[#reviseandrevive] A Change Would Do You Good

For my #reviseandrevive prompt today, I want to focus on what happened during my first draft that needed to change. And to do that, I have to take you on a trip down the many paths I take during my writing adventure. So keep all your arms and legs inside and buckle up…

I don’t think the plot was the problem the first time. The problem was how I came to that plot. I, as they would say over in the NaNoWriMo community, am a plotter and not a pantser. But sometimes, no matter how much of an outline I have, great ideas come to me midway through and I have to get them on the paper. It has to twist and turn my story to fit this new, great discovery! Even if the backstory and the lead-up is not there.

So I have two options: make it fit in what what I have, or shove it in and hope for the best during revision.

With The Final Rose, it seems like I did the former. During my first re-read, things mostly made sense. I was lacking a significant amount of build up for the romance, but overall things made logical sense. What I’m doing now is smoothing out the edges with a bit of sandpaper.

But while I smooth, I’m also still carving, so to speak. There are scenes I need to add, then re-read and quickly revise to fit with the rest of the novel. Characters need a little tweaking – a new wardrobe or a haircut, in a sense – but nothing overall horrific.

And that’s where I am. My changes are small at the moment, the biggest change right now being a chapter that I chopped off half from and added to another chapter. But I’m only about a third in… There’s still time…

Ya Can’t Please Everyone, So Ya Got To Please Yourself

For this month’s WriYe Blogging Circle, we go straight to the root of the problem:

Why did you start writing?
Bonus:
How has your writing improved since you first started? What would you still like to improve?

So, let’s get back to the beginning. Why do I write?

Why wouldn’t I write? It’s where I belong, playing out the dreams and imagination that runs rampant in my mind. And it’s not something I can turn off on a whim. No matter how long I step away from it to focus on something else – first triathlon, first marathon, first child – it’s that comforting home I can turn to to find it waiting with open arms. Or blank page, as it may.

It’s like a compulsion. I always have a pocket journal – Field Notes, Log + Jotter, Moleskine – on me to take down notes or plot ideas or breakthroughs. There are more To Be Written plots on my computer than finished novels. I can’t stop and I won’t stop.

The only time I pause is when it is no longer fun. That’s the heart of the entire reason for my writing: fun. I have to enjoy it. To love it. Or else there’s no point in doing it.

That doesn’t mean I have to love it every day. To really become a published writer, writing consistently is important. Dedication over inspiration and all of that. But overall, I have to reach the end of the novel and say “I enjoyed that.”

Bonus

Oh Ancient Gods of My People – yes. I was a passive, telling-because-showing-means-what? novelist as a youth. Which I think is rather normal for most new writers. My characters were either flat or Mary Sues. My dialogue was florid enough to be in a funeral home.

But still, I enjoyed it.

What do I still need to improve? Consistency.

Fixing those muddled middles that are worse than a quagmire.

Most of all? Growing a thick skin. Plums are jealous of my skin’s thinness. But if I am going to be critiqued to improve, I need to actually accept it without pouting. (Or at least without pouting for more than a few hours.)

[#reviseandrevive] Baby, Now We’ve Got Bad Blood

The WIPWednesday progress for today involves drama. All good stories have drama of some sort, and it’s that tension that keeps a reader flipping pages. In The Final Rose,
I have a few dramatic scenes that I got excited while writing and am equally excited to rewrite.

So here’s a glimpse of what happens when Task and crew get to their destination, the Floating Islands, to give tribute to the gods… [First Draft Warning Alert]

Something red and glowing smacked into his face, nearly forcing itself down his throat. He grabbed at it, catching it between two fingers before it floated off in the winds. It was a petal – a rose petal – and one that had once sat on Ziove’s chest, proudly displayed like a battle scar.


Something was very wrong.


He shoved the petal into his pocket and pushed forward faster, making them keep up with him. She had to be there, standing just out of reach. She had to be near them, frozen in the wind the same way he had been at first.

Maybe the gods protected her. Maybe the gods were keeping her out of it and giving them a way out – death or run.

[#reviseandrevive] Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered

Those are the three things that my favorite character, Ikala, makes the rest of the cast of The Final Rose feel. It’s part of what keeps her always at the forefront of my mind when I think about characters I’ve created in the past years. Her personality, talents and character arc are one of my favorites.

So who is Ikala?

She is a summoner. In my universe, those are magic-users who can tap into the hidden energies of living (or non-living, in some cases) things and use those powers for their own means. They figure out what power an object holds by seeing through it to the crystalline structure of its parts (think of the carbon structure in a diamond). By recognizing the specific patterns and junctions, a summoner can draw out certain aspects of light, darkness, fire, water, whathaveyou. Above all, they credit this to understanding the word of the Gods, all life having come from them at the start. These are the closest to loyal clergy that I come in the novel.

They are in direct competition with mages, who are magic-users who tap into their own energy to “level up” their magic. Summoners are without; mages are within. I have a mage – Kyr – who probably is my third favorite character, but his story arc is far less interesting to me than Ikala’s. They don’t think the Gods have much to do with anything and that magic is inherent in every living being.

Ikala is asked to join the party early on and from the first introduction, when she catches Task trying to escape, her gentle, no-nonsense attitude is revealed. She almost always has answers to questions (which actually is important to the plot) and has more to lose by going up against the Gods during the big battles. Her crises are more than physical; they’re spiritual and mental. A few times, her hesitations cause problems.

I won’t reveal the dramatic character arc involving her, since it is vital to the novel, but I will say – it was something I hadn’t expected to do.

Why isn’t Task, my main character, my favorite? Well, he’s close. He’s a very close number two. But when I think about characters I’ve made, my thoughts always go to Ikala first. The novel wouldn’t work from her POV, which is why I keep her as a secondary character. Seeing her, and what she does, from Task’s and Geir’s POV is vital to her mystique. And her mystique is vital to her.

Still in Peaceful Dreams, I See the Road Leads Back to You

(Today may be a two post day because I have the #reviseandrevive prompt about which I plan to write).

As I think I have harped on about enough, this year is dedicated to shaping up and querying my novel, The Final Rose. The very first draft was written in 2011. The second draft, after it had been through a bit of critiquing, was in 2013. And now, five years after that, I am finally prepared to write the third (and hopefully final) draft.

#reviseandrevive was created to tie into a few projects, one of which is Resurrection April on WriYe. The concept behind that is to look at your older work that remained unfinished or written at the wrong time, and try to restart or finish it.

When I created the challenge years ago, I was hesitant. Sometimes, stories remained unfinished for a reason. Some need to be abandoned for issues involving plot, characters or execution. Major injuries to these can be recovered from with stitches and time; fatal flaws mean the story needs to be put to rest permanently. I’ve had stories ending due to both. Only the former can be revived.

How do you know when a novel is salvageable? This is my little cheat sheet (which I present as salted as the Dead Sea):

  • Do you remember the characters? If you have to reread the novel to get the names of side characters, that doesn’t count as not remembering. What I am talking about here is whether or not you remember your main characters. What did they want? What did they do? Could you slip back into their voice easily?
  • Do you remember the general plot? Again, you don’t need to remember every scene. What was the plot you intended to do? Do you remember the inciting incident? The climax? Does it still excite you?
    • If the answer to this last one is no, can you find a way to fix it that would make it exciting?
    • If the answer is still no, is this the right plot for these characters? Pitch it to a few friends and see if they can help you.
  • Can you re-immerse yourself in that world? This may be for only some writers, but can you jump back in and feel the world? Do you remember the important parts of world-building? The unique qualities that will draw your reader in?
  • Are you looking to write this to avoid something else? Like editing?

That last one is a bit personal.

Those are the things I usually ask myself when I look at reviving a novel (or rewriting). Sometimes, the answer is yes, like the novel I am writing now. Everything was still fresh. I wrote my first added in scene for the revision last night and Task’s voice was as clear is it was the first day I wrote for him. The scenes played before my eyes with a fully constructed setting. And the plot was what I had worked on the whole previous month.

Sometimes, the answer is no. Like a novel that will remain unnamed, but those who have known me awhile have listened to me complain. I tried to write this novel four times. The characters are nebulous, changing between drafts, because I could not pin them down. The setting is strong, but the alchemical/magical system is something that needs improvement.

The plot? Oh the plot. The overarching plot is there. But the inciting incident, the ordinary vs. extraordinary, all if it has never solidified.

Do I think the novel has promise? Yes. I really do. But the problem is either I am not prepared to write this novel, or I am not the right author to write the novel. Every time I try, I come a tiny step closer to distilling the essence. But somewhere along the way, the train jumps the tracks and crashes into the words I’ve previously written.

Will I try again one day? I am going to say no here, but I know it’s a lie. I’ll always go back to trying to fix this bane of my existence.

Until I get it down, though, there are other plots to chase.

[#reviseandrevive] I’m a Lover and I’m a Sinner

A brief introduction to Task Tannes, the MC of my novel. Task is a thief who is cocky, self-assured and selfish. These are scenes from the first chapter (draft two, so pre-revision). Just a small excerpt:


[…] Anyone that came into White Nymph Tavern before noon was bound to be lost to the cups or the cards. Task just happened to be an expert at both, as well as the most ancient art in the entire town of Thornin: pickpocketing. […]

He counted out the coin in his hand, adding the fee to the barkeep that he’d already removed. He’d stolen quite a bit of money that morning, but what was the use? It had practically fallen out of the man’s pocket and there was no true deception. A stuttering fool was easily mimicked. He wanted to strive for something higher. To achieve something unachievable.


He was going to steal from the king himself.


[#reviseandrevive] An Introduction

This year is the year I’ve decided to get serious with my writing. And to do so means editing, revising and eventually publishing. Last month was editing – developmental on my side – so this month is putting those edits to work in my revision.

My novel is the same I was doing last month for #editnfriends.

The Final Rose is an epic fantasy novel that I hope feels like a Final Fantasy game has been written in prose. It’s currently long at 137,000 words and is only looking like it’ll get closer to 150k that I’d like.

The basic premise is:

Every seven years, droughts hit Adomar. To appease the Gods and bring rain, a tribute bearer is chosen by the divine to travel to the Floating Islands and barter for blessings. Never before had a tribute bearer returned.

This time, the chosen tribute bearer is the princess of Adomar, Ziove. In an effort to save her from the fate of the others, a traveling part is established. The strongest knight. A well-known mage. A summoner with knowledge beyond time. And a peasant to serve as bait and barter.

To choose the peasant, the king frames it as a challenge to be won, complete with prize purse. Task Tannes, a local con artist and thief, decides that the purse is worth the trouble it will take to flee his responsibilities.

But when he can’t escape and is forced on the journey, his life changes completely. It turns out that there are things more important than gold, and it is worth the sacrifice to save it.

The main character is Task Tannes. The other POV character is his rival, Sir Geir, the knight master of Adomar. In alternating (not symmetrical or in any given rhythm) POVs, I hope to show how each goes closer toward the middle (and beyond) to understand each other and help save the princess.

Right now, my romance is lacking. I need a lot more set up scenes. And there are parts I need to revise and expand (many). So that’s my focus for the month.

Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to watch me suffer through it by reading along. Bonus mission? Participate as well. Use the hashtag on social media. Bother others to do it as well.

Writing and editing may be solitary, but venting is communal.