Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Feeling Sorry For Myself

Like all authors, I've hit a dip in the road. Well, more like a crator. I've taken on a task I think is too big for me, and will use this space to whine about it.

Rant Part 1: I'm trying to write a trilogy about the Persian Wars, but want it to be epic (all authors want their work to be epic, I know). This could be really great (OK, it's clearly based on GRRM and Robert Jordan style novels, and so is the writing so I guess I can't take much credit) but what I do like is that nobody has ever tried to do what they've done for Ancient Greece. That I know of.

Rant Part 2: There's sooo many interesting characters in Herodotus. I want to write about them. I love character-driven stories and think a lot of people would be interested in seeing things from the point of view of men like Themistocles, Leonidas, Artabanus, Pausanias, and women like Artemisia. I just feel so overwhelmed. These real-life people are so hard to capture, and I want to do them justice. I just feel like my writing is never good enough. Strike that, I'm liking a few of my unique twists on some of the characters: Dieneces is an anti-hero (as opposed to Steven Pressfield's Dieneces), and Leonidas is stoic and no-nonsense (he's actually based off a Final Fantasy X character named Auron), while Cimon is brisk and rather aloof. But Themistocles is especially difficult. In real-life he was quick-witted, ambitious, had a sharp sense of humor and was willing to gamble. I feel like it's hard to convey all of those things. Likewise I can't decide if Artemisia is young and fiery or older and more sharp-tounged. The latter makes sense but originally she and Demaratus were going to be hooked up (^_^). I'm confessing all this because I just can't make up my mind. Not a good thing.

Rant Part 3: Maybe it's the layout of the story: I could just make it one novel, but it could easily be three if I just knew how to pace it. The problem? I don't. And there's so much to cover, and I want to cover it all: how Themistocles managed to convince the assembly to go to war (am I starting too early? Should I have a prolouge where he's actually convincing them to build ships in the first place?), the meeting at Corinth, the ominous signs the Persians should not go to war (eclipse, etc), the oracle given to both Sparta and Athens, the meeting with Prince Gelon of Sicily, the Spartans going to see Xerxes and offer their lives as recompense for their murder of two messengers, Themistocles's stealing money to pay for rowers and stealing a cake from the shrine of Athena to convince the citizens to leave Athens...and this is all for the first book alone!

*sigh* I can do this. I know I can. What am I missing?


Gabriele C. said...

Of course, you can do it. Going through phases of 'my writing sucks, my plot is a mess, I'll never get that beast in a publishable shape' are part of a writer's life. Even of published writers. :)

The only problem I see is to find a good climax for the first book since I suppose all the fun battle stuff will take place later. Maybe invent some personal conflict for the characters? I mostly put fictive MCs in a historical context so I can have my way with their personal conflicts besides the greater historical conflict (which doesn't mean I don't have historical characters featuring prominently as well). :)

Good luck.

Scott Oden said...

Yeah, the 'my writing sucks' demons never go away. If anything, the pressure worsens with publication -- before, if you had a moment of extreme suckage no one would see it; now, it gets blasted by every thomas, richard, and harrison with internet access. I know this from experience . . . I've had quite a few "eww, that sucked" moments ;)

Never fear, though. From what I've read of your work here you are far from sucking (I especially like your description of Sardis). The rest, the bugaboos and heebiejeebies, go with the territory. I'm on a detailed synopsis kick. You might give that a try -- choose one of your favorite characters* and sketch out your story in third person, present tense, and make use of whatever amount of detail you're comfortable with. This helps in another area too: some writers can't envision the end of their stories until they get there, but publishers want to know the end of the story upfront, sometimes before a word is written. Getting into practice never hurts.

Best advice, though, is just to keep writing!

*I vote for Artabanus. The Greek side of the Persian Wars is very well represented by the likes of Pressfield and Renault; the Persian side can be extremely fertile territory . . .

Megumi said...

Thanks guys! I feel better knowing I'm not the only one and that I CAN do this (^_^). The story is supposed to tell things from both sides, not just the Persians. POVs from Mardonius, Demaratus, Artemisia, etc. are part of it.

Yeah, Artabanus has the hefty duty of trying to get Xerxes NOT to fight, so I'm trying to balance out his changes of mind along the way. @_@;;

Gabriele C. said...

Both sides is the most interesting way, imho. I always have main characters on both sides of a conflict. Sometimes there are relations between those, it's more fun *evil grin* (like the Roman officer Aurelius Idamantes and his half-brother Alamir, raised by the Goths, in Endangered Frontiers or the Norseman Kjartan Haraldsson and the Norman-Scottish knight Roderic de Sinclaire in Kings and Rebels who are friends and blood brothers). In other books they remain enemies even if they learn to respect each other (fe. the tribal leader Talorcan mac Ferac and the Roman officer Horatius Ravialla in Storm over Hadrian's Wall).