Monday, June 7, 2010

It was hard...and then it wasn't.

My current WIP is high fantasy, as probably most all of you know by now, since I've mentioned it plenty before. High fantasy/epic fantasy was my first love...or maybe my second love, since I guess I have to admit that my first love was books with animal MCs (Redwall series, hello!) or horse books (I may or may not own books 1-18 in the Thoroughbred series). So, of course, it was thrilling when I got the vague idea for this WIP. But also scary, because while it may not be the most popular genre right now in YA, it's no small corner of the market. LORD OF THE RINGS fans are die hard. Do I really need to give more examples? (Should I admit that I've only read THE HOBBIT? Please, no one stone me for that.) It's a genre with so many tropes attached to it, that it's hard to have an idea that doesn't step on any toes.

Or at least, I thought it was.

I spent a really long time--probably too long--agonizing over how to make sure my WIP stood out from all the others, while still sticking to what makes the genre great. I rewrote the first five hundred words about seven times before I got a beginning that stuck, because I couldn't make myself settle onto exactly what I wanted to happen. Until finally I gave my setting a really hard look, decided on something that felt for sure unique, and went with it. The rest fell into place, and I stopped worrying as much. I reminded myself that it was a first draft, and who cared if it wasn't as unique as it needed to be? I could refresh myself on the genre later, and fix any issues.

Then a week or so ago, FINNIKIN OF THE ROCK arrived in my mailbox, and I was dying of excitement to read it, but was also afraid to. What if my WIP sounded similar? What if some of the plot points were outright the same?

Well, of course, I started reading anyway, because who could resist that beautiful cover and that beautiful epic fantasyness and Melina Marchetta's beautiful writing? And it wasn't scary. Any similarities were superficial (like how Finnikin & co are doing a lot of journeying, as are my characters). Nothing to be afraid of at all! Not to mention that FINNIKIN, in turn, stands out in the genre itself. Nothing about that book is tired.

Now I know it's just one book. But it reaffirmed my belief that no matter what your genre, no matter how 'done' something is, you can always find your spot. Maybe my WIP will turn out amazing, maybe it will fall flat on its face. But I feel confident, at least, that it is its own. It's good to remember that no matter how many books there are, there will always be room for more.


The Blue Lipstick Samurai said...

I only read The Hobbit! We need an anti-rabid-LOTR-fans bunker... Just incase they do decide to stone us.

'There is nothing new under the sun...' Only new angles from which to see it.

Love this post, and I highly doubt your WIP will fall flat on its face.

Kristin Miller said...

I haven't read The Hobbit, but I have read LOTR and . . . it was just okay, IMO. *hops into bunker*

I love this post! Finnikin really does stand out - and yours will, too. There absolutely is always room for more good epic fantasy.

Michelle Schusterman said...

I agree with Kristin! LOTR is like THE standard, and so many high fantasies end up being massive copy-cats - and not because of the characters going on a journey, but because of things like the worldbuilding and the characters. From what I've seen so far, yours is quite unique. :)

Chanelley said...

I started to read The Hobbit...and then got bored. I haven't really read any epic fantasys. But I'm sure yours will be amazing, Kaitlin!

Kirsten said...

I LOVED the Thoroughbred series, haha. And this is a good reminder to work hard to polish ideas and make them unique. I'm sure your story will be its own amazing tale!!

Abby Stevens said...

My husband is halfway through The Hobbit right now and likes it, but I've not read any of them. I guess you better make more room in that bunker, Glenna!

Erinn said...

I read the hobbit and had a problem with the fact that Bilbo was knocked out for most of the battle, it felt like a cop out to me. I got through half of The Followship but had to stop because it was a lot of walking and describing trees. There's plenty of room in the bunker.