our solemn hour

Is National Novel Writing Month the problem or a symptom


 It amazes me the clarity a headache can sometimes give you.  My sinuses and I are at war today in this dry autumn air.  As a result, I don't have the level of patience  that I usually would have.

When I got up today, I went over my schedule to organize my workflow for the day.  Since I decided to take part in National Novel Writing Month, high on my list was to hit my word count for the day.  That is not what I wanted to do.

As the resistance mounted against me, I focused my attention on why I didn't want to write.

That was just the thing.  My problem isn't that I don't want to write.  The problem is I want to play in the setting.  I want to explore, frolicking in all the nooks and crannies that the world presents me.  So, in reality, it is not that I don't want to write, it is  yet again the constraints of the novel are working against the kind of story I want to tell.

Over and over, I tell myself that I'm going to break out of the mold of the novel, and time and again I force myself back into it.  It is comfortable, familiar.  I know how to do that, and as such it is the easy way out.

I have to stop taking the easy way out.

So, for me, National Novel Writing Month is both the problem and the symptom.  I'm not writing a novel, so why am I trying to make it fit the format?  I need to refocus, and plan my way forward.  Something different is trying to be born through me.  I just need to get out of its way.

A Gothic Aesthetic

This is yet another take on the Our Solemn Hour vid, this time using one of the most gothic film franchises, underworld as its subject.

I really want Our Solemn Hour to have a more gothic look to the art and feel to the stories, but Underworld only starts the idea of that.  While I am avoiding the medevalism of most traditional fantasy, I am not willing to add guns and cars into the setting.

  • As for guns: I was once held hostage at gun point and I really don't like writing about them.
  • Cars take us beyond the gaslight era that I want the story to take place in.



Our Solemn Hour: How it all began

This song is a mind worm, it dug in and wouldn't let go. I knew I wanted to do something with scattered images that trouble my vision every time I listen to it. No single idea stood out at first and I posted quite a few of them on the site. Eventually, a character stood out and I knew what I was going to write, sort of.

Enter Ronan Keon

Ronan popped into my head and said, "I am a survivor from the lost city of Parthalan.  I was there when it fell.  I tried to save it, to save anything... but in the end, it all fell apart.  I hate what the moon brings."

I perked up immediately.  That is interesting, and I recognized that last phrase.

H. P. Lovecraft wrote a vignette called, What the Moon Brings, on June 5, 1922 that starts with the line, "I hate the moon."  It is a gastly short about unspeakable horrors bleeding into the world through the moon light.  The story is powerful and evocative, but it posed a problem for me.

I already have a dark fantasy setting.

Dragons of Night is my contemporary, dark fantasy setting.  Was Ronan a new character for it?

No.  Images of a man in Alexander McQueen inspired clothes with a sword on his back and a staff in his hands didn't fit well into Dragons of Night.  Then it hit me.

Steampunk Sword & Sorcery Wuxia!

I could write the story as a Sword and Sorcery, a genre I love, and that a lot of you have asked me to work in, while at the same time breaking from several conventions of the genre.

The swordplay and organization in the world will draw on Wuxia and Jedaigeki sources rather than European legends and Romances.  This may not be new for anime or manga, but I am not familiar with much prose fiction like that.  The idea of writing an anime type sword and sorcery is exciting.  I allow myself a lot more freedom than I would have ordinarily to do things differently.

The setting will eschew (I use that word in honor of Mark Twain) medievalism with a world resembling  Steampunk, Westerns, Swashbuckling fiction, and Gaslight fiction.  No squabbling nobles, royals, or the like.  The stories will be about individuals rather than nations at war, and the stakes will be personal.

Characterization will be as important as the Action/Adventure elements.  Many Sword and Sorcery stories miss that part.  I am not saying that I will be perfect with it, but I really want the stories to be character driven.

Now I had it.  A seed for the setting, a character, and some genre rules to build from.  Our Solemn Hour is starting to take shape.

The Final Fantasy Connection

I chose that particular vid for Our Solemn Hour for a reason.  It starts to build the visual tone poem for the world I am wanting to create.

I pitched the world to Brian by saying: Imagine Final Fantasy meets Lovecraft if it were written by Robert E Howard.  That is super high concept, but it helps to bring together a vision until I get the setting bible done.

If I can pull this off, it will honestly be my favorite thing I have ever written.  I hope you all enjoy the process as I blog about it and the stories as they come out.

5 Versions of Our Solemn Hour Up

I posted 5 versions of the Our Solemn Hour idea up (here).  This is not all of them, but these are some of the ones I am most interested in.  I will try to post more tomorrow.  Please let me know what you think either in the Forum or using the Formspring box in the column =>

I am excited about this new project, and a little nervous about being so public about it.  There will also be a new episode of Project: Shadow out shortly about the changes.