villain: tarren kanichende: if the hero

A quick note on Danache linguistics–

The most common letter combinations are ‘ch’ (sh), ‘rr’ (split r), and ‘ii’, which is the same as the short ‘i’ but reserved for the end of words, such as the names Arielii and Remerdii. The letter ‘y’ is one of the most common vowel and changes from a hard to soft pronunciation depending on surrounding letters. ‘Rylan’ is hard (Rye-lan), ‘Wyrren’ is far softer (Were-ren).

Tarren II Kanichende
(tahr-ren kahn-E-shen-day)
β€œThe elevated place.”

I’m thinking through the novel again and imagining how I’d write this book if, without changing any of the events, I tried to make Tarren the hero. If Blue Crystal had been told from his perspective, what would it turn into?

Different, certainly. Tarren has the unfortunate habit of stereotyping the people around him, with the exception of his children (but not his wife). Moreso than them, his closest companions are a pair of pet tigers, Time and Fate.

Things I’ve come up with so far…
Continue reading

trudge trudge (logistics and fantasy)

When asked to describe ‘Lord of the Rings’, my mother replies with a series of sound effects: cling clang!, trudge tromp trudge, clang! cling, cling!. As she is a landscape and still life painter and not enamored of fiction (much less fantasy– she prefers very historical fiction, biographies, theology), I will forgive her for that.

One thing I remember from reading the Hobbit is that the trial through Murkwood forest took absolutely forever. For Bilbo, for the dwarves, especially the poor saps that had to carry Bombur, and for me. The chapter and descriptions were so long that one really did start to despair and get hungry before they finally are attacked by spiders. Like the company’s view, no end seemed to be in sight.

My real dad (biological father, lives across the state) once commented that Tolkien could take three pages just to describe the wind. When mentioned to a Tolkien fan, she immediately shot back ‘Yes, but he does a damned good job of it.’ Which makes me wonder. How does Tolkien do that?

Logistics and travel has always been a weakness in my work. I can’t stand traveling. My philosophy tends to be ‘If nothing is going to happen, then fast forward and get to the interesting bits,’. This can be good and can be bad, depending on how it’s used. I know that in my 0-draft for NaNoWriMo I skimped on descriptions and most of the scenery. It bored me, and I knew what things looked like, so like exposition, I’d write it when it was needed. This was something that my test reader commented on, along with, ‘it feels like it should be twice as long’ and ‘some parts are awesome, some parts need work’.

The reason my meter’s slowed down is because I’m working on a Wyrren chapter. The end is particularly climactic, but to get there… well, there are logistics. I have a character walking around in a series of dark tunnels with a company, and since she has a speech disability she’s not inclined to conversation. It’s gotten me thinking about how to detail this without just going to a summery or an internal dialog. So far I’ve mostly struggled through, sentence by agonizing sentence, partly with what descriptions available– the way an armed company makes people scatter like frightened birds, the sound of a waterfall in the distance, and the request to change paths so that she can see the water.

Are there any tricks to this? Does the richness of the prose make travel interesting? The characteristics of the places passed by? The thoughts and emotions these details evoke? What would Tolkien do? Is anyone any good at making these transitions interesting?

weekly goal (back to earth)

Last week’s goal: 52,000
Last week’s wordcount: 52,167
This week’s goal: 56,000

Last week’s goal: To spend the week examining Kione Remerdii for villain month. (Done!)
This week’s goal: The most difficult villain. King Tarren II Kanichende, the uncle of my protagonist.

… After doing some further research on the writer’s conference in Seattle, I’ve decided that it’s just too expensive. Never mind the drive there and back, room and food– I don’t think I can spend the five-hundred-dollar entry free. I mean, I’d rather fly across the country and visit a friend of mine who lives in Indiana, to be honest. So… not yet. I’ll keep it in mind for when I’ve got my book written and polished.

I have, however, gotten what I think is the best CD I’ve ever heard (The Silent Force, by Within Temptation), wherein all of the CD tracks remind me of my book. I’ve yet to discover if this is a help or hindrance, but either way it’s made me very happy. Cheers!

writer’s conference

I don’t usually talk about myself on this blog… it often makes me feel uncomfortable, and who really needs to hear another person ramble on about themselves? The constant story-thoughts for the story that no one else is reading is certainly bad enough, right? πŸ˜‰

That said, I came across something interesting today: the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association Writer’s Conference.

Friends and readers probably don’t know anything about me but my literary aspirations (and my age), so I’ll elaborate. My name is Eliza to anyone I’ve met beyond the age of fifteen, Beth to my family and people who knew me as a frizzy-haired child. I have a classic case of ADHD which has taken me most of my life to learn how to disguise, work at a video game testing company, and though I live in Spokane, Washington now, I grew up in various towns around Seattle. Most of my family lives there. My parents may again be living in Seattle within a few weeks, depending on how an interview for a really great job goes (feel free to pray for my dad, if any of you are so inclined– things have been a little tight).

I read about that writer’s conference… and I thought… I could go there. My book’s not ready for submission yet, but I could still network. I could learn how to navigate next year’s con, so that I know what’s going on when I go with a purpose. I could talk about craft (and learn not to grind my teeth down when people start touting what I consider ‘stupid’ rules). And, this is the most interesting note, I could go with a finished rewrite if I pushed myself to go a little faster. I’d have until July 17th. That’s a little over a month to write 40,000 words.

… I did it for NaNoWriMo. I can do it again.

If anyone planning to go reads this, I’ll see you in Seattle.

weekly goal

Current Wordcount: 41,048 words
Last Week’s Goal: 41,000 words
Next Week’s Goal: 45,000 words

I made my word count! Even if I had to stay up till midnight last night to do it. Since my writing buddy is going to be gone, I increased my target goal slightly, and I should be able to beat it.

Villain Week begins the Sunday after tomorrow.

know your enemy (antagonists)

There comes a time when a writer has to stop their story, turn and look at their villain, and admit that they’re phoning it in on the antagonists’ performances. I simply have not given any of my (multiple) villains the treatment that I’ve given my two main heroes. I don’t know what they’re doing while I’m focusing on my heroes. I don’t know their subplots. I don’t know what problems they’ve been going through behind the scenes.

So far I have four villains to counter my two heroes: A king, a lord, a winged bully, and a high-ranking slave. I’ve managed so far, but I just invented the last on the list (Sorche du Remerdii, the man who gave that cheeky line I mentioned here), and in a high-tension scene he feels flat.

Lesson learned: know your villains. I’ve decided that June is going to be ‘Villain Month’. Each week will be dedicated to developing and writing side-stories about one of my villains. That way I’ll be ready for my second rewrite, and I’ll be posting up character exercises, collages, and notes on development. I’ll also be exploring the extent of their power, what they can and can not do to the heroes, and why.

No flat enemies allowed.

great query link

I found a community on livejournal that posts and critiques other people’s query letters (have a link) late yesterday afternoon. Since my query letter didn’t get put up on Query Shark, I thought that I’d try that.

I’m really impressed! The community is helpful, and when I reread my query I realized that they were absolutely right about its flaws, which my local writing group and in-person test readers didn’t point out. I’m adding them to my blog links, under ‘resources’.

(Also, I think I’ll go rewrite my query letter. πŸ˜‰ )

pondering pov

So! Now that the cover art is mostly out of the way (and I’m bouncing in anticipation of the coming sketches) I’ve turned my attention back to the book, the chapter, and the partial rewrite that I want to finish.

And I’ve run into another problem, and another answer that’s going to force me to rework much more than I’d anticipated: Rylan is not that effective of a POV character for what I want to do next. My heroine would be much better. She’s the one making the decisions, and later she’s the one who’s going to be in danger, and there are things she will say without Rylan being present.

I take a lot of care with POV. So far, it’s all been a third-person fixed and limited perspective, meaning the camera is on Rylan, and always on Rylan and has been for the last nearly 40k words. I prefer it that way; I like to keep things as simple as possible to avoid shifting needlessly. Except now? It’s not so needless.

Changing over to another character this late in the book, even using chapter breaks, is a jarring practice. I hate rules, but I’ll agree with this one: don’t switch cameras to a secondary character for one chapter halfway through the book, then never again.

With that in mind I’m changing chapter two (which I was never satisfied with) to Wyrren’s position. I’m probably also going to add another chapter somewhere between four and seven with her as the point of view character. And there’s a very important scene I’ll do the same. That puts her as the narrator for about 25% of the book.

It also changes the feel of the book, the lighting and mood, if you will. POV is important. It colors the pages with your character. In this case it’s steel and stone, oil lamps in the cold, blood and sweat, then to golden light, marble arches, velvet gowns and implication, implication everywhere, murmuring and gossiping, kind words one minute than slander the next; a fairy-tale ball of junior high girls who will never grow up.

It’s also going to be harder, longer, and double my work, especially handling the exposition and the secondary characters. I’ll do it, of course. I’ll do anything to make my book better. Even so, it’s hard, and I don’t want to. Consider the dilemma ranted and struggled with.

writing by the seat of your pants

… a tragic tale of a plot that went one way, an author who tried to steer elsewhere, and the resulting botched set-up.

I think I’m going to have to rewrite much of last Saturday’s progress. I’m keeping the line I liked so much, I’m keeping the new character, and I won’t change the situation… but the pacing and setting was meant for another encounter, and it just doesn’t work.

The good news is, the changes will eventually lead back to my outline. Also good news… I complicated the plot even further by damaging a devoted servant of a character my protagonist really needs. Bad news? I don’t want to be less than forty percent completed. 😦

outline? what outline?

Today’s writing is a fine example of why my nice little chapter-synopses have little or no bearing on reality.

I spent days working out how the rest of the book was going to go. A few chapters ago, I started deviating. It felt right. I don’t argue with my characters, as a rule. At the end of Chapter Seven we were almost on track. Now? Not only did the kidnappers not be the mercenaries I’d expected, I also introduced a new important character. And he’s a cocky little bastard that won’t hear of leaving my plot.

I did, however, write a line that I’m very fond of. I thought I’d share.

“Rylan du Jadis, it is an honor. My lord wishes to commend you for your bravery, congratulate you for your performance, and condemn you for your idiocy.”

Didn’t I say that this guy is going to be trouble? Hmm?