I’m working on my NaNo project right now and because of that I’ve been thinking about what kind of story it is going to be. I know it’s fantasy, I know it’s set in secondary world where elves once lived and where magic exists, but there is one thing I still didn’t know: who the enemy is.
Don’t get me wrong. I have one or two antagonists and there are creatures, monsters, that are “evil”, but who is their “boss”? Who is the main villain/antagonist? Who my MCs have to defeat?
To answer these questions I stopped and thought about who would eventually read my novel and what kind of villain these readers would like, and it was with them in mind that I came up with my first idea: the “boss” would be human, a cunning, manipulative minor lord. It fit the story nicely and for a moment I was pretty happy with it but after some time I realized something wasn’t right. When I tried to imagine the story in my mind I… didn’t like it.
And I love this story. I started working on it when I was disappointed with myself because of other projects that weren’t going forward and it was supposed to be something fun/not serious to write since I’m not even planning on publishing it for real (maybe post it on Wattpad or Tumblr, I don’t know). So why wasn’t I liking it?
It didn’t take long for me to realize it was because of the villain. The villain my imaginary readers would (probably) like? I hated him. I like my fantasy big and full of fantastical/magic stuff, but for some reason I tried to make this story… smaller, less magical, and a human, mundane villain was part of it. Sometimes these more down to earth fantasy stories are seen as more serious, less childish, and when thinking about potential readers I somehow tried to reshape my story to fit what I thought they would like based on this mundane/less magical = serious thing. When I let go of it I found myself liking my project again.
It’s kind of funny because, like I said, this story was supposed to be fun. It was supposed to be formyself first. But I ended up letting what people think get in the way of what I want and what I find interesting and worth reading. And I can’t imagine myself writing something I don’t find worth reading, but fantasy stories full of fantastic beings, magic and gods it’s why I read fantasy. Why I write fantasy.
So, lesson learned. Writing for other people, even my (potential, imaginary) readers, won’t get me anywhere. I need to write for myself first and maybe then someone else will enjoy what I love too.