I have the short-term memory of Dori. I have trouble keeping my own kids’ names straight. How on Earth did I manage to write two fantasy novels? Seriously, I’m asking.
Think about it – with a fantasy novel, you have to create a whole new world with a history, cultures, geography, government. And all this is just the setting, you also have to keep characters and story arcs straight.
I have talked to other fantasy writers, seen interviews. Many keep binders with detailed maps, character profiles, history and legend outlines. Yeah, I should do that.
In real life I’m a planner. I like to have goals. I like to make lists and cross things off as I accomplish them. I like to know what’s in store. But in my writing life – it doesn’t work that way. I can make all the plot plans I want, in the end my characters run the show. I’ve learned it’s best to go where they lead rather than try to fight them.
So how are all these characters, story arcs, history, geography, and cultures all fitting together in a cohesive story? The universal search function in Word certainly helps. Can’t remember if the soldier, Duncan, has a beard or not? Run his name & I can find his every reference in my manuscript. Best function ever.
And I do keep notes, sketch maps. They’re scribbled in chicken scratch on old envelopes and various other scraps of paper, crammed into a dilapidated journal, but they’re there if I ever need to refer to them.
But mostly I think my characters must know what they’re doing. The pictures in my head play out, the pieces fit together, and the result is an entertaining story that takes the reader to a whole new world. The magic of imagination.