I am an avid fantasy reader. It is a big leap to make from being a reader to a writer. Those details are for another day. Last November I entered National Novel Writing Month which is more commonly known as NaNoWriMo. It was a learning experience for me. The first thing I realised was that I had a story to tell and it was a good one. The second thing was that it is not easy to achieve the target of 50,000 words in one month. You need to write 1,667 words per day to achieve this target. The other thing I learned was that writers can be divided into roughly three categories. The first are planners. The second are pansters and the third are plansters.
Planners have all their characters neatly set up. Their outline perfectly done. All that separates them from their goal is the speed at which they can write it.
Pansters are the exact opposite. They write as the idea comes into their head. “A mage walks into a forest. He feels cold so he waves his hands a small flame appears on his fingertips and he lights a fire with that.” Maybe that mage will go on to meet a bard or a warrior on the way. There definitely has to be a beautiful lady somewhere so bring her in too!!! There is nothing wrong with writing like that.
Then comes the Plansters. I would place myself into this category. I love the feeling that comes from discovering new characters and the stories change as I go along. However, I had to plan my world. I did not want my world to have one big forest and one river where a man is destined by prophecy to be the saviour of the world.
I wanted to make my characters and world as real as possible. The first thing I did was to create a religion as this plays an important role in my novel. The other thing about religion or the lack of it is it shapes the view of your characters. I then created a world. George R.R. Martin created Westeros from an inverted map of Ireland and the United Kingdom. I took my inspiration from India and the Crown dependencies. One of the reasons I chose India is that I wanted a really nice geography and a river that was steeped in mythology. It was also the time I watched “The Ganges” which was presented by Sue Perkins.
I created my main characters and relationships between them first. I then proceeded to name them. I am not a great believer of astrology but I do hold numerology in high regard. I researched names and chose ones that fit in the environment and matched the character of the person. Now that I know their characters I know how they will react to situations. It will be an enjoyable experience to discover them. I do not know what twists and turns I will come up with. That though is part of the fun.
Being a planster meant that I focussed a lot on making things realistic. The armour and weapons had to match. The reason why a katana is a slicing weapon is due to the reason that it was most effective for the armour worn by the samurai in that era. A katana would fail miserably against European plate armour. Realism breathes life into fantasy. You do not have to be an expert in the field but you should know enough to make it believable. People like Tolkien, Raymond Feist, George R.R. Martin and J.K. Rowling have brought fantasy into the mainstream. The stereotype of fantasy being read by people living in their mother’s basement is long gone. Game of Thrones has even graced the screens of The White House.
I have all of these characters running around in my head. I cannot wait for Camp NaNoWriMo to start on July 1st so that I can set them free. I will be posting regular updates on my progress. I hope to share my journey with you.
Prashanth Soans is the man behind SoansTimes a blog that covers writing, finance, cricket, politics and religion. Prashanth is also taking part in this year’s Camp NaNoWriMo staring in July so check out his blog to see how he’s getting on.