In the past weeks I’ve written some stuff about my ongoing concept work for A Warrior of Kaendor. About the preparatory worldbuilding and the stylistic influences that are going into it, and my considerations for the right format and presentation. But I have been noticably quiet about any narrative content or plot. Which is because this main aspect of writing is still very much work in progress. There is a high concept for a series of mid-length stories, but turning it into actual plots continues to be an ongoing challenge. I have a rough outline for a first story, but I have to admit that I am still not entirely hooked by it. It would be good practice to write, but is it really something compelling to read? It keeps striking me as somewhat banal and an exercise by the numbers. There are also four much more fascinating ideas, but they seem too daunting to tackle with such little practical experience for now.
But I think to create something really good, you have to be fully convinced that you are working on something with the potential to be great. It’s hard to put your passion into practice work. One frequent, and wise, peace of advice for creating a draft is to write what you would want to read. And I have made good progress with figuring out the setting by putting together the things that I would love to see appearing in stories. But things that are appearing in a story are not a story. Simply looking at a collection of things and making a story out of it is hard. I would know. The question of what you would want to read goes beyond that. What kinds of events and situations would I like to see in the book of my dreams as a reader?
The first thing that comes to my mind is characters travelling through vast isolated wilderness, being dwarved by huge trees and massive cliffs, disappearing between the deep shadows and thick undergrowth on the ground while the bright sun and moon are half obscured by the branches far overhead.
And I want them to climb up to villages high up in the trees and creep along balkonies and crumbling walkways of towns carved into mountainsides, wearily peeking into the black doorways leading deeper into the stone while the wind is tearing at them.
I would love to read about great clear lakes far out in the forests whose magical waters connect to a higher reality, even when just looking at them.
I want the stories to take the characters to ancient towers that are overlooking a sea of green below and have a clear view of a large, dim orange sun and a huge blue cloudy moon, surrounded by bright stars and polar lights.
I want them to ride through shallow streams between the trees a d giant boulders on their dinosaur steeds and observe giant flying beasts cast their shadows on the ground.
I want them to encounter eldritch spirits made from light and water and talk with the shadows of men dead for centuries, standing over their crumbling bones. To glean wisdom from the empty eyes of a sorcerer’s skull.
I want them to meet warriors with painted skin and feathers on their spears, witches with wooden masks, and warrior priests with faces of bronze. To walk up the marble stairs of temples flanked by fire bowls lighting up the chilly night. And descend into vast caves covered in huge crystals and glowing moss.
I want them to have moments of quiet insight when they see the distant past and future, and touch the minds of people far away.
That is what I would want to read! And maybe that is what I should try to make into a story. Not begin with filling in the vacancies for villains, locations, and macguffins.