I’m trying really hard not to be precious about my writing; I know it is not the case that every word must be crafted as I sit in perfect comfort with an inspiring but non-distracting view, cup of hot chocolate cooling forgotten by my side as I immerse myself in my new world. But by the gods it is difficult to write while a six-year-old requires an acknowledgement of each new Lego creation every couple of minutes. And sniffs incessantly as he sits at your feet (we are all still getting over the flu). My daughter is happy to play in her room for hours, reading or trying on make-up (she’s nine), but my little boy needs his mummy’s input as to whether the level 89 mounted Lego warrior with a flaming spear and a lance and his three minions will defeat the solo level 1 Lego man with no weapons…
One thing I have been able to do is think about stuff like names. I have all the names, personalities, appearance etc of my main characters but a recent major rethink of the start of the novel means I need some new expendable characters who will die at the first hurdle. I don’t want to spend a lot of time on them but neither do I want them to be nameless faceless cannon fodder. I want enough reader investment that it will matter who lives and who dies. So I’ve been thinking about this red-shirt brigade.
Also I needed our heroine to have a career that took her out to lonely places during the day, and I chose goat-herder. In the very first scene I had her out with the goats as they grazed on grass, and then I thought – do goats eat grass? Turns out they don’t much, so I’m glad I checked. They prefer weeds and shrubbery, coarser stuff like that. How embarrassing if I had got factual information wrong on the very first page.
Of course as it is a fantasy world I didn’t have to make them Earth-type goats at all, I could make them whatever mythical creature I liked. But in the first few scenes I introduce important characters, place, my version of magic … I didn’t want to overload it with new information. You need some familiar elements to build the exotic on top of. I remember reading one fantasy book where right in the first paragraph the protagonist sees or hears or smells (I can’t remember now if they were birds or flowers) four different exotic things; surrounded by snarks and grumkins and limbies and queezles and see how I am creating a fantasy setting oh what a good writer I am! Roses by any other name become so much more interesting! Overkill.
I’ve let the kids play Xbox for a while so time to try again with the creative writing thing instead of just snarking on about how difficult it all is.