In Which I Give Into Peer Pressure and Begin to Write a Magical Academy Series Even Though That Was Not the Plan

Hello readers, this is probably when most of you begin to realize that I update this blog at the end of the day when I am done writing, because my first priority is books, so sometimes I’m a little late.

But aside from beginning to finalize things and order covers for Alice in the Prison of Hearts and Alice and Whatever the Hell We Call the Joker Book, I also ran into a small snag in the plan, that snag being this:

I didn’t realize that when I announced I was doing Nanowrimo stuff this round, I had announced it so close to doing a series preview for something else. So, naturally, I got a few messages in my inbox stating how excited people were for a magical academy series to be showing up shortly and I was like:

And then I was like, “oh yeah, all things considered, that does kind of make sense.”

Someone even told me that it was an excellent marketing plan, which was pretty novel to me because I don’t have marketing plans and am, in fact, an absolute monster.

So then I was sitting here like, “man, I had this really cool idea for She’s the Man but with knights, but now that I think about it, I really do want a magical academy series like right now, mainly because peer pressure works.” And then I said, after a sip of sodastream bubbly and a can of depressing soup, “you know what, yeah, let’s do it.”

Because as we all know, I am a chump.

So I took the current series outline, compressed it down from twelve books to four mega volumes, said that will probably work and knew I would likely be changing it later, then set to developing my world.

You may think that would set me back quite a bit but actually? Not really, because right now readers I’m going to share with you the most horrifying, dreadful thing about me: My word count per a day.

When I started writing Candlelit, my word count average was about 2,500-3,000 per a day, which isn’t inherently good or bad because like the longer you do this the quicker you get and the more your style evolves. I’ve always done some ghostwriting on the side and that has definitely helped up my numbers, along with my productivity system (more on that next time,) and so my current daily wordcount output sits at about 10,000-12,000, give or take the occasional mental breakdown and Bob’s Burgers binge.

With plotting and thorough world building having a complete two days dedicated to them (morning to night), it takes me on average about ten to fourteen days to write a first draft– but you have to remember, I have experience. And also a strong background in fanfiction that makes me insatiable.

This is all to say, don’t try this at home, kids.

Anyway, we’re building a world.

I don’t have names for anything, but you know what I do have? Google and a lot of background music, as well as a complete devotion to Mamma Mia 2, my favorite movie and a verifiable masterpiece that was robbed by the awards.

Someone tell me how not to be in love with Harry.

Anyway, of three things I was absolutely certain:

  1. We were going to be in the magical academy genre, dammit, because that’s what the girlies wanted.
  2. We were doing academic rivals to lovers, because I like educated men. (If you know an educated man between twenty three and thirty who is looking for a lady who lives alone with a small, old dog and writes Alice in Wonderland retellings, you know where to point him.)
  3. It was going to be New Adult, because I got yelled at by that facebook mom group once for reasons we will not discuss and honestly guys, I’m just getting old.

All that boiled down to a magic college.

But not just a magic college– a classy magic college.

ENTER THE PINTEREST BOARD!

Oh yes, we’re getting vibes.

When I went to college, I was actually a theater major for like a frightening amount of time, and while I don’t remember a lot of it because I no longer do anything with theater and only occasionally have aggressive flashbacks of running technical stuff for it, I did learn how to make a pinterest board and that they are actually excellent resources for capturing the general mood of a story as well as getting yourself out of ruts when you’re writers blocked. Was this the intention of my professors? No, retention of me in that program probably was their primary intention, but it doesn’t matter. Just about every story I do has a mood board, and I private them as the series reach completion.

Anyway, looking at my series board, I knew that I had to write off a few things and come to some decisions period wise. I couldn’t have the bright, technicolor 1980s witches that I’m going to someday do, nor could I have instagram exist in full for reasons such as: I’m bad at it and social media scares me.

I had to think with my heart. I had to develop with my soul.

I had to resort to my old favorite time period:

Nondescript magical time where there may or may not be phones.

Perfect.

This world needs laws, and everyone being sexy can’t be one of them.

Now that I had come up with a groundbreaking time period, I had to come up with other key world details, ones that would aid me in doing whatever the hell I wanted to.

You see, since I had now stripped the world of all of its history and turned every decade into a vague mishmash of varying dark academia tropes in a nightmarish attempt to enable myself, I had a long road ahead of me, one that started with a simple question that every fantasy writer should almost always ask themself…

Does everyone in this world know about magic?

You see, if you’re writing fantasy, this should be one of your most pressing questions worldbuilding wise, because this really does effect the plot. If everyone knows about magic, then it also has the capability of becoming both an advantage and a disadvantage.

In the Chronicles of Whynne, magic is used to hoist faeries up to the upper class and put humans down. In the City of Crows, magic is a point of discrimination and magical users are seen as lazy or just a little conniving. Magic can go both ways because we are people are, at our cores, petty as hell.

The known presence of magic can also effect not only history and the distinct features of time periods, but also fashion, culture, and so forth. So, in an effort to not have to give up my love of 90s styled chokers, flip phones, and dark academia aesthetics, I said hell yeah everyone knows about magic here– and they hate it. Or, I mean, they hate it depending on where they are.

I took a single sociology class and now I’m going to talk about how opinions differ from culture to culture, because I am working my liberal arts degree here.

The University of Wisconsin: River Falls is going to be so glad that their excellent alumni reps now include a single woman living alone with her dog writing fantasy kissing books while her aged Toyota Prius rusts away in her driveway.

Anyway, college really is out here teaching people things, and while the above statement may seem a bit obvious, you would be surprised how often you see people disregard the merits of culture when showing general opinion. Because the whole world can’t hate you, otherwise you’d be dead.

But most of it can.

So, deciding on the general opinion, I made up my mind that there had to be some sort of divide between people who were witches and people who weren’t. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, then you know that in the original post in which I talked about this idea and showed a failed first chapter, familiars were present, and my god am I keeping them. Unfortunately, that also makes witches and wizards pretty easily identifiable, and the nature of this magical university’s existence sort of suggests that magical careers would be higher up and more revered…

So I came to the conclusion that normal humans are sort of the working class in this, and there is an inherent sort of bitterness that you see outside of the upper classes because of that divide. Amongst themselves and in academic settings, wizards are revered, but in the general world? That wealth disparity really does create some bitterness.

And since I’m a glutton for drama and love the vibes of a sort of fish out of water main character, I knew that I wanted her to come from a mostly human background and be coming into this world of magic for the first time; because that creates good tension, baby. As does setting up her foil as a man who seems to know it all and have been born with a silver spoon in his mouth.

We love drama in this household.

We also love picrew, and my god did I hit picrew.

They don’t sponsor me or anything, I just love dress up games.

We got distracted, back to the magic school bus, kids

Anyway, the whole point of this series is that we’re in a magic school.

That’s what the kids want and my god, I’m going to give it.

After an hour or four on picrew making tiny little icons and giggling to myself because I do, in fact, have ADHD and easily get distracted– I turned myself back into work mode and considered my school, finally making some choices regarding it.

Not the name, of course, because I am incapable of naming such things and will be hitting up name lists for characters and places immediately after this, but I came up with some other things.

Like a general understanding of what sort of school I was dealing with here.

Grade levelUniversity
Degrees offeredMagical disciplines such as pioneering, alchemy, and so forth. A minor human section with normal college disciplines
Prestige offeredHighly prestigious, think Harvard, Yale, Oxford
Campus cultureWhiskey and cigarettes, no keggers.
I’m so glad I made a table for this.

Alright, did that, and then I said, “my god, what degree level should these kids be on and how should I distinctify this school and how do I show how smart these kids are and how do I make this sexy–“

And then I went back to my original idea for this, which was that the two main characters are the apprentices of two major academics.

So, therefore, in my experience, we’re talking upper level courses here. Masters to Doctorate, which also adds a whole ‘nother element to this, because if they’re apprentices to these professors then they’re obviously not the only ones on campus, unless the dean thinks its fun to set up deadly rivalries every year.

So, with that in mind, I decided this: All masters and doctorate students are chosen by committee and then later put into a pool for mentors to choose from. Depending on their mentor’s standing and grant history, students have varying levels of funding, and prestigious apprenticeships that offer full funding are hard to come by– thus making our main character a very special woman for earning one, especially under a mentor who historically only takes one student a year.

Bam, world built.

Using this barebones understanding, I was able to develop characters and further understand key details about their surroundings, like that our main characters will be in a sort of exclusive, tight knit club with other upperclassmen, and that research will likely be closely guarded.

My very important, very controversial take on fantasy is this: World building and characters should build off each other.

If details about a world don’t end up later supporting different parts of a character’s motivations or reactions, then why the hell is it there? I once read like fifty pages on tax law for a fantasy universe and I was bored. These tax laws had nothing to do with the story or the character’s motivations, they weren’t even a joke like Terry Pratchett would likely bust out– they were boring, and they were world building.

Throw that crap away.

Similarly, if the character you create isn’t affected by the world around them in any way, isn’t a part of the society included or trying to be a part of it– or doesn’t suffer from any consequences put in place by the order of said society… then why the hell are they there?

Ask yourself why you’re spending three days coming up with tax laws for a medieval society when your main character is a sixteen year old adventure who is definitely committing tax fraud accidentally– unless the IRS is coming, you don’t need to do that.

Similarly, I don’t need to waste every moment of my life overthinking political systems and how insurance works in this world yet, because we’re staying on campus, and we’re focusing on that culture and that culture alone. If we didn’t focus on that and panned out to the big picture, we wouldn’t be in an actual magic academy book, kids.

Essentially, if we zoom out and focus on the little details of our bigger world and waste time like that, it’ll be like…

And we don’t want that.

Before we go, we have to make one more decision.

Where the hell is this place going to be.

You see, I’m lazy, so we’re doing Earth– But Magic™️ here, but I struggled for a really long time to decide what country it was going to be in.

You see, I’m an English speaking white woman whose family tree is probably a circle formed by the ring from a cup of over boiled pg tips English Breakfast tea. I value diversity, but I also value allowing people from different cultures an opportunity to properly represent those places. I knew that England was going to be a place in this universe and so was America, I also knew that I didn’t want to set my story in another culture that I didn’t know enough about to respectfully portray like someone who had an actual history there might have.

So, England or America.

On one hand, England is old.

On the other hand, America.

Maybe I could have even passably done Canada…

Yeah, no, England it was.

I’m going to sum up the reason for this, but you can’t judge me:

The love interest was going to be from the other country, and I haven’t really romanticized American men enough.

I have a lot of English-esq heroes for….. reasons.

So, another magical English school with a long, storied history… And a hot American man for once. That’s character growth.

I’m growing up, kids. Also, I always cry during this scene because I love my mum.

We’re all very proud of me.

I also didn’t want to do an American university because I’ve been reading up on the genre and I just didn’t want it.

I’m not going to get too into the topic of magic academy book tropes but I just… didn’t want it.

Anyway, that’s it. Cut to commercial break.

Read my books because they’re on sale and also because I’m tired of deleting messages asking me why I think I know how to write books–

And also what my genre is, because like…. Who the heck messages someone and tries to tell them that actually, they don’t write whimsical fantasy or anything near high fantasy, they write women’s fantasy.

Which, I’m sorry? What?

Define women’s fantasy other than written by womenfolk with their dreaded female pens?

Maybe I’m just getting old at the ancient age of twenty five here. Whatever.

I’ve got books.

I write ’em, I live ’em, I put ’em on sale during nano so that people can figure out whether or not they actually want to learn about writing from me, and if I am as much of a trainwreck as I claim to be.

Look at that bad boy sitting at one dollar.

If you have kindle unlimited, you could also read me for free, and if you’re interested in a current project, let me present….

The romantic Alice in Wonderland retelling that no one asked for that I also made solely because I alone wanted it!

Yaaaaay!

Come back again next time, in which I’ll pretend I didn’t write the new blog post at the same time as this one, and hopefully start naming things as I crawl across the web in search of main character energy!

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