This is the first entry of Savant Scrawlings, a series of posts wherein I talk about this whole novel-writing thing of mine (as mentioned in my previous post). It’s going to be more a journal than a collection of essays, but I’ll try and keep it as concise and intelligible as I can.
I’d like to start out by talking about what this book isn’t going to be. Quite unlike The Darkwood Mask and its relation to the world of Eberron, this novel isn’t going to be part of a shared universe. A shared universe is a setting where multiple authors tell different—and possibly overlapping—stories yet where the core material (central characters, places, laws of nature, magic, etc.) must always remain the same. For example, if you write a novel in the Star Wars universe, you can’t go and kill Luke Skywalker in your story (unless the Lucasfilm people tell you to, and in which case his death will need to be accounted for in all subsequent novels that take place in the same timeframe.)
It was an unusual experience writing for Eberron shared universe, because I knew full well that most of my friends and family would know nothing about it except what my book addressed. Therefore when the book came out, I wrote up a sort of Eberron primer for them so they could understand just what the heck dragonmarks were, or warforged, or even the race of elves.
But the world of the Savant project is going to be a world of our own. I say our, because my brother John and I are developing it together. We’re not beholden to anyone else in its details, nor the stories that come of it, and the continuity of the setting is my own responsibility to maintain. That’s a responsibility I relish, as I find it lacking in most shared universes.
So…this means no primer will be necessary, unless I somehow incorporate one into the book. I want this story, this world, to be approachable by anyone. Just pick it up and go. There are no other books out there that you will have to read first. Maybe it helps if you’ve read any sort of speculative fiction before, but I expect there’ll be elements of various genres—mystery, horror, and so on—and in doses anyone can handle. But it generally comes down to the two big ones:
- Fantasy – Fantasy is generally assumed to be fiction that uses magic or other supernatural forces as a central plot device, and usually with a marked lack of technological advancement. Fantasy stories are usually, but not always, medieval in flavor. Without a doubt, Savant will be mainly fantasy in its style and themes, but not exclusively.
- Science Fiction – Space and robots, right? Well, sci-fi involves speculation about technology, and almost always takes place on Earth in the present day or in the future (and sometimes possibly other planets). Because I intend to incorporate a certain level of real science, and a little bit of modern technology, so there are certainly going to be science fiction elements.
You can analyze and dissect these two genres, but in the end I believe that science fiction is asking, “What if this happened?” and fantasy is asking “What if it had always been this way”? My book is definitely more of the latter. Ultimately, Savant is merely speculative fiction doused with genre elements. I really enjoyed writing the mystery noir flavor from The Darkwood Mask (required for a series about detectives). And I’m a serious fan of horror, so I’ll aim to make things creepy when they’re needed to be. Although I should add that I consider good horror to be about scary monsters, ghosts, or other supernatural occurrences. I have no interest in books or movies about sickos torturing and murdering people. Give me The Ring or The Others any day; I don’t care for the Saws or the Hostels of the genre.
Next topic: To outline or not to outline?