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Monday, September 8, 2008


Do you ever have an idea you love but that you can't make work?

I did.

Right after my first daughter was born, still in college and still fairly newly-wed, I created a character for my daughter. The character had my child's dark black/red hair and a fiery temperament. The world was typical fantasy, small divided kingdoms who still dream of some long distant "Golden Age".

The MC, Sari (Sah- r- eye) Justice, was fantastic. I loved her moodiness. I loved that she was isolated (something I felt keenly as the only married person in my department and the only undergrad besides DH raising a child). I loved that she wanted to do it all alone and couldn't. Her counterpart was Jarrent Icehawk (how's that for a fantasy name?) and his primary motivation in life seemed to be saving Sari.

Basically, the story was awful. Beyond awful. Beyond cliched even. But I liked some of the elements.

1) I liked an MC who's entire goal was doing the right thing because it was right and didn't really care about the people involved.

2) I liked the theme of rebuilding. Sari Justice kicked off a world where the Golden Age was going to be remade.

3) I liked the idea behind the House of Justice, a group of people who would declare anyone family because they had similar traits.

4) I liked making the MC have to grow beyond their self-centered ideals and learn to work and care for other people.

The rest I wound up scrapping after the first chapter because I realized the plot hinged on Jarrent chasing and trying to win Sari. It was a very sappy, G-rated, romance and I didn't like it at all. If I couldn't enjoy thinking about the plot why bother writing the book?

Several years later, degree in hand (sum laude thank you very much - it's not so easy with a kid in hand), I had another idea bubbling but no backbone. I had a world of humans who lived underwater and rode on sharks. I'm obsessed with sharks. I adore sharks. I've been bitten by a shark (and a moray eel but that's another story) and... yes... I wanted a story with sharks.

So I pulled the ideas from the scrapped fantasy and twisted things until I found something that worked.

- I took my shark-rider idea and added genetic manipulation and 800 years to get the Finn Nation, human-shark hybrids with space ships.

- I took my justice seeking MC with a temper like a wounded tiger and created Ice Rus, a detective seeking justice who happens to be a wounded tiger on occasion.

- I took the idea of an adoption happy House and made them an adoption happy Nation with the technology to raise children without a biological uterus (an idea also used by Louis McMaster Bujold and several sci-fi short stories)/

- I took a brooding stand-alone-don't-touch-me MC and turned that into a MC who doesn't quite know how to fit in but tries. And I gave the poor boy Maggie Finn to contend with which just goes to show how mean I am (if you haven't met Maggie yet, you will, and then you'll understand how evil I can be)

- I took the theme of healing a fractured nation and retooled it to be rebuilding interstellar relations between a fractured humanity. Which I think is more interesting.

Old stories have their purpose. You can scrap the DL and use the themes for what you need. I have several other stories with ideas, themes, or characters I like that I just can't find the right application for them. They are there. Eventually I'll figure out where to fit everything and how to express myself properly. But, for now, I'm happy with what I'm getting out of this scrap. I think it's showing promise. I think there's a future here for these characters.

And maybe I'll eventually get a character named Sari worked into another story.


  1. I had tons of characters and plots that are practice stories now. One thing I find hard about the writing process is to write a novel, be excited about it, edit it, and then realize that it isn't marketable. Unfortunately, I think this is the case with many first novels. And second and third novels in some cases, lol. (At least my case, anyway).

    But that said, there are many bits, characters, settings and plot lines from these first novels that can be mined and used in the future. I never regret anything I've written, because all of it teaches me something, and I can use it moving forward, either the lesson or the ideas.

  2. I want to read the first one - frankly it sounds right up my alley!

  3. I know you will! Sari is an awesome name and a great character (just by how you described her). And yes, great that you are taking what you can and using it!

  4. Weston- I don't write romance! I don't mind romance elements in my books but the plot was, seriously, a guy chasing a girl. I couldn't think of anything better, which is why the idea got used for spare parts. I might try an epic fantasy someday, but not until I can think of something that hasn't been done to death. I've seen well done fantasy and I'm not sure I could top that.


    In time I'll find a place for Sari. The personality, if not the name, is bubbling up in a much darker fantasy piece. The MC there is currently called Erina but that may change.... :o)

  5. Heh, I thought initally you were talking about the origins of Ghost of a Queen :D

    I love that this morphed into Ice :)

    *adores Ice* :)