A Prophecy and the End of an Age

I just finished the first draft of a fantasy short with the working title “The Final Prophecy of Jalahar”. I may change the title later, and keep this as a subtitle, but never mind that for now. Finishing a first draft is always a great feeling and this is no exception.

More than anything, I’m happy to have written (and finished) a piece of fiction. I’ve missed writing fiction, and fantasy is a genre I haven’t touched in years, unless you count writing out gaming adventures as fiction (which I don’t). The creative freedom when writing, is one of my favorite things in the world, because you can literaly invent and do anything. It’s daunting for that same reason.

This particular story is part of a grander scheme. I plan on releasing it online when it has been edited, polished off and illustrated, and if enough of you like the story I will write another one. I have a couple of hundred years worth of tales to tell about this world I am creating, and because of that I want to let the readers pick which details they want to hear more about in the next story.

The story itself takes place towards the end of the Age of Glory. If you saw my post about the creation myth, you may have noticed that I split my timeline up in Ages of historical significance. The Age of Glory is period of stability and prosperity amongst common folk, which I thought made it a good, neutral starting point.

The main character in this story is a young novice monk named Hedric. I am not going to reveal too much about the plot, except that it has something to do with a prophet named Jalahar. If that just isn’t enough for you, I have posted part of the prophecy itself below…

SPOILER ALERT! Continue reading “A Prophecy and the End of an Age”

English Scares Me (or Why I Need an Editor)

Yesterday, I tweeted that writing fiction in English is sometimes intimidating to me, because English is my second language (Danish being my first). I got a couple of responses, encouraging me to write about it, and to remember the wonderful writers that came before me, who also wrote in English though it was a second language to them. Joseph Conrad and Karen Blixen come to mind, not that I would otherwise compare myself to these masters.

When I write stuff like what you are reading now, I don’t think so much about my choice of words, sentence and paragraph structure and that sort of thing. When I write fiction, those are all very important elements of portraying characters, describing locations and setting the scene. That is when I am sometimes hit with the intimidation stick – it’s easy to feel like my vocabulary is too limited, or that my style is too heavily influenced by something else.

For writing my initial draft, I try not to let it hold me back too much. The important thing is getting the story down and try to make it hold up structurally. Second draft is where language starts taking a front seat.

Thinking about it, I realized that many native English speakers also struggle with writing, for very similar reasons. Maybe we all compare ourselves to those we admire, whether we want to or not. That might make anyone doubt their abilities. The only real answer I have come up with is this: use an editor!

Best case scenario, find a professional who knows what they are doing, and have them give you notes. You can point out what your exact doubts are, and they will keep an eye out for it. And they will point out stuff you haven’t even thought of. I have written books both with and without the help of an editor, and it just confirmed that having that extra set of eyes does make a huge difference.

I have met writers who say: I can’t afford an editor. I usually counter by asking how long it took them to finish the first draft. Often the answer is several years. My point is: if your story is important enough that you will spend years of your life writing it, it should also be worth a few bucks to have an editor help you polish off the details. Many freelance editors are surprisingly affordable and willing to negotiate (they know most writers aren’t exactly rolling in cash).

If you can’t find an editor you like, use your network – if you’re writing a science fiction novel and your buddy is a hardcore sci-fi nerd, by all means have him take a look – just remember that friends don’t always make the most honest critics, because nobody likes to potentially upset their friends. It helps if your friend is a writing pro of some sort, so they have an understanding of what goes into structuring and writing a story. Librarians, teachers and journalists can make for excellent editor replacements.