Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Those Interesting Little Asides

You know what they are, don't you? Those little things that you toss into a recipe that just suddenly make it sing? Those little adds that you didn't plan on, but find out they cement the foundation. Those little things.

Way back when, during some of the first books of my YA series The Guardians of Glede, I tossed in some little beings called the Fane. They are like fireflies, zipping about. Sometimes you can see them, sometimes you can't. They are explained as "intuition", that "nagging voice", the "voice of conscience". We all have heard them at one point or another in our lives. The whisper to turn right instead of left, thereby avoiding an accident or some such.

The Fane started out so innocently, so small, an added ingredient. And yet, they have become so large, so necessary, so needed. Turns out they balance the different magics in the land, keep one from over powering the other. Without the Fane, things begin to collapse, havoc ensues.

Sometimes it can be the addition of a new "character" or sometimes just a characterization of a character that adds the special ingredient to the sauce. I have brownies in my books. No, not the kind you eat, the little mythical creatures of lore. Early on, I gave them names starting with G. It seemed natural. I didn't plan it - at the time. But more and more brownies started showing up in the books and strangely, they all had names beginning with G. Later, there was a brownie who showed up and claimed his name was Rind. It set off warning bells for the other characters simply because it was different. It was explained, but it added a small ingredient of mystery. And early on, my brownies were rather cantankerous. They still are. It's become a brownie trait in the books. It's fun to play with that attitude they have, and how the other characters react to them.

So, when you're reading or writing along and some strange little aside pops into your head and your manuscript, let it play through. It might just end up being one of those interesting little asides that cement the foundation. Or maybe it's just the Fane, whispering in your ear.

JennaKay Francis


  1. I couldn't agree more. A lot of times, when I'm first-drafting, I get bored and decide to throw in something random (big or small) to keep me entertained. That thing almost always becomes so vital to the plot or world-building that I'm amazed it wasn't always planned--then I get scared because it could have very easily not existed, thanks to the whole unplannedness. Needless to say, if an aside pops into my head, I'm definitely not someone who'd ignore it. :)

  2. And it's amazing when those little "unplanned" things make or break the story later on! I sometimes introduce a character just out of wanting something different, and that character is often the pivotal point of the whole book.

  3. Jenna, How interesting and what now becomes an integral part of your world. I usually think of these as O'Henry moments.