Please join me in distracting author Rune S. Nielsen as he awaits a verdict on Doomsayer Prince from the blog Fantasy Faction. Rune is a fellow contestant in #SPFBO7 and when I asked Rune if any secondary character tried to have a bigger role his novel, I got this vehement answer!
Imagine my surprise
Because of Phytiax, my debut novel now begins in another part of the world than I first intended, and he completely took over the first many chapters of the novel. Mage Prince Phytiax even “stole” the title, as he is the Doomsayer Prince that my novel in SPFBO#7 is named for.
Mage Prince Phytiax was initially supposed to be this foreign hero. A legendary kick-ass, action-man, swordfighter, that just dropped in to save the day when the actual main characters needed someone like him the most. I thought up this scene in a castle where the reader suddenly finds her/himself reading about this uncannily tough swordfighter, chopping his way through the opposition, guard by guard.
Leading up to that would be a terrible situation like “Oh no, we are getting tortured! There’s no way out! We don’t deserve this. Why is it happening to us? We are just these simple and nice people.” Then more torture and “Nobody’s coming for us. Cry!!”
Then BAM! In jumps the hero. Kills the bad guys, rescues our main characters to their surprise, and completely saves the day.
At first, this was a sort of simple plot device (perhaps dumb, perhaps clever, I don’t know) to get them out of a bad spot unexpectedly.
For a while, it became a way to show just how not-very-hero-like the actual main characters were at that point in time, and it ended up being a story of a 3-dimensional really cool character you could relate to. With issues and troubles of his own, and the glue that sticks the plot together. Not to mention many of the reader’s absolute favorite.
How did that happen?
I fell completely in love with this character and his backstory. I dreamed about it, woke up many days (very early,) and was quite full of ideas.
First off, I decided it would be silly for Mage Prince Phytiax to show up out of the blue, and so at first, I wrote a prologue featuring him. The idea being the reader’s joy/surprise when he later showed up: “who is that dude? Oh, it’s that guy again!” However, I needed the prologue to be really good, since it’s the first thing you read, and to capture the reader’s attention, I needed a character with nuance and depth. Not just some guy with big biceps. I went back and forth, giving him strengths, and weaknesses, goals in life, a family, a country, even creating a wholly unique style of magic, which became his ‘thing.’
As a result, the prologue got longer. And longer!
Finally, it got to a point when it was impossible to call it a prologue any longer, and it became like the first five chapters or so. It was one of the main reasons that my planned 90K words standard-sort-of-sized fantasy novel exploded into a 300K work of epic and unintended proportions. It was so much fun!
Phytiax ended up being HUGE, and not only a part of the prologue and the beginning of the novel but the entire journey. From the reader’s perspective (in the finished novel) the whole backdrop to the plot comes from his story. His view of things. The book literally became about his quest to find the others and convince them to help him save everything they hold dear. Not about them doing their thing, and him giving a helping hand and a nudge in the right direction.
Note: Rune’s story is the first in a series of guest posts by SPFBO7 authors answering the question “did you have a minor character in your SPFBO7 novel who insisted on playing a larger role in the story?” The question was prompted by my fascination with the creative process and how the story one finishes writing isn’t ever quite the story one started with!