Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Chapter 12 - Adrift

...in which our heroes face an unpleasant fate.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Sea Dragons

This has been an exhausting work, with little time for fun or blogging. But now it's done so...

Dragons are a continual problem in the wilds of Talislanta. Terrible beasts, Dragons are feared by everyone. Although they are imbued with all the great warrior virtues in popular myth, they are actually rather stupid creatures. Nevertheless, no other large predator enjoys the prestige a dragon enjoys. Rather unfair, really.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Chapter 10 - The Sea

This is a fun one - a little Talislantan philosophy talk, and a Rahastran's opinion of telling the future by the stars.

Chapter 9 - Dragon Barque

In an early draft of this novel, Za'dar was startled by the barking of a dog. A reader pointed out "that's all very well, but are there dogs in Talislanta?" No, there are not. That's one of the things that make writing a fantasy novel so difficult. In Talislanta, the flora and fauna must be different. There are birds, but they're called Avir. There's a draft animal like a horse, but it's called an Equus and has six legs. For consistency, I had to leave dogs out. I suppose I could have called them Canem and left it at that.

Fantasy leaves you with a challenge of metaphor. You can get around a lot of it by using nonsense phrases that sound as though they mean something. "Za'dar, your plan isn't worth a kwintsag in a possnots bush." For various reasons, that's not an approach I like.

A better way is to use elements that have meanings even though the reader may not be aware of those meaning, such as references to gods and places that are part of the story, even if they are not explicitly in the story. That's the approach I've used whenever possible. It helps that Talislanta is a very rich setting, and that there's a wealth of speculation and discussion to draw upon in the archives of the Talislanta Yahoo Group.

Sometimes, though, you need to make your own metaphors. It takes a little longer, but that's the method I prefer. The story about the Rahastrans in chapter 2 is an example. It tells you what it means (or might mean) that someone is a Rahastran. And it serves another purpose. The world of Talislanta is strange. Instincts that we have from our familiar world aren't always relevant to Talislanta. No, in this world, something stranger than anything you've ever seen before lies just around the next bend of the river. When you use familiar names, your readers know what to expect, and that is not appropriate to the Talislanta setting.

To float down the river like a bug clinging to a pod is one thing. But if that pod happens to be an Eelyrind pod, and the bug happens to be a sniper bug, well the meaning is very different. Hence the previous chaper and the first line of this one. It's my way of having a little fun.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Map extravaganza

After tearing my house apart looking for the Maps of Isalis I drew a few years ago, I got fed up and made some new ones, which was frustrating, because I knew the new ones didn't capture everything I put into the old ones.

So I was looking through some old magazines totally at random when I came across a hard cover sketchpad that had no business being where it was. I popped it open and behold, my Isalis maps.

So I went ahead and scanned them in and dropped them in my Flickr Maps Set. There are also a bunch of maps of Zanth, the home city of Za'dar, that I did last year. Enjoy!

Friday, January 20, 2006

A Chapter about a Tree

Today's chapter is about a tree. To find out why I have a chapter about a tree, you'll have to wait for the next chapter. :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A Sea Voyage and a Story

Sometimes, reading through these before posting, I feel despair that what I've written falls so far short of what I wanted to achieve. And sometimes I see something I'm actually proud to have written. This chapter falls closer to the latter, particularly the second half where we get to see Za'dar embellishing the tale of some of his own adventures. It was a very fun scene to write, and I hope it's fun to read as well.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Comments? Send them to me.

I've discovered that some people have comments about the War of the Gyro, but they don't really feel right about posting them on the blog. Please feel free to send them to me by Email. My address is tony -at- dowler -dot- com.

Honestly, I don't really feel right about posting chapters either. It's a little weird dredging up these words that seemed just find when you were the only one reading them but that might not really be worthy of the light of day. You just have to keep posting them. That's how you get better.

Every now and then I read some of Issac Asimov's early short stories. Then I feel a bit better about my stuff.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Chapter 6

I'm starting to feel the first pulls of "I'll do it tomorrow" with this blog. In other words, the hump is coming. Luckily the next few chapters don't need much editing. After I post them, I'll put up a collected pdf for the entire first section. That should give me enough sense of accomplishment to keep me going. I hope to get this whole novel published without any major gaps of time (so that I can concentrate on writing the next one)!

Chapter 06 - Time to Fly.pdf

Feurid retreated back into his place of concealment. He fingered the deck in his pocket and drew a single card. It was the Alchemist, which can be interpreted as “unseen developments”, “pursuing the wrong goat”, or even “look behind you.”

Friday, January 13, 2006

Chapter 5 - Contest of Blades

*Yawn* Just went out for dinner for our five year wedding anniversary! Anyway, before bed, here is chapter 5.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Chapter 4 - Meeting and Melancholy

OK, chapter 4 is finally ready. These are taking more editing than I expected. Sometimes paragraphs that looked great a year ago look pretty bad today.

Love and curiosity are the surest ways to stay a Zandir's blade.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Map of the Coral City

More chapters soon, I promise!

In the meantime, here are some pictures and maps of the Coral City of Isalis. I drew some maps of the city back when I started these chapters three years ago, but somehow they were lost. So I created some updated ones from my memory.

The City of Isalis is composed almost entirely of living coral that the Sunra coax into city shapes using ancient biomantic arts. The primary exception to this is the foreigner's quarter, which includes several stone and wood buildings. The map, sadly, shows less than half of the city, because even at low tide, most of it is submerged. Once a year, at the season of highest tides, the entire city is submerged. This is a necessity, for the corals die if they do not gain some exposure to the sea.

This, sadly, is the city's greatest weakness. In ancient times, the Quan were able to conquer the city intact by damming the main inlet to the Inland Sea. By threatening to lower the water levels, the Quan were able to conquer the Sunra without a battle. The Sunra then became the source of the Empire's navy and merchant forces. When the Quan's military slave race the Kang revolted, they took control of the dam and the Sunra in turn.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Chapter 3 - A Game of Cards

It's funny what you see when you know that someone's going to read your work. After taking another look at the first part of the book today, I see that the "Interlude" chapter will probably need to be cut for three reasons:

  1. The main character of the chapter doesn't appear again in the novel.

  2. It's a lead in to chapter 3. But chapter 3 is a flashback, and for various reasons, a multi-chapter flashback seems problematic to me.

  3. Who ever heard of having an "Interlude" when you're only one chapter into the novel?

I may yet work this in somehow. In particular I want to get across that Isalis is a city of tides (so much so that the whole city is submerged once a year), and to continue to emphasize that it's the Kang that rule things here.

I'm a little embarrassed to be cutting and rearranging this early in the beta, but I suppose it's best I get it over with as soon as possible.

So on to chapter three, wherein we introduce the second main character, a wily Rahastran Cartomancer named Feurid.

"After all, I've never lost a finger playing cards."

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Chapter 2 - Rising Tides

Thanks to everyone who read chapter one. It's been awesome having people read and comment on my stuff.

Chapter 2 is a short one. More to come later this week.

"They do not look at the sky. They do not look at the sea. They do not see how it changes with the hours, with the days, with the seasons. For them, every day is the same."

Wonkette: From Blog to Novel?

Today in the news I see that the well-known political blogger Wonkette has just published a novelization of her blogging exploits (does that even work? Do bloggers even have exploits?): A Blogger Creates a Blogger for a Trip Back to 2004. The one think I know about Wonkette is that a while back she outed another Capitol Hill blogger who was blogging about her multiple affairs with politically connected men. That blogger then published a racy tell all novelizations called Washintonienne (I got it out from the library out of curiosity. It was pretty terrible.)

Anyway, I hope Wonkette has the best of luck going from blogger to novelist!

I'm off to a work meeting, but I hope to publish chapter two when I get back.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Welcome to War of the Gyro

Three years ago, a mutual friend introduced me to a game designer named John Harper. He had recently published the third edition of a role-playing game called Talislanta. John mentioned how they were really hoping to get people to write some supplements for the game. I responded along the lines of "what I really want to do is write a novel for it", and The War of the Gyro was born.

Frankly, now that I'm ready to let people read it, I'm having second thoughts. What seemed like a great idea while it was hiding in a drawer seems pretty weak in the daylight. I'm not sure that anyone's going to enjoy it, and I'm pretty certain some people aren't going to get past the first line. On the other hand, I'm not sure I can bring it any farther without some more eyes. I figure that if I get some people to look at it, some of them are going to say things that will help me make the novel better.

This is a beta version. This novel isn't done. All the chapters are there, but some are incomplete, and several need to be re-written. Nevertheless, the essential storyline and characters are present. Please read and enjoy and feel free to comment. I'll be publishing a chapter every few days as I edit them and format them for pdf. Here's chapter one:

"A swordsman was singing a song. And because he was 1500 miles from home in a strange city where he knew no one, and because he guessed the natives wouldn't appreciate Zandu love songs here, he was singing to his sword."
site stats