The other day I was looking for something completely different in my archives, and I found a post from July 2010, eleven years ago:
I haven’t talked about writing in a while, so here’s a brief note about it. My main energy lately has been going to the space opera project I’ve had in my head for seven or eight years now; it’s an idea that’s been kicking around and kicking around and kicking around, until I finally decided that hell, it was just time to start writing the thing. The entire long-form story involves two princesses from some planet who leave their world to take their first trip to the Galactic Capital, or something like that. But on the way, their starship experiences some [ahem] technical difficulties and they end up on a strange planet they’ve never heard of before.
All the set-up and such took me through eight chapters, all well and good. All the while I’ve maintained two files, in which I keep lists of my characters as I introduce them (or merely mention them), and lists of the locations I either use or mention. This way I’m not scrounging about later, wondering what star systems I needed names for, or who lives where, that sort of thing. I’m not one to make big encyclopedia-type profiles for my characters — my theory is that if the character’s favorite movie or preferred sleepwear comes up in the course of the story, my character will fill in the blanks when we get to that point — but I do want to be able to keep things straight.
So anyway, my two princesses have just arrived on Planet Whosis, which is ruled by A Guy, who has A Son.
And I don’t have names for any of them. Not the Planet, not the Guy, not the Son (actually, I do have a name for the Son), not the Possibly Evil Councillor, not the Leader of the Rebel Faction, and certainly not the Odd Looking But Extremely Lethal Weapon They Use On This Planet.
As far as I can tell, this is the first time I mentioned in this space the writing project that became Stardancer. At this point I didn’t have a title for that book, and I certainly didn’t have a title for the entire series! I didn’t come up with The Song of Forgotten Stars until not long before I had to have the book ready for publishing. At this point I had my main characters: Tariana, Margeth, and Lt. Rasharri, and not much else. Tariana’s name was actually Tarina at first, but I didn’t like the way that sounded so I added the extra vowel syllable. I seem to recall modifying Lt. Rasharri’s name in some way, but I don’t recall exactly how.
At that point I had the basic scenario down, but one set of character relationships didn’t work at first, so I had to make some significant changes, making Prince Joskin not the son of the actual mad King but of the son of the mad King’s brother…and at this point I had no idea that Master Gharanas, who was just a guy who showed up at one point where I needed a hot-tempered young man to burst angrily onto the scene, would stick around as the story’s single most important male character and eventual love interest to Princess Tariana.
Now I’m writing the fifth book in this series, this many years later, and looking back at the very beginning feels…interesting. It’s like looking at something that’s familiar but isn’t quite a memory, if that makes any sense. And to think that the main idea for The Song of Forgotten Stars actually came to me ten years before that….