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Posts Tagged ‘series’

I’ve been doing some thinking about that Cinderella story potentially set in the same world as DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING. I think it might be titled DAUGHTER OF THE SECRET MAGE or something similar, if it works.

If it works, this will become a series centered around saving the world–or this corner of it–but not around the same cast of characters. The main characters of DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING would be only side characters, perhaps mentors, in this book. And so on for, perhaps, three or four books.

Also, I think I may need to reread DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING before I actually start anything.

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But thinking is all I’m doing right now. I have several things to figure out if I hope to make this work. Also, there is just too much real life stuff going on. I thought March would have to be better than February that way. Sometimes, when you hope for something like that, the universe laughs evilly and sets out to prove you wrong.

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I’ve started writing the prologue to WILD MAGE, the sequel to MAGE STORM.

Mage Storm

I’m not sure yet if this is actually going to resuscitate my enthusiasm for MAGE STORM, but at least it’s writing.

I’m pretty sure what I’ve written so far is going to turn out to be more like an extended outline that I’m going to have to flesh out more, because right now it’s just back story. And if that’s really needed, then at least some of it is going to have to be SHOWN, not TOLD.

But, like I said, at least it’s writing. Maybe it’ll get me out of this writer’s block. Or else, I’ll have to try writing something else entirely. There are other stories waiting in the wings. One of them just has to start scratching at the back of my brain for attention. None of them have done that yet.

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Different Kinds of Series

As I’ve sorted out how MAGE STORM and it’s sequels are going to work out, I’ve been thinking about the different kinds of series. There are several kinds. And it looks like I’m heading toward writing one (or more) of each. Not that I set out to do that. It’s just sort of the way the stories have fallen out.

The first, most obvious one is the trilogy (or duology, or tetralogy, or septology, or however many books the story needs to complete the arc). In this kind of series, each book tells a story, but together they add up to a bigger story. So, a trilogy (literally “three stories) is actually four stories—each individual book’s story, plus the overarching series story. The J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series may be the best example of this.

My DUAL MAGICS series fits this mold.

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A variant of this is a series in which the overarching story is about the world, not the characters. Someday, when I’m going to circle back and turn DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING into the first of the MAGIC AND POWER series, that’s what this series will be. Different stories, centering on new and different characters (though the earlier characters may well turn up as mentors—or something). In this case, the bigger story will be about saving one corner of that world. The characters in DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING made a good start on that, but the job’s not done (even though their character arcs are). 

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Then there’s the series that really kind of isn’t a series at all, but one big story told in more than one volume. J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings comes to mind. (I mean, really, I can’t imagine reading that series—great as it is—while it was coming out and having to wait until the last book came out to find out what happened to Frodo and Sam after Shelob’s Lair—and then having to read the whole story of the Battle of the Pelenor Fields all the way up to the Black Gate before the story turned back to let Sam rescue Frodo from the orcs.)

My BECOME series is not quite that bad, but, yeah, you need both books to make up the whole story.

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Last, but not least, the episodic series is more like a series of mystery novels where each book contains a new mystery to be solved by the same detective. In a mystery series, the order of the books probably doesn’t matter much at all. This kind of series exists in fantasy, too, but in fantasy the order of the books may be more of an issue. Each book is still a story in itself and perfectly readable on its own, but they may build on the earlier books, making it advantageous to read them in order, even if that’s not strictly necessary. Patricia Briggs’s Mercy Thompson and Alpha and Omega series are like this—same, or mostly the same, characters, different problems, which sometimes grow out of the earlier stories. But the problems don’t add up to a larger story arc.

My UNBALANCED MAGIC series, starting with MAGE STORM, will be along these lines, I think.

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So is the CHIMERIA series, come to think of it. Someday I may circle back and write the third book in that series.

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Huh! Maybe, when I get MAGE STORM done, I’ll start a boxed set of series starters.

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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.

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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’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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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.

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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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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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