On with the Quest

Tentative cover art for the second novel. It needs something…I don’t know…maybe some characters?
I decided to take a risk by making the plot less boring.

While the first installment of the Wyldling series – Wyldling Snare – is out to be ripped into shreds by the beta readers, I have not put my writing on hold. On the contrary, I have continued writing the sequel, tentatively entitled Wyldling Quest. The narrative picks up where the first book leaves off – on a cliffhanger. If you hate that sort of thing, do not fret, because I will most likely publish the second book within six months of the first, God willing. Based on my outline thus far, it will have roughly 25 chapters, plus a prologue and an epilogue. Currently, I have written the prologue and four complete chapters and even now I am in the midst of crafting a fifth chapter.

Naturally, this is a first draft of the second revision of the original work that I finished over a year ago. Maybe someone would have found the original version an entertaining read; I, however, thought that the heroine was spending too much time moping around and not accomplishing much of anything. Sitting around and bemoaning her impotence to effect change for three chapters is not the way to write an adventure story! BORING! A heroine ought to be out doing things as quickly as possible in the book, don’t you think? She needs to ACT.

As a result, I decided to allow her to misbehave a little – with a little nudge from the most mischievous of the supporting characters. In the original version, the heroine was in the main a sullen passive observer who was kept in obedient ignorance by her guardians. Yes, she is new to this world (a fish out of water character type) so there will still be that observatory element in the new version but I plan to make her less whiny and more proactive in proving her dependability to the other characters. She still begins as the character I made her to be – a sensitive and cautious sixteen year old girl with self esteem issues – but if she is really so anxious to rescue the hero from his captors, then she had better put on her big girl pants, stop complaining, and get on with it!

I can laugh at myself now for being so rigid as to adhere to my original expectations for the story – which were unrealistic, to say the least. And I don’t mean in the sense of fantasy or magic, I mean unrealistic as to character actions and interactions. Yes, the action takes place on a different planet, but even in a fantasy novel people should still behave in recognizable patterns. For example, if you were a military leader and you wanted to keep it a secret that the heir apparent to the throne has been abducted and a girl from another world has simultaneously appeared in the place from whence he was taken, you wouldn’t allow your underlings to throw a party and invite everyone in the village to meet her. Apparently my twenty year old self believed that a reader would suspend their disbelief in this circumstance.

Inevitably, by making the changes that I did, I changed the course of a story. I chopped out nearly a quarter of what I had worked so hard to craft and hone over the years. However, when you are a writer you must make sacrifices so that the story can flow in a direction that is entertaining while somewhat plausible. Were there instances of humorous, quirky dialogue and darling creative descriptions that did not escape my chopping block? Of course there were. And I do not delude myself into believing that everything I keep will survive a professional editor’s critical eye when the time comes.

So that’s my update. As always, I hope that in sharing my progress, somewhere in my rambling, shameless self-indulgence that there was something that might help another aspiring author.

A Book with 2 Prologues

I was kind of in shock after I completed editing the final chapter of Wyldling Snare this afternoon. I didn’t know what to feel. I just…sat there for a minute. I said to myself: “Well, there’s Revision Number Two.” I certainly never thought: “Yippee! This is actually done, now. Who wants a cupcake to celebrate?”

This was after I spent nearly three hours writing an alternative prologue that I believe is okay but doesn’t really fit into the narrative that follows. The original prologue takes place about fourteen years before the events of the novel and is roughly ten pages long (double-spaced.) It is from the point of view of a character that does not play a role in the events of the Wyldling series, but it introduces several important characters that you meet at some point early in the series, if not in the first book. The action takes place during an evacuation from a garrison town that’s about to be overrun by a vicious enemy, so the narrative is gritty, fast-paced and reeks of desperation.

The new prologue is three pages long (double-spaced) and takes place concurrently with the first chapter. It is a dream sequence from the point of view of an important character that you meet in the middle of the first novel. No names are used. It is almost the antithesis of the original prologue. There is no sense of danger or violence, only curiosity and vague yearning. I portray the scene in a mysterious fashion – the narrator is dreaming, and realizes it – but I’m not sure that it really adds anything to the story, or that the prose is compelling enough to encourage someone to read further.

Why, you ask, would I waste my time writing a different prologue – especially something I consider so-so at best? Because two out of three people who read my original prologue said it was too “dark” or “sad.” One of them – whom I shall refer to as R.M. – did not want to read any further because he claimed it made him feel depressed.

I wanted to try a different approach with the new prologue. Make it less “deathy,” or something. Well, I’m not sure that’s going to work. I’m writing a sword and sorcery type fantasy novel for young adults, not a chapter book for young children about a magic tree house. Now, I’m not dissing the Magic Tree House series – far from it; I think they’re great books – but that isn’t the sort of audience I’m writing for at the moment.

Perhaps the new prologue served its purpose, after all: now R.M. has decided that the original prologue is actually okay. Or, at least, he thinks the original is more suitable for the novel than the new one – the three pages that I worked so hard on this afternoon and enjoyed writing because I thought I was being so mysterious and clever with my descriptions without actually naming the characters.

Sigh

When it comes to critiquing and editing, I am definitely my own worst enemy.

Oh well. I’ll ask the beta readers to read both of them. They can tell me which works best for the book.

Or maybe neither will make the cut. Who says that I need to have a prologue, anyway? Jim Butcher doesn’t include a prologue in any of the Dresden Files novels and people still love reading them.

Speaking of which, I can hardly wait for Peace Talks to come out…

Apropos of nothing, here is a picture of a cat sitting on my Bible study questions so that I can no longer work on them.

Doctor thinks it is time to stop working and start paying attention to him, instead.

Progress on Wyldling Snare?

Okay, so this whole process is turning out to take longer than I hoped it would!

Yes, I suppose I can say that I completed the first draft by the end of last month. Woohoo! Yay me?

I thought that I would be done with the first round of edits/revision by the middle of February, and then I could ask the few folks who volunteered to read through it. You know, beta readers (just like Jim Butcher.) I figured, the way I was constantly revising my work almost as soon as I wrote it – which I do NOT recommend and counsel sternly against doing – that it should be “pretty okay,” as my eldest son would say.

Wrong!

Currently, we are a quarter of the way into the month and I have plowed through “editing” only eight out of twenty-three “chapters.” Things are…complicated. There were some areas where the narrative was inconsistent. That’s what happens when you revise at the same time that you are “creating,” people! You get this cool idea to include in the first chapter and then you forget to carry it through down the road. For example, you change one major detail about a character and suddenly the scenes you already wrote including him/her that take place a hundred pages later suddenly don’t work. Or you decide to cut out a bunch of exposition from chapter three (because you decide it’s boring) and realize that the actions that the characters take (or don’t take, in this case) in chapter seven no longer makes sense.

Now, I would never rank the complexity of my story on the same level as, say, Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time, but the Wyldling series is still a complicated enough story that I probably need a spreadsheet to keep track of character arcs and objects and whatnot. Unlike the late, great Robert Jordan -may he rest in peace (and thank you to Brandon Sanderson for finishing that wonderfully rich behemoth of a series!)- I decided to limit the point-of-view narrative in Wyldling Snare to three main characters (two Wyldling protagonists and a villain). That will change later on in the series, because (spoilers!) I will introduce more Wyldling characters as the story marches on. Eventually there will be more than three storylines. So maybe I end up emulating Mr. Robert Jordan, after all? I can’t remember how many storylines he wove into the fabric of his magnum opus, but it was definitely more than three! Probably more like twenty – some of which EVENTUALLY converge – and only three or four of the storylines were actually resolved. But don’t quote me on that; it’s been a while since I read The Wheel of Time. Like, years. Man, but that was a good, long series. All the books are still sitting on my shelf…

Hmmm.

But I digress! Which shouldn’t be possible in a blog, right? Most people would edit that stuff out, right? Not me! I am saving all of that editorial power for my book. This is all just rambling, now, so I should shut up and get back to work. Okay, self, back to the first order of business: the revision process!

Further bulletins as events warrant.

May the LORD bless your day, and my efforts.

Thanks for sticking with me so far! To reward you for your patience, here’s a cute picture of Graefin trying to snooze on top of bath towels in my bathroom.