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Posts Tagged ‘characters’

I decided to start with character profiles/backstories for the principal characters in MAGE STORM. This isn’t something I usually do, but I thought it would be useful in this case since I’m trying to get a new start on a story I wrote some time ago. Also because I’ve changed the roles of a couple of characters–actually switched the competencies of the two principal allies. I needed to give them better and more extensive backstories to support their skills.

I’ve almost finished that. I need to do a very little more research into a certain personality type for my antagonist/villain. So far, I’ve got a much better feeling about those two characters in particular and–unlike the last attempt–I actually feel ready to write in their points of view.

I’ve also decided to go ahead and create a map for this series. I’ve had a really basic hand-drawn . . . thing . . . that I used as a writer’s aid for the first version. Believe me, this is even less ready for prime time than my usual hand-drawn maps. But, it’s been a while since I last worked on a map with this software, so I’m having to go back through the tutorials.

Then, when that’s done, I should be ready to start writing/re-writing this story. I still haven’t decided on the sword and sorcery vs. epic fantasy question. This story sort of lives in the grey area in between. But, that doesn’t have to stop me from writing the first book. The question will only come up in how I build–or fail to build–the greater arc in the later books.

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Woo Hoo!

I just finished the revisions on BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM!

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Well, not completely finished. I still need to do another read-through to make sure I didn’t mess anything up with cut and paste, etc. Probably best if I wait a few days to start that, though. And then it’ll be ready to go to my critique partners–always assuming I don’t find anything else in that read-through, of course.

There was one minor plot thing that I decided to change at the end of the story and a few places where I needed to get deeper into the characters’ emotions. One revision of an unnecessarily complex sentence into two. And a couple of additions that just mirrored something earlier in the story.

But the revision I saved for last was neither of those. In his first POV chapter (Chapter 3), I had deliberately left one of the characters  from the first book anonymous in his first POV chapter. Deliberately because he’s been “lost” so long he doesn’t even remember who he was. In the next chapter in which he appears (Chapter 7), he’s asked who he is and dredges up a name that’s almost–but not quite–right. Then the question emerged: which name should be used in narration until he finally recovers his right name? Especially in his POV chapters. There was a difference of opinion among my critique partners and I had to decide how I wanted to handle it. In his POV chapters keep using the wrong name, or use the right one?

Using the wrong name in his POV chapters felt like highlighting his confusion, but also like it might be overly confusing for readers who might have picked up Book 2 first or just not remember Book 1 all that clearly.

Then I took a look at the chapters. Well, the first time this character gets called by his right name to his face is Chapter 17–and he’s very confused by it. And the first time he actually accepts that that is his real name is Chapter 31. That skates way too close to withholding for my tastes. Withholding is one of my big pet peeves that makes me (as a reader) feel that the author isn’t being honest with me. And that ruins the willing suspension of disbelief. And so, now he’s called, in narration at least, by his right name right from Chapter 3.

I think that’s much better.

 

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I’m working through the revisions on BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM.

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Usually, I more or less go through the manuscript in order, picking off revisions as I come to them. Unless, of course, a revision requires a little more thought. Then I might skip over it the first time and come back to it in a later pass.

This time, though, I find myself skipping around, working on whatever revision seems to appeal at the moment. It’s interesting, but I found myself reading through a sequence yesterday, just to make sure I hadn’t messed it up with a bit of cut and paste surgery I’d performed. I’ll have to read the whole thing through again, of course, when I finish the revisions and before I hand it off to my critique partners.

One of the side effects of this, however, is that I’ve knocked off most of the easy ones and now find myself wrestling with one of the revisions which requires generating more emotional response for one of the characters.

Those are sometimes the most difficult revisions. This one, I’ve decided, can’t be dealt with in a single revision. This is something this character has been avoiding dealing with for a long time. And it’s going to take several scenes, over the course of the whole book to build the pressure on this character and then release it–right at the climax.

This is going to be so much better.

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Let’s see, last post I had started Chapter 39 in BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM.

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I have now started Chapter 41, which is still well ahead of schedule. (The goal was two chapters a week and I post twice a week. So, really, I’d be on schedule if I’d only written one chapter in that time frame.)

I’ve actually written a little more than that. Chapter 40 ended up being split when I realized the scene I’d just written more properly belonged a little later in the narrative. So, I cut and pasted and moved it to a new chapter to a new Chapter 46, where it sits by itself until I get to that chapter.

But the real fun is the chapter I’m writing now. The POV character is Mariel, who was an important character in BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING and is more of a side character in the sequel.

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She is one of the more patient and mild-mannered characters–normally. But she’s just hit the end of her tether and is about to unleash her–considerable–wrath over a wide swath of people she doesn’t think have come up to snuff in the current situation. People who mostly aren’t used to be talked to that way.

This is going to be fun!

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What is now BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM started life very differently.

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Several years ago . . . . Let’s see, a little digging shows that I started the first version of the story in 2008. Ten years ago. It was, if I remember correctly, the third novel I wrote. It was very different than it is now.

That first version was titled Dreamer’s Rose–and Rose was the main character. The same Rose (well, mostly the same) who makes her first appearance in the final book of the Become series. That novel was finished, revised/rewritten a couple of times–and tabled. It just didn’t work–or not in a way that I wanted it to.

It took me awhile to figure out that Rose just wasn’t the most interesting character–Gaian was. (Though his name was different in that first version.) And more time to fully develop Gaian’s character and background–which also changed beyond all recognition from that first version. In fact, about the only things that haven’t changed are the map,

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and Gaian’s parentage and . . . more or less what happens in the end–rather less than more in some ways.

I wasn’t idle during that time, of course. But this story never really went away. It was always somewhere on a back burner waiting to be ready. I always did picture Gaian as Hercules-like in some ways, but it was when I realized that there were parts of Hercules’s story that could really be built into this one, in an upside down kind of way, that it really started coming together.

love this story the way it’s turning out now.

 

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I’ve started back to work on the sequel to BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING,

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BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM.

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Switching gears, even to a sequel always takes a few days–even without life interrupting. And plumbing issues–one of the joys of an old house–have definitely interrupted.

However, one of the first things I’ve done is to review the comments on the first five chapters by an alpha reader. And, based on that, I’ve decided to add a new first chapter, from the perspective of one of the primary characters from the BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING, just to give readers a quick grounding in WHERE and especially WHEN this story takes place.

I’ve decided this because otherwise the story starts with an entirely new character who wasn’t even referenced in the first book. And also because the sequel takes place about eighteen years after the first book. Hopefully, this will ease readers in a little more gently, even if it appears to be a somewhat slow beginning. It’ll be a very short chapter, at least. So that’s what I’m doing now.

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Kaleran is still surprising me. Turns out he’s sneaky, too. Well, with his past, he almost had to be, but I hadn’t planned on that. Well, no doubt it will prove useful elsewhere in the plot, too.

Here’s a snippet I just wrote from BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM.

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Someone thought they could lock him in the same cellar they used to lock him in when he was a lot younger. Someone also forgot that he’d escaped from that cellar before, because they think the door wasn’t really locked that time.

“What are you doing?” Alander—Uncle Alander—asked.

“Getting us out of here.”

“I tried the door already. It’s too strong.” He stopped and eyed Kaleran for a moment, then shook his head. “There’s no way to get a good grip on it, so probably too strong for you, too.”

Kaleran smiled grimly. “I’ve been in this Tower for thirteen years. I spent a good deal of that time figuring out how to evade or escape from Uncle Cordan.” He grimaced. “Until he started sending troops of Tower guards after me, anyway.”

He reached up to shoulder height with only a slight wince and counted three bricks over from the door frame. He grasped the brick and tried to pull it out. Hmm. Maybe Uncle Cordan had discovered his secret after all. He ran a finger around the top of the brick. Nothing. Around the bottom. Oh, right. He hadn’t been quite as tall back then. He dropped his hand to the brick immediately below and tugged. It pulled out easily, revealing a shallow space just large enough for the small hammer hidden there. It was a little rusty, after all this time, but that wouldn’t matter.

“What’s that for?” Uncle Alander asked.

“Rel—” Kaleran cut himself off. He wasn’t ready to reveal Reldan’s existence just yet. “A friend once told me that it’s always wisest to attack at the weakest point. The weakest point of a door is the hinges. And this door has hinges on the inside.” Something Uncle Cordan never had realized, apparently.

The other man smiled. “Ah.”

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