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Posts Tagged ‘first drafts’

Maps and More

I finished (at least for now) the map for the series that will start with MAGE STORM. I really need to come up with a good series title, too. Well, there’s time for that.

So, here it is:

Mage Storm

I’m not entirely thrilled with it, yet. It feels a little busy. But it’s enough to go forward with, at least. I’ve done a black-and-white version, too.

Mage Storm BW.JPG

Right now, though, I’m working my way through the transition of all of my paperback books from CreateSpace, which is closing, over to KDP Print. As soon as I finish that, I’ll be ready to start–again–on the first draft of MAGE STORM.

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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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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.

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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.

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Done!

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

StormCover2

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.

StormCover2

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.

StormCover2

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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