Slow: Curves Ahead
Picking up after a hiatus has not been as easy as I’d thought. I’ve kept on writing, but progress is much slower than I’m used to. I find myself second guessing, back-tracking, and even undoing.
Merging Traffic Next 10,000 Words
The book I’m working on, Kaynenh’s Triad, #5 in The Sun Child Chronicles, is more than half written. I’m building on old prose and four previous books, all one continuous story. Of course, it deals with new situations, but the connections with the “past” have to be solid. As I write new scenes and continue old scenes, I find repeatedly I have to go back and check. What did that character do the last time this happened? What were those particular magical words? Some things, like eye color and character relationships are recorded in The Sun Child Chronicles “bible.” At least those are easier to look up.
Yes, indeed I have even written myself into a corner and found I couldn’t go forward. The worst example involves the new wizard, Vahrenn. I wrote a few thousand words of his Important Journey (capitalized for effect) before I realized I’d forgotten he was deaf. Partly it was a setback, but also a wake-up call about how much I take hearing for granted. My apologies to the D/deaf.
I’ve a confession. I have only so much patience for outlines, synopses, etc. I tend to lay out the first part of a story in a fairly detailed manner. But after that it sort of peters out, until at the end I’m using a word or two—or else the outline never gets there. And even if it does, by that point in the story I’ve taken a few left turns and am nowhere near the expected route.
I’m still heading for the same destination, though! Along the way, each time I change my path, I usually know exactly how to get back on track. It’s like taking a different route to the office or the gym or whatever. You’re still only a few miles from home, and you know you can get there.
Having stepped away from the book for a time, I’m finding the map in my mind is pretty hazy at times. To cope, I do reread earlier stuff, but sometimes I just keep writing because, hey—
It’s only a first draft!
Traffic Revision Ahead
Step away from the publishing world for longer than a blink these days, and you’ll find a lot changed when you dip a toe in again. I know some of these are not as new to others as they are to me: Dreame, Radish, NovelCat, and Webfic are some examples of things I either never thought to look, or never heard of, or they didn’t exist. I’m not seriously considering any of those right now, but I am looking at Vella, the new Amazon Kindle platform for serialized stories.
I definitely won’t be publishing Kaynenh’s Triad (The Sun Child Chronicles #5) in serialized form. But I am in the early stages of developing a related, shorter story that would be ideal, I think, for Vella.
Han Rha-Behl Ah’Shieth is a very important character in the series. He’s an adult at the start of the series, and a helper character to the younger protagonist. Yet his own character arc runs alongside his, and it carries a lot of weight. Reading the books give you some important information about his life, but it’s in bits in pieces. And incomplete. So… I want to tell his story. And as of now, I think the best way to tell it is narrated by Thurlock, the oldest wizard. He’s been there all along the line, from Han’s early childhood. And his relationship as mentor, teacher, employer, and friend gives him all the perspective.
Here’s a very brief part of Han’s story. This version is found in Key of Behliseth, book 1 of the series, and it’s told in third person, from his brother Lohen’s point of view.
Lohen smelled smoke as he was striding down the hill toward home. He’d visited Nedhra City, fifty miles from the family’s stead. In addition to news and letters for his parents, he carried a gift for his brother’s twelfth birthday—a sling that could be wound tight to toss stones an incredible distance. Perfect for a boy who liked both weapons and mechanical things. Lohen looked forward to seeing Han smile when he put it in his hands.
The smoke disturbed his happy thoughts. It didn’t have the flavor of a cooking fire or the pungency of the smokes used for curing meat or fish. It was the wrong time of year for the fields to be burned off, and the smell seemed wrong anyway—dirty—or contaminated. He stopped when he rounded the bend and had a clear view of his parents’ stead.
And then he started running.
When he got there, remnants still burned, but only the low ridges where the walls of the house had stood, huddled pieces of resistant furniture, and in one place a blazing doorframe leading on both sides to nothing.
The first corpse he saw, as he stood with the heat of flames and coals on his face, was his uncle, an old man whose skill with horses had taken to work in the far north long ago, and whose devotion to an orphaned girl had reaped him no reward of love. Abandoned in old age, he’d come to stay with his sister’s family, bringing a kind face, a sad smile, and grand stories of winged horses and starry northern skies.
He’d not simply been killed, nor had Lohen’s mother and father. Everywhere he looked, Lohen saw evidence of torture. He couldn’t bear seeing it, but he couldn’t look away. He stood, not moving or thinking until night crept in and the flames around him hissed into silence.
Mindless, Lohen turned and took a step back toward the road. That was when he heard a faint sound. He followed the breathy cry and found Han hidden in a holly thicket, hugging his knees and sobbing. At first Lohen was only glad, relieved to see him alive. Then the truth dawned, and he fell to his knees, the wind knocked from his lungs by a horrifying new thought.
Han Shieth had seen his family murdered.
By the time the first book in The Sun Child Chronicles opens, Han is over two centuries old. And there’s nothing usual about his life. The wizard has seen it all unfold.
Let me know what you think about Han’s story, and what you think about Vella. (Ever tried it?) And any thoughts in general on this post—comments are always welcome, and I’ll respond. (I have to approve your first comment before it will appear, so give me a little time. 😊 )
On Twitter, I’m @Lou_Hoffmann