View Full Version : After Advice

04-10-2007, 09:46 PM
Hi guys,

Some of you may have seen my stuff in SYW - if not, then I'll give you a rundown. Basically my novel is fantasy, set in a world almost identical to ours, in 1940's London. The only difference is the main religion. The story revolves around this fantasy religion and the secrets it holds.

Now, I just had a thought; and in good time, seeing as I considered the MS finished, and started querying agents. Would it be a good idea to scrap the whole "fantasy parallel world", and make the events take place in THIS world?

It would require an edit/overhaul, replacing the names of towns and countries etc. Luckily I designed the story to run parallel with actual history, so it should fit pretty easily. The only problem I have is explaining the Religion. The idea I had here is to make my fantasy religion much smaller - into a heretical sect that existed in "secret" amongst the standard Christian churches of London.

The question is - would such an overhaul be worth it? It's completely changed my way of viewing the novel. Not only does it make the events truer, it also gives me an opportunity to do lots of research and make the whole thing authentically tied to actual historical events.

But then, on the flipside, it was never my intention for the story to be written this way. Is it bad to betray my original intentions, or good to think about this whole thing from a business viewpoint? No doubt it would be easier to sell a real-world novel than a fantasy one.

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!

04-10-2007, 09:50 PM
Instead of revamping your novel to fit this idea, what about writing a new story which revolves around the new idea?

Also, how long has it been since you came up with the idea? Sometimes when the idea is fresh it seems a lot more exciting than after you've had some time to think about it.

04-10-2007, 10:01 PM
if it's a good story, wouldn't the chances of it selling be about the same? lol.

personally, i like it tied to this world, which means if you did the opposite of what my tastes are you should be okay. i think the risk you might possibly have is some reader, and let's face it, us fantasy folk aren't exactly ignorant of WWII on the whole, i'd imagine, seeing the obvious parallels and thinking you're either lazy or not trying hard enough to write an original timeline of events. dunno, that's my knee-jerk response. :)

04-10-2007, 10:06 PM
Thanks for the thoughts. Yeah, the idea has been lingering for a while, but I only addressed it. I'll let myself cool off before I do anything drastic!

But yeah - preyer - your thoughts about being "lazy" were mine exactly. The thing is, there's no real reason for it to be in a fantasy world, other than the religion, which I've found my way around. Obviously it's fictional, so there will be events that didn't take place in real history, but I think the goal will be to find a balance of what I can and can't write in this new scenario.

I'll think about it a little more!

04-10-2007, 10:18 PM
If you want to keep the story in the fantasy world, is there any way to make it more fantastic?

04-11-2007, 01:39 AM
I could, like... make all the humans into elves...

I'm going to give it a quick go and see what happens. The more I think about it, the more work it's going to be. But it'll save me work in the future, as I'm writing a sequel now, and it's in the same world. If I change this one sooner rather than later, I'll still have some hair left in my head that hasn't been pulled out.

Thanks for the suggestions!

04-11-2007, 01:45 AM
A religion, even a made-up one, is not fantasy. For example, a novel taking place in the present day that tells of a new religion sweeping the world is not in the fantasy category per se, any more than a story about a particular fictional business sweeping the world, as fictional as both ideas may be. So if your tale doesn't get much more fantastic than that (no magic resulting from the religious rites, no aliens serving as the messiah figure, etc.), your idea of allowing the rest of your novel to take place in this world is a sound one. The fact that it takes place in the 40s doesn't matter -- the fictional events need only be feadible, no matter how widescale. Otherwise you limit your audience and potential readership needlessly. If it's non-fantasy categorized as fantasy superficially, you'll only frustrate the fantasy fans.

04-11-2007, 02:36 AM
Thankyou! The religion revolves around the worship of Clockwork Angels, and the story is about characters with clockwork limbs, and the strange abilities they have. So it's pretty fantastical.

But I'll take your point about alienating normal readers and annoying the fantasy ones. Those were my thoughts exactly.

Phew, looks like i have a task ahead of me! But it's all for the good....

04-11-2007, 07:04 AM
It sounds like you're teetering on the edge of Alternate History, which is a sub-genre of Fantasy.

Write the story you want to write and let the marketing yahoos sort out the rest. ;)

04-11-2007, 12:56 PM
Unless it serves a purpose, fantasifying a 1940s(?) setting just adds to the load on the reader.

04-11-2007, 02:42 PM
I don't even understand why you need the distinction.

Why would it even matter in the slightest if the story is in a parallel world, or in our own? That doesn't matter. No one is going to be reading you book and say to themselves, "Hey, this is set in a PARALLEL univserse! If I had known that I would have NEVER started reading it!" or vice versa.

I think a better approach is to drop the whole parallel/alternate/whatever from your synopsis and mindset and focus on what actually matters: telling a good story. If anyone asks if it's this timeline or an alternate one, ask them which one they think it might be, and smirk and act like you're going to reveal it in some sequal down the line.

small axe
04-11-2007, 02:55 PM
Unless it serves a purpose, fantasifying a 1940s(?) setting just adds to the load on the reader.

I agree ... If it's so similar to our world that you can easily switch it from the Parallel World to ours ... maybe it's not fantastic enough?

04-11-2007, 03:28 PM
... If it's so similar to our world that you can easily switch it from the Parallel World to ours ... maybe it's not fantastic enough?

Or maybe it's perfect. "The yeti in your bathroom..."

04-11-2007, 03:42 PM
That's a lot of conflicting opinions, guys! Welcome to my head!

I started the novel wanting to do something different. I wanted it set in a world that was fantastical, much like Peake's Gormenghast trilogy, yet with no real fantasy elements. No elves or magic. What I DO have is people with clockwork limbs, and travel into the fourth spatial dimension. My "London" is called "Fallchester", my England is called "Albion". Eastern Europe is called Midgard. There's a whole alternate history dating back to the beginning of time. Involving meteor showers, holy alloys, and a whole load of other crap. This simply isn't earth as we know it.

HOWEVER, it would be possible, with strong editing, to make it our earth. Sure, it would be the same story, and if it sells, then it sells. But would the element of reality not make it easier to sell? Zornhau, your first point is the most compelling argument I have to make the change.

04-11-2007, 04:06 PM
There's a whole alternate history dating back to the beginning of time. Involving meteor showers, holy alloys, and a whole load of other crap. This simply isn't earth as we know it.

THis is where I blink and shake my head. Mervyn Peake's brilliant trilogy worked in part because there was never a moment where he even considered how such a thing interacted with the "real world".

In fact, you're sounding more like Tolkein than Peake. Tolkein's the one with the massive backstory and world-building gone too far.

Peake's world worked (when it did, I didn't like the end to the second one much, too deus ex machina...) because the attention to detail was focused solely on the eye of the camera, not the things that justified that eye.

Tolkein's also the one whose Middle Earth was just a variation of our own, before our time.

World-building is never as important as the characters that believe in the world. What actually matters is the people walking on the stage, not whether that stage is in London, or Albion, or anywhere.

Good story-telling justifies its own existence. Don't get sidetracked on a bunch of nonsense that will only confuse you.

All this time you're worried about place names and elves and whatnot, you could be worried about meaningful, heartfelt characters, and refining your pacing, plot, and all that good stuff that keeps people turning pages.

I say, leave things exactly as they are in this regard and turn your critical eye to the thing that matters: the story.

04-11-2007, 04:30 PM
I understand the importance of story, but the story isn't in question here. The novel is polished to the point where I have to force myself to put down the rag. It's ready to go.

My issue here is akin to doing a "find/replace" on the MC's name. If he's called "Al' Qyzune", in some circumstances, it's better to change it to "John". It's almost entirely aesthetic. However, I can't help but think it would make the book "better" overall.

Gormenghast worked because it took place entirely within the confines of the castle and its grounds. The moment we went into the "outer world", we ended up with the very disappointing "Titus Alone". My novel takes place solely in this outer world, with no walls to shelter me.

04-11-2007, 05:26 PM
Then you're done. Now you should send it to agents/editors. If they tell you to change names, then do it.

Find/replace is a powerful tool, but it is also a dangerous one.

I did a universal find/replace for a character commonly referred to by his title, "Chief". I decided to add his name to the end so people wouldn't forget his name.

Thus, I ended up with "handkerChief Mishle".

True story.

04-11-2007, 06:19 PM
here's the simple solution: write both, send them both to the editor and let him pick out which one he wants to buy (or send 'em both to your agent). if nothing else you'll pick up a lot of ideas from one to steal for the other, i'm sure. :) and someday when you've sold a ton of books, you can pull the other one out of mothballs and sell that as the alternate version: people will buy it, they'll buy anything. stephen king proved that one for me and every time i see a chevy avalanche putter down the road my theory is only reinforced.

04-11-2007, 07:46 PM
Send it off and see what happens!

I didn't grok you were so far along.

Suspect you feel like tinkering because - time having passed - you have outgrown your original vision.

So move on! Time to write urban fantasy set in the 1940s.

04-11-2007, 08:06 PM
what are the clock people's natural enemy? daylight savings time?

04-11-2007, 09:04 PM
Indeed, their ultimate goal is to have it abolished. They're fed up of being wound backwards.

Fed up enough to KILL