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Posts Tagged ‘series’

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’m working through the revisions on BECOME: TO RIDE THE STORM.

StormCover2

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.

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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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.

StormCover2

 

 

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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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