Friday, June 27, 2014
On the writing of Single White Necromancer
CFC asked me how long Single White Necromancer took to write, and I told him it was about a year, and also that I'd reply in greater detail in a post, so that's what I'm doing here.
I couldn't even estimate a number of hours spent on it. The Word file the contains the final draft says 1080 minutes of editing time, except, I would often work on the story when I was away from my computer, and would write a bit, email it to myself and then paste it into the file, so that number doesn't come close to answering the question.
The best answer I can give is that it was written in fits and starts over the course of a year. I thought of the title first, which is unusual for me, as it's usually the very last thing I come up with, occasionally well after the story is written. I think it's the perfect title for the story, and a lot of the elements present spin out of that.
It started out as a Lonesome October story that I intended for the Lovecraftzine's Lonesome October issue, but it was already over 12000 words (and growing) and it that it was just too long to be feasible. That was June or July 2013. So I shelved it and wrote something else for the zine. That turned out to be Mother of Monsters.
There is a Roger Zelazny tribute anthology in the works. I submitted a Roadmarks story to it, but it's so specifically a Roadmarks story that there is no way to rework it into something else without rewriting the thing entirely. Too many plot points hinged on too many elements specific to the setting, leaving me with an unsellable story, as I don't own the rights and it's not like I can just resubmit it to the other Roger Zelazny tribute anthology in town.
I learned my lesson from that, and kept the story somewhat modular, in that, if I had to remove the ANITLO elements, I could do it without breaking the story. That's what I did when I returned to it at the beginning of this year. So, while it certainly shows its pedigree, it also works as more general "Crazy Cultists want to open the way for their Mad Gods" story.
That said, Zelazny has been a huge influence on my writing, and there are number of nods to his work in the story, but I don't think it contains any specifically ANITLO elements beyond a broad similarity in the plot. (Another factor he influenced was the length of the piece. It's about 33,000 words. Something I truly enjoy about Zelazny's work is that his stories are only as long as they need to be. I think the novella is the perfect length for telling a story, and that's reflected here.)
I forget who said it, but a professional writer mentioned that he wrote 500 words a day. Some time he only got 500, and other times, what he was writing caught fire, and he got much more than that. I followed those guidelines. I had an ending in March, I shelved it again. Transferred the file to a tablet and did some final editing on a camping trip at the end of May, and poked and prodded it on and off until I finally published it.
However, I think drew more on the atmosphere of Nick Pollatta's Bureau 13 novels than anything written by Zelazny. Funny books, and while absurd, not quite comedy.
All right. More on this later. If anyone has any questions about any aspects of the book, I'm more than happy to answer them here.