Saturday Short: The Five Kingdoms of Daniel Worthy

There is an aspect of the Voyage series that I did not execute very well. It’s a theme I’ve been wanting to explore for some time about the relationship between fathers and sons. You can’t really tell this from Voyage Embarkation because of the way I structured the series. This particular theme wouldn’t have manifested itself until the end of the fourth book, which I realize in hindsight was far too late for it to be effective, despite the fact that I had carefully tied the details back into the previous books (many such integration points exist in Embarkation).

I made another attempt at this in the now out-of-print Adventurers of Opytt, but this attempt also suffered from structural issues. As I wrote subsequent novellas in the series, I realized that the characters weren’t capable of supporting all the weight I was thrusting on them. Both Opytt and Voyage suffer from trying to do too many things. In order to do this right, I’m going to have to focus in on the thing I want to explore, instead of trying to dilute it with so many other topics.

My newest attempt at this is called The Five Kingdoms of Daniel Worthy. This yet another series, and it’s based on an idea that has been bouncing around my head for longer than I can remember (it is also not the super-compelling idea I mentioned in yesterday’s post; more info on that one at a later date).

The core of this one is that there are five parallel Earths, each with its own leadership bureaucracy, each oblivious to all the others, but there’s a parallel universe traveler who occupies the “head of state” role on each of the five worlds, and no one on any one world knows that their leader is actually in charge of four other governments. Also, the capital cities of these places are fantastic and wildly different from one another. This is another example of me inventing some super-cool imagery in my head and having no idea why there should be characters there doing anything in particular (besides running a government?) for any particular reason. This is how a cool idea ends up with me sitting on it for the better part of a decade.

It occurred to me about a month ago that there was a way for me to combine this setting with the father/son theme I’ve been stabbing at and missing for so long. Once I put those two together, the character of Daniel came immediately to mind and the rest fell into place—except that I was working on Intersection Thirteen at the time. That draft is done now.

I initially imagined The Five Kingdoms of Daniel Worthy as five connected short stories that would add up to a novel-length work. It’s becoming apparent from writing the first one, that these will not be short stories, but novellas. I am at 5,000 words for the first of the five worlds, and I do not think I will be ending it before the 7,500 word mark. I know I have overestimated recently, but I would be really surprised if that lightning strikes this writer twice in a row.

This series could also go horribly wrong like both prior series I have tried this with, but at least I now know better than to hit the publish button before the series is complete. I’m going to use my Saturday Short time for this project until I either finish it or drive it into a wall. Let’s see which it is!