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FFC #29 - Trying to make a forest with no trees

Posted June 21st, 2019 at 07:34 PM by The Grim Reaper's Friend
TGRF's Fan Fiction Chronicles - Entry #29

It's been awhile since I've given you a true update on what's happening with my fan fiction. The reason for that is because nothing has really been happening with my fan fiction. I think it's time I tell you why, and what I'm doing about it.

On my computer I have a fan fiction folder, with sub-folders for the individual fan fictions I've written, as well as those which I've started but never finished (you've heard of most of them). Looking through that list of titles, I can remember how I always had a general idea of where I was headed next. Whether while I wrote the fan fiction, or shortly afterwards, I always knew what I was going to do. I always had a general idea where I was going.

Well, for the past few months (ever since I finished writing Dan's Tale and even before), I haven't had that. I've had a vague idea of where I would like to go, but it consisted of little more than disconnected story fragments and bits of interesting but un-inspiring worldbuilding.

Now that Dan's Tale is over and the move is completed, I've begun to realize over the past few weeks that I am stuck, and dangerously close to burning out entirely. And I'm not stuck on any particular story. That's the problem: I can't find a story.

TLFF was always going to be Valhalla, heroes, the war, and everything we call 'Scape. It was going to be a massive, epic, multi-protagonist, multi-story-arc tale, spanning as long as I wanted it to.

And I think that was my problem.

TLFF was TOO big. It's characters were too many, it's story too encompassing, and it's stakes too impossibly large. I was trying to write an epic tale with laying only shallow groundwork. Worldbuilding and history were there, yes, but none of the stories which set the scene for the epicness to come.

I looked back at all the fan fictions I had written, and saw a pattern: by the end, most of them were dealing with world-altering events, multiple PoVs, epic battles for the future of Valhalla, and the like. But they all started the same way: with one character, one small corner of the world, and one conflict which meant everything to that character. I was trying to cut out the beginning and rush to the end.

And I should have realized it. Back when the Fan Fiction Competition was running, the judges had a favorite line they would give out with certain prompts: Make this epic. And we tried to do that many times. However, it quickly became apparent (to me anyway) that you couldn't make an epic tale without starting with the smaller things first. The smallest of stakes in the smallest of conflicts, set in the smallest of worlds, being battled out by only one character. That's how things always had to start. And that's how TLFF will have to start.

I've ranged all over the board with TLFF trying to find a story. I considered a tale of Syvarris, Grimnak, and Kaemon Awa teaming up to stop the war. That idea changed to Sonlen and Cyprien. The idea of Cyprien stuck, and I tried a story focused more on his personal battles (that's the one which went the furthest). Then the world of the story started changing once I realized the setting needed to be revised. I changed the world several times, each time getting interesting results, but no stories. I was focusing on the whole picture. I changed the setting again, but had the same problem. Recently I've been going through stories and settings constantly, trying desperately to find something which would stick. Nothing.

Then I realized what I explained above: I've been trying to build something grand with very little beneath. I had to narrow my focus from Valhalla to a city or a single home. From generals and traitors to a single person. From epic battles and glorious campaigns to a simple (though still insurmountable) problem. And I had to ACTUALLY do it, not wonder how I could get from a small setting to a massive battle. I had to forget the epic and focus on the groundwork for a moment.

So that's what I did. And just like that I had a story. Of course, there's no telling if it's the story which will make it. However, I do feel that I'm at last on the right path. Rather, I feel like I HAVE a path again.

And once I establish that groundwork, as I've done with nearly all of my other fan fictions (Ragnak was a bit of an oddball), things will escalate quickly, until we are dealing with the epic confrontations I've envisioned.

So that's my plan: keep focusing on laying the groundwork in one small corner of a much larger story, until that larger story is ready to be told. And while things can and do change, I think I've found a story which will serve as a great springboard to epicness.

Stay tuned.

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