Friday, October 3, 2008

A Crazy Idea

Here's the thing: like most gamers I want to be a writer. Technically, I already am a writer and have been for years. Besides this blog, I've written quite a lot of gaming material. But that's not the same as being a writer, by which I mean a writer of fiction.

I've got a lot of ideas for short stories and, as any aficionado of swords-and-sorcery literature will tell you, short stories are the native form of the genre. The problem is that there aren't a lot of outlets for short stories anymore. There are a handful of magazines out there who are theoretically interested in swords-and-sorcery tales, but it's just a handful and many of them tend to have slush piles so tall that the odds of breaking into print are slim. On the book publishing side of the equation, fantasy generally means interminably long books that are part of an interminably long series that started out as trilogies and then just never ended. I have no interest in contributing to that literary miscarriage, even if I had stories I could somehow extend in perpetuity (which I don't).

What I do have, though, are some ideas for a series of short stories about a failed wizard's apprentice named Ya'govian of Volmar. What I think might make my stories interesting -- and dare I say unique in the annals of swords-and-sorcery -- is that Ya'govian is a family man, married to a respectable priestess and father to three children. Because of his wife's position, Ya'govian doesn't lack for much in the material sense, but, as he approaches middle age, he's growing bored of his cosseted lifestyle and looks back on his failed apprenticeship with increasing regret -- which is naturally how his adventures begin.

In any case, what I plan on doing is posting these stories here once I write them. I have a large enough readership that I ought to be able to gauge how much people like what I'm writing. If there's actual interest, which is to say, if my readers think my writing isn't terrible, I might then be able to collect these short stories together and do some kind of print on demand edition or even try and sell them to a "real" publisher. The point is I'll be using this blog as a testing ground for my fiction every now and again. It won't be often and the first installment might not come for a month or more, but I wanted to give everyone a heads up so they won't be surprised when Ya'govian of Volmar makes his appearance on this site in the future.

17 comments:

  1. My company, Silver Gryphon Games, just started putting out a free monthly publication online called Silver Gryphon Monthly.

    We're working with a page count of roughly 12-15 right now, but there's obviously room for extra content. You could submit a short story or a serialization.

    Heck, we might even be able to pay a little bit....but that's something I need to discuss with the other owner.

    Just a thought.

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  2. James, don't sell the novel idea short! If you don't want a super long series you should look into doing a novella--something the length of a Planet Stories pulp book. (Which, if your a pulp fantasy person, and it seems like you are, would be a great fit.)

    Or maybe see if Tor books has a similar format.

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  3. I look forward to it! My only advice is, and I don't mean to sound flippant, but lose the apostrophe!

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  4. You do know that this dovetails with something you and I have planed at Rogue Games. Right? ;-)

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  5. Just a thought.

    At this stage, the idea is still uncertain enough that I don't want even know for certain that it'll happen. Once I get the first story done, other options might be worth considering, but I have a terrible track record when it comes to follow-through on many of my crazy ideas :)

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  6. Jay,

    I'll certainly look into other options. It's quite possible I'm missing something obvious. From what I've seen, though, there aren't a lot of opportunities for shorter fantasy works nowadays. I'd be happy to be proven wrong, though.

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  7. lose the apostrophe!

    Would you prefer a hyphen? :)

    Seriously, the name was originally "Yagovian," but it didn't look right to me. It's an affectation, to be sure, but an affectation that reminds me of names from the pulp fantasies I love, so I'll probably stick with it anyway.

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  8. You do know that this dovetails with something you and I have planed at Rogue Games. Right? ;-)

    Maybe.

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  9. I think this sounds great and I'm really looking forward to it. The neverending fantasy sagas I see lined up on bookstore shelves seem daunting to me, but they also give me the impression that the author loses focus, or doesn't know when to stop.

    I find your idea appealing because a. I know you're a good writer, and b. Because I'd like to read some good fantasy that doesn't take forever.

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  10. Hey, James you should check out Flashing Swords Magazine they're a dedicated S&S outlet. Only token payment and smallish readership but they love the genre. It's also worth poping over to the SFReader forums as that's where Flashing Swords are based as well as a few other small S&S magazine and anthology publishers. In fact I know you published a quote from Howard Jones about D&D's pulp roots. He used to be editor at Flashing Swords before he moved to Black Gate Magazine(one of the S&S mags permantely snowed under with subs).

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  11. Sounds like fun! I can't wait to see your first offerings.

    Are you also looking for feedback, or is it just an opportunity for you to share what you have?

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  12. I whole-heartedly support this idea. Go for it!

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  13. I think it's a great idea. I look forward to reading about the adventures of Ya'govian.

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  14. Dude, drop me an email? I don't have your new address.

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  15. Are you also looking for feedback, or is it just an opportunity for you to share what you have?

    Both, since I've never written much fiction and I'd appreciate some honest criticism of my style as well as my content.

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  16. Definitely looking forward to seeing what you're working on.

    As yet another gamer with aspirations of fiction writing, my chosen direction is young adult fantasy. I like the idea of being able to corrupt, er, influence young minds, and the field is still relatively free of "page bloat" (although that's slowly shifting, regrettably, thanks to the Harry Potter and Twilight series...).

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