Saturday, September 30, 2006

Cosmology

Some notes on the cosmology (how the universe is shaped) for my fantasy stories. This is consistent background for all of the fantasy stories I intend on ever writing.

Okay.

In The Beginning... it was a nice day (sorry, Mr. Gaiman and Mr. Pratchett, I'll cease and desist right now).

Ahem.

In the beginning, there was one world. Universe. Call it what you like. For the sake of less typing, I'll say world. No word on how this world came into being; for all intents and purposes, it simply did, and that's good enough for me. Our own physicists can't say everything about why things changed to produce the universe As We Know It, so what chance would a bunch of mages, alchemists, philosophers, and holy men and women have in divining out the ultimate source of the whole cosmos? Magic doesn't even follow the same rules from world to world. Good luck being able to figure out how it all started...

Ahem.

So, one world. And then, by some unknown process, it... started to bud. Kind of like how a tree branch starts growing flowers that'll turn into fruit. A new universe started to bud off of the old one. Not in the "every decision creates an alternate universe" way, but in the literal "one universe gave birth to another" way. Think of a cell undergoing mitosis. When this new world was finished growing, it detached and became a true world of its own. Very, very similar to the first world, but there were substantial differences. Sure, the humans were still human, but how human is human?

Anyway, these two worlds separated, and each began to grow a new world of their own. Soon, in relative terms, there were four worlds. Then eight. And then sixteen. And so on and so on. Some old ones died, some new ones were the planar equivalent of stillborn, and others were freaks. Universes that couldn't support life, not as any human knows it. Too much of this, too little of that...

Which brings me to my fantasy stories.

It's pretty much going to be a given that in any story I so far intend on writing, this will crop up. These worlds are all damaged somehow. Some are worlds that didn't grow right, some are having problems because their "child" world isn't growing right. Sometimes the child world won't detach, and this threatens the integrity of both worlds, as they risk tearing each other apart. Or the stresses manifest in more subtle ways. Whole species might be born caught in both worlds, each and every member heir to endless pain from being stretched across distances that matter, energy, and thought should not cross. If there's a bogeyman -- not just a run-of-the-mill monster, but something arcane and profane and terrifying -- for the people of the world, you can bet they come from the other world. The olfen, mentioned briefly in a previous entry, are just such beings. They want into the protagonist's world because their world is effectively dying in the womb, and they need someplace more real, even if they're somewhat alien to it and its inhabitants.

Ground Rules

Okay, laying some ground rules for myself when I get started on the writing.

First, I will write every day. At least 250 words, shooting for 300 or even 400 if I can.

Second, I cannot build up a "credit" against future days except in the case of planned absences where I won't be able to access a computer or the internet. That is to say, if I sit down and write 500 words one day, I'm still obligated to write 250 the next day. And the next.

Third, if I miss a day and violate the first rule, I will perform penance. So to speak. Specifically, the next day's writing obligation will double. And this is cumulative. So, if I miss a day, the next day I have to write at least 500 words. However, if I miss two days, I don't have to write 750 words on the third day... I have to write 1000 (doubled and then doubled again). And if I miss three days... Well, I think you see a pattern here. I consider it a bit of incentive to keep up.

There are a handful of exceptions to these rules. The first is unplanned but unavoidable absences. I refuse to acknowledge a built up "penance" for hospital stays, spending time with an ill family member, funerals (and I warn you on these last two that my grandmother is currently pretty frail; I don't want to have to rush off because she went into a coma or died, but I will, no matter the "obligation" to a blog), or having to abandon my apartment due to a fire or something.
In the case of catastrophic computer failure, I will continue my writing by hand and then go to the town library or the internet cafe ("cafe," he says with a scornful laugh. "They only have a vending machine for soda and a couple shelves full of junk food") once a week and type it all in at once. Providing my computer is out of commission for a week or more.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Foreward 2

Okay, so I promised a brief overview of the two plots I'm considering at the moment.

The first is along the lines of an extended character study.

One of the most interesting figures in fantasy tends to be, when it comes up, the lich. For the uninformed, a lich is a wizard/magician/etc. who uses his magic to preserve his own life as one of the undead. The lich is essentially trading the pleasures and frailties of life as a normal human for an essentially endless existence. Each lich has a reason for pursuing this change, though by far the most common ones given are "endless research" and "long-term planning." Liches hope to develop and study magic to perfection, and to enact some great plan that usually involves conquering large portions of the world -- someday. A rare few have other reasons, such as protecting a particular family line, some important item of magic, or to stand fast against the rise/return of some great evil.

So, all that said, my goal for this novel would be to follow a wizard and his thoughts, motives, and actions as he seeks out the secrets to transforming into a lich. He should, ideally, go from uncertain and a little squeamish to being much more willing to do vile things to succeed in this transformation. He must have a potent fear of death, and a reason for why he would forsake normal human relationships for the power and long unlife of such a hated creature as the lich.


The second plot idea is a story of a failed hero.

As in the other plot, the main character is a magic-user of some sort, though in this case his discipline is inherently foul and makes them ostracized. Magic power is something inherent to animal life, and so can only be regained once spent by eating meat. Now, on the surface, this isn't unpleasant at all, but far more power is gained from consuming the flesh of sapient creatures -- as in, humans -- than from those that are not sapient. While the vast majority of magic-users (what few exist) are by no means cannibals, just enough such people have cropped up to cause no end of problems for "legitimate" practitioners. The protagonist is using this disreputable magic because it's all he can really offer to The Cause, and things are moving so fast that he's the first magic-user found and pressed into service with the other heroes.

Yes, it follows the "party of adventurers" format to some extent. The heroes are rushing to reach the point where the barrier between worlds is thin, while your standard Evil Sorcerers' Cabal is seeking to open a gate to allow the olfen (think fairies, elves, and sidhe, except extremely violent and with a rapacious hunger for the "firmer" reality of this world) through en masse. The olfen have such power that just one is a great difficulty to fight, and an army of them could devastate the world.

The quest, however, is to essentially break the protagonist of his commitment to the preservation of the world. At the very end he will come to believe that the world is not worth saving, and because his magic is essential to stopping the spellwork of the Evil Sorcerers, the world is lost.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Foreward

I intend for this blog to play host to at least one novel in progress. While I'm not quite prepared to start it yet, hopefully by the end of November at the latest (National Novel Writing Month, which this will not be a part of) I'll be writing and posting a single page of a novel each day, and perhaps more. Page length will be roughly equivalent to the number of words per page in any fantasy novel you could pick up on a store's shelves, especially as I'm going to be writing such a novel here. We're talking in the range of 250-300 words per page.

This will be, obviously, the first draft of any such novel. It may feel flat and lacking in detail at some points, or move too quickly from scene to scene. Basically, I'm going to be writing a glorified outline of the final product, which I will eventually go through page by page and revise, expand, and edit carefully. Real-time feedback of the "constructive criticism" sort is very welcome.

And I'm saying it right up front: spam, trolls, and flames will be deleted outright from any comments. I don't currently expect to draw much attention, but this is my forum, which means my rules, so if shit happens I'm getting rid of it as soon as I find it.

All that said, I'm currently debating on two plots of equal attractiveness to me. Either of them is the most likely to get chosen to be written out here, though a new idea may whack me upside the head in the next month or two, so who knows? I'll be writing a paragraph or two on each plot (and maybe some of the conventions of my "verse" that will provide some very basic cosmological background to every story) within the next day or so.