Book Project Stocktake: Three Warriors and a Princess

Book idea seven and by now the main thing I know is I’ve got to be more selective about which ideas I let live.

This one’s old. Some parts of it are super old. And it’s mainly here because it’s got 20k words on it, which is too much to ignore. Or is it? Let’s find out.

Title: Three Warriors and a Princess

High Concept (i.e. is there a one sentence pitch that pretty much captures the whole thing): “Ragtag heroes rescue the princess barbarian hero from his captors”.

I keep getting taglines and High Concepts confused, don’t I? Let’s try again. “Mercenaries get in trouble in a demon worshipping city”. That’s a little closer to a High Concept. Closer than I’ve been in a while. Part of me wonders whether Secondary World Fantasy just doesn’t lend itself to High Concepts because there’s so many damn moving parts.

So What’s It About: Tawnylocks is a princess, rescued from a perilous situation by three bad mofos looking for a payday – of some sort of another. Bangbang just wants her money, but Jollykiller the barbarian and Tawnylocks have a thing for each other. And nobody knows what Jollykiller’s friend Melancholic wants, other than to be a dick. And so they stay in Demoncity – just a little too long.

Because someone recognises them. They try to escape, but Jollykiller is captured by the House of the All Sundering Eye. Bangbang knows the smart thing to do is let him be sundered, but Tawnylocks won’t stand for it, and Tawnylocks is still the payday. So it’s Bangbang, a stubborn Princess who can’t fight, and a sulking drunk vs a great house of demon worshippers. No pressure, eh…

Okay, but what is it really about? What’s the theme? The journey?: You can tell how old this idea is because it predates me thinking properly about theme and layered meanings. The theme of this is Swords & Sorcery-esque adventure is great, and inverting some tropes is tight, even if the trope looks the exact same.

But, now that I look, a theme does seem to suggest itself, and that is “rescuing yourself”.

Is it fun: It’s fight scenes, sneaking, weird demons, and a lot of smartmouths. Yeah, a lot of fun.

Is it original: Haha no.

Is it commercially viable: This one smells of self-pub or small press unless I write it amazingly. Which isn’t a bad thing per se, just good to have expectations set right.

What does this do well: Adventure, danger, fun. This is the fantasy Fritz Leiber might write today.

What this is missing: Anything that isn’t the above. There’s no real depth or layers to it. Which, to be honest, I’m kind of liking. There’s a place for big dumb fun and this is maybe it.

How compelling are the characters: You tell me.

Bangbang is an alchemist turned bounty hunter who allegedly has no heart. She doesn’t argue the point, but reckons she has as much of one as she can afford in a world of the stupid. Bangbang not only doesn’t fight fair, but prefers tactics that involve no fighting at all. She just wants to do the job and go home, but everyone else is getting weird about it.

Jollykiller, also known as Hell’s Fist, is a giant of a barbarian who lives his violent life with the forensic care of a lawyer and the joy of an escaped prisoner – a happy professional. He likes women, wine, and war, and the fact he’s not been destroyed by those yet suggest something short of superhuman prowess.

Melancholic guards his tongue close and his secrets closer, despite self-destructive drinking. He’s the sort of man most people wouldn’t tolerate, but there’s some bond between him and Jollykiller that just about tethers him to acting like a normal human being.

Tawnylocks is used to a boring, overlooked life and for the first time, has something more. It might be short lived but damned if she’s giving up on it easy, and she’s got a lot more brains than those meatheads think.

For a lengthy drama, maybe not enough. For a mad escapade, maybe there’s enough there.

Anything Else: Nope

Checklist:

  1. Are the Character’s Voices Interesting to Write?: Yes. Grumpy, observational, smart mouthed
  2. Is the book’s promise one you’re excited to keep?: The book’s promise is violence; I like violence. But I might need something more.
  3. Are there any major problems with writing this?: Not really

Judgment: I’ve re-read bits of this as I go and it’s good fun. It stuttered over a bit of worldbuilding but there’s no reason I couldn’t get back on and keep going. As things stand, I am so-so on its chances of being published, but who knows what I could do with a second draft?

There’s a good chance this one is getting resurrected.

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