The First Reveal – The Protagonist’s Race
Chapters In Progress: 8
Chapters Completed: 5
Part of me wishes I could have achieved the “5,000 Words In One Week” feat again this time around. That was a special case because of my writing vacation, however. Now, with a full-time job and other commitments taking priority over novel-writing on most days, a 5-week turnaround is pretty darn good. Today’s Chronicle is a special one, too – because, as I’ve promised, I’ll reveal one major aspect of the novel: the protagonist’s race!
Let me quickly recap my progress over the past 5 weeks:
- Chapter 5 is finished! As I had mentioned in the previous Chronicle, this was a fun chapter to write. It’s got action, magic, suspense, and important bits of dialogue that reveal a lot about certain characters. One part towards the end of the chapter needs to be shortened, but I’ve noted it on my editing checklist for when the first draft is done.
- Chapter 7 should be done within the next sit-down (or two). This is when the protagonist learns she and her friends are about to embark on an important journey that will keep them away from home for several months. It’s also when the protagonist realizes that an impulsive act she committed in Chapter 6 may impact the success of that journey. In other words, this chapter marks a major “oh crap” moment for the protagonist.
- I also have bits of Chapters 3, 6, and 8 typed out. Which leads to one drawback about the “writercopter” method I’ve been using for this novel: Even though my productivity has increased by working on whatever scenes and chapters I’m inspired to write, I’m a little overwhelmed by the number of chapters (eight in total, as shown above) that I have started but haven’t finished yet. So, my plan for the next several weeks is to finish as many of those in-progress chapters as possible before starting another chapter.
Time for the first reveal now! From the moment I started outlining this story, it was clear to me what my protagonist’s race would be. And that would be…
Writing about fairies (spelled as “Faeries” in the book) was an easy and natural choice. I’ve never been interested in following trends (vampires, werewolves, and creatures of a dark nature still seem to be “The Thing” these days). So, I wanted to write about a race that I haven’t read much about, either recently or as a child. Plus, when I started imagining the creatures in my story, the first race that came to me was the Faeries. Sometimes you have to follow the needle of your compass of inspiration. That was the case here.
To create my book’s Faerie race, I researched fairies using online resources as well as Carol Rose’s Spirits, Fairies, Leprechauns, and Goblins: An Encyclopedia (a fascinating book that I highly recommend!). I also tailored certain aspects of the Faeries’ appearance, culture, and magic system to fit the book’s needs. In other words, the Faeries in this book are a combination of old and new ideas about these beautiful, enigmatic winged spirits.
What I’ll share now is a condensed version of a background piece I’m writing on the Faeries. It’s still growing and evolving, and it’s already quite long (about 14 pages, with double-spaced lines). That would make for a mammoth blog article, wouldn’t it? So, I’ve picked certain parts of the writeup to share with you today, to give you an idea of what these Faeries are like.
Most myths and legends describe fairies as tiny. In my novel-in-progress, Faeries are slightly shorter than Humans. They’re slender and lean, with pale skin and vividly colorful eyes and hair. Faerie hair starts with a base color (any shade of black, brown, blonde, or red), then is streaked in a different secondary color (same colors as listed) or, in rare cases, two secondary colors.
Of course, the Faeries’ most distinctive feature is their wings! They are made of iridescent gossamer, and they protract and retract from between a Faerie’s shoulder blades. Faeries can hide their wings as a result; they can protect their wings if attacked and walk among humans with little suspicion. The wings slip in and out of clothing easily through slits in the back of shirts, robes, etc.
If we’re talking about fantasy literature, we can’t avoid the subject of magic. In the book, Faerie magic is inherent and released through language, mental control, and physical action. Most Faerie spells are split-second acts requiring quick thinking / decision-making and “speaking” in the Faeries’ language (known as Fae) either out loud or in thought to one’s powers. The spell then materializes in the Faerie’s hand(s) as colored mist. And although difficult, Faeries are able to create their own spells. They visualize what the spell should accomplish, then (depending on the spell’s necessary strength) “speak” by uttering a couple words or repeating a phrase or sentence a few times.
Because their magic comes from within, Faeries experience physical sensations when they cast spells. They describe the summoning of their magic as a tingling sensation that starts in their hands and arms before swelling (or racing, if the spell is a quick one) through their entire body.
Although all Faeries possess magic, some Faeries have stronger powers than others. These Faeries can master the art of spell creation and are sensitive to the presence of Faeries and other magical creatures. They can also learn spells from other creeds and adapt them for Faerie use. Others become adept “magician warriors” that are known in Fae as kisenen. These fighters (usually male, as female kisenen are rare) can cast spells to defend themselves or to stun, trick, or disarm an opponent. Kisenen still use weapons and engage in hand-to-hand combat, though, because their magic can’t draw blood or purposely injure other beings. One particular Faerie spell can be used to kill, but such magic is considered “dark” and forbidden from Faerie use.
Which leads to the limits of Faerie magic. Faerie spells can be physically exhausting, particularly if the wielder is still learning magic or if the spell is one of great magnitude. If not careful, the wielder can expend so much of their energy that they temporarily empty themselves of magic. This condition is known as being “spent” and can last several weeks, during which time the Faerie is unable to perform magic. In addition, Faeries can’t change form, alter appearances (their own or others, either living or inanimate), or manipulate the free will of other beings using magic.
Faeries view their magic as power that, like any other kind of power (ruling, leadership, etc.), can be abused if not used carefully. As a result, Faeries have been taught by their elders to respect and fear their magic and to use it only when necessary. Faeries use their magic mostly for combat, play, spying / surveillance, and entertainment for visitors. They don’t use magic for simple or everyday tasks that they’re physically capable of performing.
Other Faerie Facts
Here are some other facts about the book’s Faeries:
- The Faeries live in a deciduous forest called Kasialonen and live in “split-level” dwellings: the sleeping quarters are in a treehouse, and the dining and entertaining areas are underground (i.e., under the same tree that contains the sleeping quarters).
- Two of the Faeries’ most important values are duty and honor. The emphasis of these values has instilled deep respect toward one another, nature, and other creeds. As a result, Faeries are benevolent, friendly, and compassionate. They look out for the well-being of their families, friends, and above all their kind. At the same time, Faeries are fiercely protective of their homeland and their people. They dislike unannounced visits from other creeds and aren’t afraid to punish trespassers, traitors, and criminals. Faeries are also honest and direct creatures. They keep their promises, refuse to hide secrets, and consider oath-breaking a sin.
- Faeries love to laugh, play, and celebrate. They enjoy dancing, air acrobatics, chases and races (using legs or wings), and hide-and-seek in the forest. They also like climbing trees, hunting for sport or for food, and swimming.
- Many Faeries are accomplished musicians and singers, and some make their instruments themselves. Instruments typically played by Faeries include flutes, panpipes, lutes, harps, fiddles, and xylophones.
- One of Fae’s most distinct occupations is name-giving. A name-giver names newborn Faeries moments after they’re born. These individuals have the rare gift of foresight; and when holding a newborn, they can see glimpses of the child’s future and personality traits. Based on those visions, the name-giver then offers the child’s name to the parents. Faerie names are created from a combination of two or three Fae words.
There’s your first taste of the novel! I hope you enjoyed what I shared and are intrigued to learn more. If your curiosity gets the best of you, feel free to ask any questions you may have by commenting on this post. I’ll answer them as best as I can without giving away too much. Also, what do you think of another reveal at the 50,000-word mark? I already know what I’d like to do for that milestone. 😉
Next Chronicle: When I reach 30,000 words
Until Then: Tonight I’ll finish preparing for the Open Mic Night at Curry College tomorrow night. It’s one of two events that Curry College is putting on as part of its annual Homecoming festivities and marks the 40th anniversary of the school’s literary magazine, The Curry Arts Journal. Also, I’ve almost finished my review of Arjen Lucassen’s eighth Ayreon album, The Theory Of Everything. It should be online before the CD’s European release date of October 28th.