John Scalzi posted about an amusing web widget today, a Romance Novel Cover Generator. So of course I tried it. I have to say I'm not thrilled with the low resolution result. It took me hours of editing to even get this far. But what the heck. It's kind of cool anyway. And if I want, I can order it as a refrigerator magnet. (I probably won't, though.)
This little exercise reminds me of a little character cheat sheet I made as I started to write Mages of Mâvarin. It was a list of all my major characters. Most of them were carryovers from Heirs of Mâvarin, but a few were new. Here are some samples from that document:
Experiences visions and other incidents that lead everyone around him - and Carli himself - to suspect that Carli is going mad. Meanwhile he falls in love with both Dana and Darsuma.
Meets a mysterious prince from a distant country, and falls in love. But is he too good to be true? And if Carli goes mad, can she hold the country together on her own?
Prince Jon Verjul Blak
Is the former apprentice of an unnamed mage in his own country, and Sunestri's unwitting pawn. He's also a real prince with a genuine love for Cathma and magic of his own. Can he break free of Sunestri in time?
Remains very fond of both Cathma and Dana, but feels too inadequate to pursue either of them. Meanwhile, magical events keep happening around him. Who is doing the magic? Could it be Li himself?
Falls in love with Carli, but is helpless to prevent his apparent slide into madness. Is it for the good of the country that she accepts the post of First Minister, or is she on the same ambitious path her father trod before her? Even Dana isn't sure.
Is reconciled with his old flame Rutana, but is unable to stop her health from failing.
And in case that doesn't imply plenty of romantic entanglement, the document ends with this list:
Carli loves Darsuma and Dana.
Darsuma vaguely loves Rani and is attracted to Barselti, but pursues Carli.
Dana loves both Carli and Li.
Rani loves Darsuma
Barselti loves Darsuma, sort of.
Li loves Dana and Cathma.
Cathma loves Prince Jon
Prince Jon loves Cathma
Peli loves Shela
Shela loves Peli
All this may seem like a total spoiler for Mages, but it's really not. At least 75% of what I wrote here turned out to be false when I actually wrote the book. Several of the characters don't even have the same names now.
Still, you get the general idea. That book started with two new characters and some basic ideas about how they complicate everyone else's lives. This led to an examination of relationships between characters, as a means of developing conflict. It's no accident that a large proportion of both comedy and tragedy involves the problems caused by love.
In the end, though, Mages of Mâvarin did not turn into my little burlesque, A Spell on Me. Or did it?
Five minutes later, Tilen ushered in the most beautiful woman Carli had ever seen. Her hair was like a magical combination of solid copper and silken threads, which curved from scalp to chin like a perfect oval frame. Her eyes were as green as spring grass, and her skin was as pink as a baby’s. She could not have been more than eighteen years old. She wore a shimmering red dress that was trimmed with golden cord from the waist to the neck, and a diadem of ruby-studded gold....
[And about five minutes after that:]
It was the most important moment of Carli’s life. A extraordinary feeling of happiness came over him as he realized that this was more than a kiss, more than anything he’d ever known. It was love. It was ecstasy. It was ultimate fulfillment, sweeping away every trace of discontent in his heart. Lorsuma wasn’t just kissing him; she was giving herself to him, filling the empty spaces in his life and making him whole. She was wonderful. She was perfect. She was his. Nothing else in the world seemed to matter much anymore, only Lorsuma and the new life she silently offered him.
What do you think? Do I have a future writing romance novels? Should I market Mages as Romantic Fantasy instead of Traditional Fantasy or High Fantasy?
Please say no. ;) This extreme prose is not typical of the book, by the way. And it does make sense in context.
It was also kind of fun to write!
P.S. Even my beloved husband noticed that I didn't get an entry posted light night. This is something that never happens, normally. I post every single night, except on the rare occasions when I post in the daytime instead. But it's not my fault! Last night I could not get AOL, Internet Explorer or Netscape (I don't have Firefox) to load any websites with "blogger" or "blogspot" in the URL. I stayed up horribly late to try again (and to finish Sara's manuscript), but it didn't help. I tried again before work, and it was almost as bad. AOL let me paste my prepared text into a Create Post window, but the photos I uploaded never appeared. I had to upload the photos to mavarin.com, save the entry in draft mode and publish it when I got to the office.
I'm still not sure how much of it was Blogger's ongoing recent problems, and how of it was my computer being wonky. I installed Netscape 8.2 a few days ago. Last night AOL complained it had a problem, and I ran a "Fix It for Me." (Yes, I'm still on AOL, until I finish transferring all my postings, and get something better than dial-up for this computer.) So I really think there was more going wrong that Blogger's scheduled and unscheduled outages.
Since then I've run Norton and a spyware catcher, emptied caches, and rebooted. I think it'll be okay now. I hope!