As I mentioned in my last post, I had an idea to "write more words." After the last week of writing (which I can't thank my wife enough for giving me the time to do so), I think I have enough of a seed that I think it can work.
As is my nature, I like to see what others think even as I'm slowly moving forward with it. So, this is my current side project, the Journals of Fedran.
The original idea
The original idea came from a combination of three things: a poor review of my book, browsing through my old writings, and a random exploration of the Internet that found images of old newspapers.
The newspaper is what combined everything together. Older newspapers had a certain flair to them, dramatic blocks of capitals and italics, breathless excitement for even the most mundane of things, and completely insane advertisement (e.g., snake oil and mechanical trousers). The narrow columns with the vertical lines also appealed to my ascetics.
What I had forgotten is that they also had fiction and poetry. Most of the ones I found also didn't have short teaser columns leading to other sections, but simple blocks of text that crawled down the page until they were done, and then moved to the next topic.
They were dense blocks of gloriously random information, a touch of the world for those who can't experience it.
This fits my view of Fedran beautifully. In Flight of the Scions, Kanéko's only experience with the world are newspapers and journals, including Emerging Wizardry which is the first journal of technology. Since the urbanization of the world hasn't occurred, most of the population frame their lives around the stories of "other places." This would have come from told stories from travelers or… journals that are shared among the entire village until they fall apart.
Variety is the spice
I read a lot of different things. I also happen to enjoy writing them. Because of that, there are a lot of stories in my head that don't quite have the wide-ranging scope of Sand and Blood or Flight of the Scions. In my work-in-progress branches, I found some romances, forensics, and even sports pieces. There are little side stories from the Sand series that I thought could use telling, including Desòchu's own rite of passage or the reason Meris' was kicked out of school (from Flight). Or just different cultures.
This has always been a problem, though. Advice I've seen repeatedly is "stick with a genre." I don't stick like to stick with one genre though, because I like variety. Every style of writing has a different difficulty, but it's a fun struggle. A Regency-style romance has a different feel, a different set of details, and even a different manner of speaking than say a pulp adventure or a forensics mystery.
This idea is less of sticking with a genre and more of "sticking with a world." I had intended to write Fedran for a while, to really sink into the world and have fun. There are a lot of stories that I can tell, not all of them are drama or action pieces.
Frameworks are everything
I like to start with frameworks, something to give me constraints but also to help guide me. Sand and Blood was suppose to be a ten thousand word piece of world-building. It's going to be just shy of two hundred thousand by the time book three is out. Short stories are my weakest form too, but for a newspaper-style piece, short stories are really the only thing that can be put in.
So, I took a few ideas of history but altered them. I'm aiming for three to five thousand word pieces. Most of them are complete stories, a couple of them are serials that will take a few journals to finish. Nothing over five thousand, which is about a half hour of reading for most people.
For an entire length, I was going to start with thirty thousand words. That's about half the length of Sand and Blood and about right when it is bound into a A5 book. I wanted to make a print version of this, just because I think it would be fun. Not to mention, I like typesetting.
If I stick with about seven fiction pieces, that would give me about 22-25k words. The rest of it was going to be articles on the constructed languages I've created, rules of games, or even essays about the fiction pieces. Scholarly bits about the world with similar blind spots and assumptions they had during the Victorian ages.
Together, I think it would create an interesting world piece and also let me have fun with the world.
What I have so far
After the week, I had a lot of words but many of them don't work out. I also went a little further on the serials, but the tail ends are much rougher than the earlier pieces.
What I have the first drafts are:
- A mystery with a forensics mage
- A Regency-style romance serial with High Society in Tarsan
- A artist/inventor inspired by Andy Warhol and a few other historical artists
- Desòchu's coming of age, probably in two or three parts
I'm planning on finishing up with:
- A magical sports piece inspired by Shaolin Soccer
- A pulp adventure bit that has some similarities to Doc Savage
- A mother/daughter inspirational (this one is going to be hard)
I also want some essays/technical pieces on:
- My constructed language, Miwāfu
- A description of the sports game rules
- An essay on the invention story
- An essay on resonance, which is a key factor of my world
What might not work
The only part I'm not entirely sure is the meta-story and formatting. The newspaper style appeals to me, but these days, it isn't the format most people enjoy reading. Even at three thousand words, that's a really long bit for reading in four dense columns. Not to mention, impossible with ebooks. I might change it to just be collected articles like a SigGraph collection interspersed with advertisement (if I decide to put those in).
The other bit is meta-story. With the newspaper style, it is easier to create a story by the creators of the journal. That might be a bit harder to do, but I also think it will come out if I do more than a few of them. Not entirely sure.
The biggest reason for doing this is to "write more words." But, since this is going to be a single author collection (to start with, one person has suggested writing a story in my world), it could also be used to drive readers to my mailing list or simply seeing what I write. It also helps establish that I'm going to do a poor job of "sticking with a genre."
So, that's my idea. I love opinions, criticisms, and anything else.