Technically, I wrote The Singer and the Charlatan in a week. I had been working as co-author for years with C.J. Perry (his first novel, Dark Communion, is coming out soon!), and we both decided after years of beating our heads against a wall in epic fantasy to try writing solo.
It wasn’t until I had a week’s vacation from work that I decided to sit down and really write. Originally, out of all the years of Dungeons and Dragons, Shadowrun, Pathfinder, and Vampire campaigns, I swore that Leanna Moonbody’s story couldn’t be told. It was complicated and equal parts full of comedy and insanity. As the DM (storyteller) for that campaign, I decided to see what it would be like to take the reigns off my fellow players. Rather than pushing a rigid narrative of my own design, every player’s whim became reality.
Leanna was asked where she was from, and replied only with, ‘the South’, with no memory of where that was specifically, but the answer was good enough for her. Trixi didn’t want to cast her spells anymore, and would rather leave it to her god (a random dice roll).The pilgrimage for her god would have to wrap around the ring of eastern cities and end with a trip to a Magic City, and so that’s what happened.
With this level of chaos, it’s easy to see how the narrative could get lost. When I sat down for that first page, it was an exercise in showing how it could be done, not that I would do it. Surely, some details wouldn’t translate well to paper, and I’d hit a stopping point where the comedy and the chaos would disrupt the narrative.
I kept saying that, over and over again, as the words poured out. 238 pages in one week. I left it alone, half-finished, for two months. Sure, it made me laugh, but could I really wrap it up? I sat back down over Summer 2015 and finished it out. 450 pages, all told.The narrative never fell apart, the jokes kept rolling, the chaos only made it better.
Of course, epic fantasy can clock high page counts, but fantasy comedy? Probably not, in retrospect. CJ Perry told me almost from the beginning it should be two books. I stubbornly denied it, only conceding that if beta readers came back with the same thought, I’d split it up. Well, that didn’t take long. I learned something important from that, something I’d never heard before – ‘laugh fatigue’. It’s one of those things you know, and we’ve all been there with a comedy that goes on too long.
Splitting it was the best decision I could have made, though. It allowed for sharper motivation, a more concise flow, and when the laughing stops, the book is over. Hopefully, that translates to wanting to have another wild ride with Leanna and Trixi in the second book.