Monday, May 9, 2011

On the Third Book

So, to review my previous posts, my first and second attempt at writing a novel involved basically two poorly backed up fan fictions for Chrono Trigger and Star Wars respectively. Both ended when my current versions of the novel disappeared, leaving me woeful, discouraged and generally unable to force myself to continue.

Now we will fast forward a few years to high school. I had, alongside my futile attempts at writing, developed a series of progressively-better role playing games which occupied my idle time and that of my friends. The most modern version of that hobby, known as the Game to the one or two people who still read this blog, was one that eventually drew me back to the writing habit.

You see, part of the interesting thing about GMing a game is the opportunity to help your players tell a story. It trains you in how to keep a reader hooked on a plot; players and readers both enjoy twists and mysteries enough that the skills crossed over easily, for me at the very least. The background of the Game gave me a ready made world to work with, along with the worldbuilding skills I had developed in making the Game itself. All I really needed was to put pen to paper, so to speak. So I did.

For all of those groaning in despair at the thought of a book written about a role playing game character, consider your feelings entirely justified. The characters in the story, which went from the name Star Heir to Guardians of the Past eventually, were by all accounts horribly uninteresting. The world, while complex and mildly interesting, was way too overdone, and while the plot contained some interesting twists, I drew the whole thing out way too long for the horrible reason of "because that's the way it happened in the game." Combine that with the fact that it stretched, over the course of a year, to about 300 single spaced Times New Roman pages in Microsoft Word (I estimate it was something like 150k to 250k at least) and we have a recipe made for disaster.

Nevertheless, I would draw your attention to the fact that this was a book that I actually finished. I did not lose this sucker; I had at least one or two backups of the story at all times. I introduced characters, outlined scenes, used dialog and detail. For all intents and purposes, this was like a journeyman's project where I refined my writing style and learned how to make a book work.

Even better, I stayed at it! Once I was finished I came back and rewrote it. And rewrote it. And rewrote it. I would tell you how many times I went through this monster, but I lost track around version seven or so. I think I started working on it, and it was pretty much the only book I worked on until my senior year of college. While I'm sure many would consider that time wasted on just one story, I have to remind you that this was like a learning novel for me. It was this story that brought me to my first writing group in Quark, that introduced me to things like Tolkien, Jordan and Sanderson, not just as cool writers (which they were and are) but as people I could learn from and emulate. When I was on my mission, this was the book that I wrote the outlines for sequels to, keeping some small edge sharpened on my writing skills during preparation days whenever I had a rare, quiet moment. For all intents and purposes, this story was the beginning of my love of writing.

And I still have it. The whole thing still sits on my hard drive and jump drives at this very moment. While I currently have no plans on what to do with it, I don't think I will ever get rid of it. It's kind of like an old friend; you may not talk as much as you used to, but it is nice to know they are still there. That, and there's still some part of me that suspects I may do something with it someday, even if it means reshaping it into something a bit more trimmed.

In any case, here's to old stories and the growth they give us. May we never forget them. See you around!

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