nano plan

It’s a bit early for it, but with National Novel Writing Month a bare month and a half away, I thought that I’d outline my project and a few of the details. Anyone participating in NaNo is welcome to add me to their buddies list– [my profile].

The Artificer’s Angels
POV: Third person omniscient. Currently out of fashion, but nonetheless holds promise.
Rating: PG – PG13. I’m in the mood for something lighter.
Genre: Fantasy.
Sub-Genres: Magical-steampunk, action/adventure, romance.

Most grave robbers take the jewelry. This one stole the body.

On a tour of a mechanist’s laboratories– her brother’s workplace– Merrily Soarin wanders off, peeks into an ajar door, and discovers a boy in a glass tube. Just before Merrily is caught, she could have sworn that he looked at her. As if he were still alive.

Enter master artificer Maxwell Gallows, once famous, now infamous. He’s been looking for his son’s corpse for a long time, and meeting Merrily Soarin was the best thing that had yet happened for his search. But there are a few problems.

Maxwell Gallows would rather kill Merrily than repay her for her help. The mechanist is an old enemy, and won’t back down from a fight. Resurrection is illegal, and protocol dictates that the recipient be destroyed. Leo, the artificer’s son, is so damaged that his next death will be his last no matter how brilliant his father. To make matters worse, in an attempt to steal some of Maxwell’s old projects, the mechanist accidentally activated one.


Major Characters:

Leo Gallows – Leo has a good, level head on his shoulders, and unlike his father, he has a strong conscience. He’s unbearably shy around girls, and doesn’t take well to Merrily’s constant hugs. He’s on his way to becoming an artificer in his own right.

Maxwell Gallows – Manic, driven, brilliant, but also self-centered and elitist. He doesn’t take well to being helped by a farming family, much less a religious one. He’s killed Leo twice in lab accidents.

Merrily Soarin – Cheerful, impulsive, accepting, and the bringer of hugs. Merrily spent half of her childhood working on the farm, a quarter taking stupid dares, and another quarter trying to resuscitate injured animals. The family has a little graveyard beyond the garden where Merrily buries the ones that don’t make it.

Paul Soarin – One of Merrily’s five older brothers, Paul bears the nickname of ‘Shadow’ for his tenancy to conform and follow.

Abraham Gennyson – A strong mechanist, Paul’s boss, and one of Maxwell’s old rivals. Abraham is brilliant at clockwork, but does not understand biological engineering or magic.

Uriel – The prototype Maxwell used before he tried to rebuild his son after his first death. Maxwell pulled Uriel out of a hospital morgue, but in the process of resurrecting him, erased his memories. Maxwell thought it was ironic to give him the name of an angel.

good villains don’t pull punches

Easy to say. Much, much harder to pull off in writing. Why? Because realistically, there’s only so much that can be done to a character before they break. The more realistic the story, the more the reader identifies with the protagonist. The more the reader identifies with the protagonist, the more the events in the story don’t just happen to the characters– they happen to the reader, too.

I’ve toted my love of George Martin’s ‘Song of Ice and Fire’ series before. Why? Because a very well developed character, a beast of a fighter that had been developed painstakingly for three (long) books can win a fight, take an injury in the process, and die of tetanus. There are so many characters in his books that he can realistically kill a huge portion of his cast like that. It heightens your sense of danger for the favorite characters, it takes away the safety net, and the knowledge that some of these characters are not going to survive the next few hundred pages makes the material gripping. Good villains don’t pull punches.

The problem with imitating this style, however, is that stories that aren’t a series of 200k novels have a much smaller cast. You can hurt them, you can kill them, but know that whatever pain and torment they go through… it’s not just going to magically go away. These characters are going to have to last you till the end of the story. And a good villain, a good danger, is going to hurt what it comes across.

I’m about sixty percent of the way through my book. My heroine has already broken her arm twice, and during plotting for future chapters I’ve very nearly decided that I’m going to shatter her knee and kill a side-character that I’m rather fond of. There is no healing magic. She’ll never run again, or walk without her staff. Why? Because there’s a villain with the advantage who is clever enough to find her. Take away his advantage, let her win the struggle immediately, and he’s not much of a villain. On the other hand, give my antagonist what he seeks (answers for her possession of a dead friend’s mask) and he will kill her. Good villains don’t pull punches. There is no ‘before I kill you’ monologue. No last requests. No ‘by the power of sheer will’ victories. No drastic change in skill when it’s convenient for him to lose a fight.

Why do people love a good villain? Because that struggle between the characters, the wavering balance of power, the trade of victories and defeats is what makes the adventure. Without tension, conflict, that sense of danger and concern for losing something precious… there is no story.

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)
“The 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

50%!

As of last night, I reached 47,533 words. 50% of my projected length. Woot!

That said, I had an idea that again deviates from my intended storyline, but sounded very good last night. This morning I remembered the idea, and promptly felt sick. Oh, it works. But it’s dark, even for me.

This has happened before. I lay down to sleep and my mind races. I see dialog, chapter layouts, characters dancing in my head as I lay there, and when I’ve been especially productive it can last for hours. But when I wake, I realize that these 2-a.m. thoughts are always rock-lodged-in-your-gut disturbing or melodramatic.

Anyone else think their judgment is skewed by early hours? Or is it just me?

plot, the contortionist

My changes to plot has fixed a hundred problems that I didn’t account for when I wrote the 0-draft in NaNoWriMo. Subplots have popped up, interweave with the main storyline, the characters, even unintentionally, are changing as the story progresses. Rylan finally believes he knows what to do and is starting to act like the pseudo-noble that he is.

The problem is that in my first write (and this was one of the problems with that draft that I hadn’t specifically identified) my characters’ strength and connections had remained fairly static throughout the story. Now that I’m paying more attention to the villains, I’ve realized that if they’re going to survive, they need allies and connections.

Allies and connections means that the catalyst that brings them down is no longer going to work. Not even remotely. My characters would have to be blitheringly stupid to even get close. Which means that one of my key events is completely wrong.

Now, I could find ways to explain it off. Ick, no. I can’t even salvage part of the original plan and make it consistent and believable. I am not going to bend and twist my plot to give it a preordained mediocre pre-climax. Plot can be a contortionist in some cases, but the moment it had a foot sticking out of its stomach, something’s wrong.

My villain’s going to have to do something pretty amazing to bring them down now. I’m going to keep on writing, and see how it happens, because I’m off my outline.