I should preface this post by making a statement that is rather obvious to those who know me. And I get the feeling that those who don’t know me will not be terribly surprised.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am a geek.
Swallow that. Digest it. But keep it in mind; it will come into play later. For now, let’s move on.
I have wanted to write a fantasy story for some time now. It only makes sense, since so much of my creativity is rooted in the fantasy genre. Among the first books I read where the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. I was very young at the time — maybe seven or eight years old. But that’s where it started.
Many years later, I would read The Lord Of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, a novel (or series, if you prefer) that would teach me the value of intricate planning. Everything was interrelated and interconnected, and Tolkien developed not only an entire world, but races, languages, thousands of years of history and more. The writing of this series and works related to it spanned Tolkien’s entire literary career — a type of dedication I can’t even begin to imagine right now.
With this particular story, I seem to be doing everything backwards. I have dozens of characters to populate a world I’ve created. Each character has their own story, background and motivations. The world in which the story is set has a rich history of war and renaissance.
The problem? I can’t decide on a story to tell.
I know who I want to be the main character. I know who I want to be the supporting characters, plus a show-stealing character or two that I can’t wait to use. I know who my villain is, a character who has been in my head for close to ten years now. It’s just a matter of bringing them all together with a story that ties all the loose threads into a single narrative.
And I can’t do it. So frustrating.
I’ve never done it this way before. Generally, I start with the story, then populate it with characters, setting, sideplots — all of that. This is the first time I’ve gone into a project with all of the details, but no real main idea. It’s maddening.
How do I have all of this information without a story, you ask? Simple. They are all roleplay-related characters.
This is where the “geek” part comes in.
Of the characters that feature in this story, the overwhelming majority are characters created for various roleplaying games I’ve played over the years — a few from Dungeons & Dragons, a handful from Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, and so on. I decided on a steampunk-influenced world as a setting for the story, so most of them had to be adapted or modified in some way. Swords and sorcery would not mesh very well with the world I’ve created.
The main character of the story is a revamp of one of my last D&D characters; or, rather, who he was before he became the character I played. Long story. When the story is finished, read it and you’ll understand.
The main villain is a modified version of the first PC (player-character) I ever created for the game. His personality and a few physical characteristics have been altered slightly — for instance, he is no longer an elf — but his persistence and lust for power remain fully intact. I cannot wait to fully explore how dark his mind can be.
Also, there are the show-stealing side characters. One rogue-ish type is a combination of a modified old D&D character and a more recent Warhammer character; both had gambling problems and weren’t exactly trustworthy gentlemen to begin with, so I decided to combine their strengths and weaknesses into one well-rounded character. Another is a direct lift from Warhammer, a swashbuckling nobleman-turned-pirate who I couldn’t resist using in the story, if only so I could see him in action again.
There are a number of fantasy traditions and institutions at work in the world I’ve created as well, with genre staples like empires and trade-based guilds factoring into both its past and present.
I even have a MacGuffin — an object that the story is centered around, like the One Ring from The Lord Of The Rings or the Maltese Falcon from the novel and film of the same name.
The details are all in place. Now I just need a single thread to tie them all together.
Lately, I have been thinking of possibly involving some of my roleplaying friends in the creative process for this story. It always helps to have someone to bounce ideas off of. Plus, it would only make sense, since all of us have been creating stories on a weekly (or biweekly) basis for the past ten years. Maybe that’s what I need to get the idea off the ground.
Ha. “Off the ground.” Did I mention that most of the story takes place on various airships? I suppose that’s the Final Fantasy fan in me coming out.
“What a geek,” you’re saying. And you’re right. But I told you at the very beginning; it’s not like you didn’t have plenty of warning.