Posts Tagged ‘African Mythology’

Fleshing Out My Characters

In My Writing on February 23, 2014 at 11:59 am

With the demise of Novel 1, I’ve been putting all of my efforts toward Novel 2. Here’s a little bit of background on what I’m doing.

Novel 2 is based on mythology from various African nations/tribes/cultures. I’ve taken bits from these various sources and am combining them to create a story that is uniquely mine. I’m setting all of this in a world of my own making so that I can create my own geography and rules of nature. If you’ve read Lian Hearn’s Across the Nightingale Floor, you’ll totally get what I’m doing.

Before you ask, no, I’ve never visited any country in Africa, although I would love to one day.

Because I’ve never been there, I have to rely on pictures from the internet to give me a feel for what I want to write. I’ve been surrounding myself with pictures that express what it is that’s in my head. You see, I’m basing the aesthetics on African art rather than on realistic pictures of landscapes. In my head my entire story plays out as an animated feature or a graphic novel. I imagine my characters with graceful, elongated bodies and facial features that aren’t fully defined. I imagine brightly coloured landscapes and highly stylised animals. It’s quite beautiful in my head. I’m going to do my best to convey that beauty onto the page.

No pressure.

As I mentioned previously, I’ve learned a lot from my oh-so many mistakes in Novel 1. One of the things I’ve learned is that I can’t have a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants approach to structure. I’m the type of person who needs an outline. I need to know what’s going to happen and where the story needs to go.

I also need more consistency in my characters. The ones I had in Novel 1 were kind of flat and boring so I’ve set about making more detailed character profiles for this story. I’ve also gone a step further and have cast my characters as though there was going to be a film version of my story. This may seem to contradict what I wrote about not having characters with fully defined facial features and such, but I want to make them feel like fully fleshed out human beings. This is purely for myself in an effort to make them more real for me. So, no, I won’t be sharing my casting choices with you. It’s for my edification only.

So, that’s where I am with Novel 2. (Sorry, no working title yet.) It’s chugging along slowly but steadily and I feel really good about it.

The Aquarian Guide to African Mythology

In Book Reviews on July 17, 2013 at 6:00 am

The Aquarian Guide to African Mythology

Aquarian Press 1990

Guess what. I’m writing a novel. This is my first time writing a blog post about it, but now you know. As you can probably guess from the title, my story is going to be based on African mythology. Some of you may already know this, but I love reading mythology. I love stories of fantastic creatures and larger-than-life heroes. I’ve read a few retellings and have been inspired to try my hand at it.

As you can imagine, it’s pretty daunting.

Africa has so many different cultures, languages and stories. Where does one start? Well, my story isn’t actually going to take place in Africa. I’m going to create my own world with similar regions, biomes and creatures as there are in Africa. I’m going to populate it with spirits, cannibals, witches, gods, goddesses, kings, queens, heroes and villains. To my intense delight, I found that Amazons are also represented in African mythology. I didn’t want to represent (or offend) only one culture, so I’ve decided to do a mish-mash and take as many of the interesting things that I could find to create my story.

When I came up with this idea, I was completely ignorant of African mythology.  We’re not exposed to it in the west, which is a shame because it’s fascinating. This book was an excellent place to start. It’s sort of an encyclopaedia as the various topics are listed in alphabetical order but it sparked so many ideas. I still have a lot of research to do but this was fantastic for dipping my toes into the mythology.

I’ve gotten as far as creating my main characters and I have a basic idea of how I want the story to go. I’ve already got a beginning and an end, so that’s a pretty good start. I’ve been working on my outline and researching as I go along.

I’m not sure I’d recommend this book unless you’re reading with a mind towards research, unless you enjoy reading reference books for fun (which I could totally understand because I do) but it’s a great way to attain a basic grasp of African mythology.

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