I’ve mentioned my unruly WIP a few times now, but I haven’t told you anything about it. Perhaps it’s time for proper introductions?
For a while, I mostly wrote contemporary. Everything was very character-based, not a lot in the plot department. Also, 5 out of my first 6 books were written in first person.
Now eVErythINg is CHanginG wHAt.
Last November’s Nanowrimo project, Four Princes (Three of Whom are Dead) [which I talked about in this post and this post, in case you missed it], was a major step out of my comfort zone. This latest project is another major step in that direction. And while part of me is screaming “TURN AROUND GO BACK TO WHERE IT IS FAMILIAR AND SAFE”…. I’m actually super excited about this story (assuming I can ever actually write the thing help).
So what is this story, anyway?
I’ve sort of started calling it The Education of Albert Lindner in my head…but I don’t know if I’ll be keeping that or not…
- Fantasy, I guess? As in, it takes place in a world that is not the real world. But not a magical world.
- Methinks it might have a Steampunk edge. At the moment, the Steampunk aspect is slight to non-existent, but I’m thinking I might want to bring it out more…
- WWI-era-esque! There are going to be differences between this world and ours at that time, but I still want to give it that general feel.
In a nutshell, there’s a war going on between two countries (NAMES THEY NEED NAMES ACK). Captain Mattlock has just been assigned to the command center in the city of Hertha* where his friend General Rosser works. Upon arriving, Mattlock meets Rosser’s new assistant, Lieutenant Lindner, a newly enlisted soldier from a nationally prominent family. Which would be totally normal except that Lindner is only 15 and people are confused.
This is cover-flap material right here.
*A name pulled randomly from the footnotes of an English literature anthology from the 1960s. I’ve also pulled names from a census taken in 1900 in a town in Missouri. When you have as much of a hard time coming up with names as I do, you take them wherever you can find them.
Reasons this story is out of my comfort zone:
- WORLD-BUILDING. It is required here and… I have never done it before. (Four Princes needs world-building, but I just sort of skipped that part for the first draft, oops)
- This is a part of world-building, but the POLITICS. I need to figure those out. They’re going to be important. (Again, I have NEVER DONE THIS BEFORE help)
- As you might guess from my very informative description, the bulk of this story centers around the military…which I know nothing about. (Why am I here.)
- So many CHARACTERS. I’ve always wanted to write something with a bunch of characters, and, while this is no Dickens, I’m pretty sure this is the most characters I’ve ever tried to juggle at once.
- Aside from there being lots of characters in general, I have three MAIN characters, which is a far cry from the single character, first person POV I’m used to.
Speaking of which, let’s meet some of these characters
(All pictures from Pinterest. Also, this isn’t really what the characters look like, but I have to break up the blocks of text with something)
Lieutenant Albert Lindner
15 years old // comes from a rich, powerful family // the heir to his late father’s airship manufacturing company // has had pretty much zero positive relationships in his life (why do I do this) // stubborn // ambitious // incredibly sleep-deprived // (also incredibly lonely, but pshaw it’s not like that matters)
Honestly, my perception of who Albert is keeps changing. For a while who was going to act all snarky, and “what would you do without me?” At this point I’m thinking he just sort of…stares at people coldly like I will murder you. Or ignores them completely.
Will this change again by the time I actually get a full draft? Possibly.
One of my very useful notes on Albert:
A thought: Albert may be a Slytherin who could have been a Hufflepuff if he had had a happier childhood
(I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but I’m just amused at myself for scribbling that in the margin of what is supposedly a sheet of paper devoted to plot ideas)
General June Rosser
Late 30s // will not be taking any disrespect at this time, thank you very much // wants to win this war so it can just be over // will burn you with the white hot flames of her anger if you hurt someone she cares about // dry sense of humor // trying to raise three small children, keep an eye on Albert, and win a war all at the same time // no patience for your nonsense
Of the three main characters, I think I’m having the hardest time getting into Rosser’s head…which sort of makes sense. She doesn’t let people into her head. She has seen a lot, is a little jaded, and just wants to protect what she has left.
Also, she makes Albert babysit her kids and basically adopts him, so there’s that.
A phrase that comes up over and over again in my notes:
[Person says/does something], but Rosser is having none of it.
Captain William Mattlock
Late 20s // has been a good friend of Rosser’s for years // loyal // tall and strong and would be very intimidating if it wasn’t for the fact that he always looks so earnest and happy // eh, he’s a bit of a puppy, isn’t he? // essentially a country/farm boy // can get scary if you hurt someone he cares about
Mattlock met Rosser back when he was just a wee new soldier. He looked up to her and his other commanding officer, low-key worshiped them, probably wanted to be them when he grew up.
Rosser is his mentor, friend, and commanding officers, and he will follow her into anything.
One of my very useful notes on Mattlock:
Aside from his four siblings, Mattlock probably has like six billion cousins + aunts and uncles.
Where am I at with this story?
…That’s a good question.
I’ve been brainstorming/world-building/plotting since January. I have about 15k of the actual story written…but I’m thinking I might need to start over.
I really don’t know how this works. Should I flesh out the world more before I start trying to write? But sometimes ideas come to me just because I’m actively writing, so should I just start writing? I’m usually a make-it-up-as-I-go writer, but when you add in the whole building-an-actual-WORLD-for-the-story-to-live-in step…where does it go??
So yes. I’m screaming a little bit. Or a lot.
But I’m also INCREDIBLY EXCITED.
I’m pretty sure this is the most ambitious story I’ve ever attempted, and it will more than likely take a lot longer than my others. But when I finally get it done, it is going to be fantastic.
Wish me luck!
What is your latest writing project? Are you doing April Nanowrimo? Do you tend to write plot-driven or character-driven books? Have you ever built a world? Do you have any WWI related media to recommend to me (I am low-key doing research)? Do you like to plan first or start writing with no clue what you’re doing? Do tell!