Ideas and Execution

Been somewhat of a while since I’ve done a post on actual writing stuff so I thought I’d correct that oversight. The last few months, as I’ve mentioned in my monthly reports, have been rather hectic on all accounts and blogging isn’t really as high on the priority list as it used to be. My apologies to all the readers for that. The fact is that I’m too much of an infrequent blogger who’d love to blog far more regularly. Its just that life keeps intervening in one form or another. Anyway, as I specifically mentioned in the May Report, I’ve had some ideas gestating in the back of my mind recently that I’m really excited about. Two of them are linked quite directly while the third is on its own.

More after the break.

The first of these ideas is a stand-alone idea about doing a science-fantasy novel (or novella, not sure) that is inspired by Norse mythology. The idea revolves around the concept of Ragnarok, the Norse apocalypse, playing out in a future where the Norse civilisation has emerged triumphant through the years and now rules an empire in the stars. The story follows a certain individual as he begins to investigate a series of murders and bit by bit, begins to get drawn into a conspiracy that goes way above his head. It has a certain military bent to it as well and one of the things that I’m looking to explore with this whole idea is ‘what can kill a god’. Throw in some extra-dimensional mysteries, reincarnations and lots of blood and I’ve got the beginnings of what I think is a great idea conceptually.

But concepts are useless on their own. Details need to be hammered out of concepts and that’s what I’ve been doing on and off for the last couple of months. I’ve brainstormed this idea quite a bit and do believe I have what I need to start writing this. But I’m still quite unsure about the whole thing. One of the main reasons is that notable author James Lovegrove has already done a Norse science-fantasy novel, Age of Odin. What that means is that I’m torn on whether I should read it before writing my story or not. I think I have a pretty good handle on what the story will be for Ragnarok Chronicles #1 (yes, I’m envisioning it as a series of novels). But the question still remains.

A fellow reviewer friend, Stefan who runs the site Civilian Reader, recently got a bunch of authors and other folks on twitter to contribute their thoughts on this very topic: “Should you read what you write?”.

I was originally going to contribute to that somehow but never got around to it unfortunately. Thing is, I agree with the general opinion that you should read what you write because otherwise you are writing in a vacuum divorced from the reality of what the genre is putting out there and what the people, your prospective audience, are reading. I’m only an aspiring author so I lack the experience of the established professionals, but I don’t think that any author writes for themselves. They write for their audience. They write to connect with other people, giving them the same old in a new package that transforms that same old into the brand new. As such, if a writer is not informed of what the current trends are, and what other people are writing and reading, then he or she cannot write something as convincing and as appealing.

After all, if you are not aware of what already exists out in the wild, then how can you write something different, something that breaks the norms (in a good way)?

So I’ve been wondering about the topic for quite a while. There are quite a few Norse-mythology inspired novels/series that I really want to read, such as the aforementioned Age of Odin by James Lovegrove, the Raven series by Giles Kristian and the Claw Trilogy by M.D. Lachlan. I also went on a sort of quick binge on Amazon a while ago and picked up a ton of reference books on the topic, such as Prose Edda. So there is a lot of Norse mythology reading for me in the near future!

Anyways, the synopsis for this novel is beginning to take shape rather nicely and I am quite excited about this. As the project itself develops further I’ll keep you all updated on the progress!

The second of my ideas is somewhat tangentially related but is quite different as well: the tale of a former Hindu prince who is cursed with a life of immortality and has been waging a war on the shadowy cult that put him in this situation. The novella I’m planning on for this takes place in modern-day Mumbai as the hero infiltrates a meeting of the cult’s upper heirarchy. This will then set up the actual novel which will take place a few days later in Los Angeles and then back in Mumbai. The idea draws upon several concepts of Hindu mythology and is in many ways an urban fantasy that deals with the Hindu version of demons, the asuras, engaged in their endless war against the gods, the devas.

The spark off for this idea came from two unrelated things. The first of these was Aliette de Bodard, one of my favourite authors and a really smart one to boot, talking about reading the Mahabharata and exploring the mythology and the culture therein. The Second was another author friend, Laxmi Hariharan, talking about her debut novel, The Destiny of Shaitan. Coupled with my doodlings for the Norse military science-fantasy idea above, it all resulted in coming up with a high concept for the story I’m tentatively calling Dharmachakra. The title comes from the Buddhist concept of the “Wheel of Life” and its association withdharma, a concept that carries multiple meanings but in simple terms just means the holy teachings of Gautam Buddha.

And this quickly spiraled down into the madness of Indian mythology AND history and once I started, I just couldn’t stop. I spent days looking up various places, timelines, societies, cultures etc until one startling fact came to light: what I wanted to do with Dharmachakra was mapping point-for-point with my research. I was very surprised with that. Surely things couldn’t be so easy, could they? I still haven’t discovered a research fact that goes contrary to what I want to write. And given some brief talks I’ve had with a few people, it seems that I’m not the only one this has happened to. Not that I expected it to be otherwise but still. Its a really nice feeling!

Dharmachakra is still mostly high concept other than a few doodles that I’ve noted down but it will be the first of the new projects I start once the Black Library submissions window closes. I’ll be spending July focused mostly on this, writing a proper synopsis and nailing down the majority details and the actual writing itself will begin in August at the latest. To that effect, I’ve signed up for the NaNoWriMo Camp in August although I have no illusions of actually getting down 50k words this time as things are picking up at work and I now do far more reading and reviewing than last year.

All the same, I’m as pumped up for this project as withRagnarok Chronicles. The future of my writing is looking really bright indeed.

The execution of both these ideas is dependent on some heavy research however. Without that, this may all well fizzle out.


Posted on June 20, 2012, in 2012 Writing Challenge, General, NaNoWriMo, Original Work and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Dude, you’re gonna be as mad as me soon with all this stuff rattling around in your brain….


  2. Those both sound like very cool ideas. Looking forward to giving them a read in one form or another!
    Something a little different to try for the Norse one could be A.S. Byatt’s “Ragnarok” – it just recently came out in paperback, and is (as the name would suggest) heavily-Norse-related. It’s a book I’ve been meaning to read and review for a long time but keep forgetting about as the TBR mountain grows ever taller. I also really want to read Lovegrove’s Pantheon series. No idea why I haven’t (although I did enjoy Age of Anansi).
    But yeah – thought both of your ideas sound really interesting.


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