Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Should be finished with the first HP by the end of this week!
I was talking to a local librarian today about this very subject.
Her advice was:
- decide a specific age group
- don't over-complicate it
- Make it believable in its weird, fantastical, unrealistic way...
- Understand that, by using illustrations, the readers will all have the same images in their mind.
What else was there?
Oh, yes! Either write it relatively well (like the HP books) and (hopefully) gain the younger/teenage attention, or do it properly and write it well with the risk of having few readers.
I mean, how many people have actually read LODR? I don't know anyone who has (except for my super brainy little brother). It's too wordy! And all those words are just for description! There's no Hardy-like wordyness (is that a word?) to it in which every word is important to the characters/story, so it gets boring.
My aim has always been to prove that the fantasy genre can be classed as literature, however, if it's boring...well, then, what's the point of an adventure story??
To any readers out there, what do you think of a double story line? (e.g. following Frodo, Sam and Gollum in the 3rd LODR and then cutting back to Aragorn etc.) You know what I mean.. two different characters...
Does it work? Is it annoying? Does it grip you? Should I use it?


  1. That seems like some good advice:
    - a specific age group is usually preferable
    - over-complicating things is something I've personally found to be very hard to avoid. My advice would be to have a clear outline to the story before thinking about writing, otherwise you'll just go on writing until you don't even get what you're talking about any longer.
    - making it believable is a hard one to achieve but I think you should definitely try to keep the level of actual magic relatively low. I really like magic a lot but it does make the plot of many books a bit dull since there's always one magician who makes it all right. Either prevent that by keeping magic low as I said or your magician(s) should have some restricitions.
    - Illustrations as in actual illustrations or descriptions?

    I think that since your goal is to prove fantasy more than 'fantastic escapism' you should have your standards higher than writing it relatively well. You should realise that there are still a lot of different levels of thorough description and beautiful prose between Rowling and Tolkien.

    I rarely read a fantasybook that features less than two storylines, I personally prefer having several storylines over having just one. It keeps you wondering about the connection between the two and it's an easy way to create momentum. Very frustrating at times for the reader since he has to wait after a cliffhanger until the storyline comes back but it keeps you turning pages.

    You should however only use it if you do it well (which is basically the case with everything). So try to be innovative in your different storylines and avoid the really obvious.

  2. When I illustrations I meant actual drawings.
    I understand that this may interest younger readers rather than older ones so this is something I'm thinking about...

    It is decided. There will be two story-lines. Otherwise, it may become a bit dull...I want the reader to be desperate to read on (of course).

    A book I read recently frustrated me completely because the ends of plots seemed more obvious to me than the characters. It was so frustrating when questions such as "who could the magician be?" were asked and I knew the answer because it was so blatantly obvious. The book would then go on and on about who it could be and I was just sitting there going.."for Christ's sake! use your head!". Most of the time I was right.
    So somehow I'll need to make the answer to stories relatively difficult for the reader to work out without information from the book... and I think the way to do that would be to get others to read it and answer and questions I need answering.

    If I think about it...I never worked out anything from the HP books before the characters did.. so I'll look into how she does this...

  3. I suggest you only use actual drawings when your age group is 10/10-, and I think that might not be the most interesting group to write a novel for. Especially not when you intend on writing one of fantasy's greats. I think the two storylines-idea is great since it'll help you keep your readers interested.

    Not being obvious is very very important. Someone that does this masterfully is Rafael Ábalos in his novels "Game Of Enless Riddles" (probably a bad translation) and "Grimpow". Both of those are about journeys to find answers and I loved them at the time. I believe the target group was adolescents. I especially loved Grimpow. Might you find yourself having to choose between the two choose that one.

  4. Thanks for the heads up for other novels to read! I have decided to use two stories at once (or more!) as it seems to make the book more exciting... though Harry Potter is seen only through Harry's eyes (except for those minor bits at the beginning of the books). It's quite clever how she managed to enter other people's stories but still through Harry's mind. E.g. Sharing thoughts with Voldemort, having dreams about Voldemort, Dumbledore's penseive etc etc. Should I use some of these ideas, or do you think it would be like stealing/copying instead of making new ideas?
    I thought of an idea yesterday... why not offer books with the illustrations in them so the readers can choose to see them or not? (this would provide more franchise as well if the books sold well! Though, I mustn't get ahead of myself...). What do you think of that idea?

  5. I think you should definitely look at other authors and the way they incorporated different stuff in their novels. And that's not really stealing unless you use exactly the same things all the time, I mean Rowling used giant spiders, a basilisk, a centaur etc. so she really didn't come up with everything herself. And it is good to learn from more experienced authors.

    About your idea; I'm not sure I get it, could you try to be more specific xD?