Finished first draft!

I managed to finish my first draft of Amazon’s Apprentice, so I’m going to put it aside for a couple of months to concentrate on the rewrite and revision of Deviants. During my first read-through of Deviants, I’ve discovered that there are way too many threads, themes and characters in the story as it stands (what happens when you take 2 years instead of two months to write a book!). I think I’ve managed to get my story outline trimmed down to its essentials, which I’ll be using in the rewrite.

Anthropology for fun and profit

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Image: warrior woman (CC BY 2.0) by Anne-Lise Heinrichs

Back when I was deciding on a major, I inexplicably eschewed sensible majors such as Computer Science in favor of the endlessly fascinating but less useful Anthropology. I returned to computers long ago, and thought I’d never have a use for my Anthropological studies again. However, I’ve found lately that Anthropology is actually very useful for a writer of speculative fiction, because it really helps with world-building.

One aspect of Anthropology is the study of  how cultures are shaped by and shape their environments. There are so many things that we take for granted, and assume are the “natural” way of things because we grew up with them, but are not necessarily universal human traits. This is helpful to know when designing cultures in a completely new world.

In the world of The Amazon’s Apprentice, magic plays an important role in daily life, and women are stronger than men because they can use magic more effectively. Anthropology helps me figure out what their societies and cultures might look like, because there are physical differences between the sexes that would make them different than being simply a mirror of our own.

For instance, woman are both more affected by and more in control of pregnancy and childbirth than men, unless her culture or circumstances remove that power. If women are in control of society and its institutions, the whole concept of family and marriage is probably going to be very different than what we know. Unlike a man, a woman doesn’t have to worry that her child is not her own, so the necessity of keeping her mate(s) under sexual control diminishes unless there is another compelling reason to do so. In my world, there are some reasons why a woman might want to bind a mate, but they are not as compelling as in our world so the institution of marriage does not have the same importance.

NaNoWriMo

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This year I tried my first NaNoWriMo. I went into it with some skepticism, and didn’t really expect to reach 50,000 words, but to my surprise I finished with an almost complete first draft of a Fantasy novel.

Doing NaNo helped me conquer one of my major problems: I have a tendency to get stuck in an endless cycle of revision. I’ll write a chapter, revise, write another chapter, revise both, and so on and so forth until I get to the middle and have no clue what direction I want to go. Having a set goal for the month really helped me get out of my rut. I managed to write more of my NaNoWriMo book in 30 days than I achieved through more than two years of slogging through my other project.

I’m not really good at thinking up titles. I’m calling my NaNoWriMo project  “The Amazon’s Apprentice”  for now – the book doesn’t have any real Amazons in it, but it is based on a society where women have the power and men are their chattel. We’ll see if I can come up with a better title during revision.

I have a few more scenes to write to flesh out the story, and I’m hoping  to finish by the end of December and have a first draft to put through revision. After I do some revision I’ll go back to my Science Fiction project, and hopefully I’ll be able to take a fresher approach with it.