Where It Comes From: The Idea

I’m gonna start with a series of posts going into more of my thought processes in writing Librarian, how I came up with the characters, and whatever else I think might be interesting. I’ll start with the characters next week, there’s five I want to introduce, so that works well. Today I’m going to explain where the idea came from.

Fair warning. These posts may contain spoilers… it sort of depends on how much you want to know about the book beforehand. I won’t be revealing any major plot points or anything like that, but reading these may diminish your pleasure at learning about a new world. To avoid that, I’ll be using hiding the possible spoilers from the main page. Just click on the “Continue reading” link below to read the whole thing.

As my morning quote from about a month and a half ago says:

Two questions form the foundation of all novels: “What if?” and “What next?” (A third question, “What now?”, is one the author asks himself every 10 minutes or so; but it’s more a cry than a question.) Every novel begins with the speculative question, What if “X” happened? That’s how you start.

For Librarian, the “What if X happened?” question was, “What if a disabled mage was assigned a task that looked simple on the face of it, but turned into a real adventure?”

The first follow-up question was, what task? Here I backtracked to “where would a disabled mage work?” A library seemed the most obvious choice to me. Maybe it’s because my own disability had me spending a lot of time in the library as a kid, but that’s what came to me.

So, we have a disabled mage librarian. What task would his superiors send him on? Something having to do with books seemed logical. Also, having someone else send the librarian on the task indicated an organization of some sort with a hierarchy, which became the Guild in the story.

That the book would be magical also seemed to follow. Otherwise you’d send a non-magical scribe or librarian, not a mage. What sort of magical book would the Guild want to send someone to look at? One they were thinking of purchasing was the first thought, but that didn’t seem to lend itself to much adventuring. But what if the book in question had spells the Guild wanted kept hidden, evil spells? If the librarian had a hint that it might be such a book, he’d be likely to want to investigate, or perhaps want someone else to investigate. We’ll get more into why he investigated himself rather than asking someone else in the post on developing his character, but I had my “magic object” that seems so common in fantasy stories: a book of evil magic, that the current owner wanted to sell, but was unaware of its contents.

Everything else followed from that starting point, but I’ll stop with the possible spoilers now.

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