Friday, April 03, 2009


Done my novel? Hardly.

Done typing my enormous, unwieldy, and logic-defying novel onto my laptop? YES - FINALLY. I can't believe it - the novel took three months to write, and then three more months to copy out onto my computer. Part of it was laziness - if I focused more, I probably could have typed the whole thing out in a fraction of the time, but it's an extremely boring and dispiriting task, particularly when I find myself copying out certain passages that make no sense or were obviously written to pad the story until a better idea came along.

But, at last, I'm done - it's 207 Microsoft Word pages (in 12 point Times Roman font) and 124 219 words long. Oh, yeah, it'll be trimmed. And characters and plots will change. And I'm going to need a buttload of historical research combined with fantasy world building that is consistent. And I have to make my hamhanded characters a lot more subtle. But I can do that.

Before I begin my second draft, though, I must begin focusing on Historical Research. I know that my novel takes place in a fantasy world, so the same rules don't have to apply (in my world, daughters can inherit entailed land even if there are no sons, because, yeah, it's a shame you have ovaries but preserving the most direct magical Fey bloodlines is more important), but I want a lot of them to apply. The Regency period is full of so many social rules and strictures, most of my story came out of the idea of what magic would be like if it was restricted by etiquette and social status? Like boys only study a certain type of magic, and girls another. Glamours are fine for balls but socially unacceptable for weddings, that sort of thing.

But this is one of those "I have to know the rules before I can break them" situations, so I've started research. It's a daunting task - this is my first magical historical, so I feel I have to learn as much about the period as I can - everything from furniture to architecture (I don't know what a gable is! AAAH!) I suspect for my later novels it might be easier because I'll only want to research specific things.

In this book, however, most particularly I need to research servants - what were their lives like, what did they do, how many were employed for a country manor filled with seven insanely wealthy dowagers? What did they do for fun? How attached did they get to their masters and vice versa? How did they speak?

If anyone could help me with that, that would be great. I'm completely open to all sorts of suggestions.


  1. If people can do magical deeds, then why would they need servants? Is the heroine a servant?

    I suggest that you make some secret initiation rites part of your story. Initiation rites usually differ for boys and girls, so that's a sexy element. Also, since initiation rites are secret, you might have attempts to spy on the other sex's rites, which would involve deception, codes, sneaking around, cross-dressing and other such hijinks.

    For boys, the main utility of magic powers would be to turn oneself invisible and then sneak into places where girls are naked. What's the corresponding, main utility for magic powers for girls?

  2. Congrats! I just wrote 'the end' on my first MS myself also. Now half way through revisions. Yay!

    Sadly, I'm of no help on the servant front...

  3. Can't help with research myself, but the Word Wenches have had some posts in the past about research books and tools that they use. They also answer questions from readers on the blog.

  4. Mike --> Magic in fantasy doesn't have to abide by natural rules, but it doesn't mean it doesn't abide by any rules. Good magic in fantasy has to be limited by boundaries - whether physical, emotional, or societal.

    In the case of my novel, magic is equated with art or education - it's restricted by class and social conventions. I mean, think about the 19th century. If people have two hands and can do all work, why would they need servants? So that they don't have to! Lots of epic fantasies (i.e. that take place in a medieval world) still employ servants even though characters can perform magic.

    As for the rest of your post - um, no.

    M --> Congratulations! I'm just starting the research stage now. With flashcards. Lots and LOTS of Flashcards. *lol*

    MaryK --> Great idea! Thank you!