Fiction Writing is License to Explore

One of the most exciting aspects of writing fiction is that it gives you license to explore subjects that interest you, regardless of how practical the information may be in your “real life.”

I’ve always had an interest in the theory, legend, and history relating to magic, mythical creatures, and a variety of crafts and trades (e.g. the making and shaping of glass). Many of these subjects have absolutely no utility in my “day job,” so I could never justify spending time to research them in the past.

Now, my “side job” as a fantasy writer gives me reason to learn more about these things.

Of course, you can always make time for anything that you really care about. My avocational interests expressed themselves in the form of gaming for most of my life. However, gaming is mostly about experiencing someone else’s story, and at some point, I discovered that it was more important to me to tell my own stories. That moment was a “game changer,” so to speak. I completely traded in my gaming time for writing time (much to my wife’s relief and satisfaction).

Since I started writing Vaetra Unveiled, I not only have an excuse to explore my interests, but I have a purpose for doing so. When one undertakes to learn about something new, it always helps to have a specific goal in mind.

For example, I recently bought a fascinating book titled Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, by Scott Cunningham. The Kindle book was on sale for only 99 cents on Amazon, so I couldn’t resist. The author Scott Cunningham spent over twenty years of his life researching information about the magical properties of plants, metals, minerals, and more. He wrote over 30 books. Whether or not you believe that the magical properties of herbs are real, the encyclopedia is a great reference for learning their traditional properties. That’s what I was after.

After all, why should I make up the magical properties of plants myself if generations of people before me have already established them?

Vaetra Unveiled also gives me a reason and a purpose for learning more about writing fiction. On the one hand, it would be great to learn all about fiction writing up front, and then go about the task of writing a book armed with all that knowledge. But it doesn’t work like that, at least not for me. Writing Vaetra Unveiled while I’m learning the craft has given me the point of reference I need to apply what I’m discovering. I believe fiction writing is too subjective to learn any other way. I have to learn it by doing it.

The down side of this approach is that I’m learning better ways to do things after I’ve already written parts of the story. I figure that’s what the second, third, and fourth drafts are for. Besides, the learning will never be done anyway. It is my fervent hope that my skills will continue to improve indefinitely, and that each book will be better than the previous one. If I wait until my writing is perfect, there will never be a first book.

Progress Update

This was a great week for getting work done on Vaetra Unveiled. I wrote about 8,000 words, which puts me back on track for my July 31 goal of finishing the first draft. I’m now almost 40% of the way there.


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