The Society and the 2016 Election

It’s been a while since I’ve said much of anything about The Society, which was the writing project that was my primary focus for such a long time. The silence about it on my part hasn’t been because I quit working on it. Rather, I have just shifted focus and, recently, haven’t been devoting as much time to it as I was.

(Lately, I have been writing more fanfiction than anything else. I recently finished the first draft of a Harry Potter fanfiction that is the longest thing I’ve ever written, and I’m quite proud of it so far.)

The Society has taken the back burner, though I am still committed to it. Now, however, I feel a new hesitancy about writing it that wasn’t there before when my lack of focus on it had more to do with Cursed Child feelings needing to be fully explored so that I could get over that disappointment.

Now the political nature of The Society is on my mind more than ever. I’m not sure how apparent this has been in what I’ve said about The Society in the past, but I’m writing a fantasy story that hinges around a fictional political system. My main character has been caught up in this political system since birth (having been born into an important family), and her relationship with the system is key to the entire plot. The story would not exist without it.

While this is very much a fictional political system that has magic as a key component, it would be foolish to suggest that it was not influenced by real life political systems. My goal is to write about a worldwide political system of the magical world, and this has meant painstakingly exploring the ways the real world politics of various regions of the world would influence a magical government in that same area and doing so in a way that’s accurate and respectful. Needless to say, that has been a lot of work, and it’s the biggest reason why this project is still in an infancy stage of sorts. While I have rough drafts of multiple stories in the series, none of them are anywhere near what I expect the finished projects to be because I have so much work to do fleshing them out and reworking them.

I have operated under the belief that the series would be set over a number of years, with the first of those years being the same year when I first began working on the series. My timeline for the series placed some of what I have planned into the current future, meaning the story I have would overlap with a Trump presidency, but that was the case long before I had any idea Trump would be running for president.

This has put me face to face with a situation I never expected. While I’m writing about fictional politics, I don’t feel like the world I am writing can be disconnecting from this election completely. With much of the story set in the United States, my characters would surely feel the impact of this election despite being magical beings.

Of course, I could set my fantasy world in some alternate reality where this election, with all of its partisan glory, never happened. I could set the world up to ignore non-magical (or “real world”) politics completely. But I can’t help but feel that that would be doing a disservice to what has happened, is currently happening, and will soon happen in the United States. It’s not how I have thus far dealt with real politics in the story, and changing that now would feel disingenuous at best.

So now I will begin the process of reworking the story in a way that I didn’t expect at the start of this process. Truth be told, even during the election I wasn’t thinking much about the impact it would have on The Society. (To be fair, I was a bit more preoccupied with its effect on the real world.) I was really only struck by it today. I’m not sure, exactly, what the ultimate influence it will exert on the story will be. Only time will tell.

And that may be quite a bit of time. While I have had this realization and know it will have an affect on the story, I don’t think I’m at the point where I can begin working on The Society again. That time will come, hopefully not in the distant future, but I cannot say when that will be. We shall see.

Update on The Society (My Current Novel/Project)

In an illustration of how terrible I’ve been at keeping this blog updated, I was going to write and post this on my book blog before I realized that, obviously, this was the better place. I don’t know how my brain took so long to realize that.

I’ve talked about The Society on here before. It’s the novel I’m working on and have been working on for several years. That’s a long time, but in reality, I’ve written drafts of multiple novels that are part of a series. The Society is the current title of the first one, and it’s my largest focus right now.

The plan was to have drafts of each novel in the series written first so that I could be sure I knew where the story was going. Then I would go back and edit the first novel into something publishable, and I would attempt to get it published.

Well, I have drafts of the entire series now, and I’ve shifted my focus to The Society only for now. It’s been that way for what feels like quite a while but has been a few months in actuality. One of my goals when I started this blog was to track my progress on that series, but I haven’t followed through well. Largely because I feel self-conscious talking about this series when I don’t know what sort of fate it will have in the end. I’d love for them to be published, but I have no way of knowing whether or not that will happen.

For now though, I want to get better at talking about my progress here, so this is what is currently going on with the writing process:

Like I said, I had rough drafts of the entire series. After that, I went back to The Society and read through it after a couple of years of having it sitting away. It was as awful as I expected. That was clear in how much I had changed later in the series knowing I would have to change more in the first book.

This is an urban fantasy with a main cast of various magical beings. One of the main characters changed species at some point in writing, and I forgot about that when I picked up the first novel again. That was a surprise, so I have to fix that. The change also has huge implications for him as a character, which means it’s a big job. And there are a million other things to change. Not an exaggeration.

So, I read through the entire novel and made notes on what needed to changed or be expanded upon or be cut. Then I went through and did one round of edits.

Then I had a crisis where I felt like that draft couldn’t be fixed, so I wrote a new, partial draft that was a re-write of the first half of the novel. Then I decided that I liked the end of the previous draft well enough that I could work with it. Because of that, I’ve decided to link the newer half-draft with parts of the older draft. That’s where I’m currently at with it.

Once I finish that, I have no way of knowing what I’ll tackle next with the draft, but I know there’s a long way to go. I’ll update you in the future with where the process has taken me.

Friendship in The Society

There are many things you learn about friendship as you get older. One of those things is that the exact nature of any particular friendship is changing every day. That doesn’t mean it’s getting worse, just that how you relate to another person is always in flux.

The extreme of that is friendships ending or drifting, but at the same time, new ones are starting. People go from casual friends to close friends and close friends to casual friends. None of your relationships are static. How close you feel to any one person can change depending on many different factors.

My story The Society takes place over a span of years, and since writing it has also spanned years, this one aspect of friendship was on my mind.

I love friendship. I think it’s highly discounted in favor of romantic relationships. Romance is great, but I love when friendship gets recognized as being just as, if not more, important. I cherish the thought of writing strong friendships for my characters, ones that are celebrated.

Yet at the same time, I couldn’t stay blind to the idea that friends drift from each other and make new friends over time. It always happens. Your high school friendships can remain important, but they’ll feel different after a few years than they did when you were in high school. You’re different people, and despite loving each other a lot, you’ll relate to each other in new ways.

I felt I would be doing my story a disservice if I didn’t explore that. I want Ledia, my main character, to have strong friendships, but I also want her to have the full range of how friendships change over time. Plus, she needs the ability to make new friendships along the way. Because all that is important. Embracing ways you and your friends change over time and welcoming new friends into your life is perhaps the most important aspect of friendship.

How Much Romance is Too Much Romance?

I’m facing an interesting conundrum with my story: I’m not sure what I want to do with the story’s romance. It’s not a romance story, so any romance that happens will be a side plot. Even with that decided, I’m uncertain what I’m doing with it.

There are two characters (and I’m going to keep this vague) who I know  I want to develop a relationship between. There’s another couple that’s a done deal, and there’s an asexual and aromantic character who is not going to have a romance. That much is basically set.

But those two relationships I mentioned are between characters that are of lesser importance. When it comes to my main characters, aside from Greta, I’m unsure what to do with them romantically.

I want friendship to be a heavier focus in the story. I’m always going on about how important I find friendship and how much I appreciate books that focus on it. I would like for friendship to come first in this story as well.

But I’m not against some level of romance. I just can’t decide what feels best for the characters and what feels right when fit into the larger story. I’ll just have to keep playing around with it to see.

What Makes a Hero?

Despite the common view that we should view everyday people as heroes, the word hero has a heavy connotation to it. It holds weight. When you here someone described that way, you expect them to be impressive. They have to have done something awesome to originally get the title, but to hold onto it, they should probably be awesome all around. If they’re not, then they run the risk of disillusioning people and not being a hero anymore.

Which all makes writing a hero difficult. Heroes are a huge part of fantasy, so as the main character of a fantasy novel, my character Ledia is a hero of sorts. I try not to think of that while writing because it makes characterizing her difficult.

I haven’t written Ledia to be a despicable character, at least not in my view, but she’s definitely not an overly likable character in my point of view. She doesn’t have the charismatic quality that I associated stereo-typically with heroes.

Of course, I’m completely of the belief that she can be a hero anyway. Although if I’m being honest I don’t ever stop to think of her in those terms. To me she’s just a girl who happens to have magic and be in situation dramatic enough that it could be a book. If other people deem her a hero, then that’s pretty cool, but I’m not sure how I feel about using the term as a blanket for all protagonists, especially in fantasy.

The term hero feels limiting to me and like it calls for all protagonists to be written in a way that pushes them into a tiny box. And that’s never fun.

Aliens in Fantasy and The Society

My story The Society is a fantasy. It has the prerequisite witches and vampires and werewolves. The majority of fantasy creatures that you would expect to see are there. But there are other creatures too: aliens.

Yep. Aliens have their own place in my fantasy world. One of them is even an important character albeit one I have yet to bring up in what I’ve said about The Society before.

The idea behind it is that she’s not just an alien. Her people were another world’s equivalent of magical beings. When that world came to its end, her species escaped while the others (non-magical ones) died. Her importance in the story comes from the history of her people. While the character, Tabla, was born on earth, her people have handed down the story of their world ending, and the people as a whole are mournful.

Because they’ve gone through that, they view themselves as a source of wisdom for the magical beings on earth, and they try to lay their wisdom out there, even if it’s not always received. They’re very worried about earth making the same mistakes that their world did.

I don’t want to make it sound like Tabla is a character that has all the answers and someone who should be listened to all the time. She has a problem of thinking that earth is her home planet and fails to consider possible differences. And in some ways the distance they’ve kept from earth (preferring to stick to themselves) is a downfall when they try to interfere. Still, they think they know best and try to give as much wisdom as they can. That wisdom is sometimes good and sometimes bad.

Deciding to fit aliens into the story was a spur of the moment decision while I was writing one day. I hadn’t planned on it until I wrote Tabla into the story, but now I’m absolutely in love with Tabla. The story would feel incomplete without her. While I suppose I could make her into a species native to earth through re-writes, it wouldn’t be quite the same. And I’ve become rather fascinated with the idea of aliens fitting into a fantasy world.

The Meaning of Miles’ Name in The Society

Here it is. The last post on the names of characters in The Society. I know that for interviews I did Layton and Hunter, but since they come into the story late, I’m not including them in the names posts for now. I’m sticking to characters who are in the story from the beginning.

The meaning of the name “Miles” actually isn’t clear. Different sources say different things, and most of them list several different possible meanings. This is another one of those names I chose for the sound of it, but I like the uncertainty caused with no clear meaning. It fits Miles.

At the beginning, Miles’ character is uncertain because of his friendship with Huritt and Huritt’s ambiguity. But, as the story goes on, Miles begins to show an ambiguity of his own. The others begin to realize they might not know everything about Miles. I like that that’s somewhat reflected in the name.

Miles’ last name (as of right now) is Exner. It comes from herdsmen who worked with oxen. I chose it because it gave off a dignified feel to me, and that’s a quality that I wanted Miles’ last name to have.

The Development of The Society

I don’t have many memories of writing fiction during school. One of my limited experiences doing so was writing Halloween stories in eighth grade.

My story was about a teen witch who goes to a “normal” school but belongs to a secret society of magicals. Her best friend was a werewolf. There was a bully who was secretly a witch and prejudiced against other magical creatures. The story involved the main character and her friend confronting the bully. I wish I remembered more specifics than that, but I don’t. As far as I’m aware, I had a copy of the story for several years, but it’s disappeared since then. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to read it.

But the idea of it stuck around in my head, and it morphed into what The Society currently is. That main character (who had a different name then) morphed into Ledia. The werewolf best friend became Devon, and I added other best friends as well. Believe it or not, that bully morphed into Huritt. If you were handed the original story and the current one, you wouldn’t be able to tell. Not without following my own thought process to reach this point.

Instead of being a normal member of this society, Ledia’s dad became the leader. A larger conflict developed and that too has had a thousand different incarnations sense. For just about every change of the conflict, Huritt changed too.

It’s hard to put into list all the various versions there have been both in my head and on paper. I don’t think that even I can remember them all. It started off light-hearted, despite the bully, and has gone back and forth between dark and light. The characters have changed and grown, and in many ways, have become a huge part of my brain. When I say the story has had many different versions, part of that is because I think up more little stories about the characters (that may or may not relate back to the actual story) all the time.

For more than seven years now, this story has been on my mind a lot. The characters have had adventures in my head that will never be written down. The story has morphed so many times that not even I can keep straight what’s in what version sometimes.

The Society isn’t the first story I’ve ever written. It wasn’t the first short story, and it wasn’t the first “novel” either. The Society was still percolating in my brain back then. However, The Society has taken up more brain space for me than anything else ever has. It’s difficult to explain it because it’s always on my mind, and it’s changing all the time.