a good margin.  I’ve also found my own examination of The Well of Ascension fascinating.  While I’d always agreed that reading was important to a writer – and just plain enjoyed it, besides – and got inspired by books I’ve enjoyed, this is the first time that I’ve purposefully examined a book to determine what about it made it so good, and how I can incorporate those elements into my own writing.  For a long time, I pretty much just wrote as I saw fit to tell the story, and while I took lessons from previous endeavors and attempts to improve later writings, it’s only in recent times, from writing three novels to completion and actively studying books I admire and researching, that I really feel like I’m beginning to understand and grow as a writer.

I feel, well, like a writer.  And that’s a pretty good feeling.

(Now if I can find an agent and/or publisher who agrees with that sentiment, I’ll be in business.)

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