Failing to build a coherent brand

So, Firebrand is off with Team Beta and out of my headspace for the time being. Heavy Ice is still mired in the mud of ‘Why didn’t I realise two years ago that this needed a lot more worldbuilding and a villain who Kallisty would actually have problems with?’ and I have a new project.

The first two Requite novels were SF with heavy influence from romance and novels of manners: Firebrand is light-hearted romance with steampunk overtones (someone gets blown up offstage by a man with a malfunctioning mechanical arm and there’s a lot of plot involving airships, but quite honestly they could just as easily be cybernetic space whales or geomancy-powered trains and the story wouldn’t be affected that much) and the new thing is pseudo-Arthurian fantasy set in a parallel Dark Ages.

I struggled for ages looking for an adjective to put in front of ‘fantasy’ there to define what I meant – ‘dark fantasy’ just makes people assume there will be vampires (never say never, but I’d be surprised if any showed up) and a lot of angsty sex (who knows, but I haven’t written any yet), ‘gritty fantasy’ sounds like it will be nothing but whores, beheadings and people brooding angrily about their sorrows, and ‘serious fantasy’ sounds like I know I’m writing fantasy but I don’t have to like it, dammit. None of which really fit the bill.

I am a bit worried that I’m failing to build a coherent brand, but I think ‘I’d assumed I’d have found a genre to settle in by now’ is one of those things like ‘One day I will magically like the taste of olives and be able to take an intelligent interest in other people’s loft conversions!’ that is neither true nor particularly helpful. Or possibly the next thing I write will be a YA Space Western and the thing after that will be a murder mystery in blank verse. From here, it’s really hard to tell.

Also, I am, once again, really sorry to the people who bought the first Requite books and could reasonably expect to have Heavy Ice in their hands by now. The problem is that I managed to write upwards of 100 000 words using my old ‘I know vaguely where I’m going, the story will take me there’ method before realising that the damn thing was still growing exponentially and budding off characters and subplots and yet the plot was hard to find at all. And then I wrote down a plot for Firebrand in advance and discovered that actually I wrote much more quickly and with less hand-wringing if I had a skeleton to hang the writing off, even if, as with Firebrand, the skeleton mutated considerably in the course of writing and at one point manifested large copper wings. (If you’re reading this a few months down the line and have read Firebrand, Seymoretta was not in the original plot outline, for example).

And now I need to work out how much of the draft of Heavy Ice can be saved. I’m pretty certain some of it’s salvageable and I know I’m not done with Requite or with the character of Kallisty Hawkwood, but writing a coherent plot in advance for it, which is what I need to do, is not happening at present. And I’m really sorry.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

3 thoughts on “Failing to build a coherent brand

  1. I’ll live 🙂 I’d rather read the book you want to write, rather than the one you rushed through because you felt you *owed* your readers. Also, I’m looking forward to ‘Firebrand’ 🙂

    1. I hope you like it! It has conspiracies, pugs, attempted stranglings at railway stations, a runaway carriage, the heroine dressing up as a Fanciful Airship Captain, evil stepdaughters, a shattering row in a parlour, kidnappings, legal machinations, discussion of the rights of Dissenters, unpleasant letters, duels before breakfast, grave-robbing and a mechanical birdcage.

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