Thursday, February 23, 2012

Illumination Sucks, Take Two

Yeah, so, better today.

The thing that prompted the realization from last post is, that I was going through my dormant files, alert for what the next project might be, and was thinking that I'd found the character I wanted. Consider this exchange:

"Are you out of your mind?"

Pelin considered. "I don't think so."

And this one:
"Let me handle it. Speaking of handling, what was going on with the Dowager Grusia at your end of the table? I was terrified you were going to have one of your fits."

Pelin shrugged. "So was I, but it's of no consequence. She doesn't like the rising generation, that's all." And who can blame her? We're a sorry lot.

And Pelin's opening words in the story, which is all from his POV:
"Excuse me," Pelin said, in the frosty voice usually reserved for foreign princes of unusual stupidity, "but I believe you labor under an error. That appears to me to be a prisoner, not a punching bag."

Come to that, the opening two sentences aren't bad:
When Pelin spotted Hirca being led toward the prison in chains, his first reaction was clamped-down panic. Captured? How? Why?

His second reaction was: Where do I know her from?

This Pelin person is grouchy, sarcastic, misanthropic, a little prissy, widely disliked, humorless - and he knows all that, and accepts it, and works with it. He's fundamentally kind, if you don't mind how crabby he sounds when he's doing it. (Most people do.) When someone asks him rhetorically if he's out of his mind, he takes it seriously. He takes everything seriously. And he's walking in a minefield, fourth most eligible candidate for a throne he doesn't want, two candidates for which have vanished, and faced with a growing body of evidence that someone has been tampering with his memory.

I have ten chapters of this story, dashed off to pass the time between projects while stuck with no legitimate work at a soul-sucking day job - no plan, just a lot of throwing words onto a page and seeing where I wound up. So of course it's wordy and contradictory and, though I see where some bits of it are going, other bits flop around looking for some sense to make. Still, it should be a viable story with a sufficient amount of work. I'd have to do a lot of backstory work, figuring out exactly what's going on, how the magic functions, write the villain's plan out and note the places where it goes wrong.

In fact, I should be able to use a lot of the same skills I developed to write the lesbian western. From my personal point of view, Pelin's story is a logical next step after Len's, building on what I did there. But -

But it's a fantasy set in an imaginary country with kings and queens and nobles and peasants and a rising middle class and professional wizards and a Goddess who, once in a great while, answers a plea directly and obviously enough that there's not much doubt that's what happened.

It's not a lesbian western.

It's not a middle grade fantasy set in modern times, like the other book I'm trolling for agents with.

It could be grouped in the same category, and set in the same world (though not the same country or time period) as Disenchanter, another story I'm trying to peddle, but of course I haven't sold that one.

Harking back to my published books, and singling out the two most successful ones, the ones people squee over when they find out I wrote them, it's not a time travel story like Switching Well, or a contemporary ghost story like The Ghost Sitter.

How is an agent supposed to make anything out of a career that flops all over the genres and age groups and niches like that?

How am I supposed to write books any other way?


  1. Indeed, how can a writer sell if you don't write to one market? A very good question. And how to learn to write only or anyway sufficiently for your established market is also a good one.

    I have finally sent my YA alternate-history war novel out into the world to find readers, and have already plunged into . . . a sort-of Steampunk* mystery novel set in the world Victor Frankenstein might have made. Not at all the same thing, John, what were you thinking?

    * Is there such a word as "Stitchpunk"? Should there be?

  2. This is English. There's such a word if you can persuade enough people to use it.