Thursday, November 12, 2009

Day 11: Ups and Downs

Wordcount: 19003
Minimum: 18964

I didn't post yesterday, but I was on target (wordcount 17279, minimum 17240).

Yesterday the writing passed with amazing ease; I think I broke 800 words per hour. My secret? More rehashing of the earlier plot via a discussion between characters! It wasn't even gratuitous. Today I had to actually move on to the next plot point, which was slower going, although still not bad.

I think I'm having trouble with the pacing in this story. Considering I'm writing it with so little planning, this is not altogether surprising. I feel like I put a big exciting event too early in the story, and now I have to keep topping it with more and more exciting things. The upshot of this is that the ideas I had for minor encounters are not getting used.

I'm encountering a rather odd problem with the story I have chosen. So much of the magical nature of the fairytale landscape depends on the sentience of things: deer, birds, trees, fish, the wind. I'm having a bit of trouble coming up with encounters that don't involve something unexpectedly talking to my adventurers. In this environment, it rapidly becomes unbelievable that they would not simply start expecting plants and animals to talk to them. I haven't really come up with any other sorts of encounters other than dangerous beasts (which I am saving for later), and of course meeting native "tribes". What else can I include to show the fantastic nature of the landscape?

The natives are causing me a different problem. I wanted them to have kind of the feel of Tolkienian elves, except more hostile and dangerous (or at least unpredictable and alien). I've also been reluctant to make them too culturally advanced--they are still pretty primitive. So the problem with all this is that they are looking more and more like a thinly veiled (and somewhat offensive) representation of Native Americans. It turns out that if you keep nature-focused mysticism, and subtract the trappings of civilization, you end up with Noble Savages. Plus they're white. This isn't the direction I intended to go at all. I think I will need to re-write these encounters extensively.

Writing the blog entry has actually given me some ideas. I had so far been thinking of the Nymean Wilds as essentially a wilderness, inhabited only by "primitive" peoples. Maybe the fantasy element would actually come through stronger if there are cities and towers and libraries and so on. That would certainly be a shock to my explorers!


  1. I like it: shock 'em with something that was unexpected for you too!


  2. Sentience doesn't need to be expressed through talking, I think. Some of what I recall vividly from Tolkein is a feeling that the woods didn't like the characters, even though they didn't speak or even seem to move.

  3. what about fantastical environmental situations? i'm thinking the bog of eternal stench, the fireswamp, etc. no talking creatures needed.