I’ve decided to do something bold here. This blog isn’t going to be about showing off only the finished, polished writing I do. I’ve decided to give you an intimate view of the whole process that goes into creating a novel. I have to admit, this is a bit intimidating to me; letting strangers into a very personal space. Please be kind as I share this world with you.
This particular story is going to be a real adventure to share because it started so small. It all started with a single idea: Two warriors, a man and a woman, and a secret romantic rendezvous.
That’s it. That’s where the whole thing started. My wife and I were discussing ideas for paintings (for her) and stories (for me), and that was an idea both of us thought sounded interesting.
You may not think that’s much to base a book on, but in reality, it’s more than enough for a starting place. I’ve already got two main characters, and each of them is going to have a whole story of their own. Plus, there’s the secret rendezvous. Obviously, if they’re keeping it secret, they don’t want others to find out, so there’s a story there too.
So who are these two warriors? Well, if they’re keeping their romance secret, perhaps it’s because they’re in opposing armies. They are supposed to be enemies, but they’ve fallen in love instead. I like this idea particularly because I can play with ideas of opposition and balance; the idea that true harmony isn’t found by making all things the same, but by finding balance between differences.
There wasn’t anything in the initial concept that specified a time or technology for the story, so I have complete freedom here. I could go anywhere with it. For some reason, I can’t really say why, this story feels like it should be in a magic/fantasy world. Perhaps it’s because it gives me some liberty to create an imaginary world that lets me exaggerate the differences that make the balance so beautiful.
I started thinking about the female warrior. I wanted her to be strong, but also feminine. There is an element of our culture that still seems to think of women as weak, pathetic beings — at least in comparison to men — but I don’t buy that. Women are strong, but their strength is different than a man’s strength. I couldn’t see this warrior in the big, heavy, bulky metal armor of a knight. She would be light, agile, and fast. She would take advantage of her lower center of gravity, her higher flexibility.
I pictured her being able to draw on the shadows and create an inky, fluid armor with no mass to slow her down, no bulk to impede her movements. She became a Shadow Witch.
If she’s going to have shadow magic, it’s only fair her opposite have magic as well. And what’s the opposite of shadow? Light, of course. So he uses light magic. Just to keep the contrast going, light has no substance like shadow does. Instead, our knights must wear steel armor and swing swords. The light only adds power and energy to the attack or defense.
That’s when I came up with the working title for this piece: Shadow and Light. And I quickly discovered this gem of a quote by Leo Tolstoy (from Anna Karenina):
“All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow.”