Tenner Heed was a first for me. It was the first time I realized that the best way to deal with a creative dead end was to teleport out of it and do something completely different. It seemed like a wonderful and refreshing idea when I first thought of it. “I don’t have to finish this mess! I can just go start a new mess!” And that’s why I now have six unfinished manuscripts in progress instead of just one.
I invested a lot of time on world-building With the original Celdaran Tales stories. I worked on geography, history, linguistics and all those interesting details that I truly believed were “absolutely necessary” to make a story really work.
It’s not without precedent. That’s exactly what J.R.R. Tolkien did to kick off the modern fantasy genre we all know and love. With a single volume of text, he suddenly catapulted readers from stories that began with “Once upon a time there was a princess” to “Once upon a time there was a princess who was the eldest daughter of Tar-Surion, who himself was the third child of Tar-Anarion, who himself was the son of the first Ruling Queen of Numenor, Tar-Ancalime.”
Hundreds of characters from dozens of cultures spanning thousands of years together made our collective heads spin with a single thought: this seems so real.
And that’s exactly what I tried to do myself, until I got so bogged down in it, I couldn’t even continue. So in 2008 I teleported out of that and said, “Let’s try something else.” (I talk to myself a lot like that.)
Tenner Heed actually began as The Gratuitous Adventures of Grock Johnson and the Cheeseburger Brigade. I intended there would be minimal world-building: just enough to get to the fun. And (as you may have guessed from the title) this was supposed to be fun (if not funny).
But as I began writing, it turned serious again. I changed his name, changed the mood, and plowed ahead on a manuscript that sadly dribbled off after 120 thousand words. There’s some good stuff in there, but not enough to make it worthwhile. And no ending to speak of whatsoever.
So I won’t bore you with all that this week. But in the spirit of sharing that is the new me, here’s the first chapter:
If you feel so inclined, click the link and then come back here to comment on it. Next week we’ll contrast or compare the two chapters already posted. Unless someone else thinks of something more fun to do. In that case, suggest a few gratuitous adventures in the comments and we’ll see where things go.