Novel Update #1

This blog started as an account of my pilgrimage to write and publish an epic fantasy novel.  The past several posts have been focused on aspects of writing fiction.  Today, I will speak a little about the first half of The Tower and a summary of the activity to date.  I will include no spoilers since I am writing a first draft and any aspect of the story could change in subsequent drafts.

As currently conceived, The Tower (working title only) is the first of a trilogy entitled King of the World (working title).   The founders of civilization, an ancient race of superior, magically endowed beings long ago descended below the surface of the earth when a portion of their society grew corrupt.  Those that remained on the Earth’s surface lost much of their magic, called lithomancy, and became the race of mankind.  For almost six thousand years, the memory and influence of the Old Ones or the Elder Race, has been kept alive via religion, myths and legends.  Shrines of worship dot the land and it is an important rite of adulthood for young worshippers to spend a year seeking the shrines to commune with the Old Ones.

However, signs of change are upon the land and the ancient prophecies are being interpreted as a return of the Old Ones to once again rule the surface of the Earth.  Who supports the return of the Old Ones and who opposes it?  In a world of peace that hasn’t known armed conflict in centuries, the citizens of the countries of Laurentia are not prepared for a possible war that would enslave all of mankind.

The Tower is the introduction of a  small group of uniquely skilled and chosen travelers who are invited on a pilgrimage they don’t fully understand but will ultimately have far-reaching consequences to the future of civilization.  Also introduced are those who know what is prophesied to happen and are working very hard to ensure preparations are made for the ascension of the Elder Race, the Old Ones of religion and legend.

So, my progress on this story is as follows.  I’ve written just over 80,000 words (which is the average length of a mystery novel).  For fantasy, however, this is more like only half a novel.  80,000 words translates to about 275 pages.  Readers of fantasy will note that many of your favorite books are 500+ pages and some are close to 900.  I may be closer to 1/3 than 1/2 half.  We’ll see.

To help me in my writing pilgrimage, I’m in a writer‘s group where I submit a complete chapter online each week and two other writers provide a critique a week later.  I’ve already had the Prologue and Chapter One reviewed and I’m quite grateful for the feedback because quite a few errors were found.  Apparently I have a tendency to write in passive voice which is where things happen to characters, rather than characters taking action on things or events.  Only 2% of my sentences had this flaw, but now that I’m aware of it, I intend to purge it completely.

I also used the thesaurus a bit too much early on and used a few words that if you didn’t know the meaning, would stall the story and cause you to have to look it up.  Not good for a smooth flowing story.

Some of you may be wondering where or how I came up with a story idea about ancient races living underground and rising again.  I was inspired by some research I did about some ancient Buddhist myths.  In a future post, I’ll post more about research and how it benefits writing.

For now, I carry on in my writing and will update on my progress again soon.



7 responses to “Novel Update #1

  • Mom

    That was very interesting and informative. That helps me understand what you are writing and how it is progressing. Keep it up.

  • Talespin Jim

    Hi Mark, congratulations on your goals and initial successes. I thought your storyline was interesting and wondered where you got it too. It’s interesting that it comes from a Buddhist myth. There is a Sumerian mythology about their gods dating from about 4,000 BC that is curiously similar. Modern mystics mix aliens from other worlds into the myth and come up with some pretty fun stuff. So I made that the backdrop of my Novel, which takes place in ancient Sumer.

    By the way, ancient Sumer and India were trading partners and India, of course traded with China, so it wouldn’t be surprising if they were interrelated somewhat.

  • Matt

    Awesome Mark!! Sounds like a very cool idea for an epic tale. Can’t wait to read it!!

  • Jordan Stallard

    Looking forward to seeing your Facebook page! I’ll be a fan!

  • MJT

    Thanks for the encouragement. A little goes a long way in the marathon of novel writing.

  • David Barron

    Aww, the thesaurus, the author’s most stalwart foe. But there’s nothing wrong with putting in a ‘fancy’ word and defining it the first time in the same sentence, if it’s a more specific word that increases the world-density.

    As for length, I write short. But then again I don’t write Epic Fantasy either, so that’s probably why.

  • MJT

    When someone in your writing group tells you parts of your chapter read like a thesaurus, it points to an over-baked vocabulary. I suspect had I limited fancy words to one in the chapter, the word choice feedback would never have transpired.

    I think the core rule is that if your choice of words enhances and deepens the meaning of the sentence or story the writer succeeds. If the word choice pulls the reader out of the story, then success is difficult to obtain depending on the tolerance and forgiveness of the reader.

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