three steps forward…

… Then a shepherd’s crook about the neck from off-stage, Bugs Bunny style. Yoink!

I’ve been working on my revisions (and not posting so much, admittedly… but the deeper I go into the actual writing/editing of the book, I find I have less and less to say here). Chapters one through three have been revised, fixed up, polished (and chapter one and two sent off to my test readers).

Chapter one was unavoidably awkward in spots, a lot of world building and introductions very quickly, and chapter two extended that, but with plot. Chapter three was a dream: varied, interesting, fast paced.

And then I reached chapter four.

I don’t see any way around it. I’m going to have to rewrite most of this from scratch. Fifteen pages or so, 8-9k. Flat characters, dallying plot, and… well, let’s call it ‘plodding’. Trudging through to the interesting parts. This might take a bit longer than I thought.

rewrite goals (spit and polish)

I recently came across a website titled Limyaael’s Rants, in which an English grad student studying for a Ph.D. writes some very good articles about what can make or break a fantasy novel (though I suspect a number of her points could also transcend into other genres). She covers everything from abused characters to world building, nearly 350 articles. Some are lessons that I’ve learned a long time ago… and some are points that I haven’t considered yet.

I don’t have very long before I start up my second rewrite, and the topics on this rant page have got me thinking about what goals I’ll make before going through the novel again. I started this project thinking ‘form and composition first, then scenes, then prose’, and I still think it’s a good way to work with it (though it makes ‘eh’ excerpts at present).

To do, between the drafts:
– Minor characters. If they have an impact on the scene, figure out who they are, where they live, what they do.
– Mapping. Everything in my book all occurs in the same city. There are some notable features of this city, even in the low-end districts where caves are the norm. Refine them, name them.
– Art. I know the style of the noblemen’s art. Not the commoners. I also don’t know who the heroes that the statues between the university and palace are made for. Explore this further.
– Rewrite much of the palace events from Wyrren’s point of view. Make the intrigue intrigue-y, probably add two subplots to contrast with the simplicity of Rylan’s tasks to the complexity of Wyrren’s place. Also, this will serve to disguise Kione’s initial importance. Hide a leaf in a forest.
– Exposition. I actually added no exposition in the first draft. I wanted to write the story first and see what needed to be explained. Now I know: the magic system, the harshness of the surface, and the use of assassins in war rather than armies due to the climate. Those are the biggies. Everything else? By implication.
– Finalize the plot. After breaking my outline several dozen times in this draft, I’m at least hopeful that my characters will be satisfied with their actions. I’m going to rewrite a plot synopsis and rake through it for plot holes. (Die, circular logic, die!! … ahem.)

Anyway, if you have a free hour, take a look at her articles.

finishing chapter one

The second rewrite of my first chapter has just been completed. It’s much stronger, the setting is firmly in place, it’s terribly long (7,500 words), it sparks with tension, and it just may be the best thing that I’ve ever written. I am thrilled, exhausted, and slightly terrified, because I’ve printed out copies for my four test readers. Once they finish, it goes to my writing critique group. I am now ready to continue with the first rewrite, with has languished for the last few days while I’ve slogged on this piece. Expect my word count meter to start climbing again soon.

I will say this much. Wyrren Jadis is an amazing character. I’m terrified that I’m going to handle her badly. She’s frustrating to direct, stubborn, impossible to express. But when I can use her correctly, she outshines them all.

I love this book.