A Brief History of Stories, Part Six

(This is a continuation. Previous installments here: Part one, Part two, Part three, Part four, Part five)

Well, it’s been a bit longer since my last update than I’d hoped. It’s way too easy to fall out of the habit of doing these, as it turns out.

I thought I’d get back in the swing of things with an update on my novel, The Wildfire Crown. Although my blog-writing has suffered this year, my fiction writing has proceeded along a decent clip. After the plot disaster around Christmas time, I managed to finish the second draft, followed by a third draft around May. It was around the end of the third draft that I actually had the entire plot worked out, something that I sincerely hope I can accomplish the first time around in future novels.

At that point I took a break to write a longish short story / novelette that I submitted to the third quarter of the Writers of the Future competition. I thought the story turned out very well, and look forward to seeing the results toward the end of this month.

Then it was back to the fourth draft, which I’d hoped would be a polishing run but turned out to be more extensive, as I found a number of medium-sized plot flaws I needed to fix. Then it turned out the opening chapters weren’t quite working, so I had to do another revision there. Then…

Then I had a complete novel.

Not a finished novel, mind you. It still needs a great deal of polish, but it’s plot-complete. I sent it off to a handful of beta readers a few weeks ago, and have started getting comments. I’ll do another editing pass myself, and then plan on handing it over to a professional editor later this fall.

The next step is to figure out what I’m going to do with it. I’d expected I would go for an agent and large publishing company, but the last couple months I’ve found myself leaning in the other direction. I’m not sure publishing companies have responded to the e-book revolution as gracefully as I’d like. In particular, I’m not hearing good things about the size of advances and the contract terms newer authors are getting right now. Since I’ve got a great job and don’t need my writing to turn into a career just yet, I feel like I’ve got room to experiment, and my first experiment may be self publishing this novel. I’ll be sure to blog about it, either way, once I’ve made my final decision.

So what’s next? More writing! While editing Wildfire, I’ve also started a new novel, a mystery-infused epic fantasy featuring a Sherlock Holmes / John Watson style duo. It’s a major departure from Wildfire and I’m running into early troubles, but I plan on pushing through it and can’t wait to see where it ends up.

I sincerely hope you don’t have to wait too long for my next blog entry, but in the meantime, may I suggest the always-wonderful Pentatonix to pass the evenings. Here’s one of their newest videos:

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A Brief History of Stories, Part Five

(This is a continuation. Previous installments here: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four)

The Wildfire Crown

So, here’s the scene: Two months ago, and despite all my good intentions, my recent draft of Crown & Collar was failing. The schedule I’d been hoping to adhere to – having a polished, near-ready to send out manuscript by the time I went to David Farland’s seminar at the end of August – was clearly not going to happen.

Now, when reality’s come over and stomped all over your plans, realize you have a choice on how to take it.  When you’re doing anything as hard as trying to write a publishable novel (and lots of other things fall in this category), you’re going to have lots of moments where things aren’t going the way you want. Those moments are important; they’re where you have the opportunity to make an importance choice, and learn a lot. The choice is how devastating you allow the obstacle to become. If you see it as a failure, it’s easy to enter an internal- doom spiral of despondency.

Doom spirals have the nasty habit of making the perceptions of failure worse, and can conclude in the only way to actually fail at writing – giving up.

As frustrated as I was, the recognition of the draft’s weaknesses spurred an understanding of how I might fix them. All the work I’d done was not wasted. I felt that I’d started to finally understand the heart of the story I was trying to tell. The attitude I went into starting over once again with was not pessimistic, but optimistic, because I knew the next draft would be better.

That’s the key. Forward progress. Well, that’s the vague key. You also often need specific keys. In this case, the specific key came when I was reading one of David Farland’s daily kicks (daily writing tips) in preparation for the seminar. In it, he was talking about using your setting in interesting ways.

I realized I’d been neglecting setting almost completely. It only came up when it absolutely had to, in order to make the scene’s make sense. That’s a mistake – setting is crucial to making your world seem real, to drawing the readers into your story. You don’t have to spend long paragraphs describing everything, but if your reader has no sense of the space around your scenes, it’s going to weaken your story.

I began to flesh out my setting. That means more than just what it looks like – I needed to ask how it affected the story. The first section occurred in an old ruined castle in Siberia. How does that affect things? Does it change any actions? What’s special about the ruined castle, that I couldn’t do the exact same scenes in, say, an ice cream store?

A key early scene involves a wildfire. But the wildfire wasn’t real – it just sort of appeared for one specific scene, then was never mentioned again. I began to flesh out how a large fire near town would impact characters.

Then I realized I could use the fire as a key thematic point. It could serve both as a back-drop to give my world flavor, and as a key element in the plot. The story isn’t about the fire, but the way the fire is started (accidently, by Gare’s master, Roland), the way it progresses, and the way ends, all help tie together the story.

The fire didn’t fix my story. But it gave me a much stronger structure for my story to live in.

With that in mind, as well as a number of other more subtle changes, I started to work again. I rewrote my first section, weaving the setting of the ruined castle in (actually it was a soviet compound then, but same idea). I paid a little more attention to the space around Gare – snippets of overheard conversation, the way the guards acted and moved – that didn’t directly affect the plot, but greatly affected the ambience.

That section succeeded. It was a milestone for me. If that was a short story, I felt that, after editing, it was of publishable quality.

The next section was harder. The shape of what was happening was less obvious. It wasn’t as clear to me what Gare should be doing to drive the story where it needed to go.

But the structure work I’d done made me feel confident the idea was right, that if I just iterated enough I’d make the section work. It took probably 25,000 words of discarded scenes to make the 10,000 word section work, and even then, it wasn’t quite as strong as the previous section.

Still, it got me up to the 20,000 word mark I needed to be ready for the seminar, with two weeks to spare. I stopped writing new materiel and spent a week editing that segment, and then sent it off to family and friends.

The critiques I got were excellent. Some points I expected, others were a surprise. No matter how much I told myself that I’m not objective about my own writing, seeing proof it was still a bit of a shock. I made the changes I could, and then shipped it off to David Farland and the other workshop attendee’s.

Since then, I’ve been plowing ahead. The first third of my outline was in good shape. The middle third needed serious work, though the final third seemed strong as well. I’ve spent the last month working on that middle third, terrified that all my work would be for naught and I’d discover some unfixable hole.

I’m pleased to say, that though the middle third is far from done, I believe I’ve found the proper structure there as well, though it meant tinkering with an ending I’d thought was solid.

That brings us to….today! The manuscript currently stands at about 53,000 words of an estimated 85,000. Tomorrow, I’m flying off to David Farland’s novel revision seminar. He’s going to show me his edits of the first 10,000 words, as well as his critique of the first 20k. The entire class will be going over everyone’s first 2,000 words and outlines. I’m excited and terrified – there’s some very good authors in this group.

One thing’s for certain – I’m going to learn a lot. Next year I’ll no doubt have another five parts to add to this 🙂

This ended up being quite a bit longer than I intended, but it was a lot of fun to write. For those who stuck through it, hope you enjoyed it, and thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

A Brief History of Stories, Part Four

(Previous parts here: Part one, Part two, Part three)

Crown and Collar

The failure of the second draft of Old Dog taught me an important lesson – I didn’t fully understand my main character. That’s always a problem, maybe even more so when you’re trying to write a character-driven first-person narrative.

The main issue here was how I was exploring the animal-human dichotomy. This is the type of thing that naturally comes up when you deal with shape-shifters or anthropomorphized animals, and a theme I’ve always found fascinating. I needed to make a decision here: Was Gare a human in a dog’s body? Was he just a smart dog who could pretend he was human at times? Was he something in between? I was most interested in option three, but that’s vague. What does “something in between” even mean?

I decided that making Gare a centuries-old shape-shifter made dealing with this issue far too complicated. With a life that long, understanding Gare meant understanding his life, all two hundred years of it. But I didn’t want this story to be “Gare’s Biography”. I wanted to tell the story about Gare and Ben and the magic crown.

I also realized that the most important part about Gare’s background was his relationship with his master, Roland. Dogs are often defined by their loyalty to their masters. If Gare was dog-like at all, I had to consider this point. That created a second problem – in the story, Roland was long dead. Exploring their relationship would mean making heavy use of flash-backs. I was worried about what they would do, pacing-wise, to the story.

Fortunately, both the above problems had the same solution – Gare needed to be younger. I started again, under the working title Crown and Collar. Roland was now going to be part of the story. I decided to start off by having Gare and Roland steal Yaroslav’s magic crown together, as that was the event that really set things rolling. I also made my decision about how to treat Gare’s character; he was going to start off very dog-like, and gradually grow through the novel to something more. That nicely fit in with my decision to use loyalty as a theme. For a dog, loyalty to his master might be everything, but as the novel goes, Gare starts to think less like a dog and realizes that loyalty unearned is a hollow thing.

I wrote the initial section of Crown and Collar right before I attended the SuperStars writing seminar. I was excited – I finally had a novel that was going to work. I felt great about the themes, the premise, and the climax. At SuperStars I decided to attend David Farland’s novel rewriting workshop at the end of August, figuring I’d have a very polished complete manuscript by then. With a little help from a world-famous fantasy author, I’d put on the last touches, and be ready to submit for publication in the fall. All I had to do was figure out all the various little details to make the themes and story work.

I came back from SuperStars charged and feeling great. I tore into the first draft, ready for it to all come together.

At about the 30k mark, I realized I still had big problems. Gare as a character was working out better. The plot was not, nor were many of the secondary characters. A great deal of the story depends on Gare’s relationship with various secondary characters – Kalis, a local leader of a group called the Tyrlight Council and were-coyote; Ben, a young math professor and aspiring were-wolf; Eonhar, a mysterious being who claims to be working for the immortal Lochii. Just as I realized earlier I hadn’t fully understood Gare, I now realized I hadn’t fully understood how he would relate to these three characters.

So I tried again. I re-wrote most of my earlier scenes, refining my vision of these relationships and Gare himself. The second draft started hitting problems right about the same point the first draft did. I made myself push on, but at about 50k words, I stopped once again, rather frustrated. There were just too many things that didn’t feel right. Eonhar was crucial to the end of the story, but I felt like he was just being arbitrarily inserted everywhere else. Kalis and Ben’s motivations didn’t seem strong enough – I felt like I was forcing them to do things with authorial power, rather than letting the characters do what made sense to them. There was also the matter of Yaroslav’s magic crown creating plot holes wherever I put it.

It was mid-June. I had to submit the first 20,000 words of my manuscript to David Farland at the end of   July, and once again, I knew I needed to start over.

It wasn’t as bad as it seemed. As rough as the process had gone, I felt like I’d learned a great deal at each stage. The biggest pitfall you can run into when writing and re-writing is that you end up running in circles, but I knew I was progressing. I identified what I felt were the biggest flaws remaining in the story foundation, and decided I’d solve them and have an outline before I started the next draft.

During a wonderfully productive weekend a couple months ago, I managed just that.

I’ll tell you about that next week, when we’ll watch history catch up to the present.

A Brief History of Stories, Part Three

(This is a continuation from Part one and Part two)

After writing Dragon’s Heart, I felt things were starting to come together. My writing was improving, and with Sean’s helped I’d identified a few key flaws that had been hindering my stories. My goal for 2012 was to apply those lessons and write something I could submit for publication. I knew that meant learning how to polish and edit, but I figured that would come easily once I had a solid foundation to work with.

Old Dog

I’d been trying to develop a storyline starring a canine character for a while. My ideas folder had a half dozen sketches, but none of them gained any traction in my head. Then, I read the first few books in the Iron Druid series by Kevin Hearne (check him out here). The books are light-hearted, fast-paced urban fantasy starring Atticus, an immortal, super-powerful druid who goes around kicking paranormal ass. Atticus is accompanied by his Irish Greyhound, Oberon, whom Atticus gave sentience and the ability to telepathically communicate.

That gave me an idea: what happened if you took the powerful, kind of snarky urban fantasy main character (like Atticus or Harry Dresden), and made him a dog?

I thought that sounded fun, so I came up with the idea of Gare, the immortal German Shepherd. Two hundred years ago Gare had been a regular dog, raised by a powerful gifted human named Roland. Roland, a mad-scientist type, was always experimenting with magic and managed to give Gare sentience. He trained Gare in magic as well; shapeshifting (to human and other forms), elemental manipulation. He even gave him the gift of immortality.

When Roland died, Gare found himself alone in a world that he didn’t understand. Though shape-shifters were common, they were all human at the core. More then once humans tried to take advantage of him, and he learned not to trust anyone.

Gare decided the only thing to be done was to find some kind of magic to resurrect Roland, so he managed to steal a magic crown held by the tyrant Yaroslav that was rumored to do exactly that. But the crown’s power turned out to be sealed, protected by a code that no one had ever been able to break, much less a dog.

Gare learns that in the real world, it’s every dog for himself, and the best bet when trouble’s coming is to run. He spends the years bouncing between various human companions, leaving each when there’s any hint that Yaroslav is on his tail. He tries living as a regular dog, other times as a human, but most of the time it’s neither and he finds none of it satisfying.

Finally, Gare finds someone who might be able to help him. Ben is a newly-minted math Ph.D. who’s already hit global headlines by cracking a centuries old cipher. Gare offers Ben a deal – Gare would teach Ben magic, in exchange for Ben trying to break the crown’s seal.

But just as Ben begins to make progress, Yaroslav tracks Gare down, eager to take his crown back and extract some revenge. Helped by a group of mindtwisters, gifted with the ability to manipulate thought and emotions, Yaroslav begins to make Gare and Ben’s life a living hell.

Gare’s first instinct is to run again, but that means abandoning Ben to whatever cruel fate Yaroslav has in mind. For the first time in his life, he decides to stay in fight.

I wrote the first draft, finishing it in late January of this year. I thought it was a clear improvement over Dragon’s heart, so now came the big question: how to polish it? How far away from something publishable was this?

I ran my own post-mortem over the draft, and, well, found more flaws than I liked. I spent most of February working on the plot, and more importantly, trying to figure out what the story actually was supposed to be about. I had this notion of the book being about Gare’s journey, but frankly, I was pretty undecided on who Gare was. His personality came off as inconsistent. I couldn’t decide how to balance the dog qualities and human qualities. I thought his goals were vague at times, and worse, his voice just wasn’t coming through on the page.

Other issues included the secondary characters all being paper thin, and the tone of the story being undecided, starting off light-hearted and growing rather dark by the end. A number of scenes were obvious filler and border-line boring. My dialogue attempted to witty but, due to me not being as engaged with the characters as I needed to be, came off as stilted.

In other words, it needed a lot of work.

But no problem, I thought. I came up with a long list of improvements and started in on the second draft, maintaining a lot of the structure by writing the scenes from scratch. The first third or so went well; the characters came together, the action was sharper, the dialogue better.

The second third still fell flat. I ended up leaving the second draft incomplete about 80% of the way through. I stopped because I realized I was compromising the story I wanted to tell with a plot that wasn’t serving that purpose.

This was depressing, to say the least. I was a month away from my first big writing seminar. I had this fantasy of having a complete manuscript to show off to interested parties. I’d told family and friends I expected to have something to show them for critique in by May or June. None of that was going to happen.

But it wasn’t all storm clouds – there was a real epiphany here. In the shambles of the failed second draft I found the real Gare, so to speak. I found the story I wanted to tell, and I found the way to tell it.

And next week, I’ll tell you all about it!

A Brief History of Stories, Part Two

Continuing the journey from last week through my older writing projects!

Stone Man

Now this was a weird one. Every other project I’ve done / attempted started as a seed of an idea that tumbled around my head for weeks and months and sometimes years. But when I finished Tinarel, I was sitting down, staring at a blank screen, trying to decide what my next project would be, an image came into my head of a stone golem gaining sentience at the very moment that he’s been thrown off a high cliff. So began the saga of Kraden, the stone man.

I took the image and ran with it. Kraden, with only spotty memories of his past and his former life,  ends up being hired by a powerful mage called Raphos to accompany him to the gang-ruled city of Drearshead. Travelling with them is Abrien, a newer mage who manages to convince Raphos to take him on as his apprentice in exchange for Abrien’s knowledge of the city.

In Drearshead, Kraden and Abrien discover that Raphos is out on a mission to ruin the reputations of the Quartet, the four greatest heroes of the current age. Raphos believes their reputation is based on a terrible lie, and is willing to risk everything, even Abrien and Kraden’s lives, to prove it.

So, I’d like to think that each of my stories was an improvement on the last one. But honestly, though Stone Man helped develop my writing, as a story it’s a total train wreck. I did absolutely zero planning, had no idea what the plot threads were, or what the ending was. As a result, there are at least four different sub-plots that got completely dropped, as I had no idea where to go with them.

The ending was actually  pretty cool – too bad it wasn’t based on anything that had happened previously 🙂

The issue here was I came up with a number of sweet ideas, and then just crushed them together. What I learned here, more than anything else, is that I need to do some world building and at least have a very rough outline before I get started – I just can’t wing it 100% like some people do and end up with something worthwhile.

The Sons of Oryx

Man, I really wanted this one to work out better than it did.

Coren and Malyx, a human and dragon raised from birth by a human mother, get sent to accompany a diplomat representing the country of Weseran on a mission to the foreign country of Rald. There, Coren is framed for the murder of a local noble and soon wanted by guard in town. Malyx flies to a supposedly friendly island outpost to get help, but finds that it’s been overrun by sadistic mercenaries.

While Malyx battles the mercenaries, trying to save the lives of the innocent Weserians on the island, Coren seeks out the help of a Raldian smuggler family. The two brothers soon realize their problems are two arms of a single scheme headed by the heir to the Raldian throne, and together they must race to stop him.

I liked Coren and Malyx quite a bit. I think taking a brotherly dynamic between two beings of completely different species is kind of fun, and I liked the rapport that developed between the two. You get some nice tension, like Coren obviously being very jealous of Malyx being able to fly and breath fire and such, while Malyx was envious of Coren’s ability to talk to people without having them run away screaming.

What was the problem here?

Well, after 100k words, I still didn’t have a damn clue how to end it. Parts of the story seemed to work pretty well, but other parts were boring and disjointed. Not one to give up on a premise I really liked, I decided to rewrite it from scratch…

Dragon’s Heart

…and here was attempt number two. Same characters, same rough premise, different execution. I didn’t use any of the scenes from before, and the diplomat character, Gart Gasper, who died in chapter 1 of the first attempt, stayed alive and became a major secondary character accompanying Malyx in this one.

This was a substantial improvement on the previous attempt. My writing was showing clear signs of improvement and the story was coming along nicely. I’d correctly identified a number of big flaws in the first attempt and corrected them. I even started to think, hey, maybe this is something worth polishing and trying to submit somewhere.

And then came the ending.

Or, to be fair, the entire last third of the book. It sucked. I couldn’t make it work at all. It was a total mess, and though I “finished” it,  the satisfaction of typing “THE END” was muted by the fact that I knew the plot still had major issues, and I wasn’t even sure what they were.

My friend Sean (featured in this blog post), was kind enough to do a lengthy post-mortem on this story. We talked about it for something like six hours straight. We figured out that one major issue I was having is that my characters didn’t have clearly defined goals for many stretches of the novel, and that this vagueness was bleeding into the plot and eventually resulting in a mess.

Looking back, the biggest issue here was a deep one – the plot wasn’t serving the interests of the story. At the time, I was confusing the two as the same thing, when they aren’t at all. I had a well-developed plot, I had an idea of what the heart of the story was, and the two weren’t cooperating at all.

I very much intend to go back to Coren and Malyx some day, but I’m going to tell a different story, one that takes place closer to home. The real story I wanted to tell was about two brothers who, despite being physically very different, were the only family each other had, and the plot elements I came up with here failed to serve that (for example, I split them up for most of the novel!)

So, that brings us up to last November, when I started a project that eventually morphed into the current story I’m writing. I’m going to save that for a separate post, as I have a lot to say there. Till then, I hope you enjoyed reading about these older projects. They were instrumental in my development as a writer, and even if they never see the light of day, they’ll always have a lot of meaning for me.

 

A Brief History of Stories, Part One

I thought it’d be a fun exercise to reflect on the various writing projects I’ve worked on over the past three years to try to see what worked, what didn’t work, and what I can learn from them going forward.

The Iron Circle

This was the first project I attempted after deciding I wanted to write. It was an epic fantasy taking place in a world with no sun, where the light was generated by a substance called shine that hovered above the surface and gradually became less dense the farther away from the ground you went. Mountain peaks would be permanently cloaked in shadow, whereas caves would be bright as summer. The cast of characters included a hero who used his stature to swindle people, a wizard and his demon familiar chasing after a fallen apprentice,  the leader of a secret government that existed within the empire, and a mysterious sorcerer (named Raven, and yes, I thought it was cool at the time, don’t hate me!) intent on unsealing an ancient prison, letting loose the wicked beings within.

I worked on it on and off for maybe four months, getting around 30,000 words written before giving up. The story was incredibly complicated – I realized I needed to focus on few characters and a simpler plot before giving something this epic a try. As this was my first serious attempt writing, the disconnect between what I wanted to say and what the words I wrote said frustrated me a great deal. I had this great, beautiful epic story in my head, and yet what ended up on paper was awkward and stale. The entire experience was depressing, and I didn’t try writing again for months afterward.

Looking back, the frustration was expected, but the depression unwarranted. The writing was mediocre –but what did I expect? It’s like anything else, gets better as you go. There were a lot of cool ideas in that story. In fact, I’ve already begun polishing this idea so that, at some point maybe a few years from now when I feel I have the skill to try something of greater scope, I can give it another go.

The main lesson here is that something this big needs a lot of world building and thought – diving in as a newbie author is just going to lead to disaster.

The Demon’s Son

After the depression of the first failed project wore off, I was re-invigorated and decided to jump in again. This time I was determined to find a simpler story, and to spend more time planning out the plot.

The Demon’s Son was another epic-ish fantasy, about a boy named Quen, the fifth (and inconsequential) son of a Duke who believes rank and caste are everything. Quen finds out that, in fact, he’s the son of a demon who had an affair with his mother, when his real father arrives and tells Quen he wishes to make him his apprentice. Quen is sent to a place called Dragonsclaw Fortress to be trained in magic, while secretly being trained in demonic arts by his father. There he meets two others with secrets of their own. Ellodin is heir to the kingdom but can tell no one till the king dies; Zade is at the fortress to free his uncle, locked in a secret prison below the fortress.

Wondering what the overall point of that is? Me too. The issue here was I came up with a premise, added some complications, advanced the plot…and had no idea where it was going. I had simply never figured out what the ending was. Also note that while Ellodin and Zade have clear goals, Quen (who was supposed to be the viewpoint character), doesn’t really, nor was I able to find one for him at the time.

Of course, I didn’t figure any of that out at the time. I struggled with this for at least four months, getting close to 40,000 words before giving up. Though my writing did seem to be improving, as a project this seemed a greater failure than the Iron Circle, simply because I had tried much, much harder to make it succeed.

The biggest lesson here is that the plot simply wasn’t working, nor was the main character, and I should have gone to the foundations of the story and changed some of the assumptions. But instead I was determined to make the idea as I had originally come up with it work, which ended up being trying to stuff a square peg into a round hole.

Looking back, I see a few ways to breath life back into this project. One would be to center the story around Ellodin instead of Quen – he was the most interesting character. Another would be to give Quen some kind of central goal, since he didn’t really have one. I don’t have a particular urge to revisit this premise now (I think it’s built around too many common tropes), but I keep my notes around in case inspiration strikes.

Tinarel

As we all know from books and movies, the main character has to fail something twice before he can succeed. Tinarel was my first successful story. It was about these two races, the satyr-like Eln and the foxlike Santii, who live together in a valley surrounded by impassable mountains. The two races believe this encompasses the entire world, and that outside the mountains is oblivion.

The Eln are the rulers, the Santii the servants, a hierarchy locked in stone for all time. Tinarel, a Santii, works as the librarian for an Eln lord. Tin’s never found himself comfortable with people of either race, and prefers the comfort of books. Then, Tin’s friend Karve convinces him to join a growing resistance movement, a ground of Santii sick of being second class citizens. Tin isn’t sure he’s comfortable with that – he’s always thought the Eln lord he worked for fair – but he quickly discovers that leaving the resistance is as dangerous as being part of it. While the resistance begins to plan acts of violence, Tin finds a secret door in the library. There, he finds ancient magic, and something else – a secret that, if revealed,  would show that everything the Eln and Santii believed was a lie.

I didn’t have high hopes for this project – all I had to start with was the concept of the world, the two races, and a bit of an idea for Tin’s character. I also had an ending in mind, which I suspect made the difference. I did very little planning, and after a slow start, it just took off. Three months later, I had a finished, 95,000 word draft in my hands, complete from beginning to end.

I was happy with that as my first novel then, and I still am now. It’s not publishable at all in its current state. The plot needs a lot more work. The skeleton is there, but it needs more polish. One of the crucial twists doesn’t work at all. The ending is quite dark, and may not fit the tone of the rest of the book. There are numerous consistency issues, and every character besides Tin and Karve is one dimensional. I also think this would be a hard story to sell. If I ever decide to go back and re-do it, I suspect it would end up being self-published.  I hope I do that one day – I’m rather fond of Tin, and would like to see his story told well.

Lesson’s here? One, that I was capable of finishing a novel – that was critical in terms of my motivation. Two – I could finish a novel with minimal planning, which surprised me. Three (which I didn’t learn right away) – I need to make my characters much less passive. Tin needed to make more decisions; he spent way too much time watching and thinking, not enough time doing.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed hearing about some of my older projects. This ended up being quite a bit longer than expected, so be sure to check out the continuation next week!