How the Doomsayer Prince took over Rune S. Nielsen’s debut novel

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

To my utter astonishment, one of my minor characters completely took over my debut novel. Phytiax just exploded onto the pages and extended my writing phase by months.

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.

Thanks for sharing this story with us, Rune! Best of luck in SPFBO7, with the sales of Doomsayer, and with your next novel!

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!

I’ve been waiting until today …

I’m a lurker on fantasy blogs. Why?

I spend most of my waking hours writing fantasy, but my stories don’t conform well to the rules, or at least to the current fashions in my genre and I know it. Yet I persist in writing what I like to read. So, while I enjoy hiding in the shadows listening to what others have to say, I seldom feel that I have much to add to the conversation.

For the last couple of years, I’ve silently watched something called SPFBO. Short for “Self-published Fantasy Blog Off,” it’s a rather bizarre contest wherein 10 or so blogs judge 30 self-published fantasy books each (300 total) and select 10 finalists and one winner. It’s a great way for self-published authors to get much needed publicity, and the folks who put this together donate a lot of time and effort.

This year, with no forethought, I surprised myself by entering my novel “She’s the One Who Thinks Too Much.” Well, don’t expect much to come of this, I told myself.

Then, of the 25 of so possible reviewers, I drew the winner of last years contest as my reviewer. Yikes. That was intimidating. This guy can really do this shit.

Since June 1, I’ve checked every day. Has he reviewed my book yet? Not today. Maybe tomorrow.

Today, it got reviewed.

And???

The review was fair, containing criticism mixed with praise. I thought the reviewer was absolutely on the mark as to the books strengths and weaknesses. To my ear it was on the whole more good than bad, though it leaves me thinking I’m unlikely to advance even to the semi-finalist stage. (To be honest I never thought there was much chance of that anyway.)

My only quarrel at all is I wish the reviewer had been more familiar with alternate histories, in which components of our own world mix with imaginary settings. Then he may have been less puzzled by my Mongols (who are important to the story in their historical sense) and my one reference to Greek Mythology.

That aside, finally seeing my review was exhilarating.

Here’s the comments I left on the SPFBO Facebook Page.

Thank you for the review! It is always a joy when a reviewer “gets” what one is trying to do, even when it gives them niggles. I always wish I could buy such a reviewer a beer and talk through their observations but, alas, that isn’t an option. So I’ll just thank everyone — Justin Anderson, Booknest.eu, and SPFBO#7 — for this great opportunity.

And I do thank them all.

Whew … now I’m going to have to find something else obsessive to do every day.

I’m in SPFBO7: Take Deep Breaths

I keep lists of ideas for new ways to promote my self-published books and I seldom follow through on them. Too much work. Too expensive. Probably won’t make a bit of difference. It’s easy to get discouraged in the world of self-publishing.

One idea got moved from list to list.  I became aware of a contest a few years ago that looked promising called SPFBO (aka self-published fantasy blog off — not bake off.) But every time I saw it, the contest was in progress and I never could figure out where to find the schedule or the rules. Oh well, it probably costs a fortune anyway. And if it doesn’t they won’t let me in.

Then late at night 3 days ago, I skimmed a post from a blog and I saw it. The contest, the SPFBO, was opening the next day! More amazing, it was free and would accept the first 300 people who signed up. This was unbelievable. It didn’t surprise me to discover that last year it filled in under 24 hours.

However, there was one small problem. That same day, the next day, Friday the 14th, was the release day for my latest book She’s the One Who Gets in Fights.

I had three different book release things happening  plus a slew of other related promotional ideas to pursue. Could I possibly get myself entered into this SBFBO thingy as well? Of course I could.

I went to bed determined.  I’d get up and find a way to do it all.

I woke up at 6:59 am to the sound of my wave noise generator stopping. That’s weird. It’s never shut off before. I opened my eyes to see the ceiling fan slowing down.

No!

I live in the mountains of Western North Carolina and every once in a while we lose power up in these hills. Like once every year or two… Not today. Please not today.

But yes, the gods of stress were having a small chuckle at my expense. I found a way to make hot tea (no coffee!) No shower (our well runs on electricity.) I started doing what I could from my phone. Dim that screen. Make that battery last.

However, entering SBFBO was one thing my phone couldn’t do. Did it have enough oomph to be an adequate hot spot for my laptop? Was my laptop well enough charged? If I’d just known this was going to happen …

Entries opened at 2 pm my time. I watched the hours pass, considering a drive into the nearest small town. Since Covid hit, I didn’t know of a single place offering inside space and free internet. Had that changed? Could I make it over to Asheville? Surely they had something.

I must have become boring to watch, for at about 10:30 the gods of stress released their hold on our power lines and  the refrigerator began to hum.

Okay, I can do this now. I can do this. Breath. Slowly.

And of course I did do it because in spite of all my panic it was remarkably easy to enter. I even managed most of my promotional book release stuff, too.

When I woke up Saturday to plenty of wonderful power surging through my home there was also excitement surging through my veins. Someone put all the entered books on Goodreads. Someone else made a list of all the judges. One entrant asked what we all did for a living and the answers were pouring in. This looked to be an exciting thing to be a part of!

Encouragement poured in as well, especially to us nervous first time entrants. I’d read that one of the joys of this endeavor was a sense of community and it looks like no one was joking about that.

So, here I am, in touch with 299 other self-published fantasy writers. Some have have far more success to their names than I do while others have only begun their journey, submitting their first novel. I’m humbled to be in this group and grateful for the whim that led me to read the thing that clued me in to the timing.

Isn’t life funny, in so many ways?