For those who might be interested, the Kindle ebook version of Audrey of Farmerton is available for only $0.99 today (March 18, 2017), and $1.99 tomorrow, before returning to its usual price. I am continuing to work on making a paperback version available, as well as searching for additional typos (of which there are apparently an infinite number).
First, let’s distinguish between fantasy stories set in what is basically our own world, and those set in different worlds. A fantasy set in our world can leverage existing settings, cultures, languages, etc. This simplifies some aspects of the writing process, but can add complications, particularly if set in the modern era. But it’s the other type I want to discuss.
Tolkien’s Middle Earth is the iconic example of a fantasy set in a world that is distinctly different than ours, but still has many similarities. There are different races, different languages, strange monsters, and powerful magic, but the world itself looks much like our own in terms of the flora and fauna. The technology level is medieval, with castles and keeps and walled cities. It’s swords & sorcery, in modern terms. Many fantasy novels hew to this pattern, including my own.
It is certainly possible to write a fantasy set in a completely different world. The world can have a green sky, ten moons, and three suns. All of the animals and plants can be different. There can be unique races, each with differing language, titles, units of measure, religion, magic, culture, government, etc. But unless the author is incredibly talented, I can pretty much guarantee it will turn into a confusing mess for the reader. I know, because I’ve read both fantasy and science fiction novels that have taken things too far. The reader needs something to identify with, and they don’t want to be constantly having to look things up in appendices.
Dungeons & Dragons was heavily influenced by Tolkien, and my world was based off of my own D&D campaign. That provided the basis, and I made a deliberate decision to not make any drastic changes. Medieval fantasy worlds of that kind are traditional now. The familiar elements comfort the reader and make it easier for them to imagine what is being described. And the magic and fantastic creatures thrill them, or so the author hopes. It certainly seems to be working for George R.R. Martin.
In a future post, I may discuss the specific decisions I made, and some of the unintended consequences that resulted. Happy writing.
When I first began to write Audrey of Farmerton, I was concerned if I could even write enough for a novel. I did some research and discovered that the threshold is considered to be about 90,000 words. It’s not an absolute. There are famous novels much shorter, and many that are far longer. In addition, I discovered that fantasy and science fiction novels tend to be longer because they require a great deal of world-building.
In the end, my worries about word count were groundless. The first draft was just over 160,000 words. The revised draft came in at 168,000 words despite ending at a much earlier point than I had originally envisioned. When book two is finished, what I had initially planned for book one will certainly exceed 300,000 words.
The more I write, the easier it becomes. Writing two or three thousand words in a day is now common for me, although there are still days where I struggle to write anything. When that happens, I usually do something else or review what I have already written.
Audrey of Farmerton (Book One of Andoran’s Realm) was not plotted the way that most novels probably are. I came up with the basic idea of how to begin the novel, but I also needed to work toward events that had already occurred in adventures that involved Audrey. I took a few liberties, but I primarily worked within those constraints. This proved to be a challenge.
Farmerton itself barely existed when I began to write. It consisted only of Audrey, her parents, and the mayor. I gave Audrey a best friend and some additional relatives. The mayor gained a daughter who became a minor character. This helped to make Farmerton seem like more of a real place, but also complicated the return trips there later in the novel.
The biggest challenge by far was detailing how Audrey went from being an uninvited guest in Saxloc’s home to his adventuring companion and romantic interest. Here again, I was constrained by specific events that needed to occur. On the other hand, many of the people that Audrey ended up interacting with already existed, and it was simply necessary to work them into the story. And the Witch’s City was already well established including a map and numerous details. It was definitely a challenge, but it was an enjoyable one.
As I crafted the story, I found myself adding additional characters, some of whom developed their own story arcs within the novel. Many minor existing characters developed more detailed personalities, as well as mannerisms and quirks. Audrey herself changed, developing a drinking problem and anger issues.
The story underwent major revisions following some critical feedback.That resulted in a much-improved novel that ended at a much earlier point. The material removed from the end will now be in Book Two of Andoran’s Realm.
My first novel is titled “Audrey of Farmerton”. It is a fantasy novel, but it is unusual for several reasons. It is based on a Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) campaign that I have been running since autumn of 1979. This provides me with an enormous amount of material to draw upon, but it also means that a number of other people have contributed by creating and developing characters, some of whom are depicted in the novel. In writing it, I have frequently sought input as to whether I have properly portrayed their characters. So in a sense, Audrey of Farmerton is a collaborative effort, even though I am listed as the sole author.
My novel doesn’t seem to fit any of the traditional fantasy genres. It is the story of how a peasant girl named Audrey makes her way to a large city and struggles to find a life for herself there, but it’s not really a coming of age story. There is some fighting and heroics, but it’s not really a heroic fantasy. There is no noble quest to save the world or massive struggle between warring kingdoms, so it’s not an epic fantasy. There is some romance, but that’s only a portion of the story, so it’s not a romantic fantasy. Audrey of Farmerton is probably best characterized as a slice-of-life story or even a soap opera. There’s a great deal of people simply interacting and going about their lives, but in a fantasy setting with magic and monsters.
I am planning to publish my novel through Amazon as a Kindle ebook and then see what happens. I primarily wrote it for the enjoyment of myself and my friends, especially those who have actually played in my D&D campaign. The second book, which tells more of Audrey’s story is already well underway.