Well, Withered World is officially being formatted and it’s time to start over and begin from scratch. And I mean REALLY start over. For both Withered World and The Green Lady, I had a significant amount of text already written because I had started and restarted both projects. But NightWind is a new adventure altogether and I have no pre-writing to fall back on. I’ve already begun some of the significant world building steps and I have names for most, if not all, of my characters.
The good thing, I suppose, is that I am not jumping genres this time, so I am already in a bit of a fantasy mindset. I am going from the Dystopian earth to a completely imagined steampunk world. But I don’t think that will be as hard as switching from a literary fiction voice to a YA voice. So, I think I’m okay.
I have been doing so pre-work and planning already, but there’s more to that than just creating characters. I have to really get into the mindset of the world and the genre. And that involves doing a good bit of reading. As I mentioned above, I’m planning to jump into the steampunk sub-genre. I haven’t done a lot of recreational reading in this area, so I’m not as familiar with it, I don’t know why I keep doing this to myself. But, wherever my characters go, I must follow. And writing about a winged warrior, whose wings are removable, requires me to learn steampunk. At least I have a solid understanding of the 19th century in general. I think that will help alleviate some of the troubles.
So what’s on my reading list?
I’ve read one book by Gail Carriger, Prudence from the Custard Protocol series, and loved it. It’s sassy and has some great 19th century inspired details.
Right now I’m in the middle of reading The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher. I’ve heard it’s a really great example of steampunk and so far, I’ve spent the first few chapters on an airship so that’s good experience. There’s lots of battle scenes and military characters which is all very useful for my next project. This is probably the most enjoyable Jim Butcher novel I’ve ever read. I don’t know if it’s the characters or what. But, I find it much easier to get through than some of his other works.
Others on my list include: Ironkin by Tina Connolly, The Iron Duke by Meljean Brooks, The Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia.
Since my main character is Asian, I also asked my writer’s group for recommendations of fantasy books with Asian main characters. They suggested: Heroine Complex by Sarah Khun, The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa, Cinder by Marissa Meyer and Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff (this last one apparently is also steampunk, so it sounds like a real winner as far as research goes.
Reading in your chosen genre is a really important part of preparing to write. Otherwise, you go in blind and you have no reference point for the tropes or expectations of the genre. Plus, reading is always good for inspiration. I got all of the titles I just mentioned from friends in my writer’s group who are much more devout fantasy readers than I am today.
There’s still lots of work to do before I can officially start writing again, but I’m in the happy stages of reading for work, which I also find fun. Plus, I’m world building and doing character discovery. Honestly, I’m surprised I have a title for the project this early in the game. But, I’ve had the title for this story since practically day one. Just lucky this time around, I suppose. What steps do you take to prep when you begin a new writing project? Please feel free to share in the comments!