My History of Writing, Part III: One Bridge Too Far

At one point in my life, I dreamt of being a fantasy writer like Tolkien. A tad arrogant, perhaps, seeing as he was the father of the epic fantasy. I knew I would never become as famous, eloquent or imaginative as he was, but I loved his world. That was the part I aspired to recreate.

All of my free time I spent on inventing a world: places, languages, songs, culture, animals, gods and people. I felt strongly attached to the world I had created, but there was one problem: I had gathered so many ideas that I had no idea where to start, what was important to the story and if I really needed so many characters. There were three continents, twelve gods, around fifteen villages and a countless number of characters.

My main character was a seventeen-year-old who had been taking from his home country as a young boy because his sisters decided to flee from their fate as princesses and take their brother with them. The sisters died, my main character ended up in an adoption family at the other side of the world. He also had gotten the task from one of the gods to restore the world’s religion. There was too much information. I knew everything about the character himself, but the story seemed to be lacking a thread. It was meant to be epic fantasy, so I made the boy visit every single village. A story was connected to every single one of them. Most of these had absolutely nothing to do with the plot.

Soon, I was out of inspiration. I could no longer stand writing about the countless fights between my main character and his adoption family. I could not get a hold of all of the family trees. Everything in the story was meant to be connected… But it was not. In fact, it turned out to be nothing but a 110.000 word rigmarole. By that number, I mean the word count at the moment I decided I could no longer do it. It was just half of the story, though. Then I gave up. I spent at least two years of my life trying to figure out every single detail of the story, before coming to the conclusion I did not even enjoy it anymore.

Maybe it was too much for fifteen-year-old me. I did not even like writing for my target audience – teenagers like myself – so I wonder why I ever thought this was a good idea. This is how I ended up wanting to become an author of children’s fiction. Small, compact stories with a lot of fun and action seemed much more interesting than writing down page long arguments that never seemed to end. Now, when my characters fight, it is actually fun. I have learned my lesson: world building may have been amazing, but writing epic fantasy was not meant for me at all. In the end, the choices that we make in life shape the path that lies ahead.

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