Tag Archives: demons

New Year, New Novel

As promised, today I’m going to give you an update on how the planning for my new novel is going. I have to warn you though. I have been busy, so this post is going to be a long one.

The working title is The Reluctant Hero, as you can see by my new Word Meter on the right. I’ll probably leave the Dirty Little Freaks meter there for a while just because I am proud of having finished it. I did get that last story done before the end of the year, and it wasn’t too terrible. It was about a woman who was lost and stumbled across a secret laboratory. She was taken prisoner and injected with a serum that turned her into a superhero. That’s about it. There are a lot of unanswered questions in the story, like how did she get lost in the first place, who was running the secret lab, and where they all went while the serum was doing its work. If I ever figure out the answers to those questions I might revisit that story, but meanwhile at least it served its purpose as a writing exercise.

Now, back to what you are all waiting for. The new novel!

All right, so the first thing I had to do was decide what I wanted to write about. As I told you last week, my only real idea was to write a story using the old theme of the reluctant hero. Someone who was pulled into a dangerous situation and forced to step up in order to save not only himself, but the whole world. Or at least more of it than would normally fit in his pajamas. So the first thing I needed to do was figure out who this guy was.

I started with a character sketch. I don’t mean a picture, although that will probably come in at some point. No, I mean a description of the character, including name, age, general appearance, and most importantly, his history and personality.

My main character is named Alexander Lunde. I chose the first name because it actually means “defender of mankind” in some languages. Or, at least, that’s what my Scrivener name generator told me. The last name is pretty much just random, except that I thought he should be of Norwegian descent. Just because.

I won’t get into his height and weight, eye and hair color. The important details are that he is a widower. His wife died in “the disaster” and he blames himself, so he lives alone, cutting himself off as much as possible from everyone else. If you want to get into the psychobabble, I suppose that he has low self-esteem and doesn’t feel like he deserves to live among other people. Another reason for his life as a hermit could be that he can’t stand the thought of losing someone else close to him. So he pushes people away, and generally comes across as a grumpy old man.

So that’s where I started. Now, you might have noticed a couple words in quotes in the description above. That was my next step in figuring out where I was going with this story. What, exactly, is “the disaster”?

Well, I decided that I wanted to write a post-apocalyptic tale. That meant that there should be at least the remains of technology available in the ruins of civilization that were still left standing. However, I also like the ideas of magic and monsters. Urban fantasy and paranormal romance are high on my reading lists. So what kind of disaster could I come up with that had both science AND magic?

And, if at all possible, dragons.

My brain struggled over this for a while, and finally, out of the storm came this little gem. A comet passed extremely close to Earth, and billions of people went outside to watch as it neared the closest point. Unfortunately, those were the people who died. The comet gave off a strange form of radiation that killed everyone that saw it. The radiation also triggered a reaction deep in the Earth’s core that rekindled a magical force that had been largely depleted over the centuries of humanity’s history. After all, the legends of gods and fairy tales had to come from somewhere, right?

So now I’ve got a man with a past. What about the world of the present?

My next step was to figure out what was going on right now. I had to determine what the world was like in order to figure out how my story would fit in to it. After all, if my reluctant hero was going to have to save humanity, I had to at least find out what he was saving them from.

I already knew it was going to be post-apocalyptic, so that gave me a start. Few people, primarily gathered into small communities, largely either living off the land or scavenging through the ruins. With the magic influence, I decided that along with the bandits that would undoubtedly threaten any travelers, as well as established communities, there would also be fantastical monsters. Goblins, ogres, creatures of both dreams and nightmares, and, most importantly, dragons.

Another thing I had to decide was where it was going to be set. Of course, like most of my books, I decided to set it close to home. Personally, I think that Madison, Wisconsin, would be a fine place to live if most of the people were gone. Especially the idiots in that fancy domed building downtown. There are also plenty of farms and wooded areas around the city that would be excellent places for the survivors to use to start over and support themselves. There are even a few state parks where my hero could live without being bothered.

And there is also the UW campus. Let’s face it, if magic came back into the world, can you think of anywhere better to set up a school of wizardry than the research facilities of a major metropolitan university? It was a perfect place for people to gather together to start researching how to use the new forces of magic that were now available to all.

And that gave me the idea for the plot. These new wizards, just figuring out the “science” of magic, could easily cross one of those lines that are better left uncrossed. In the fantasy books I have read, one of the biggest dangers of using magic is summoning a demon. When dealing with evil creatures from another plane, not only does your spell have to be perfect, but you also have to have an iron will in order to keep body and soul together. Otherwise, what you end up with as a monster terrorizing the neighborhood while bloody chunks drip down the walls of the summoning chamber. Not good.

So I have a hero, a setting, and a climax. Now, how was I going to get Alexander from being a hermit to saving the world from a demonic invasion? And where were the dragons going to come in?

The answer, of course, is to bring in other people. I had to force him to spend time with others in order to be in a position where he had no choice but to be a hero. And who better to transform a grumpy old man into a loving “grandfather” than a little boy (or girl)?

Here’s the rough outline of the plot that I came up with:

Alexander is out hunting and finds a small family en route to the campus that is being attacked by bandits. He saves the family, but the father is injured and the bandits got away with most of their supplies. He reluctantly takes them in while the father recovers, which gives them time to bond with him, despite his efforts to push them away.

After the father recovers, the two of them go into the local town to restock the family’s supplies so they can continue their journey. On the way, they find a dragon’s egg, which they pick up and bring into town. Unfortunately, the dragon tracks them there and attacks the town, killing the young father before it, too is killed.

Alexander goes back to his house and breaks the news to the young wife. She is upset, and Alexander feels really bad. After she calms down, she tells him that she still wants to continue her journey, and she makes him promise to take her. He still has the dragon egg, and decides to take it with them so the people there can study it.

This part needs a bit of work. They get to campus and he sticks around while the girl gets settled with her family. At some point he discovers that the wizards are experimenting with summoning spells. He goes to watch and that’s when all hell breaks loose. Demons start flooding through the portal, and Alexander is hurt badly while trying to fight them off.

The ghost of Alexander’s dead wife then appears to him and tells him that it isn’t his time to die and that he needs to keep fighting or the young mother and her children will die. Her spirit then takes over the unborn dragon egg, which then hatches and helps Alexander fight off the demons and close the portal.

In the end, Alexander, the baby dragon, and the little family go back to his cabin in the woods and live happily ever after.

It’s pretty rough, and as I mentioned, I know there are some problems with the plot, but at least it is a starting point. I welcome any comments, criticism, or suggestions that will help me make it better.

That’s it for today (whew!). I’ll see you next week with another update on my planning. I hope to be able to work out some of the weak spots in this outline and fill in some gaps with a list of the scenes I’ll need to use in order to make this a decent novel. Later!

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Filed under The Writing Experience

I’m Done. What’s Next?

As you can tell by the title of this post, I finished my story. It came in at just over 61,000 words, so I hit my goal for the story as well as my goal to finish by the end of September. And now it goes into a drawer for a few months or years until I can stand to look at it again enough to edit it.

So my next project is getting ready for NaNoWriMo. As you may recall, it’s going to be about the next civil war in America. I’m bringing back George from my first NaNoWriMo project, Dragons at Dawn, as well as Miranda and Nicole from my Valkyrie series. They will be teaming up to save America from the demonic forces that have taken over.

Part of my process is figuring out how bad things have to get before somebody has to step up and do something about it. So I have been taking a long, hard look at the Republican agenda and have posited some worst-case scenarios for what would happen if they win in November. As you might guess, I am fiercely opposed to practically all of their party platform, and I will proudly vote for Obama (again!) on November 6.

Here’s what I came up with. Forgive the rambling nature. These are just thoughts I jotted down as I perused a list of the goals of the GOP.

The United States is a democracy in name only. The corporations had taken over by buying all elections, and profit rules the country. People are treated like slaves, especially women. There is no longer any social safety net, and most Americans have lost any retirement savings they had. Elderly are either forced to work, or they live on the street. Children are forced to find jobs to help their families survive, and public schools have all been shut down, leaving education solely for the rich elite.

Unemployment is at a record high, leaving at least a third of the country out of work, while millions of American jobs have been outsourced to other countries. Unemployment insurance has been eliminated, leaving people destitute within days if they lose their job. Anyone lucky enough to find employment is desperate to keep it, making themselves virtually slaves to their employers.

Health care is only available to the rich, while the majority of the country is forced to either purchase expensive medication or buy on the black market. People are dying of diseases that were thought to have been wiped out decades ago, and there are rumors of plague.

Taxes on the people who do have jobs take half their income, and most of that money goes to bailouts and handouts to the richest people. The country has a state religion, with mandatory attendance for everyone except the rich, who profess belief but don’t conform to the practice.

Women and homosexuals are targets wherever they are found alone, with beatings and rape common and never investigated. If women are lucky enough to find jobs, they are paid a small fraction of their male counterparts and are often required to perform sexual acts to keep their positions.

Clean energy research is a thing of the past, and companies ravage the countryside with no concern for the environment as they look for more fossil fuels, even though the demand in the United States has dropped drastically, since most people can no longer afford a car. Bicycles and walking is the most common mode of transportation, since even public transportation has gotten to be too expensive for most people to afford.

Guns are common, and most of the wealthy employ private armies labeled as security forces to protect themselves. These forces are staffed mainly by the poor who enlisted in the army in an attempt to better their lives. Once they are discharged the only employment they can find is in these security teams, with the best going to the police. The police forces have been privatized. Their staff has been drastically reduced, and only patrol the wealthiest parts of the country. Everywhere else crime runs rampant. Fire departments have also been privatized, and again, they are only called out to protect business property and wealthy homes, leaving the slums which cover most of the cities to burn if a fire breaks out.

The divorce rate is down since single parenthood is illegal. Many women are forced to marry if they get pregnant, even in the case of rape, since abortion is also illegal. And since contraceptives that used to be provided by organizations like Planned Parenthood are no longer available, and sex education is no longer taught in schools, unwanted pregnancies have increased.

In short, the superpower that used to be the United States of America is now a third world country, despised and ridiculed by most of the world. Canada and Mexico now guard their borders to keep Americans from crossing into their countries illegally, and most people can’t afford the bribes and fees that are charged in order to get a passport.

That’s it. That’s what I think might happen if the Republicans are in power. Pretty scary stuff. Then you throw in some demons and Valkyries and you get a downright horrific mess. Ready for more? Here’s an overview, showcasing some of the different groups involved in the story:

The country is ruled by the richest people, who have all formed an alliance with demonic forces. The demons used their powers to take over the country for the rich, but now they are getting bored and have been going out into the world more and more frequently to wreak havoc.

The rich people are losing control over the demons, and are starting to get worried, but they are trapped in the lives they created for themselves. Some of their children are starting to rebel against their parents and supporting the common people.

The Valkyries and other supernatural enforcers are having trouble keeping the increasing numbers of demons from revealing the magical world. The influx of demonic power has also increased the number of human wizards and priests who are discovering how to use magic on their own.

There are also increasing numbers of people joining gangs, and many gangs are fomenting revolution. They are heavily armed and pissed off, with nothing to lose.

In short, the country is about to break wide open in civil war.

Those are my preliminary ideas. Now I need to start figuring out how to tell this story. I’ll need to decide how each of my characters is involved in this mess and what they are going to do to get us all out of it. I’ll also need to come up with a good antagonist. They will need someone to fight with. Someone who has been behind the scenes, planning this whole thing for his own sadistic pleasure. I can’t use Mitt Romney, because despite how hard he tries, I just don’t think he is evil enough for the part.

That’s it for today. I’ll be back on Sunday with another update. See you then!

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Filed under NaNoWriMo, Politics, ROW80, The Writing Experience

Planning for the Future

I am still working on my YA story, and last night I hit 42,000 words. But today I thought I should start getting some thoughts down for my next project, which needs to be ready in time for NaNoWriMo.

In case you missed it, my next story is going to be about a civil war or revolution (what is the difference?) here in America. The things that the Republican Taliban Tea Party have been trying to push through are disgusting and wrong, and have me seriously concerned about the direction my country is headed. So, like any author worth his salt, I decided I need to write a story about it.

Of course, the story is going to be anything but normal. I’m partial to writing urban fantasy, so my story is going to be about how the evil Republicans have made a pact with the dark forces in order to win the election, and now the monsters and demons are starting to come out to play. I’m going to bring in my Valkyrie forces from my earlier books, as well as the wizard and his dragon from my first NaNoWriMo story. They will have to fight the demons and bring the country back to the side of good.

Sounds good, right? The question is, how to make it great?

I thought that the first thing I should do is start making a list of all the funny business the Tea Party has on the Republican platform and how it would affect the country if they win and start pushing it through. Things like the cuts to education, which would put most of our kids into a position where they won’t be able to get a decent job. Or the union busting, which opens the way for the elimination of the minimum wage and child labor laws. These things together would likely result in most of America becoming nothing but slaves to the big corporations. Think of history, and the “company store” that coal miners had to put up with. They would work all day for a company and come home owing more back to the company than they brought home. It was a vicious cycle that took the combined efforts of unions and the government to end. I don’t want to end up like that.

So today I am going to try to get my writing done as usual, but I am also going to work on starting my list (I have a little list, they’ll never be missed). For now I’m just going to compile the atrocities on their platform, later I’ll work on putting my thoughts down on what will happen if they get enacted.

Feel free to comment if you have any thoughts on the matter. The issues that concern me the most are the war on women and the destruction of our public education system. What are yours? Do the plans of the Tea Party give you nightmares like mine?

As usual, I’ll be back on Sunday with another update. See you then!

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Filed under NaNoWriMo, Politics, ROW80, The Writing Experience