a blog about the fantasy in the romance
Today I’m guest blogging on Worlds of the Imagination and writing about World Building or World Changing, how authors can take a traditional fantasy world framework and make it their own. Check it out, it’s a cool site with frequent guests and sponsored by some fascinating authors.
I’m deep into world building this month because I’m not only doing a final run through on my fantasy romance, The Dark Huntsman, but I’m ready to plunge back into the rough draft of Prince By Blood and Bone, book two of the Tales of the Black Court. It sounds like a lot to do, but the truth is it is a good thing because they are deeply intertwined and I need to make sure that I don’t drop the ball and change someone’s hair or eye color, or make a character speak a different way from book to book.
One of the toughest things about writing a series is keeping the author’s writing style the same. These books are deeper, longer, and more fantasy than my Twisted Tales: Come Into the Woods novellas, so they have a different voice. I didn’t realize until this final run through of The Dark Huntsman came in, right as I was doing final edits on Goldi and the Bear, that these books are very different. The novellas have a lightness running through the dark suspense. I think it may be because of the contemporary setting and the age of the characters. They are all new adult stories that have, at their core, the struggle with actually being grown up and an adult. Taking on real responsibilities and relationships.
The Tales of the Black Court series is different. Maybe because I started writing it years ago. Maybe because the heroes are so long-lived. Logan (the Dark Huntsman) has a chronological age of 300 years, but his real age is around 25. He’s not considered an adult by his uncles who are over a thousand years old and whose real age is around forty. Many of the characters have lived a long time and that flavors the book in a different way than the short-lived werewolves and werebears in my novellas. Logan and Trina’s real ages technically mean that I’m writing fantasy new adult, but because of the length of time Logan has lived it affects his speech patterns, and behavior, and he definitely feels like he’s from an older time and place even though he is a contemporary young hero.
In contrast, the characters in Twisted Tales: Come Into the Woods know life can be very short. They are werewolves and werebears and are hunters and fighters. They take on problems with a quick intensity, from family issues to fighting the bad guy, to falling in love. The stories are set in a very contemporary setting, and the plots move fast. The characters are all young, they burn with deep first love. Even their resistance to love is hot and sometimes violent.
The pacing on the books is different too, mostly because of the length of the stories. In a 35K novella I have to pack in a lot of plot. There isn’t really a sub-plot, just the suspense and romance plots so all of the action centers on the main characters. They are intense and fast paced and with young hot headed main characters the emotional plot moves lightening fast. The Tales of the Dark Court have deep world building and you get a view of the antagonists, that takes extra words and extra plotting and moves the story into a longer pace. That’s not to say these books move slow, they just have longer story arcs with longer builds. Think about the novellas as a series of hot quickies where you rocket up fast and move on. In contrast the novels are a night that starts with dinner and ends with a long all-night marathon.
Also the novellas are spicy, and that means there are more sex scenes per thousand words. In fact both series have approximately the same amount of sexual encounters, but The Dark Huntsman is over 87,000 words. Proportionally, in the longer novels, there is a lot more plot to support the intimacy. That’s not to say that they aren’t hot. Just not quite as spicy as the novellas.
All of this: the pacing, the frequency of the sex, the setting, changes the author’s style even though each author has a particular boice. Short fast novellas lead to shorter faster sentences. Longer paced novels give an author room to describe scenes in more detail. So, when moving from book to book I need to be careful to take the right style with me and still keep my Jessica Aspen voice.
Have you read other authors when they write new and different things of varying lengths? Does their pacing shift? Their plotting move faster or slower? Is it a surprise when the short story wraps up fast and you are used to reading longer novels? What about writers? Do you find, as writers, that you need to pull yourself out of one series-style and into another? How do you do this? What works for you?