I am increasingly aware that I don’t want to write a fantasy novel so much as a domestic novel that happens to be set in a fantasy world.
CHARACTER RELEVANT BATHS. CHARACTER RELEVANT HAIRBRUSHING. I WANT IT ALLL
But really, I’ve always been annoyed when authors barely touch the interesting stuff-of-daily-life to focus on drama, even though … that’s where the story is. So I tend to linger on ‘okay, this language has so many irregular forms, it’s very hard’ and ‘OH MY GOD PUBLIC BATHING???!’ more than the devouring roses.
We’ll see how it fares in editing, of course. But that’s where my instinct lies.
I occasionally feel daunted by the sheer breadth of other people’s fantasy universes. Much of Lhûn is vague to me—I’m not a visual person at all, beyond the occasional vivid scene (roses!). Even in terms of cast, mine seems narrower than so many other series. There are various major characters, to the point that I worry about the lack of focus, but the sense of a wider world … I don’t know.
So I actually went through the first half of the novel to see how many people are mentioned at all.
It’s, uh, fifty-one. Of these, seventeen actually appear. Only seven are more or less major characters: Arceptra, Loraya, Giva, Ariana, Tal, Lian, and Rei. Another is slated to show up in Chapter 9. That gives us ten minor characters (people like Giva’s father or Magister Nolani), and thirty-four mentioned but not actually showing up.
The ghost characters include a theologian, offscreen Alayr, the queen, various other students, and members of the Elentian pantheon, among others.
Well, it’s not Tolkien (or Martin, for that matter), but … I wouldn’t say narrow. Comforting, anyway.
My friend India Valentín has a great discussion of “the fallen woman” in the Victorian years. Something I found interesting, if horrible, is how similar it is to the mores and tropes around the issue in the eighteenth century, which had very different conceptions of women in many ways.
Of course, the ultimate discussion of this in England is Mary Wollstonecraft’s famous treatise, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. She discusses multiple scenarios for how women could become unwed mothers—teenage ignorance, seduction, exploitation by predators—and then moves onto the shaming of rape victims:
When Richardson makes Clarissa tell Lovelace that he had robbed her of her honour, he must have had strange notions of honour and virtue. For, miserable beyond all names of misery is the condition of a being, who could be degraded without its own consent!