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Work In Progress: “For the Clan” & How It Has a Mind of Its Own

“What? You want me to say I thought of him every day I was stuck in that hell hole? That I cried myself to sleep thinking how much I wished he was with me? That I begged to every conceivable so-called God just to see him one more time? Because I will; I’ll say it just this once. Then you can leave me the hell alone, you and these screwing-with-you rhetoricals.”

– Roan Lee, from For the Clan

 

Yes, I’m back to writing again. Although this one’s funny. Not “hahahaha” but “WTF?!” I’m glad I’ve sort of documented this journey because it’s becoming an interesting ride.

On June 1, 2014, I posted that I finished A Question of Counsel, and:

I need to cleanse my mental palette with some other projects and then look into tackling another submission for a different collection call. This time, a polyamourous story. Currently, it’s looking like a M/M/F relationship set in a totally different fantasy realm (kind of pre-Mediaeval Celtic, maybe?). I’m also hoping it might be more serious, or a little darker, at least. Ooh ah, shiny.

Fine. That’s awesome. I was grooving with it. I even wrote some notes over the course of the year whenever ideas popped into my head, which was rather sparsely:

– “something about a clan, w/ feeling of old Celtic?”
– “young male; older male + his wife (clan leader)”
– “something a bit serious for the young guy, w/ a touch of Memoirs of a Geisha… one slave, one free?”

There’s a whole page of similar thoughts, some of which blows the plot, so I won’t dwell.

And that’s all I had for the longest time. Though the title kept running through my head. “At least I have a working title,” I figured.

By the end of November, something had happened. Suddenly a post-apocalyptic feel started to force its way into things. And magic. Though it’s suspiciously after I saw “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1”, so maybe I was feeling the “love”.

Then, it went nowhere… until about a week before I was supposed to visit family for Christmas in December.

Go figure.

I hadn’t really been thinking about the manuscript, just trying to keep my head on during the holidays. But one strange afternoon as I was finishing up my shower, EVERYTHING hit me. Kind of like an avalanche. Got out of the shower and started writing some things down. Then I kept writing. I didn’t come up for air.

And that was just day 1.

It happened over the course of the week. I wouldn’t just write a page or two of notes in one sitting, however. It was piles worth. I was listening to the Mockingjay soundtrack and just writing the outline, almost to the tiniest detail for certain scenes. Backstory, society rules, emotions, the works. My hands cramped up. I barely felt it.

Before I left town, I had nearly the entire story outlined. Then I finished it when I came back. These days, this is what I’m looking at in terms of an outline, after spending 10 HOURS straight typing up my handwritten notes:

 

screencap of For the Clan notes

 

There’s 27 pages of it. Essentially the entire story.

Except that’s not the funniest part. Oh, no, there’s more.

 

And I Dub Thee … Huh?

I love fantasy. I love secondary worlds. I love my Celtic ancestry. I love my pagan brethren. The plan was set for this manuscript, very clearly.

So when the heck did it develop the identity crisis in terms of sub-genre?

Oh, yeah, that’s right. The story decided it didn’t want to be set in a secondary world, nor did it want to be set in a historical setting. No. It decided future earth was better. It wanted to be dystopian. It wanted to have the dark, post-apocalypse feeling. But it didn’t want to stray too far from the fantasy realm. It really argued to have magic.

Then it decided that if we’re going there, why not just add a bit of science fiction for a few good kicks?

While I was working out some details about the main protagonist, Roan, I started to slip into the weird. Roan has a couple of significant markings, both tattoos. They are brandings; marks declaring he’s owned by the government. When I was thinking about what these might be, I thought of the words “fifty-four sigma kay one”. I didn’t know what they meant, other than suggesting the program he was enrolled in. I couldn’t remember what sigma looked like. I just thought it sounded good.

So I did some research. Started first with the symbol for “sigma”. But wait, did I want uppercase or smallcase? There’s a difference. Well, shoot, I didn’t know. So I checked out what each of them represented.

Oh, how the literary and scientific Gods have a sense of humour.

The uppercase had an option or two I could use. But it was smallcase that made me sit back, blink, then giggle my ass off. Not only does it refer to sigma receptors in biology, which are associated with hard drugs like cocaine and morphine, but it’s used in mathematics for standard deviation… which is incredibly familiar, considering I took two different statistics courses in university. I latched onto to these two things, and I’ve run rampant with them since.

Now, Roan’s tattoos are: “54σK1” down the side of his face and “SIGMA” down his back. Not only was he enrolled – and tortured – in a drug program, but there’s a play on words: he’s a deviation from the standard.

/cue groan and headshake

Yes, sometimes I think I really am that funny.

Although the science relation continues. Roan is not a regular human. Thanks to a genetic mutation in their unexpressed DNA (er, “junk” DNA) after a reaction to a new chemical, certain individuals have magic and they pass it along, where the mutated alleles become the dominant ones and override the average person’s “healthy” DNA code. This new sub-species becomes known as Homo sapien veneficum, or Vens in common terms.

And there’s more. I don’t know how much of it will end up in the story itself. Maybe not very much. Still, combined with above, it’s enough to make me think I should just slap a big ol’ “speculative fiction” descriptor on the manuscript and forget trying to shove it into a box.

 

So Where Is It Now?

Other than being based in my region of Canada (*giggle snort*), I can finally reveal that the characters have names. And I even have a blurb/summary (HOLY S#^T! That never happens this early.)

Canada, 2115 AD. A decimated economy. The Water Wars have taken their toll. Anyone who doesn’t live in a military-patrolled metropolis lives off the land in a Clan. But being in a Clan doesn’t mean safety.

And for a Ven like Roan Lee, safety is a luxury. So is freedom.

Roan is desperate to escape the governtary’s exploitation and torture. He is nothing to them but 54σK1, an artifact from a magical race born from a genetic mishap. When the chance to escape arises, he runs from his present and encounters the lover from his past, twisting his future into a second chance he never expected.

As leaders of Clan Teach, Jace Ama and his wife, Cayra Diega, have enough difficulty keeping their people safe from the governtary. But when Roan is thrown to their feet as a prisoner, their marriage becomes an additional challenge. Jace still loves Roan, but where does that place Cayra? She doesn’t want to rob Jace of his redemption. She also doesn’t want to lose him. Is there a choice beyond choosing one or the other, without destroying their clan, too?

I’m hoping to get it written in the next couple of months. While inspired by LT3‘s Intertwined collection, I’ve accepted this won’t be for that. Instead I’ll take a bit of time, savour it, and edit better than I did the last manuscript when I had to cram it through to meet the deadline. So I’m looking at a potential finish date in March. Although with so much of the story “written” in the outline already, it should hopefully be a smoother ride than other projects.

 

In closing…

… a bit more of Roan’s explosive temper:

“Your clan left me! The clan I trusted, the men who helped raised me. Saved me. They left me to rot when it mattered the most! They saved your privileged ass and gave me to the very men they hated. What the hell does that say about the people you love?”

 

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3 comments on “Work In Progress: “For the Clan” & How It Has a Mind of Its Own

  1. […] solid month, then taking time to haggle with a couple bouts of acute insomnia, I managed to finish For the Clan. After two weeks of grueling edits (read: eyeball gouging, mind-turning-to-jelly, […]

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  2. […] talked a bit about the project before and the insane trip it took on the way to the first draft. By the end of the mind-melting, […]

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  3. […] those who missed it, or need a refresher, I wrote about FTC here and here. It’s science fiction and fantasy polished off with a M/M/F relationship. Add snarcasm, […]

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