Abandoned Project: Swords of the Nine Isles

29 Jun

Flashing blades! Sorcery most foul!

The Project

Remember how I was trying to write something marketable? I thought I might be on to something with this fantasy novel set in a sea kingdom of nine tropical islands. I was trying for a mysterious, shadowy setting reminiscent of Fritz Leiber’s Lankhmar stories. The main characters were a sorceress and her swordsman companion, who went off on missions at the behest of the sorceress’ clan. We join them as a mission goes spectacularly wrong: a routine beatdown of a corrupt merchant turns into a confrontation with an undead enemy that hasn’t been seen in the world for decades.

Honestly, I can’t remember what I thought would happen from there. But I wrote a kick ass opening fight scene.

Why it was abandoned

I had world-building problems. Again, the crazy need for everything to be perfect before I started writing undid me. The geography, the culture, the clan structure, the political situation, everything had to be mapped out fully before I could start swinging swords around. Which I guess is fine except that I couldn’t settle on any one scheme of things. I kept fiddling with the world, changing things.

A big problem was that I knew that whatever world I came up with was fake. I couldn’t know whether it would be convincing to a reader because I knew just how full of holes it actually was. Maybe this is a way in which someone who tries to write fantasy finds himself playing King of the Hill with Tolkien. For example, when Tolkien named his characters, those names had a fully developed cultural and linguistic context. I was giving characters names that seemed cool and hoping that they sort of sounded like they might belong to people who lived in the same place. Dur! I is write a novels!

After a while I got bored with fiddling and set my incomplete Tinkertoy world aside. Which is a shame, because now and then I caught glimpses of a place that I would really like to visit, and maybe readers would, too.

Well, who knows? Maybe I’ll find a way there yet.

And that, ladies and gents, wraps up Abandoned Projects Week. Thanks for coming!

2 Responses to “Abandoned Project: Swords of the Nine Isles”

  1. Todd Espeland July 9, 2007 at 4:48 pm #

    As you friend, someone who knows hte pain a doubt that goes with creating stuff, and someone who wants to see you florish, reading these posts about projects put aside I want to yell, pull my hair out, sit and watch the Jetsons with “Takes a Nation of Millions to hold us Back” to calm down and then cry. All of these are great ideas (well not the rapping one, but I had to endure that period of time listening to your lyrics). Stop worrying about ‘marketable’ and just got for it. If you write what you love there will be an audience for it. I know that sounds so simplistic and young, and I know it wont stop the chatter of the “you suck” Monster and the “you are so great” Monster that perches on each shoulder when you are creating something, but after a while you just gotta go for it in the face of that doubt.
    Im right there myself. Im wavering on the brink of writting/not writting a series of children’s books but I believe deep down in what Ive got planned so now its just making the leap of faith to get it down on paper.
    Oh and I miss you man….Happy 40th you old old man.

  2. Wade Rockett July 25, 2007 at 3:07 pm #

    While I still love writing lovely things – and don’t get enough opportunities to do so these days – I’ve become really turned off to the idea of participating in the business of making money off of fiction.

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