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- Published on Monday, 07 May 2012 5:34 pm
- Written by Seregil of Rhiminee
David Burrows is a British fantasy author. He is the author of Prophecy of the Kings Trilogy (Legacy of the Eldric, Dragon Rider and Shadow of the Demon) and Drachar's Demons.
Click here to visit David Burrows' official website.
In this guest post David Burrows tells about writing a fantasy novel.
Writing a Fantasy Novel
A key issue in writing a novel is motivation. Whatever this is, it has to come from the heart. I wanted to write because I was moved by Lord of the Rings and I think more importantly the Silmarillion. Tolkien created sweeping tales of grand vistas, steeped in ancient mythology. What I really liked was that Lord of the Rings hinted at a far greater tale. This was the Silmarillion which was set in a much wider timescale than the Lord of the Rings. It is a tale full of sadness but with moments of great hope. The characters raise mankind (or elves) to great heights in one moment and then with a sweep of the pen their world comes crashing down. I was moved by these tales and wondered whether I could create something unique and anywhere near as majestic.
On creating a plot, I didn’t follow any predefined concepts. Originally I had one vivid scene in mind. It was set in a cavern deep in the heart of a mountain. Two men, related and possibly brothers, were seeking an artefact. What this artefact was, I didn’t know at the time. What I did know, though, was that the cavern was immense and perhaps bordered on a different plane of existence.
One of the men was a sorcerer, not a wizard. The sorcerer was dark at heart and harboured a secret. I sensed that he was using the other man and neither knew of their relationship so that might make them step-brothers. Without giving too much of the plot away, the two men end up fleeing the scene in terror. The sorcerer has found what he wants, but in so doing voices start gibbering and shrieking from within the surrounding gloom. This is a moment of dark horror as the two men flee. The sorcerer has the power to escape, whilst the other man’s limbs start to freeze and like in countless nightmares, he simply cannot run. The sorcerer escapes the cavern. Standing on a ledge, high upon a cliff face at night, he looks into the artefact and sees creatures. All the creatures of hell. His creatures. His scream of terror rings out upon the frigid night air.
The scene raised multiple questions and this is why it is fun being an author. Answering these (or not) is completely within your remit and the only limitation is the ink in your pen! Who were the men? Why were they in a cavern? What were they seeking? What was the consequences of the sorcerer finding the artefact? I was interested enough that I drafted this scene and showed it to a friend. This was many years ago and each time we met he would ask how the story was progressing. At the time I was far too busy to write. I was at University and also in the Officer Training Corps, TA. I was either enjoying myself too much, or working too hard to continue the tale, but after a while I thought, why not finally write the book. After all, I had become very interested in the characters and who they were.
I wrote in manuscript form i.e. paper and pen. By the time I had started to explain what the scene was about I found that I had written pretty much an entire book. There was simply too much going on and my first scene became the last scene in the first book. I really enjoyed writing, at least when the plot flowed. This was something that could not be rushed though. I often wrote myself into corners, where the characters were in dire peril. I refused to change their situation; after all it was where the tale had taken them. Sometimes months went by and often I would recall the tale and where my characters had ended up. Finally inspiration struck and I would dash to pen and paper to restart the tale. I have no idea where the inspiration came from. It was like turning the page of a book; suddenly it was there. I am not sure this was writers block or not, but I certainly do not think that this part can be rushed. I think that is what makes the tale unique. Anyone can rush the next step, but that makes it forced and perhaps lacking in a deeper insight. I really enjoyed these moments, but it did mean that the novel took a long time to write.
Finally it took four years to write the tale and in the end I had enough material for three books. In retrospect I would strongly advise against writing a trilogy as a first endeavour. It triples the costs in both time and money.
Had I achieved my aim though? Was my world unique and the tale sweeping? Admittedly there is good and evil in the plot, but my main character is taken to the very pits of despair. As an author you get to know your characters well and I felt a great sympathy for him and some of the other characters. He experiences events that no man, fictional or not, should ever endure.
He loses both family and friends, he experiences the demon world and souls doomed to eternal torment and his shaol, guardian spirit, is replaced by the shade of a dead emperor from another world. Touching a kara-stone awakens the link to his shaol. The other man’s life is revealed to him in his dreams. He sees the evil that the other man has become and witness murder on a grand scale. Dragons feature strongly in his dreams and he lives in fear of these mythical creatures. A war is brewing and in it, demons will be summoned by sorcerers. Kaplyn, the tale’s hero, becomes the people’s only hope, but madness threatens his fragile hold on sanity. In a land fraught with betrayal, fear and death, the shadows are deepening.