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Third Draft

I’m just past the half-way point in the third draft of THE IGNORED PROPHECY, which is the sequel to THE SHAMAN’S CURSE.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????In the second draft, I cut about 8,000 words, including two characters and two subplots–most of which will either reappear as part of a short story or in the third (as-yet-unnamed) book in the series.  But TIP is still over 112,000 words–too long. So, I’ve got two goals for this draft:

  1. Check for consistency. Delete anything that either foreshadows those two subplots as something that will happen in this book and anything later that depends on them.
  2. Find more scenes to delete, especially in the first third of the book.

I’ve marked several scenes as possible deletions, but I haven’t made those changes yet. This is definitely the hard part of revisions.


 

In other news, I took the first steps today toward an audio book version of THE SHAMAN’S CURSE. Wish me luck.

Reviews

Based on David Gaughran’s LET’S GET VISIBLE, I tried something different with THE SHAMAN’S CURSE–a direct request for requests along with a link to the book’s page on Amazon. It’s working.

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In a little over a month, I’ve gotten more reviews on THE SHAMAN’S CURSE than on any other of my books. And most of them are overwhelmingly positive–which never fails to make my day.

That’s not all it does. It serves as validation for other potential purchasers, of course. It also means that as sales inevitably start to slow some marketing paths will be open to me that otherwise wouldn’t.

That’s one bit of marketing that definitely works. And, best of all, it’s free for all concerned. Thank you to everyone who takes the time to leave a review–especially on indie books.

In spite of massive interruptions over the last few days, I’m making good progress on the third draft of THE IGNORED PROPHECY, sequel to THE SHAMAN’S CURSE.

I have now entered the painful phase of editing THE IGNORED PROPHECY, sequel to THE SHAMAN’S CURSE.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????This is the part where I have to figure out what to cut. After the second draft, THE IGNORED PROPHECY comes in at over 120,000 words. THE SHAMAN’S CURSE is 108,000 words.

I have to cut things. Sometimes even things I really like. I’ve already cut a couple of chapters out. (Don’t worry, those chapters are very likely to reappear as a short story. It’s not nearly as painful when I figure out how to reuse what I cut.) But I need to cut more.

I’m sure I need to tighten things up in the first ten chapters or so, but I’m having trouble seeing exactly what to cut because a lot of that is actually setting up for things that will happen later. It’s going to require some thought.

I’m also considering cutting an entire subplot and two whole characters. The story will probably be better for it, though. Even if it does sacrifice a little extra conflict.

I just have to nerve myself up to get out the pruners.

Progress

I’ve made good progress so far this month, in spite of some real-life distractions. All of it, so far, related to the first book in the DUAL MAGICS series, THE SHAMAN’S CURSE.

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I’ve completed the first draft of the DUAL MAGICS short story “Modgud Gold” (actually, it’s not that short). It’s one of the things I’ll be working on while beta readers go over THE IGNORED PROPHECY next month. I’d hope to have beta readers on it in October and release it in November, ahead of TIP. I’ve even started looking at potential cover art for “Modgud Gold”.

I’ve also blocked out another DUAL MAGICS short story (this one really is short) that might be one of two to be published between THE IGNORED PROPHECY and the as-yet-untitled third book in the series.

I’m also making good progress on THE IGNORED PROPHECY. This pass, I’m trying to read it more or less as a reader would–quickly. I’m fixing some things as I go, but mostly marking a few chapters that I’m going to need to come back to for a closer revision. I’m on schedule, I think, to get this into the hands of beta readers next month.

I am still immensely pleased with the performance of THE SHAMAN’S CURSE. Thanks to all the readers who’ve made that possible. And especially to the ones who’ve left reviews.

Maps

Well, as I get ready to start the next round of revisions on THE IGNORED PROPHECY, I went ahead on bought some mapping software to see if I can provide an actual map with the next book in the series. THE IGNORED PROPHECY is the first sequel to THE SHAMAN’S CURSE.

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I chose Campaign Cartographer as the most likely software. Unsurprisingly, the learning curve is pretty steep. I’ve managed to produce something close to what I want. Here’s my first effort.

Dual Magics CC Map

And the same map in black and white:

Dual Magics BW Map

I’ll probably have to start over again. I’m not happy with the lakes or the mountains. But it’s definitely better than the hand-drawn map I had before. Like writing, this isn’t the sort of thing you should expect to get right the first time.

I finished the “first draft” of the rewrite of THE IGNORED PROPHECY last week. I put first draft in quotes because it’s a rewrite, so the story was basically all already there, though it needed considerable cleanup and improvement in style. TIP is the sequel to THE SHAMAN’S CURSE, which is still doing pretty well, even after the price went up on August 1st.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????While I let that draft cool just a little before the next pass, I’m working on a tie-in short story. “Modgud Gold”. Again, a good part of this is already done, because it’s built around scenes (and chapters) that were cut from THE SHAMAN’S CURSE. This one centers around a side character–Vatar’s cousin Arcas.

I’m not sure how much the tie-in short story “Becoming Lioness” helped to pave the way for THE SHAMAN’S CURSE to do so well, but it’s certainly worth repeating in preparation for THE IGNORED PROPHECY. I’ll have at least one more short story, this time about one of the more neglected cultures of this world, before this series ends.

Meanwhile, I’ve purchased some mapping software to see if I can turn out a passable map of this world to include in the next book. If so, I’ll go back and put it in THE SHAMAN’S CURSE, too. One of the advantages of digital publishing. But it’ll have to be significantly better than the hand drawn one, I shared before.

Dual Magics MapPathetic, right?

I also need to start spending a little time on cover art again, for both “Modgud Gold” and THE IGNORED PROPHECY.

And I can’t let TIP cool too long. I need to go through it again before turning it over to my writers’ group in September.

Okay, I’ve just convinced myself I need to get back to work right now.

This is a topic I’ve been thinking about recently. What I’ve been pondering is the sort of thing that, apparently, movies can get away with that would never fly in a novel. Sometimes, by keeping the action moving or providing interesting visuals, movies can make viewers not notice what an author would call a plot hole. Sometimes a very big plot hole.

The problem is that we don’t watch some of these movies just once anymore. Some movies we watch again and again and . . . . By the third or fourth time I start noticing things. And, as a storyteller, they bother me.

Sometimes movies do this for a reason. They’ve only got so much time, after all. But sometimes there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason.

I’ll give you an example of the first. Let’s use the first Lord of the Rings movie, “The Fellowship of the Ring.” Gandalf arrives back in the Shire and tests Frodo’s ring, discovering that it is the One Ring, and the Enemy knows where it is. This kicks the plot into motion. Great. What happens next?

In the movie, Frodo and Sam immediately set out for Rivendell–alone. They have no idea how to get there; neither of them has ever been outside of the Shire before. Neither of them has anything remotely resembling a weapon and wouldn’t know how to use it if they did. And the Nine Riders are already after them. In written form, any editor worth his or her salt would call this “too stupid to live” and stop reading. It stretches credulity for Gandalf to consider this any kind of reasonable plan. (And it’s even worse if you’re at all familiar with Tolkein’s map of Middle Earth, where it’s obvious that Gandalf is also going to have to go through Bree.)

It’s not remotely that idiotic in the books. They actually did have a plan that didn’t involve two unprotected hobbits heading out into the wild alone. The plan fell through, for various reasons, and Frodo was forced to run before the Nazgul caught him. They ended up in just about exactly the same place. But at least he wasn’t too stupid to live. Readers tend to lose interest in characters that do idiotic things. Movies can keep the action moving, throw in a little humor, and hope we won’t notice. In this case, probably even hope that those of us who’d read and loved the books, would fill in the gap for them with what we already knew.

Then there’s another problem I sometimes have with even good movies. Generally, in a book, the writer has to supply sufficient motivation for characters to do something. Characters can’t just do things–especially important things that impact the plot–for no reason at all.

Here’s one–an unnecessary one, I think–from the movie “Frozen”. Now I enjoy that movie, but there are a couple of places I have trouble with as a storyteller.

When Hans leads his little impromptu militia to attack Queen Elsa in her ice palace he makes a point of telling them that Elsa isn’t to be harmed. And I can’t help asking “why?” I mean, it isn’t that much later in the movie that he declares his intention to kill Elsa and make himself King. What’s his motivation for not wanting to see her killed by someone else–like the Duke’s men–leaving his hands clean in the matter? Then Anna would become queen and he already knows he’s got her in his pocket.

I’d swallow that whole scene down whole if he just hadn’t said anything–and probably if something else happened to prevent the Duke’s henchman from shooting Elsa with his crossbow. A ricochet, perhaps.


 

Meanwhile, I’m finally on the last chapter of this draft of THE IGNORED PROPHECY, sequel to THE SHAMAN’S CURSE.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????It’ll need at least two more drafts to be ready. But it’s getting closer. And no plot holes.

 

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