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Urban Fantasy is Hard

I delivered the second book in my Halls of Power urban fantasy universe, and decided I really need to write a blog about the process.  It is a very popular sub-genre so people might be tempted to jump in thinking — “Hey, they tend to be short 80 to 85,000 words, first person (which is harder than you think), kick ass heroine, etc. etc.  How hard can it be?”

Really frickin’ hard!

Don’t be fooled these books have to jam packed with action and emotion, and they straddle genres in a particularly interesting way.  Yes, there are vampires and werewolves and maybe elves, etc. so they are sort of fantasy.  But they are set in contemporary times so you need to find a way to gracefully integrate the fantastic into the real world.

So now you have action/adventure, a personal story for the protagoist whether male or female.  Romance is definiately a component, but the biggest factor is the mystery.  Don’t be fooled these are mysteries with all the requirements of that difficult genre.

You have to plant clues.  You have to create credible red herrings.  And you’ve got to play fair.  The clues have to be there so a reader at the end will go “oh, I see that now.  It was all there from the beginning.”

Which meant that as I wrote BOX OFFICE POISON I was constantly going back and inserting a line or two here, a paragraph there, a convesation at another point.  Those of you who follow my blog and Facebook page know I am an “architect”.  I have the 3×5 cards on the corkboard.  I outline like crazy.  I know the big act outs, the final climax, the powerful tent pole scenes that propel you toward the end.

I couldn’t foresee every step I would need for these books.  Hence the going back and inserting clues.  I felt like I was dropping bread crumbs that could be followed by a reader to the inevitable climax.  It’s also hard because the more red herrings you add the longer the book becomes and you want these books to feel like a great roller coaster ride.  So you try to keep it from being obvious and at the same time not too complex and turgid.

I realize that I have two UF series going.  The EDGE series features a male protagonist a la Harry Dresden while the Halls of Power feature a young woman.  Oddly enough I find it easier to write Richard than I do Linnet — which probably says something about me and my quirks, but I’ll take that up with a therapist.  🙂

At any rate I just wanted to say that UF is hard, and should not be dismissed as “chic lit”, or popcorn.  It’s a delicate balancing act to blend all these genres in an interesting and compelling way.  I guess will find out in 2012 if I succeeded.

Oh, and that’s the bad new because of the vagaries of publishing this series won’t start appearing for another year.

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