Writing separate stories in the same world
It was simple, really. I found a world I liked, and I didn't want to leave. A rather magical world with a nice little village in the middle of a forest, where two different types of elves had made their homes. I'd been breathing, living, and discovering that village for two to three months at least, got to know their way of life, their characters, their magical talents, and I just couldn't let them go.
Write a sequel, you say? Yeah... No. A sequel was the furthest thing from my mind at that point. No, I already had a new story burrowing its way into my heart and mind. All I had was the opening scene, but it looked good in my head, and I couldn't wait to start writing it. Yet... I couldn't seem to drag myself out of the Forester's world.
And then I started thinking. I can see you rolling your eyes. It's always dangerous when us writers start thinking, I know, but that's how we work, isn't it? We think, we wonder, we ask ourselves questions, and we imagine, and suddenly we've filled page after page with new ideas.
Well, this idea let me stay in that wonderful world I discovered while writing The Forester. Even though I only wrote about one tribe in that short story, there had to be more tribes living in that fantasy world, right? Closing my eyes, I pictured my opening scene in the Forester's world, and it all just clicked. A different tribe in a different village with different characters, and, voila, Oren's Right was born.
If only it was really that easy, my story would have been finished at least two months before I actually ended up finishing it. But it wasn't so simple. Though it felt right, when I started writing that first scene, all sorts of questions rose up in me. Yes, I'd already done the basic ground work for how my elfin society worked, had sussed out the laws of magic, and had a number of occupations I could re-use for these new characters. But... wasn't I just rehashing the same theme?
I needed some basic rules. I needed to create enough changes between both tribes so I wouldn't feel like I was rewriting The Forester. So, I grabbed my notebook and began making a list of things I could change. First, I created a slightly different layout of the new village, different plants and trees, and different ways of how Healers worked. In Kelnaht's village, every Healer has their own infirmary, while in Oren's village there is one large infirmary where all Healers work together.
I imagined a different cloud elf/tree elf ratio, which automatically led me to having an Elders' Court housed in the trunks of two large trees, connected to each other by a Forester, instead of high up in a tree. And from my opening scene, I knew this village was built right next to a river/lake. Slowly, the new tribe took shape, and I started to enjoy creating this new village.
Every addition drew me deeper into my forest world, deepened my understanding of it. When I wrote The Forester, I focused only on that tribe, even though they were only a small part of a complete world. Creating Oren's Right for the Carved in Flesh anthology, I was far more aware of the many possibilities of that world, and it only made me want to explore more.
Once the setting was finished, I moved on to characterisation. Their occupations were more or less set in stone, since every tribe in this world has a Guide, Truth Seeker, Forester, smith, healer, and elders. This meant I had to be careful about creating my characters, and make sure they didn't resemble their colleagues from The Forester too much.
Because the Guide in The Forester was rather young, I made the one in Oren's Right older. Older, a little wiser maybe, and less cryptic, but no less trustworthy as the tribe's confessor and confidant.
The Truth Seeker was a no-brainer. With both Kelnaht and Brem being men, I knew I had to have a female Truth Seeker in Oren's Right. The fact that both Mir and Kelnaht end up in triads happened by accident. I didn't even know Mir had two lovers until I'd written her kissing scene, but it made sense to me, so I let that slide.
Creating a Forester was tricky. I had my main character, Veld, pegged as a bit of an outsider, a traveller, a black elf who hadn't been part of this tribe for very long, but I didn't have an occupation for him. I was a bit stuck on that, to be honest. I was a bit stuck on finding a Forester, too, not knowing whether a Forester would even play a large part in the story. After fruitlessly searching the web for occupations for Veld, I gave up and just wrote Forester behind his name.
That seemed to do the trick, because, once I'd put that down I came up with more and more insight on who Veld was, and what made him stay in this new tribe, aside from falling in love with Oren, of course. It also gave me an opportunity to show readers more about what a Forester did.
As for Oren, the 'real' main character of Oren's Right, even if he isn't the POV-character, the moment I came up with my opening scene, I knew Oren was the gentle giant type. In my mind, I saw him kneading dough, and from that moment on I'd dubbed my story my 'mute magical baker' story, though I can't even remember what made me think he was mute.
Being mute set Oren apart from his tribe in a sense. With a few exceptions, hey treated him as if he was a child, as if he couldn't take care of himself. But Veld, who'd fallen for Oren at their first meeting, understood his gesturing and treated him like an equal. Of course, the path of their love isn't easy, just like the Kelnaht's path to love isn't easy. But easy isn't as fulfilling as having to work hard to get what you want, nor is it any fun to write.
All in all, trying to balance the similarities between both tribes with the differences to keep the world fresh yet recognisable has been challenging, but a lot of fun. I hope everyone enjoys the magic of my forest world, because I'm not done with it yet. Nothing's set in stone, but I'm close to finishing part two of The Forester and already have plans for the third and final part. After that, there are still plenty of villages to visit and plenty of characters to discover. I really do like it here :)
Both The Forester and Oren's Right can be found at Storm Moon Press, along with my other works and a couple free reads. Storm Moon Press is currently celebrating their anniversary, too, so it's a perfect time to take a look, as all their titles are on sale!
This guest post is part of Storm Moon Press' 3rd Anniversary Blog Tour! Comment on this post or any other post on the blog tour with your e-mail address, and you'll be entered for a chance to win the Grand Prize of receiving 1 FREE e-book each month of 2013 from that month's new releases for a total of 12 free e-books! Runners up will receive a $25 gift certificate to their choice of Amazon or All Romance eBooks. For more details and to find out about our 3rd Anniversary, head over to Storm Moon Press' Official Blog. Thanks for joining us!