April 11, 2012

revisiting dead novels

I miss fantasy. Earnestly, I do. Don’t get me wrong. I love writing steampunk. I love writing Petra’s story, bringing the people of Chroniker City to life, and exploring the science of that era. I don’t think I’ve ever loved a character as much as I love Petra. But upon finishing my Renaissance Faire costume and starting a new Dungeons & Dragons campaign, I’ve come to the realization that I’ll always prefer the fantastic reality of an alternate universe, where magic pervades everything, where dragons and princes and witches are commonplace.

So when I finish The Chroniker Legacy, I’m going to take a break from steampunk and write some fantasy. I’ve been thinking about what I’m going to do between finishing the first draft of The Chroniker Legacy and beginning the first draft of the next book. I don’t want to sit around and do nothing like I did after writing The Clockwork Giant. I need something to do to give myself distance from The Chroniker Legacy between drafts, and I’ll need something to do when beta readers have the manuscript. I can’t start the third book until the second has been finalized (meaning published), and that will leave me a pretty wide time gap, like six months, intermittently punctuated by edits and redrafts.

I’m not yet sure what I’m going to work on, but I know it’ll be one of two projects, both of which are dead novels. You know, those ones that you stuck in the proverbial drawer of your hard drive to never look at again. My husband wants me to work on the fantasy that takes place in an Indian-inspired world. If you’ve been following this blog a while, you know the one. I started it in January 2010 and finally gave up on it around March 2011, when I got the idea for The Clockwork Giant. This novel went through several drafts, changing drastically in every rewrite. It had agent interest, but never amounted to anything more than an 11 MB file on my hard drive. I’m glad that at the time I was working on it, I had not yet decided to self-publish. Publishing that novel as it was would have been a huge mistake, which is why, I imagine, the few agents who liked the idea ultimately rejected it.

This novel is titled The Wizard’s Heart, about a young girl sold into slavery by her guardian and the adventure that follows her liberation. I don’t have a whole lot of plot to go off of at the moment, but I’m not going to seriously start working on it until June-ish, if that’s what I decide to write. I’m not sure though. It hasn’t been long enough yet. I might wait until I’ve finished the third Chroniker City book so that I can devote my full attention to it.

The other project is the monstrous, conglomerate mess of a fantasy novel that I started in high school. I worked on it for about four years, writing about six different versions of it before finally giving up in college. I still love that story. I love the characters and the world that I created. And I really really want to work on it again. Between it and The Wizard’s Heart, I have a feeling I’ll end up working on it. It’s been four years or so since I last looked at the thing, but recently, I’ve been thinking about it more and more. I’ve gone through several titles since starting the story in eighth grade: The Fallen Empire, Eratonia, The Path of Josef, The Seven Stones, and a number of versions that have no title at all. Note: I’m terrible at titles. The plot warped from a poor imitation of A Series of Unfortunate Events to Harry Potter to The Chronicles of Narnia to The Lord of the Rings, with some Star Wars and Avatar the Last Airbender thrown in for good measure. I’m not kidding. I had yet to find my narrative voice, or discover what story I really wanted to tell. At that age, I just knew I wanted to be a writer, so I imitated the writers that I admired. Now, however, I’ve learned the sort of stories I want to write. More importantly, I’ve learned how to write.

Over the last few weeks, when I’m not thinking about Petra and Emmerich and steampunk awesome, I’ve been thinking about this fantasy novel that I never even got close to finishing. Toward the end, my freshman year of college, it started to turn into something original, something of its own, rather than an imitation of other stories, but by that time, I was so tired of the story, and watching Death Note and playing Ocarina of Time was of much more pressing importance. I gave up on it. I’m starting to think that it’s time to pick it up again.

The world in which this story takes place is probably the most fully realized fictional location I’ve ever thought of. More so than Chroniker City. The two main characters are still alive in my head—the heir of the fallen empire and a blind sword-maiden. The latter especially. She’s such a kick-ass character. The male main character is pretty cool too, but if I recall correctly, he’s a bit stupid. If I work on this story, I’ll have to fix that. Not sure what I’ll title it or what grade of fantasy it will be—traditional or epic—or what the plot will even be about. But I do know that it’s begging to be written.

I have a while to decide. I’m about three-quarters of the way through the plot of The Chroniker Legacy, and I probably won’t finish the first draft until the end of May. While the first draft is stewing in the drawer, I’ll probably take a week or so to plot each story and see which one strikes my fancy. In the meantime, I’ll let both ideas just swim around in my head. Whichever one I pick, it’ll be more difficult than anything I’ve written so far, only because I’ve already written so many versions of the same story. But you know me. I like a challenge.

So that’s my planned torture for the second half of this year. What projects are you planning next? Do you have any old ideas you want to revisit?


  1. I liked The Wizard's Heart.

    All of my early story ideas are derivative of other things, even of each other. I think a lot of the ideas are crap, to be honest. Plus, I've moved on to more dark fantasy/horror, so a traditional fantasy would be out of my comfort zone.

    As for what I'm going to next, if I can stop finding anthologies to write short stories for, I'd like to finish a novel. (Also, it's one of my New Year's resolutions) I have four started, I think, but I'll probably start on a new one. I love having multiple irons in the fire.

    1. I really like it too. I just don't know what to do with it. /shrug

      Sometimes I wish I could work on multiple things at once. But if I tried, I'd never get anything done.

    2. Honestly, to get anything done, I have to focus on one thing. I notice a deadline's coming up, and it's a mad dash.

      Live fast, die young, I guess.

  2. I don't know if I ever read much of THE SEVEN STONES. I know you were working on it when we met in college, and we talked about it some, but I think that's pretty close to when you quit writing so much.

    I DID really enjoy THE WIZARD'S HEART. It was really good. But, I can see why you think maybe you haven't had enough time away from it yet.

    All in all, I'm mostly looking forward to whatever comes out of Camp Johnson next. It's sure to be good. :D