Telling Extra, Ordinary Stories

There's an advantage I didn't anticipate to writing a fantasy novel without a Chosen One.

I mean, obviously it means that I'm not telling the same old tired story that's already been done to death. I knew that. What I didn't anticipate was that if nobody is the Chosen One, then anybody's story can be interesting.

Can be interesting in itself, even if it's tangential to the main story. Even if it's completely unrelated.

For example, I'm currently polishing a short story for a competition. It's about the young man in the last paragraph of this excerpt from the novel.

Yes, the one with no name and no lines. He nods his head and looks keen, and that's his whole appearance. (I decided that Keen was his name, when I went to write more about him.)

He's one small step up from a face in the crowd, and yet I wrote a 6000-word short story about the next 26 years of his life. One of my beta readers commented that it could easily be expanded and still remain interesting.

As it happens, I was listening to the latest Galley Table podcast from Flying Island Press this morning, in which the crew interview Nathan Lowell. Nathan is the champion of what some people have called "blue-collar spec fic", about people who aren't rulers or commanders just going about their daily lives and heroically doing what they have to do in order to get by. I've been very inspired by him and what he does. I'm not sure that the idea of a novel about heroic civil servants would have made it into my consciousness if I hadn't listened to his work (thanks to

The truth is, while the Chosen One story appeals to something in us that longs to be taken out of our everyday lives and be heroes and have adventures, because unbeknown to us we're significant, the reality is that we can be heroes in the way we live our everyday lives. Because we actually are significant already.

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Mike Reeves-McMillan lives in Auckland, New Zealand, the setting of his Auckland Allies contemporary urban fantasy series; and also in his head, where the weather is more reliable, and there are a lot more wizards. He also writes the Gryphon Clerks series (steampunk/magepunk), the Hand of the Trickster series (sword-and-sorcery heist capers), and short stories which have appeared in venues such as Compelling Science Fiction and Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores.

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