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Posts Tagged ‘rewrites’

The first of the critiques on BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM is back.

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And, of course, there are a few revisions I need to make–some that will be easy, others that will require careful thought. I’m eager to get back to finish off that story. I really want to publish it either the last week of December or the first week in January.

So, now I’m working on finishing up the current chapter of MAGE STORM and making any notes that come to mind so that that story will be ready to pick up once everything’s in place for BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM.

Mage Storm

Also, FIRE AND EARTH is currently free, but just through October 15th–tomorrow.

FireAndEarthNewest

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Taking a break–meaning stepping away and not even staring at the words or the page–for a  couple of days was the right decision. That little bit of distance allowed me to see just what (tiny) element was really holding me up. A very minor change in the least important of the characters involved in this scene let me move forward–and actually is making the scene much better.

I find that very often, that kind of lack of progress is an indicator that something–often something minor–just isn’t working. A little change, or, sometimes, a big change, will fix and unstick things.

I wouldn’t say I’m roaring along just yet, but I am getting words down, which is a vast improvement. MAGE STORM is back up on four wheels and starting to roll.

Mage Storm

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So, I did take the time to go work up the cover art for MAGE STORM. Here it is:

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I made a conscious choice to stay away from lightning this time, since the covers of the DUAL MAGICS series feature lightning, smoke, and fire:

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And the BECOME series also feature lightning:

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The plan with the UNBALANCED MAGIC series (subject to change), starting with MAGE STORM, is that I’ll use that same stylized dragon image against a different background–suitable to each individual story. There are dragons in the story–little dragons, big dragons, water dragons. And since this is a rewrite, I can easily work that symbol in and make it, if not important, at least recognizable. I think that will work to brand the series as belonging together.

Oh, and yes, I intentionally left the series number off. While individual stories may build on what went before, they should still work as stand-alones, too. This shouldn’t be the kind of series where it matters immensely in what order the books are read.

Now, back to getting the story written.

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I’m having trouble getting traction with MAGE STORM. Not really sure why. I know the story. I have an entire previous version to use as an outline, after all. I know what should happen in this chapter. I’ve done the character backstory. But . . . it’s just not flowing at the moment.

Probably time to drop back and do something else for a bit until whatever’s stuck comes loose. Maybe the cover art. And, of course, studying up on keywords.

Meanwhile, here’s the backstory of the character in question, Katria:

Sixteen. From Sawyers Oaks. Three brothers, two older (Darin and Ferd), one a year younger (Natan). One younger sister, Rosella.

Her family does not have deep roots in Sawyers Oaks. Her father had been a young child there, but his family had moved to Marketown after the Great Mage War. Before that, they had owned the sawmill in Sawyers Oaks. After the recent death of his mother, Katria’s father has brought his family—and his elderly father—back to Sawyers Oaks. His older brother is now managing the carpentry shop his father started in Marketown.

Katria’s first magic is fear-based, trying to save family members from the mage storm. After this, Katria’s family is attacked by villagers afraid of the return of magic. The father of the young man (Jeld) Katria had begun to have feelings for leads the attack and Jeld joins him. Her father and Ferd are injured. Angry, Katria uses magic to drive off the attackers—which only makes matters worse. Knowing that she could only cause more trouble for her family and guilty about what she’d done, Katria slips out in the middle of the night and starts west, drawn by Mastan’s Calling. She and Rell meet on the way.

She is best at fighting, reasonably good at healing (when in the right mood), only okay at Calling.

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I’m still doing some research to help me with my keywords problem. I did make a couple of changes to the keywords. I haven’t seen any impact so far, but then I only made the changes yesterday. My chronic impatience aside, it probably is too soon to tell. Wait and see. More on that when I’ve had a little time to assess it–and, hopefully some data to assess.

Meanwhile, I’ve gotten restarted on the rewrite of MAGE STORM–a chapter from the point of view of another character. One I finally have enough of a feel for to write from her perspective after doing the character backstories. It’s not that I didn’t know who this character was in the earlier version of the story. But she never had point-of-view chapters and so she was mostly seen from the point of view of the only character who did. The original version of MAGE STORM had only one point-of-view character.

Usually, when I write from multiple points of view, I start out that way from the beginning. Coming at it from the other direction, I needed that dive into the other characters’ backstories in order to do them justice. It will be a much better story now.

 

 

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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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