Of Theme and Magic

I’ve had a major breakthrough.

When I set out to write The Clans, my goals were humble. I wanted to introduce you to the world of the novel I was working on, The Born Sword. I also wanted to build that world, to develop it in ways that I could use in the novel, and I do that best by writing about it. And finally, I wanted to perhaps share a ripping good yarn or two.

These six stories were to be bound together through the world in which they took place. That’s it. That’s all I wanted. If that’s all that had happened, I would have been utterly satisfied. But that’s not all that happened.

These stories were also bound by theme.

If you’ve read “Wholeness,” then you’ve probably surmised that its theme is integrity (or at least you should have; I basically tell you as much in the last three paragraphs). While I was writing the end of the as-yet-unnamed fourth story of the collection, I realized that I inadvertently borrowed not only the theme of “Wholeness,” but the very imagery used to depict it: the integrated man, a whole person.

At first, I was a bit annoyed with myself. After all, I pride myself on my originality, and if something’s been done before, I furiously try to avoid using it in my stories (unless it fits so well that it would be a crime to forego using it). Theme and imagery were no exceptions. I had every intention of rewriting that scene when the story was done.

But after a while, I began to wonder if I should leave that scene alone. It did fit the story. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that all of my stories written so far touched on this theme of integrity, what it means to have it and what it means to betray it. So I decided to keep it, but I hadn’t yet realized why this was significant.

What is a theme, anyway? The best definition I’ve found is that a theme is the unifying idea of a story. One could say that the sum of a story’s parts, its identity, is the theme. If all of a story’s parts bound together demonstrate that theme, could one say that the story is truly unified, integrated… whole?

Now let’s talk about the magic system.

Magic, in the Fourth World (the world of The Clans and The Born Sword), primarily consists of the binding of essences. For example, a sorcerer can take the element of fire from his surroundings (limited by how much of it there is) and bind that fire into a focal point, which he can then manipulate. Or, he can steal the fire from the torch in your hand, turn it into a fireball, and then launch it back at you. This works for whatever “essence” that particular sorcerer can bind: light, metal, pain… anything. All he has to do is take the bits that are there and unify them into a whole.

Let me repeat that last phrase: unify them into a whole.

Did you notice how many times I used the word “bind” when talking about theme?

Yes, that’s right. I have integrated and bound the magic system and the theme, and that theme is integrity.

I am performing literary magic, and I’m not afraid to admit it. Just wait and see what I’m willing to do with it.

Writing is a tough gig, and sometimes a writer needs to be reminded of why he writes. Different people do it for different reasons. Some do it because they’re good at it, some because they can actually make money at it. Some do it because they don’t know how to do anything else. Some, though, do it for those moments of unfettered, unadulterated bliss when everything comes together.

Today, that last was me.

New Story on the Website!

Today marks a new era for me. I have self-published my first piece of writing, right here on this website.

It will not make me rich overnight. In fact, it won’t earn me a dime. The story is free. I also plan on releasing it as a free ebook in the near future. I give this in thanks to you, dear reader, for coming to my website. Hopefully, you will enjoy it. Enough, perhaps, to buy the whole collection when it comes out. *sinister laugh*

That’s right. This story, “Wholeness,” is projected to be the first of six (or seven, depending on how you count them) stories with the collection The Clans: Tales from the Fourth World. Now, you might be thinking six (or seven) short stories is not a whole lot. And in most cases you’d be right. The kind of short stories most short story writers like to write (and publishers like to publish) are pretty short–generally under 4000 word-long stories are preferred by the magazines I’ve encountered. There are good reasons for doing so, as I’m sure you can figure out on your own. Fortunately for you, dear reader-who-likes-a-good-value, I have disregarded all of those reasons.

As you can see on the page where I’ve posted “Wholeness,” it is fairly large–about 6300 words. And of the three stories already completed, it is the smallest. My most recent story, in fact, is almost 14,000 words. That’s not even a short story anymore. That’s what those in the biz like to call a novelette.

If we do the math, taking 10,000 as our average word count, that means the collection will end up being about 70,000 words, which translates to roughly the length of a mystery novel, or a short fantasy novel.

Not a bad deal for 99 cents, eh?

Of course, you might be concerned that since I was aiming to write short stories that these longer “novelettes” will simply be your typical bloated fantasy fare. I’d like to think that they are not. You might actually say they are complete fantasy stories without the bloat. There is no “cast of thousands” here; I keep the number of characters down to a very manageable level. And since each story is dedicated to a particular clan (which is similar to country, land, kingdom, etc.), there won’t be any need for you to scribble down maps and flowcharts and diagrams just to figure out who went where and did what. One thing I’ve tried to do with my writing is keep things manageable. If you need an encyclopedia to enjoy my stories, then I haven’t done my job. This flies in the face of what most fantasy authors do these days, but I’m writing exactly the kind of stories I want to read. Even the authors that I like still manage to piss me off when they have far too much going on for me to keep track of, and I don’t want to do that.

That said, I hope you enjoy “Wholeness”! If you do, keep an eye out for The Clans when it is released late this summer!


Thanks for checking out the official website for Brandon M. Lindsay. He is an epic fantasy writer (as in, he is an epic writer of fantasy) and is in the process of writing a collection of short stories and novelettes called The Clans: Tales of the Fourth World, available by the end of summer for purchase as an ebook. He is also writing a novel called The Born Sword, which takes place in the same world as The Clans, and will be released by the end of 2011.

The Purpose of This Website

Primarily, what I’m going to be using this site for is to let you know what’s going on with my writing. I think that it is important to keep in touch with my readers and let them know what’s up. That much should be obvious, but what else is this website going to be used for?

I already blog for another site called The Fictorian Era, which is mainly geared towards the aspiring writer. I will do my best to make sure that the content on that site does not overlap that on this one. So while I may have things to say that would help someone trying write or get published, I’ll be directing most of my efforts on that front to this other blog site.

So what else, then? As it turns out, I’m both a very opinionated person and an avid reader and general consumer of entertainment, so I plan on reviewing things that I’ve read/seen/played, and perhaps provide some analysis on them. Otherwise, I may comment on current events, or anything that’s shiny enough to catch my eye. I’ll try to not to get too political (that’s not my goal here), though I can’t make any promises. Like I said, I’m very opinionated.

I hope you enjoy what I write here and in my fiction, or at least take something away from it.