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Archive for October, 2017

Still working on BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING–though chores are pretty much getting in the way today.

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I finished the scene I was working one.

More important, I got that story structure more or less ironed out for six different important characters. I’d post a bit of it here, but . . . that would give away too much of the plot.

What’s most important about that is that it not only straightened out my idea of how the story needs to go, it also generated a few new ideas.

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I’ve come to the conclusion that the problems I’m having getting traction with BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING have to do with story structure.

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Now, I’m a discovery writer (I believe I’ve mentioned that a few times before), but a modified one. That is, I don’t outline the entire story before I start writing, but I do like to identify a few sign posts along the way so I can keep my story moving in the right direction. At a minimum, the inciting incident (where the story problem first crops up) and key event (where that story problem becomes more personal for the hero), the midpoint or turning point, and the climax. Mostly, from there, I sort of let the story structure flow instinctively and only double check it for pacing during the revisions.

I know all of these points for this story.

Or, more precisely, I know all of that for the main story line. But the problem is, this story doesn’t have a single central story and a couple of subplots. It’s a much more complex story structure.

What I have planned is something more like this:

My main character or hero, Gaian, has three possible destinies. Obviously, he can only fulfill one of them. But two other characters, let’s call them secondary heroes, will each fulfill one of the other two destinies. (One in a fairly typical heroic character arc, the other in a redemption arc.) And all of that has to come together for the climax to happen. So they have their own plots–and story structures–that are not subplots and have to braid into Gaian’s main plot.

Then there are a few other characters who will also have at least subplots of their own. A couple of them, like the antagonist, have plot lines that probably lie somewhere between a subplot and one of those three main plots.

And, though they all need to end at about the same time (the climax), they all start at different points–a couple of them twenty years after most of the others. No wonder I haven’t felt like the story was coming together properly.

So now what I think I need to do is step back a little and identify the main points of each of those plots/subplots–all the points: Inciting incident, key event, first plot point (turn into Act 2), first pinch point, midpoint/turning point/second plot point, second pinch point, third plot point (turn into Act 3), and the climax.

This doesn’t mean I have to stop writing while I do this, of course. This is a first draft and I’m still primarily in Gaian’s main plot.

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It took a little longer than I’d planned–almost everything about this particular story seems to–but I finished that little bit of addition to earlier chapters. I really like the additions. Next month, I’ll find out if my alpha readers agree.

And now I’m ready to go forward with the BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING again.

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First I’ll need to reread the chapter I was in the middle of before I went back for that addition, but that shouldn’t take very long. And, of course, getting myself back into Mariel’s POV after going back through two chapters of Gaian’s.

Time to get this story back up on its wheels and keep it rolling–forward.

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Blurbs

Okay, so I took a little break from the first draft of BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING

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to work on the blurb for THE SHAMAN’S CURSE.

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Here’s the old blurb:

Vatar risked his life to try to save his friend–and failed. Now he has an implacable enemy in the vengeful shaman, who blames Vatar for the death of his only son. In his isolation, Vatar finds some comfort in daydreams. He knows the strange girl he sometimes imagines is just that–a dream. She’d better be.

Because, if she’s real things could get even worse for Vatar. The accepted magic of Vatar’s plains tribe wouldn’t enable him to see or communicate with a girl he doesn’t even know–or know where to find. That would be more like the magic passed down in certain, closely-guarded bloodlines among the ruling class of the coastal cities. And that’s bad. Very bad.

Unlike their own, Vatar’s people think the city magic is evil. If the shaman ever found out, it could be the weapon he needs to destroy Vatar. And yet, finding a way to accept the other side of his heritage may be the only way Vatar can ultimately defeat his enemy.

The two kinds of magic have always been separate. Until now.
 

It focuses a little too much on the girl. Not that she’s unimportant–far from it. But, it doesn’t exactly communicate that this is the first book in an epic fantasy series.

Here’s the new one:

The two kinds of magic have always been totally separate. Until now.

Vatar risked his life to try to save his friend–and failed. Now he has an implacable enemy in the shaman, who blames Vatar for the death of his only son. He’s forced to flee his home, at least until the shaman’s thirst for revenge cools.

Taking shelter with his mother’s people in one of the coastal cities, Vatar learns more than he bargained for. He agreed to learn to work iron and steel, but he never suspected to find a magical heritage as well.

And that’s a problem. A huge problem. Because unlike their own Spirit magic, his people regard the city magic as the work of Evil Spirits. If the shaman ever found out about this, it could be the weapon he needs to destroy Vatar.

And yet, finding a way to accept the other side of his heritage may be the only way Vatar can ultimately defeat his enemy and win more than his freedom.

I’m sure this one is still far from perfect. But it hopefully does a better job of communicating what kind of story this is.

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My rule about first drafts is that they only go in one direction–forward. Creating the first draft and revising/editing it in subsequent drafts are two very different tasks that each require a very different frame of mind. Writing a first draft all the way to “The End” requires that I resist the urge to let myself get into the editor frame of mind.

That doesn’t, of course, mean that I can’t go back and make a note. I almost have to since I discovery write and sometimes I discover something that will require a change to something I wrote earlier or, more often, something that will need at least a touch of foreshadowing–you know, like the fact that dragons exist in this world if a dragon or two are suddenly going to show up in, like, Chapter 30. (That’s a reference to another story I need to circle back to sometime, MAGE STORM.)

I also belong to one writing group that reads a few chapters at a time every month or so. This works really well. It lets me know what aspects of the story are working and which need a bit more work. As per the rule above, I incorporate ideas from these critiques as notes and move on–usually.

However, right now, as I’m trying to rebuild momentum after a couple of unplanned stops pauses, I’m thinking this might be a good time to break that rule.

In this particular case, my critique partner wanted more emotion about a particular past event that isn’t directly shown, but only referred to. I agree, in general. Particularly because this event is the cause of one of my main characters . . . what K. M. Weiland would refer to as his “ghost”. Something he believes, that isn’t really true, that holds him back, at least temporarily.

The problem is that this particular place in the story–at the start of a battle–isn’t the place for soul searching or a lot of emotion that doesn’t have to do with not getting killed or letting too many of his men get killed, either. I had actually toyed with the idea of deleting that paragraph or two for just that reason. But I need to get the information in somewhere and I’m not sure where else to put it. Plus, it ties into his motivation in that moment.

What I can do is have him firmly repress that emotion and memory because this is not the time or place for it. But then I still have to figure out how to get that emotion in somewhere else. And I can see pretty clearly how and where to do exactly that. And it would be adding not editing.

So, this feels like a good time to break that first draft rule, just a little. Hopefully, it’ll even help me build momentum for the story as a whole.

 

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Forgot to blog yesterday. Having Monday and Tuesday off was very disorienting. I spent half the day thinking it was Monday instead of Wednesday. Then today was very busy–which means I didn’t get much writing done, but I’ve got this bit of description stuck in my head, so I’ll likely at least get that out.

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Building momentum in writing is a little like building physical momentum. There’s inertia to overcome before things start moving more freely. Well, we’re almost to another weekend–only an ordinary one, this time–so, hopefully, I’ll start making better progress.

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Late post tonight, sorry. Busy day.

I’m going to have to work on rebuilding my momentum in BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING . . .

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. . . after being distracted for several days with the Amazon X-ray thing. I still think it’s a really good idea, at least for certain books.

For example, my DUAL MAGICS series. I mean, hopefully the readers will remember the core characters, and the ones that only turn up for one scene or a couple of closely related scenes shouldn’t be too much of an issue. But in four books there are some characters–and also some geographical features and magical terminology–that may not be referred to frequently but might come up repeatedly across the series. Having the ability to have a quick refresher of who or what that is sounds like a positive to me.

But it does take a long time to go through the list and provide some sort of reference–and remove all the things that shouldn’t need an explanation. Like, for instance, for some reason–probably because I capitalized it as part of a common name–Amazon’s default was to want to provide a reference for Forest and then offer a Wikipedia article. Not really what I had in mind. Then it’ll probably take me even longer to figure out which terms and places Amazon didn’t ask for a definition of. (Yeah, I’ve found a few already.)

And then there’s the boxed set, which is going to be more complicated because the reference I might want to give in the first book will necessarily be less complete than the one I would offer in the third book, but I’m not going to be able to split that up.

So this is the kind of thing that needs to be more of a background task. Something, maybe that I do while thinking about the next scene or something similar. And I need to get back to work on BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING.

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