Breakthroughs; or, the self-imposed task of building a unified fictional universe

Yo. Remember when I finished a first draft of that NaNoWriMo experiment-turned-serious project? That was a while ago. Maybe two whiles.

I put it away for a few months, and when I got around to reading it through with my editor hat on (man I wish I had an actual editor hat…) my biggest problem was pretty evident. The story is too complicated. Actually, to be accurate, the magical rules governing the universe are muddled and convoluted, and that informs the history, choices, and motivations of a number of my characters. Pretty much all of them.

So last week I set up camp in a local bookstore, drowned out the surrounding humanity with Songza’s “Acoustic versions of pop songs” playlist, opened up a brand-spanking new notebook, and set myself to the task of simplifying (or at the very least articulately defining) the key magical rules that govern the universe of my story.

Since I have a couple other faerie-based novels on the go, one of my supplemental goals was to create a universe that makes sense for all of these stories. I doubt they will ever overlap, but why not leave the option open?

I made a lot of progress on bookstore day (which basically meant I did some really dedicated staring off into the middle distance with some occasional scribbled pages of questions and all-caps major points), and since then I’ve been working to apply the “rules” to Mira’s story. By the way, Mira’s story is what I’m calling that NaNoWriMo-turned-first draft. I think I’ve called it Sea or The Nereid in other posts, but this feels more natural. I don’t want to give it a title until it has a title, if that makes sense.

Over the weekend I stewed on the issues that my new magical universe was causing (among them, the motivation of my main antagonist), and when I decided to have a wee brainstorming sesh over my lunch hour at work yesterday, the solutions were waiting for me. And I was right, fixing and defining the magical rules will improve everything else.

There are still some smaller issues to reason out, but I’m looking forward to re-writing for draft number two.

Well, I will look forward to it, after I finally decide if I’m going to change perspective of the story.


S.E. Lund

P.S. If I had an editor hat it would look like this:

Victorian riding hat

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