Wednesday, March 31, 2010

needing a guide

So as you all know I've been hard at work on my current wip and it has mystery and magic involved. Now not Harry Potter style however it does have a certain edge to it, My characters have an ability they are born with, they can't pick up extra magical skills unless they are the Head of House and there is one for each House, they are chosen upon their many talents. I only tell you this to better explain my post as a whole. I am needing a book or a guide to help me through their magical abilities.

There are so many unknowns in my MC's life. She of course has been kidnapped and left for dead however as the story evolves she comes to know she is given a gift at the cost of being very badly hurt. This is kind of where I was going with the super power post the other day, she had to pay a price and she isn't done paying them. The problem is the more my MC and my novel evolved the more I dove into this alternate universe, the Traveler's world. There are so many unknowns about this place which in order for my MC to actually find her way she is going to need to know the ins and outs of this place. So I began to brainstorm on what would help me better understand the world I had created. It hit me like a mack truck (okay well a bit overdramatic but you get my point... plus I've always wanted to say that!) It hit me I need to write the guide book that I give my MC on how the system works, it needs to be accessible to her and only her and since I'm the one solving the puzzle I should probably have all the pieces. So last night I began to write the Travelers Guide that will help my MC overcome the questions I couldn't answer.

So for your story does your MC need a guide book to move throughout a different world? Do they need a guide book of any sorts?

What helps you dig deeper and understand your MC's path or your MC better?


Bish Denham said...

Interesting. Kind of like A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy?

Christine Danek said...

Not yet. I do have a whole other world thing going but in the first book (I have enough material for two books on my current idea) I only have to talk about it vs. actually going there. Not sure where to get ideas though. That's a tough one. I just watch some favorite sci/fi movies for inspiration.

Unknown said...

What a cool idea! And you're right, you have to solve the puzzle, work out all the high-level logic, before you can really write the story for the characters. Good luck with it!

I'm not working with a different world in my WiP, but I do need to figure out one last character's angle. It's just out of reach, you know what I mean? I'm so close to figuring out his true motivations, what he really wants, and I know when that piece falls into place it will unlock the end of the story.

I think about him all day, while doing dishes, while driving the car. That mack truck is revving its engine, and any minute now it's going to come careening at me... (fun metaphor!!)

Unknown said...

Bish - I suppose it would be! I haven't read that but I would assume it's the same!

Christine - Oooo that sounds fascinating!! I'm very intrigued already! I too have enough story for two novels, possibly even three as I continue to write! So much good stuff we you dive to other worlds!

Nicole - I'm so with you! I never stop thinking about my MC and the WIP in itself, they are always on my mind. It's amazing that I can still get any work done!

Summer Frey said...

I have a short guide, for-my-eyes-only that details the backstory and magic system for my novel. I sat down and figured it all our before I even started the revision, so I'd know exactly where I was heading this time, instead of running in the dark.

Only 10 pages into my revision, I've already had to refer to it a few times!

I'm sure once you finish your draft, your guide will change too, so you may not want to invest TOO much time making it perfect, only to be hit with brilliant inspiration that makes half of it worthless (sound like I'm speaking from experience? Yeah.)

Anyway, if you're interested, a really good urban fantasy series concerning magic and magical offload, as they call it, starts with Magic to the Bone by Devon Monk.

Unknown said...

DWM - I love being able to make my own world!!

Summer - That is exactly what I'm going for just a quick little run-down, a small guide that will give me all the info I need to progress a little further! I sure hope it isn't worthless but if it is at least I had fun doing it!!

Ooo I'm very interested! I'll google Devon Monk to check it out!

Matthew MacNish said...

Hi Jen. Really quickly blogspot was broken last night so when you tried to follow my blog it didn't work. It's not that big a deal but you are so popular I would love for some of your traffic to come my way!

Anyway regarding your post I definitely agree. Any kind of world like this has to have a set of rules, and your character has to understand them in order to survive/succeed.

In my own novel this is easy for me to deal with because the magic is based off of Buddhist Mysticism, Chinese Martial Arts like Qi-Gong, and Tantric Yogic mediatation ... so there are already some pre-existing notions.

For your world I think it's great that you're going to lay all those kinds of things out for your character. I'm guessing it's going to help a great deal.

Crystal Cook said...

That is such a great idea! My MC has something else going on in his life, but I haven't thought about writing a guide for him. But he does know the rules that he has to follow. Great post Jen! I'm so excited for you with all your writing greatness :)

Unknown said...

Matthew - I'll attempt again! Yes I could see how having something already created would be nice to use as a guide, however I do find it quite fun to be able to create the whole story myself, no rules, nothing to go by... definitely challenging!

Crystal - You're too sweet! Glad to hear your character knows what he needs to be doing and maybe a guide isn't needed for your wip :)

Artemis Grey said...

Interesting! Hmmm, well the MC of my YA, the ms I'm currently peddling, lives in our world, but in a post-apocalyptic era. She's constantly learning how to make her way through this world, largely because she refuses to simply live the same way as other survivors.

I'd have to say though, that my MC's largest guide, is her own heart. The story follows her as she learns about the world around her and the troubles within it. But throughout, she follows her own instincts more than the established rules of society.

Carolyn V. said...

That is a good question Jen! I think my MC is mixed up with the choices she has to make, but somehow with each choice she is moving her forward. (I just hope it works out in the end!)

Mel Chesley said...

You know, having the guide is great. For you. You may never need mention the existence of such a guide or you can just reference it by simply saying the book was required reading, she found it in a library or among someone's possessions.
Mind you, this has probably already been said. :D
We knew Harry learned stuff from books simply because he was at a magical school, but he didn't have a guidebook on how to defeat Voldemort. He listened to others.
If your MC requires that she have this guide on hand, then by all means you better have one prepared or be really good at throwing things out there off the top of your head. Mainly, I'd write the guide book for yourself so you can adjust and tweak it as you see fit.
I hope that helps. Otherwise, ignore this post. XD

Unknown said...

A. Grey - Following the heart is a must!!!

Carolyn V. - That's awesome! I love it when every situation makes the MC get her butt in gear and move forward more!

Caledonia - Great help!! I always love a different insight. She doesn't need to learn anything about her ability but about the house will be key, she is taking over a huge responsibility and only a few know the ins and outs so having a guide book, or a book of reference would be super helpful! Thank you for your wonderful comment!

Portia said...

I had a published science fiction friend who did something very similar. She would create her world and then write the story. She'd try to fill in all of the details she knew would come up, from the foods they ate and languages spoken to maps of the world and so on. It lent a feeling of plausibility to all of her work.

Elana Johnson said...

When you're writing in another world, I think it's absolutely imperative that you as the author know everything about that world. EVERYTHING.

Now does the MC need to know everything? Not really. S/He just needs to learn and discover everything they need to overcome the problem. And it shouldn't come at the very end of the book. It should be hinted at throughout and the MC just learns/controls it when they need it most.

I'm glad you're writing the Travelers Guide. I'm sure it will help you along the way!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I haven't created any new worlds, but when I'm struggling with the depth of my MC, my crit. partners are priceless. :-)

its simple love said...

I just discovered your blog. It's quite fascinating! I would love to tag along in your journey of writing a book. I have always wanted to write a book (as 90% of the world has that desire).... so I will live vicariously thru you. Thanks.


Nicole Settle said...

In my fantasy world, my mc has a handbook but he's rather naughty and doesn't really follow it. I've been thinking about actually writing the handbook myself just so I have it as a reference instead of just something in my head but that level of detail will have to come second to my actual writing of my WIP. Good luck with your guide!

Abby. said...

Thank you Jen, I am feeling much better today!
Yes, most people do not appreciate their parents until they see what adulthood is actually like. That's why the "Reality Store" was good for us! :)
Good luck on your guide!

Talli Roland said...

Interesting question! How great would it be to write a guide to an alternate world. I'm envious.

My character goes on a game show, so I had to make up all the rules to the show. It was so much fun!

Jai Joshi said...

When I wrote 'Follow the Cowherd Boy', my first novel, I had to draw a picture of the fort my lead character lived in. I also had to find a map of ancient India and draw in all the relevant historical details I wanted to highlight. I also had to write pages and pages of timelines so I knew I wasn't going to get my dates mixed up and make a historical blunder.

It was all very complicated but worth it. You're guidebook sounds fun and makes me think of 'Hogwarts: A History' from Harry Potter. That was his guide although it was always Hermoine who actually read the book.


Unknown said...

Portia - Wow your friend did a lot of work! Sounds amazing!!

Elana - I couldn't agree with you more! More information the better off you are!

Shannon - I now have my own crit group so I'm sure I'll soon talk the world of them!!

Its simple love - Thank you, you're so sweet!!

Nicole - I love your MC, I'm intrigued and would love to know what bad things their up too!

Abby - It was a great tool to show children how it really works! How fun!

Talli - That sounds like so much fun! A Game Show!! I couldn't do that, but it sounds really neat!

Jai Joshi - Wow amazing research! I thought I would have to research things like you but I realized that my own world is something I have to create to research! Yes actually after I thought about it that's exactly what it felt like. Some of the Harry Potter books, if I could be an ounce like her it would be amazing!

Lydia Kang said...

World building like that intimidates me...but I look forward to it on my next WIP. Good luck!

PJ Hoover said...

What a fun idea, Jen! I've never done it, but I bet it will work great!

Melissa Hurst said...

This sounds like a wonderful idea! I didn't write a guide for my WIP, but I did list all of the things I would need to know about the world I had created. I still add stuff to the list as I'm writing because the story has evolved so much.

Unknown said...

Lydia - Good Luck on your next WIP! I'm really enjoying it! Keeps me thinking outside the box!

PJ - I'm excited thanks!

Melissa - I know the feeling, it's amazing to think about where this idea originated from and where it's headed now! Compeletely different!

Kimberly Franklin said...

Shh... I'm ignoring that question, but not because I need to answer it for my WIP or anything. I'm totally on top of that in my WIP. Ha! You believe me, right?

Susan Fields said...

What a great idea! All the more important the more "alternate" your universe is, I would think. My mc's don't need a guide book in my current wip, but I'd like to write a book like that at some point.

Unknown said...

Kimberly - Hopefully your muse hasn't run away again!!

Susan - I'm really excited to start it, I think it will give me tremendous insight! Good look on yours when you start!