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That went faster than I expected. I finished the read-through of BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM yesterday.

StormCover2

This is just my process, but in a read-through, I’m looking for several things–some of which I can fix as I go.

  1. Inconsistencies. It took about five to six months to write this first draft, with two major breaks in which I worked on revisions to BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING. BecomeCover2Sometimes, I described the same thing slightly differently in different places, written at different times. I need to reconcile those descriptions. Some places that was easy and I’ve already fixed it. Others will take a little more thought–and maybe some deletions.
  2. Things I need to reduce or delete. This can be as simple as discovering that, over the months it took to write the first draft, I’ve put some detail in more than once, especially too close together–and one of them will have to go. Or as complex that discovering a scene–rarely a whole chapter–is just not necessary and it messes with the pacing. Fortunately, I don’t think I have anything major this time, but there are a couple of instances of the former I’ll need to deal with.
  3. Things I need to add. My first drafts tend to be pretty spare of description. And sometimes when writing dialog I don’t stop even to put in dialog tags, let alone some interaction with the setting to keep the scene from becoming two disembodied heads talking in a white space. So, in the read-through I mark those. There are other, subtler, things too. Places where I have one tiny action that could–and should–have a tiny reaction in the next scene. Or places where it would be really easy to have a character find an answer to a question–even if it’s not a very important question. Or only important to them.
  4. Places where I need to add a lot more reaction, more emotional depth for one of the characters. Yeah, I have a few of those I need to go back to. Also, places where the POV character’s emotions in the first draft might not be quite right–or not complex enough.
  5. Sometimes even places where I may want to adjust the plot a bit. I don’t think I have any of those in this story, though. On the other hand, I don’t always find all the things that need to be adjusted in the first read-through. Sometimes I don’t even find them until after I get the critiques back.
  6. Smaller details, like showing a particular aspect of the story in a minor way earlier on so it doesn’t come as a complete surprise when it turns out to be important later on. Sometimes just reminding myself that there are other characters in the scene and I shouldn’t allow them just to fade into wallpaper.
  7. Probably other things I’m not remembering right now, too.

So, now I’ve got those things–at least the ones I found on the first read-through–marked up. The next thing to do is to go through and try to deal with as many of those as I can. That can take multiple passes because some things are a little more complex to work out than others. Then another read-through and I think it will be ready for my critique partners to take a look at so they can find the things I didn’t even see because I’m too close to it.

I’ve started the first revision pass on BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM.

StormCover2

The first pass is usually mostly a read-through, maybe fixing small stuff and mostly getting a feel for what work needs to be done.

However, in this case, the first chapter was a train wreck. Well, maybe not that bad, and maybe no quite an infodump, but very much tell rather than show.

That first chapter had been added on the advice of one of my critique partners who’d read the early chapters. For a couple of reasons:

  1. Otherwise the book starts with a chapter from the point of view of a brand new character never even mentioned in the first book. Now the book starts in the POV of one of the major characters from BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING.BecomeCover2
  2. That critique partner felt that it was a good idea to provide the reader with a quick orientation as to where the story left off in the first book, since the first few chapters would be from the POV of characters who weren’t in the first book or were not important characters in that book.

So, I basically rewrote that chapter, adding in a little more conflict. Something I wouldn’t normally do during a rewrite. I’m not positive I’ve got it right, yet. But that’s why the revisions are a multi-step process. I do know it’s better than it was before.

From here, hopefully, the read-through will proceed more normally.

Switching Back

Originally, the plan was to work on MAGE STORM through August and then switch back to the revisions on BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM in September.

StormCover2

But, I haven’t been getting any traction on MAGE STORM. Beyond the initial issues I had–deciding on a ground-up rewrite–I’ve discovered some other things that need to be considered.

See, the original version was conceived as a sort of open-ended series, with each book being a separate story–building on events in the previous books but not creating a greater world-saving arc. That’d work fine if I decided to make this sword and sorcery. But I don’t think that’s what I want. The idea of the rewrite was to make it epic fantasy.

Now, as I said before, this story has an epic problem. But the sort of open-ended series–that doesn’t have an arc building to the epic climax just doesn’t work very well for epic fantasy. That world-saving or world-changing conclusion is as expected in epic fantasy as a happily-ever-after is in romance. Favorite characters can get killed along the way. The quest can even fail. But there has to be that big bang at the end.

So, I’m going to have to rethink, not just the first story, but how all the others fit into a larger, more epic arc. I think I can see a glimmer of how that might work. Or, at least a little of it. But I need to have a better feel for that before I start the rewrite.

Therefore, I’m going to go ahead and start the revisions on BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM. It’s been three weeks. And, as distracted as I’ve been lately, revision–using the critical side of my brain–is probably a better fit than trying to write from scratch–or nearly–anyway.

And, in the meantime, maybe I can figure out how all the pieces of MAGE STORM and it’s sequels fit together into an epic arc. Or what has to change to make them fit. Or, of course, whether it’s just better suited to being an episodic sword and sorcery after all. There’s actually nothing wrong with that. It’d just mean a change of perspective and expectations for this story.

Stuck

I’m behind by a day. Yesterday, just sort of got away from me. That happens sometimes.

And . . . I don’t have much to post about right now, anyway. The truth is I’m not feeling very creative at the moment. It’s not writer’s block–been there, got the T-shirt. It’s more just that other things–one specific other thing, is taking up all the energy that would normally go into writing.

My good old boy dog is dying. He’s been showing his age–fourteen and a half–for a while now, but he’s really gone downhill rapidly since last Sunday, though he is still eating, if not much else. I’m wrestling with the decision nearly all pet owners have to face sooner or later and I just don’t have the emotional energy left over to put into writing.

Micah was originally Michael, when he came to me eleven years ago. But that’s my brother’s name so, to keep peace in the family–and avoid confusion–I dropped the L-sound and called him Micah. He never noticed the difference. Officially, to the AKC, he’s Ch. Snowrose Flying Without Wings. A Cardigan Welsh corgi. He’s been my Velcro dog, following me from room to room, my agility team mate, my good boy. And, currently, he’s my only pet. It just happened that way as the cats left us, one by one, and then we lost Aliza (Tricreek’s Simply Irresistable) two years ago.

A year ago, I tried to bring another dog in. Micah was quite all right with it, once he had a chance to get used to the idea. But the new dog turned out to be an escape artist, and I live on a busy street, so I had to take her back because I knew I couldn’t keep her safe. The last six months or so, Micah has really needed to be an only dog and so he has been. The house is going to very quiet when he’s gone.

Micah when I first met him:

Michael 2

In his prime:

Digital Camera

With Aliza:

Micah and Aliza

Playing dog agility:

Micah Tire

Pretending to be a Christmas present:

Christmas Present

That’s a good boy, Micah. That’ll do.

Back at It

There’s no chance I could not write. Not for any prolonged period of time. So, I’m back at work on MAGE STORM, now. Just starting the second chapter. It’s going to be an interesting dance between what I can reuse of the old version and what I just have to scrap and do over–or completely differently. But I’m still committed to this story.

In the interim, I think I have a good idea what the cover will be like, when, eventually, I get that far. And I have a much better blurb for BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM.

StormCover2

Here it is:

As a son of the Goddess, Gaian might become a god himself—if he can remember to try.
In the conclusion of the Become series, Gaian has no memory of who he is, where he lived, or who he loves. He can barely remember his own name. The only thing he knows, the only thing he holds onto is the belief that his purpose is to protect others. That, and the certainty that leaving his solitary existence in the forest would cause immeasurable harm to others.
Everyone else believes Gaian is dead. But they know what he has forgotten: that an ancient prophecy says that a son of the Goddess could become a god—the Sky God—with the right help.
At the prompting of a new prophecy, Margan, the son born after Gaian’s “death”, comes over the mountains to find his father’s grave. There he meets Rose, the girl with a gift for dreams who was once rescued by a strange man in the forest.
Together, they might have the abilities needed to help Gaian complete his destiny. If they fail, it could end in catastrophe.
Inspired by the legend of Hercules.

Now, back to MAGE STORM.

 

Too Darn Hot

Not much has gotten done in the last few days. For one thing, it’s just too hot–my brain does not function nearly as well in the heat. That, and the unwanted, unneeded excitement of having to replace a section of pipe that started to leak (not in the budget) and getting AAA out to jump my car battery when I tried to go do the grocery shopping.

I did work up a couple of good ideas for book covers for MAGE STORM. But, since I haven’t yet paid for the right to use the images, I can’t show them here. Not yet, anyway.

The good news is that one of my books, THE BARD’S GIFT is free thru Sunday, 8/12/18. It’s part of a Clean Indie Reads back-to-school sale:

CIR YA Sale 2018

Lots of great stories to pick up for free.

When I approach a previously-written story, there’s always a temptation to think I can fix it with more-than-usually extensive revisions. Sometimes, I can. More often it becomes obvious that that just isn’t going to work.

I hadn’t gotten very far in the read-through before I realized MAGE STORM is not going to be one I can just revise. Oh, I could almost certainly keep some parts of the original, with some revision. The first few chapters, likely. And maybe I will.

But for most of it, the answer is going to be to take it down to the bare dirt and start over. And, before I do that, I’m going to have to think a few things through, because they’ll have a major effect on the story.

See, the original version of MAGE STORM was upper middle grade–meant for readers between 10 and 12. Back when I was seriously considering traditional publishing. And, because of that, the story was constrained to be a bit smaller than what I would write for a more general audience. And I kept it to one point of view.

But middle grade is a really tough market, especially for indie authors for a lot of reasons. And I just choose not to beat my head against that wall. For one thing, marketing is hard enough for me (just not really my thing, but a necessary part of the job) without having to market to one audience (parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.) who buy the books while writing for another audience (ten- to twelve-year-olds) who read them.

This story always had the potential to be more . . . epic. The huge, world-affecting problem is right there in plain sight. So, while the plot line will stay basically the same, there will need to be a lot more depth to it. Some of it will need to be expanded considerably. And I plan to give a couple of other characters point-of-view chapters of their own.

The first thing I need to figure out–and pretty quickly–is how old I want these characters to be when the story starts. Rell (the main character) was fifteen in the original version. Then pushed down to eleven on the advice of an agent. Then fifteen again. That’s not an impossible age. Vatar (of the Dual Magics series) was fifteen when that series started. But it surely will affect how some scenes are handled–things like what the character is likely to be concerned about, how he interacts with his family and friends, how he reacts to a threat, what he’ll find funny (which is important in certain parts of the story).

And I’m afraid that what I ended up with in that last version was a fifteen-year-old who sometimes acts like an eleven-year-old. To some extent that’s okay. Rell is not going to be as mature at fifteen as Vatar was. He’s led a much more sheltered life and he really has no preparation for what’s going to happen to him. On the other hand, there are some significant differences between what a fifteen-year-old will put up with without rebelling and what an eleven-year-old will. And there’s a part of the story where full-on teenage rebellion could easily get him killed, so there’ll need to be a really good reason why he doesn’t.

So . . . the best thing to do is probably to just start over, pretty much from the beginning.

Maybe I’ll go play with some ideas for the cover art while I mull these issues.