Posts Tagged ‘conflict’

Not in the data protection sense, although I do that, too.

No, this time I mean backing up as in going back a little for the start of this story (Book 4, currently untitled, of the Dual Magics series). I said in my last post that beginnings are hard. And they are–until you find the right place to enter the story.

In my first stories, I more often had to cut from the beginning, because I’d started the story too early. A couple of times now I’ve had to back up and put the beginning a little earlier. I guess that’s a kind of progress.

Anyway, I backed up to, among other things, start with a little more urgency–and a tiny bit of action. I like this beginning much better. Of course, I won’t really know if it’s the right place to start until I write THE END at the bottom of the first draft.

Meanwhile, I’m also trying to iron out the blurb for Book 3, BEYOND THE PROPHECY, which is much harder.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Blurbs, pitches, and queries are an art form unto themselves. And they take a lot of revision to get right–or close to right.

Read Full Post »

BEYOND THE PROPHECY is ready to go out to my beta readers.


And I’ve just started the fourth (and final) book in the Dual Magics series. Yeah, I’ve written a whole 1600 words, but it is a start.

Beginnings are hard. Even in an ongoing series when you’re already very familiar with the characters and the world, it’s still hard. And you never really know where the story should start until you write the end.

Two scenes in and I’ve already decided that I need to back up just a little. Not that I think the story has started in the wrong place, but that I want to find a way to give the beginning a little more action. I think I see a way to do that.

Part of the problem with this beginning is that I have two conflicting issues.

  1. Every book in this series has started with Vatar. And I really want this one to start there, too.
  2. But the place where the main conflict is introduced necessarily centers on another character who has put herself in a position to discover the enemies plans. She’s not a major character and I don’t want the first chapter to be from her POV. Chapter 2, fine, but not Chapter 1.

So, I need to start with Vatar. Not–yet–with the main conflict. But with something at least a little exciting (this is the book where all the conflicts blow up, after all) and something that’s important to the overall story.

This is why beginnings are hard, but I think I see a way to do that. We’ll see.

Read Full Post »

I’m a discovery writer (or pantser), but a modified one. Why modified? Because once, when I was fairly new to writing, I actually managed to write over 100,000 words on a novel and, as I was writing the final scene, I looked up and said to myself, “But it’s not a story.” I knew intuitively that it wasn’t a story, but it took me a lot longer to figure out why. (By the way, once I finally figured it out and learned a few other matters of craft, that not-quite-a story became THE VOICE OF PROPHECY.)

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????So, now I try to figure out a few sign posts along the way before plunging in.

Obviously, I need to know where the story begins. By which I mean not necessarily the opening scene, which can change. The inciting incident is usually pretty stable, though, and that’s what I need to know.

A few of the major plot points along the way is nice. I do make notes of or even sketch out a few scenes that come to me, but I’ve always done that (even in that draft that wasn’t really a story). Some of those will make it into the final version intact. Some will have to be changed to fit. And some will have to be left out or cut.

I like to know the climax. Of course, I’ve known the climax the DUAL MAGICS series was headed for for a long time, now, so that’s not a problem.

Sometimes I’ll even write out what I call a proto synopsis, hitting just the high (or low) points of the story.

But the main thing I absolutely have to know is the central conflict. Without that, it’s just a string of events. That’s the reason that that very first version of THE VOICE OF PROPHECY (then known as THE IGNORED PROPHECY) wasn’t a story. The germ of the central conflict was there, but it just wasn’t clear enough to be the backbone of the story.

I’ve been organizing all of this because, very soon now, I’m going to be starting the first draft of Book 4, the final book of the DUAL MAGICS series, tentatively titled WARRIOR OF MAGIC. Can barely wait.

Read Full Post »

I’m at the point in my revisions on BEYOND THE PROPHECY

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????where I have to balance multiple threads of the story. I now have major characters in three different locations doing three different things in support of the main goal.

Things get complicated at this point. I have to keep the timeline straight. Does Event A actually belong in chapter 30, or should it happen after the events–in another location with different characters–in chapter 32? Moving whole chapters around isn’t too difficult, but remembering what any given character should know if I move that chapter might be.

Add in that I don’t want any one of those three characters to get left out of the plot for too long and it becomes a real balancing act.

Progress slows a bit at this point for a reason.

Read Full Post »

I started the revisions on BEYOND THE PROPHECY just about a week ago.


I’ve made really good progress up ‘til now. I’m on Chapter 25 of (currently) 51.

Honestly, the most major change I’ve had to make so far—other than adding some details and punching up the emotions in a couple of places—was to delete part of a few scenes since I’d decided that a couple of characters weren’t there after all. Not too big a deal.

Not that I’ve addressed everything in those first 24 chapters. There are things I left for a later pass because I hadn’t decided quite what to do with them yet. And there will still be the need to edit for more setting details in some areas. (Always something I tend to gloss over in a first draft.)

But I’ve just arrived at the part of the story that’s going to need more work. The part I wasn’t happy with in the first draft anyway. It’s always the middle, isn’t it? I know what needs to be done—generally. But now I have to do it. New scenes. At least one new chapter. New emotional conflict—can always use more of that in the middle. This part will be almost like going back to the first draft.

But the story will be so much better for it.

Once I get through this, hopefully the rest will be more of a downhill slide. Then at least two more revision passes until I’ll be glad to close it up while my trusted beta readers have it. Then I’ll know how well I did.

Read Full Post »

I’ve been doing so many other things today–laundry, a bit of house painting, and the first round of revisions on BEYOND THE PROPHECY

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????that I almost forgot to blog. In my defense, I’m at one of the most fun parts of the story, where two young characters are starting to feel the first urges of something more than friendship–and still don’t quite know what to do with that. To cap it off, one of them is about to go away for a while. Here’s a snippet:

“You are coming back aren’t you?” Kiara asked.

“Nothing could keep me away. This is my real home.”

“How . . . how long will it be?”

“I don’t know. Two years. Maybe three. I’ll study hard and try to make it back as soon as I can.” He looked down and back up. “Will you . . .” He stopped and shook his head. “It’s not fair to ask you to wait for me.”

“I’ll wait.”

Theklan smiled. “I . . . I made something for you. It’s not a courting gift. I’m not even allowed to offer a courting gift until after the manhood test. More . . . more maybe something to remember me by?”

Kiara smiled. “I’ll keep it for you.” The traditional reply to an accepted courtship gift. She looked around. “What is it?”

Theklan laughed. “It’s not here. I hid it in my bedroll. It’s a bridle with a pattern of lions and eagles worked on it.” Unaccountably, he blushed. “That’s what I wanted the berries for . . . that day. To make a dye to bring out the pattern.”

“Pity we lost them all.”

His eyes blazed as he looked into hers. “No. Vatar’s bringing a purple dye from Caere. That’ll be better. It’ll last longer and . . . the other would have been pinkish. That’s not really the right color for you. You’re more . . . vivid than that.”

Kiara sucked in a breath. Then she leaned forward and pressed her lips to his, just briefly. A promise for another time. In two or three years. When they were both ready. It would seem like a long time, but maybe it was better this way.

Unfortunately, all is not going to run smoothly for these two. Not for a while at least. But it’s still fun writing this.

Read Full Post »

I’m a discovery writer. I know, I said that before.

One of the things that means is that I don’t always see the shape of a story when I start. In the case of BEYOND THE PROPHECY, which is the third book in a four-book series, I knew most of the events that would take place. I knew the theme. I knew the main conflicts. But I didn’t have a real feel for the shape of the story–the way those conflicts would fit together to bring the story from its starting point, through the climax, and on to some form of resolution.

I’m kind of a stickler for some kind of resolution to each book. That’s partly because as a reader I hate to be left hanging in the middle of a long story for months or a year for the next part–which often still doesn’t resolve anything. So I always try to structure my stories to reach some intermediate resolution in each book. I want each book to feel like a complete story in itself, as well as part of the larger story of the series.

Now, as I’m writing the beginning of that climax, I have a really good feel for that shape.

The downside of being a discovery writer is, as always, that the story needs more revision than a plotter’s might. All those things I figured out along the way are going to need to be set up in the earlier parts of the book. And they’re not set up in the first draft because I didn’t know about them when I wrote the first chapters.

That’s okay, because I actually don’t mind revising. Good thing. Even if I’d been keeping count (which I don’t), I’d be embarrassed to say how many revisions THE VOICE OF PROPHECY had to go through.


Certainly a record, even for me.

Read Full Post »

I’m a little more than three-quarters of the way through the first draft of Beyond the Prophecy, the third book in the Dual Magics series. I’m at a point where I’m making a lot of notes of things that need to be fixed in the revisions.

This is the first book in the series in which things are moving on two fronts. Not that I haven’t occasionally cut away from the main character to show what was going on somewhere else. But now it’s not something that’s going to impact him later. Now, while he valiantly tries to put a lid on things over hear, they’re boiling over somewhere else. And, being only human (if a magical one), he can still only be in one place at a time.

The thing was, I didn’t have a good way to connect what’s going on in one place with the issues in the other–at least until everything blows up in the fourth (and last) book. That is–until yesterday, when the solution occurred to me.

I also had a couple of characters who’d played a part in the second book, The Voice of Prophecy,


who had virtually disappeared in this book. I wanted to at least have them show themselves, since they’ll have roles in the fourth book.

And the plan came together. One of those characters is the perfect link between at least part of what’s happening away from the main city and what’s going on in the city.

I’ve backed up to add a chapter. That’s not something I usually allow myself to do in a first draft, but I’m making an exception this time.




Read Full Post »

Fantasy, especially epic fantasy or sword and sorcery, very often includes battles. And a few things this week have come together to get me thinking about what makes a written battle work–or not.

It’s a good thing to start thinking about. Towards the end of BEYOND THE PROPHECY, I’m going to be writing the first really big battle of this series. Not that there isn’t action of other sorts, and even other fights, earlier in the story. But this will be the first of two large groups colliding. (Much more of that in the fourth and final book of the series.)

First, I recently finished a book that included a multi-chapter battle. I mean multi-chapter, as in twelve chapters. Twelve. With almost every move of four separate POV characters detailed. All right, they were short chapters, mostly. But still. I was so ready for that battle to be over and to move on with the story. Only, the story didn’t go much farther. Didn’t really have what I’d call a real denouement. Just set up for the sequel–which I won’t be rushing out to buy. (No, I’m not going to name the book. Just because it failed for me doesn’t mean someone else might not enjoy it.)

All right. For me, at least, that’s probably not the way to write a battle scene.

Now, immediately the thought occurred to me that Tolkien had also written a long battle scene in RETURN OF THE KING and that one didn’t bother me. So, I got out my copy to take a look at that. The Battle of the Pelennor Fields starts towards the end of Chapter IV (The Siege of Gondor). But then it’s broken up by the Ride of the Rohirrim in Chapter V, which only returns to the actual battle at the end of that chapter. Then Chapter VI all and only about the battle–and it’s a fairly long chapter, because a lot happens in that battle. But Tolkien doesn’t attempt to tell us every sword stroke or skirmish. He evokes the chaos of the battle and then only really shows us the highlights.

I like that approach much better.

Now, while I’ve had a fight scene of some kind in most of my books, I think I’ve only tackled a pitched battle twice.

Once was in FIRE AND EARTH. That was two chapters. Three, if you count the chapter where the heroes worked out their strategy. And then one from the point of view of each of the two main characters.

Fire And Earth Cover (Provisional)

The other is in “Becoming Lioness”, which is actually a compressed version of one of the battles that will be in the fourth book of the DUAL MAGICS series. That one is mostly told from the reactions of the main character in that story.


Meanwhile, as I continue writing my way toward those battles, I’m reading Rayne Hall’s, WRITING FIGHT SCENES–and getting some good ideas.


Read Full Post »

Revisions on THE VOICE OF PROPHECY are proceeding well.


The first thing I did when I started this round of revisions was make a plan. It started with going through the various critiques I’d received (three and a half–one person didn’t finish) in detail. I marked up each comment in my master manuscript. (Well, except for the ones I addressed immediately, like the few typos.) I also put some thought into the more extensive comments made at the end of those critiques (partly in response to some questions I’d posed, partly volunteered) and marked those up either at specific places in the document or at the top. I asked one of my critique partners some clarifying questions.

Now, as I proceed through the revisions, I have three main goals.

  1. Clarifying. This is especially the case for those critique partners who had not read the first book, THE SHAMAN’S CURSE. This involves mostly minor revisions, often just a sentence or two, to provide a little background to those readers who didn’t read THE SHAMAN’S CURSE first, or who might have forgotten certain aspects. This will mostly be in the first quarter or so of the book. One or two scenes that I’d deleted earlier may make it back into the book. ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
  2. Tightening. Especially in the first part of the book, I may need to just cut a bit more, move the plot along a little more briskly. In fact, I’ve just gotten to one chapter in particular that I need to look at seriously for this. This goal, of course, is slightly at odds with the one above. That’s the way it sometimes goes.
  3. Upping the Central Conflict. The first two will likely be completed in one pass. This one is more likely to require two passes. The heart of this book is essentially a mystery concerning the magic. Something (actually some things) happen that either aren’t supposed to be possible or are very disturbing to the main character. This is, in fact, where the issue of the Dual Magics comes out into the open. There are probably at least two things I’ll need to do to fix this. In some places, I’ll need to just make everything scarier. Others I’ll need to drag out for longer. (I allowed part of the mystery to be resolved too quickly. Need to fix that.)

That issue with the conflict is also the reason for the title change. I think some readers just had the wrong idea about what kind of conflict they’d be getting in this book. Of course, there are quite a few supporting conflicts that demand the use of magic–and sometimes spears–too.

When I feel like I’ve got a good handle on these revisions (possibly after I finish the first pass), I’ll put THE VOICE OF PROPHECY up for pre-order. This will be my first experiment with pre-order on Amazon, so I’ll be interested to see how that goes.

So, that’s what I’ll be doing for the next month or so. I also need to do the same thing for the related short story “Modgud Gold”, which needs some work before I can publish it.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »