Well, not literally. But I find myself with a highly annoying problem. A few years ago I launched into telling a story that I really had no idea where it was going. I made it up as I went along for about 10,000 words, and at that time the story took off and has filled 300,000 words over two manuscripts (one mostly edited, one somewhat edited).
My dilemma is that my initial core included an elven character, and I'll admit that the choice was inspired by one of my good old dudes from D&D days. (It takes a man to admit that -- he used that spear +3 taken from the Steading of the Hill Giant Chief. Bring back memories, anyone?) And when you bring in one elf, there's got to be an elven land somewhere, right? And when you bring in elves, you might as well bring in some goblins and ogres, right? Or could you just stop at elves, or something like them?
Anyway, there's something of a disconnect between the products of my adolescent inspiration and the type of story I found myself creating, which was the concept of a 30-year-old who has read a bunch of history and done a good bit of traveling in strange places. I find humanity plenty interesting, and I am now wondering whether I should demolish and re-build my world so that it doesn't have elves or goblins or ogres or maybe even magic.
That, of course, would be an utter, utter pain in the ass.
So, any thoughts? You ever feel like you need to explode your own world? Suggestions welcome.
March 27th, 2007, 07:28 PM
Yep. Many, many times.
It is actually a very healthy process.
I'll bet that if you look carefully at what you have written, there is much that you can 'recycle' into a newer, improved world that is more human, if that is where you want to go with things.
You can probably also recreate some of those same characters, even if they are of other non-human races now...the original race choice may even influence the characteristics that come through in your descriptions in their new incarnations.
I fully endorse the idea of blowing up a world to save it and recreate it into a more mature version.
aka Agent Rusty Bones
March 27th, 2007, 09:00 PM
In another thread I mentioned the crude rip-off artistry of my younger days. There was very little worth salvaging and just about everything way scrapped (including all my notes and sketches). However, a number of characters managed to live on, changed to one degree or another to fit into their new station. I've also axed several more recent ideas, despite their extensive pre-production work, and dramatically reworked others. If the glove don't fit...
In a larger sense, I've tinkered around with my canon quite a bit over the years, adapting it to my ever-maturing vision. Some of those changes have been more painful than other. Take, for instance, my fantasy stories. The first major step was my decision to connect them all into a single world. It took some tricky contortions of my maps to fit all the pieces together, but I got it done. That wasn't the end, of course.
At first, I set it on a 50K-year timeline (running parallel to 5000 years of Earth history). This gave me a wide open field to write an impressive history. However, I came to realize that I had thousands of years when absolutely nothing happened. As a student of history, I know things happen rather quickly and I couldn't reconcile the disagreement, so I embarked on a mission of time compression. I cut the history of the world in half and squeezed in the events to fit (whilst preserving links to Earth history, mind you). "That doesn't sound so bad," you say. Well, I had an encyclopedia with hundreds of entries, a detailed timeline, genealogies and miscellaneous records galore, all of which needed to be adjusted accordingly. And then, in the back of my head, a nagging voice said, "What if you don't like how it turns out?" Thankfully, I had the presence of mind to keep a backup of the old version and I wound up being rather satisfied with the new timeline... for a time. Dead spaces remained and I finally decided to do another time compression, this time taking off 10K years. This was far more painful than the last one because I was forced to do more overlapping, even translating a few events to different time periods to fit. I pray to God I'm never tempted to do it again, but I'm glad I've done it.
The moral of the story is this: Don't be afraid to rework your story, or even your whole canon (if you have it), but do take the time to keep a backup, just in case.
March 27th, 2007, 10:18 PM
Usually once I start seeing issues with my works I just give up completely and start something new.
Which is probably the reason why the longest work I've ever actually finished is probably about 5,000 words. I have one at maybe 15,000 right now that has some potential but eh... not sure I like it.
March 27th, 2007, 10:51 PM
Changing elements of a world mid-story is probably worse than changing a character's name. Of course it's easier now that many of us write on computer, for those of us from the papyrus and cuniform days, it was really tough back then.
I have, once or twice, used story elements, and in fact, one whole story by ripping it off from one of my earlier works. In my experience it has worked quite well, though the story ended up being way different.
Yeah, TheGhost, sometimes you gotta lay down that +3 spear and move on to better things. Some wise person once mentioned that the first million words are just practice.:)
March 27th, 2007, 11:06 PM
My fantasy world didn't explode so much as implode. Much like James, I had a vast timeline at one point. Though it spanned some 10,000 years and the majority of the globe, it was never that vital. When history of the world condensed into a much more managable time period, it wasn't that big of a deal.
The more important, and much more far-reaching change that occured simultaneously was the switch from the typical fantasy-species motifs: elves, dwarves, etc. While seperate species exist, many quite similar to their original inspiration, they went through a metamorphosis to become more of my own than borrowed troupes.
For example what were my elves (fairly typical magically inclined beings of grace and magic) became my Anir: androgynous beings that live in sexually segregated societies that mingle during specific times of the year for mating purposes, but are otherwise independent. They still have a certain grace and beauty to them, the sort that makes human men in more conservative cultures feel rather uncomfortable. Like your average Elf, the mainstream anir have immortality of sorts, granted to their gene pool after a magical cataclysm though they lose it after having a kid. A few anir didn't get individual immortality and instead had the vast majority of their minds stripped away, forcing small groups of them for form hive-minds and acheive a different sort of immortality for the collective concious.
The other 9 intelligent species, except the humans, went through similar drastic changes, mostly from coming up with interesting (at least in my opinion) answers to questions like "What makes these guys different from H. sapiens, biologically and psychologically?"
March 28th, 2007, 01:20 AM
I have been tempted to have a bonfire on the back garden of all my ref books and notes, then call it quits.:eek:
Yes, the worlds I have created have changed as the story that sparked the idea grew. The only exception is the current project, set in our world at a certain time, I can't change the backdrop/time line. It is both a challenge and very limiting at the same time.
March 28th, 2007, 04:57 AM
I've blown up my world twice this week and I'm still not sure if it's a good ending.
I've had the exact same problem, about six years ago I wrote about this practically invincible soldier involved in a large continental war etc and now, after reading Stover, Ellis, Barclay et al, it seems like the ultimate in wish-fulfillment nonsense BUT there are some good sections in it. So I took it to surgery. Admittedly I don't have 300, 000+ words, mine is only a tenth of that, but I found that by planning out what I wanted differently I could restructure the piece, with the good sections mostly intact, and create a story I'm more comfortable with. Experience is a huge tool when it comes to your writing and what stories you wish to tell will evolve right along with them - I now write far more sf than fantasy, where the opposite was the case six years ago.
I also like what World Builder said, sometimes there are instances where you can take out a whole group or section and substitute in something more appropriate. There are enough minority groups in the human world to use instead of elves and the twist will be all the more effective as a result. Breaking down and analysing your story may prove useful as a tool to see what is indispensable to you and what variations are possible that will update the story to your current way of thinking.
March 28th, 2007, 05:31 AM
(The first module I played was The Keep on the Borderlands)
March 28th, 2007, 06:57 AM
I did... and Jadziel didn't talk to me for two weeks!