Please help me flesh out my idea for a NaNoWriMo fantasy novel.

The basic idea behind NanoWriMo is to write a novel full speed ahead. Simply get the words down on paper without considering quality. I have a very silly idea for a novel. I came up with it last night around 9:00 and thus the idea has existed for roughly three waking hours. Here’s the idea:

**There is a fantasy world in a parallel universe. As usual, limited communication and transportation is possible between our world and the fantasy world by magical means. Within the fantasy world, there is a powerful Guild of Arithmancers who control the highly secretive branch of magic based on mathematics. They can manipulate numbers, equations, and formulas so as to produce any desired results–for the right price, of course.

Meanwhile, scientists in a top-secret lab in our world discovered the key to traveling between the two worlds. Somehow, the big banks and insurance companies obtained the knowledge and opened channels of communication with the fantasy world. They contacted the Guild of Arithmancers, who devised the schemes for offering subprime mortgages, securitizing the loans, splitting individual securities into tranches with separate risk profiles, etc…

All fine and good, until some sort of fantasy disaster destroys or damages the Guild of Arithmancers. At that point, the magical mathematics stops working, so the financial crisis begins. Once the truth about the situation comes to light in our world, President Obama must send a questing hero (or possibly a group of heroes) to the fantasy world to rescue the Guild or Arithmancers and thereby prevent the complete collapse of the world financial system.**

So that’s the idea. Now I only need to fill in just about everything: plot, major characters, minor characters, names, details of setting, and anything that might actually make the novel entertaining. (I also need a title.) A few things that I’ve already decided on:

**1. As always, guns and other modern technology from our world will not function in the fantasy world. Thus, the hero will have only a sword, armor, etc… when he enters the fantasy world.

  1. In addition to the Guild of Arithmancers, the fantasy world will be populated by the usual supply of elves, dwarves, dragons, traveling bards, princesses, and so forth.

  2. Events that take place in the fantasy world during the heroic quest will have ramifications for the financial system in our world. For example, it’s necessary to bring a lot of gold into the fantasy world in order to trade for something, which explains why gold prices are going up. (And could also explain why the government refuses to audit the gold in Ft. Knox. Obviously the more loony, right-wing conspiracy theories that can be mentioned, the better.) Ideally, other events would explain the Greek debt crisis, the need for massive salaries and bonuses at financial firms, etc…)**

That’s just about everything I’ve come with so far. Any ideas for other things to be incorporated?

Now that I’ve thought about it a little more, I’m going to have to make some changes. First of all, I believe that I was a little bit too ambitious about trying to incorporate the entire real financial crisis into my fictional story. I should probably focus more on a general satire of the financial field, kind of like Terry Pratchett did in Making Money. Trying to match up individual plot points with specific moments in the history of the crisis would curtail the plot too much.

The plot within the fantasy world is starting to come together in my head. As I see it now, the Guild of Arithmancers will have an inner council of the most experienced experts as well as a standard dingus containing tremendous magical power. The inner council will be wiped out and the dingus stolen by some means. (Eaten by rogue dragon, butchered by evil sorcerer, etc…) Retrieving the dingus and somehow restoring the fortunes of the arithmancers will be the object of the quest.

I still haven’t come up many ideas for characters. There definitely need to be multiple characters on the magic quest. My first impulse was to include a geeky science/math guy, but I think that’s been done to death. I’d like to include something more original, butI haven’t come up with anything yet.

You’re kind of going about this backwards. The background for your world isn’t nearly as important as the characters.

Who is your protagonist? What’s his character arc? Where does he start out and how does he change? And why do I, as a reader, care?

Answering those questions will give you the spine of your story. Everything else hangs off that.

That’s a fair criticism. I’ve started thinking about a main character. He’s some guy on the quest, though I haven’t figured out the background yet. At the start he’ very gung-ho about everything. Serve his country, fight the bad guys, save the financial system and all that. During the course of the novel he learns more and more about the truth behind the financial shenanigans that were going on, he starts questioning whether his side is really the good guys. That’s as far as I’ve gotten, however. I’m still trying to work on a satisfactory resolution that would provide a fitting way for that character to resolve his inner conflicts while also wrapping up the plot.

I’m also question whether it’s really a good idea to have the President send a team of heroes into the fantasy world. The potential problem is that it might require too much exposition and infodump at the start. I want the action to begin quickly. Perhaps it would work better to simply have one of the banks round up the hero(es) and send them in.

Why? Does fire not work in fantasyland? Does air pressure not exist?

Is this just an excuse to revert to cliche?

You need to have at least one hero be an economist or accountant. You can name the Arithmancers after economics or accountancy terms.

Now I’m going to have to look up The Standup Economist on Youtube again.

On preview, of course it’s an excuse to revert to cliche. It is, in fact, the cliche excuse to revert to cliche.

You’ve got to have a scene where two Arithmancers fight a duel with slide rules.

Or better yet, have the slide rule be a new superweapon that’s brought over from our world to theirs. In a world of mathematics based magic, it would be the equivalent of introducing the machine gun.

What, literally, does “NaNoWriMo” mean?

Any self-respecting fantasy world wouldn’t have anything to do with us. Just sayin’.

National Novel Writing Month.

Here’s a link for the uninitiated.

Who knows why guns and such don’t work in fantasy land. It’s fantasy. Explanations for divergent laws of physics, chemistry, and anything else are not required. At a higher level, it’s an excuse to satirize fantasy tropes.

I’ve thought about it some more over the weekend and revised my idea a little bit. I don’t think I’ll go with a political angle at all. Instead, I’ll simply start with a large bank (or insurance company) that makes a deal with the arithmancers. Then things start to go awry as the Guild Arithmancers is attacked by outside forces, and the corporation must send a quest to fix the problem. Once in fantasy land, they somehow learn that there’s a secret organization of Dark Arithmancers (or something like that) who are using Artihmancy for sinister purposes. Eventually some source of wisdom informs them that the work of the Dark Arithmancers is so extreme that it’s threatening to unravel the very fabric of reality. That will give the plot some actual drive, in theory.

Also, rather than having power resting in magical dingus, I think the Arithmancers should rely on a series of powerful books. (The Tome of Topology, The Scroll of Algebra, etc…) The Dark Arithmancers have acquired some of the books, while the Good Arithmancers still have some. So the plot revolves around protecting those they still have and getting back the ones they don’t have.

Thanks for the explanation. Generally speaking, I think it’s best to define unfamiliar terms and acronyms on first reference.