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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.

 

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Switching Gears

I’ve started looking at MAGE STORM to plan out the rewrite. First I just skimmed through parts of it to remind myself of the shape of the story, but I’ve decided I really just need to give it a read through before starting any real changes. After all, I think the original version of this was written about 2012.

About that, since it started from a short story titled “Infected with Magic” that earned an Honorable Mention in Writers of the Future in 2011. Which, in turn, grew from a writing prompt in one of my writers’ groups (Hatrack River). That short story is very nearly identical to the first chapter.

This version will be more epic fantasy or perhaps sword and sorcery. Though, it won’t really fit that designation, either. Well, there’s time to worry about that.

I expect this to be about a four-book series. Although it could be more, if more ideas present themselves as I go along, because it will be that kind of series, separate stories, each probably building on the last, but not necessarily coming to some series climax in which “evil” is defeated.

So, that’ll keep me busy for a while, once BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM is finished.

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Done!

Yesterday I finished the first draft of BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM one month ahead of my original schedule.

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Here’s the first draft of the blurb. (Which will need considerable work.)

The lightning strike that should have killed him stole all of Gaian’s memories. He can barely remember his own name. And he has no idea what destiny awaits him. 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 died in that lightning strike. But they know what he’s forgotten: that as a son of the Goddess Herself, there’s a chance he could Become a god—the Sky God.

A new prophecy brings Margan, the son born after Gaian’s “death” over the mountains to find his father’s grave. Where he meets Rose, the girl with a gift for dreams who was rescued by a strange man in the forest.

Kaleran, whose world was shattered the day he saw his father struck by lightning, would do anything to get away from his Uncle Cordan.

Cordan, Gaian’s half-brother seized the opportunity to gain power from the worship of the new god, but would rather wield the power without the inconvenience of an actual Sky God.

As the weather becomes increasingly wild and time runs out, can Margan, Rose, and Kaleran help Gaian to remember who he is and what he can be before Cordan’s schemes cause catastrophe?

Now, apart from honing that blurb, I leave the manuscript alone for a month and cleanse my mental palate as it were by working on something else. In this case, that will be the rewrite of MAGE STORM. Then in September I can come back for the revisions and hopefully get it to my critique partners in October.

Oh, and I’ll have to start figuring out a cover for MAGE STORM. I’m determined not to have any lightning this time, despite the title.

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Last post, I was in the middle of Chapter 50 of the first draft of BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM.

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Now . . . well, it’s complicated. I was starting Chapter 56 of what I now think will be 57 chapters. But, I stalled.

That’s usually a sign that something’s gone wrong. So I paused. Did a little house cleaning. (It’s too hot right now to do much yard work.) Played a computer game. Read. And about bedtime last night it came to me.

I just had too many characters around for that moment. It needs to be a more . . . emotional moment crowning the climax. It needs to be limited to a few characters or it all gets too diffuse.

And the reason I had too many characters present was because I’d brought in the cavalry during the fight-scene part of the climax. And that was a problem, too. Because, once the cavalry arrived, everything got too easy for my character who is supposed to be holding off the enemy while the others complete their goal. It truncated the fight scene too early.

So. I now need to go back and do a little more work on Chapter 52 (The Last Defense), remove the cavalry (they can show up later), and make that fight more desperate–and a little longer.

The intervening chapters won’t be affected because they’re what’s going on while that other character is holding off the antagonist’s forces. So then I can go back to Chapter 56 and have the emotional payoff that is needed at the top of the climax. Then Chapter 57 is the denouement and . . . “The End”.

It’s just going to take a little bit longer, but I still expect to finish by the end of July.

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Last post I was just starting Chapter 47 of BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM.

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Now, I’m in the middle of Chapter 50, but some of those chapters have multiplied on me and it now looks like 56 chapters to the end. So I’m still just as many chapters from writing “The End” as I was. But a couple of those chapters will be short because I split them up to allow for more than one POV character to get their say–or, more accurately, to allow the reader to know what they’re thinking and feeling, but not saying out loud.

I’ve just about got everyone in place for the climax, which looks like being three of those chapters. This chapter and one more short one and then things are going to start moving fast.

Then, of course, there’s still the denouement.

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Home Stretch

I’m closing in on being able to type “The End” on the first draft of BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM.

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Last post, I was on Chapter 44. I’m just starting Chapter 47 of, I think, 52 chapters, though one of those may still fracture into two. Two of the chapters I recently finished have done that.

Including Chapter 47. And when I say I’ve just started it, I have precisely one sentence written. And this is going to be one of those scenes that takes a little more time and thought because it’s going to be the place where two characters who’ve been kind of dancing around each other and their feelings, finally have to come to terms. Those scenes can be trickier than fight scenes, which are hard enough.

But, you know, it’s not really a story without the payoff. So I have to, if possible, nail it. Though, of course, it still is a first draft. There’s room for revisions. But that’s a lot easier if I at least get the bones of the scene right.

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Last post I was on Chapter 43 of BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM.

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I am currently on Chapter 44. So, as I said in my last post, this bit has slowed me down a little. In fact, I’m reminding myself–or trying to–that this part doesn’t have to be good, doesn’t have to be my best writing–yet. It’s a first draft. I’m reminding myself of Shannon Hale’s great quote on the subject of first drafts about shoveling sand into a box in order to be able to build castles later.

However, looking ahead, I believe there are only about six chapters left after this one. And I have all of them in my rolling outline. One or two of those could split for various reasons, like a change of POV character. Still, that’s two to three more weeks at recent speed and way ahead of my projected schedule.

And that’s very good news for how the rest of the schedule for this book could go. If I can complete it by the end of July–or thereabouts. Then August becomes the month of rest for this manuscript. (I’ll likely be starting a rewrite of MAGE STORM during that time.) Then September for the revisions. And out to my beta readers in October–which is a very good goal to try for because November is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and some of my beta readers probably wouldn’t be available. And December is . . . well, December. Everybody’s busy. That would leave November/December for final revisions and the polishing edit. It might even be possible that this would be published in December, but January becomes a very good bet.

After the sometimes tooth-pulling experience of getting the first draft of BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING done,

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this one has been really fun. And fast.

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