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Know the Novel, In the Thick of Things

Well, folks, here we are already in the middle of November. How time sure does fly. I had been determined at the onset of this NaNoWriMo to dedicate more time and effort into finishing my trilogy, and while I can say I’ve had some progress in that department, I must also say that it hasn’t been as productive as I’d like. Of course, I have to come at the story from a completely different mindset with a completely different cast of characters, so there’s that.

But anywho, this week we’re doing part two of Christine Smith’s Know the Novel Linkup series, so let’s get at it, shall we?

1. How’s the writing going overall?

Fine, I suppose. As I mentioned, I now have to tackle the story from a different POV with several different characters that I don’t know too well yet, so there’s a lot of development and planning I need to do, which doesn’t always augment favorable word counts. It’s achingly slow, but it’s going, and that’s better than not going at all.

2. What’s been the most fun aspect about writing this novel so far?

Worldbuilding. Worldbuilding and watching those moments when things fall into place. Kind of like Hannibal Smith’s “I love it when a plan comes together.”

3. What do you think of your characters at this point? Who’s your favorite to write about?

Uh . . . I think they’re all a mess, honestly. Except Marloh, maybe, but she’s not a major character, so I don’t know if that counts. I couldn’t tell you who my favorite to write about is. I mean, Roscha’s the MC, so I write him the most, but that doesn’t always mean he’s the easiest or most fun. I like Judah because he’s grumpy and doesn’t talk if he doesn’t want to. Those are the two I’ve been working the most with lately. Jōb’s been fun because he’s a little crazy. Writing Roscha and Shyloh’s interactions is also fun. Most recently, though, I’ve been working with a brand new character who’s proving to be a maliciously good time, but maybe that’s more because his is a different mindset and is therefore refreshing? I don’t know for certain.

4. Has your novel surprised you in any way?

Yes and no. Yes, because it suddenly decided to expand on such a grand scale, and no, for the same reason. I should have seen it coming, propably knew it was coming in some deep, dark corner of my being, but suppressed it with the hopeful desire of not repeating another seven novel series. Well, just like dandelions laugh in the face of concrete, so, too, do stories. Whoever said writers were in complete control never tried to wrangle one. They’re wild creatures, stories, unpredictable and willful.

5. Have you come across any problem areas?

A few. This project from the very start was a beast unlike any other I’d tried writing before, requiring a great deal more thought and effort. My biggest issue has been figuring out just what exactly Roscha’s problem is ─ which is pretty major, actually, because if you don’t know the problem, you can’t very well resolve it. One of the books I’d read on crafting stories said that your character ought to have an outer need and an inner need, so, basically a physical quest and a mental/spiritual/emotional quest. I had the outer one, but have been having a bear of a time sorting out his insides.

That sounded weird, didn’t it?

But it’s sadly true, Roscha’s ‘internal struggle’ has been a point of hardship for me in this process. The good news is that I think I’m finally coming to it!

6. What’s been your biggest victory with writing this novel at this point?

Um, does getting to where I am count? There is still a HUGE amount of work left to do, but I’m over 200k in, with an understanding of the world and a deeper connection with the characters, which I remember from previous years to be an issue. I like to count that a victory, that the story is developing and making traction, when before I wondered if it was ever going to become anything at all.

7. If you were transported into your novel and became any one of the characters, which one do you think you’d be? Would you take any different actions than they have?

I’d probably be Roscha, and largely because I’ve based so much of his personality issues on my own (note to self: don’t do this again). I’ve had trouble resolving his problems because I haven’t yet resolved them for myself. That being said, I honestly couldn’t say if I would do much different were I put in the same situation as him, and anything I did do would likely not have an overall positive effect, I’m sorry to say.

8. Give us the first sentence or paragraph then 2 (or 3!) more favorite snippets!

Well, since I did this last year, I won’t give the first, first sentence, since it hasn’t changed. I’m currently still working on the third and final bit of the story, so I can share what I currently have for the opening of book three’s first chapter:

Roscha ran through the gloaming woods as fast as possible without losing the trail, leaping over roots and fallen limbs, navigating the uneven ground like a creature born to the forest. Once he found the dents in the soft earth made by heavy horses he followed them as though they were burning firebrands in the darkness, his every sense and perception knife sharp and all consuming.

Falconsbane

As a largely unedited piece, I have to say I’m rather pleased with how that came out. As for a couple of others? That’s hard. I’m not particularly good at ‘snippets’, and most of my favorite parts involve good chunks of text rather than a spare sentence here or there, but I shall try.

. . . and thinking on the old legend, he pictured this situation to be fairly similar. The difference, though, was that, when Níöen feared, he didn’t run. He didn’t see the power he wielded, what his hands could do, and flee. He went to the battlefield and he used it. It was not beautiful and it was not pleasant, but it was necessary and he was willing to do it anyway, because he was chosen. Weak though he had been, he was chosen. Far from a mighty man and crippled though he had been, he was chosen. And he said ‘Use me’.

Falconsbane

I’m not even sure if I’ll be keeping this entire section of the story, which is a shame in part, because I think there’s some good in it. We’ll see!

Simple in structure and decoration on the outside, the single-roomed interior of the temple was equally as sparse. Perhaps in days past the paneled walls had been adorned with precious articles, but on this day the oiled wood lay barren but for lamp hooks and windows, through which natural light could stream in upon the polished floor. All were now dim but for the one positioned behind the teaching dais, for it gleamed and blurred the edges of the circular casing like a blood star in the otherwise shaded room. It cast a fiery glow against the floor and walls and radiated a sense of otherworldly presence, accentuated by an utter quiet, a hush that silenced all outside noise and muffled the sound of their boots as they filed solemnly inside.

Falconsbane

One of my favorite things to do is describe scenery and set moods when introducing certain scenes. The above is one that takes place in book two, and I’ve been rather fond of it. As it happens, I also used this piece in last year’s KTN. Go figure.

9. Share an interesting tidbit about the writing process so far! (For example: Have you made any hilarious typos? Derailed from your outline? Killed off a character? Changed projects entirely? Anything you want to share!)

Hrm . . .  Well, since deciding that I need to add more layers to the story and flesh it out, I’ve since finished the story from the perspective of the MC and have moved on to others. I’m currently focusing on the antagonistic side of events, so I have to put on my villainous hat and view everything through a different pair of glasses now, which is strangely weird and bound to get tricky as things continue, but I’m also excited about it.

10. Take us on a tour of what a normal writing day for this novel looks like. Where do you write? What time of day? Alone or with others? Is a lot of coffee (or some other drink) consumed? Do you light candles? Play music? Get distracted by social media (*cough, cough*)? Tell all!

Answering this would require actually having a normal day of writing, and I haven’t had one of those all summer. I took the NaNo challenge in hopes of gaining the motivation to press forward more earnestly, but I’ve barely added 10k so far. Most of my word count comes in at night after the day’s activities and distractions are done (although by then I usually just want to watch something and go to bed). Earlier this week I had the privilege of doing a write-in with a friend of mine, but I spent most of that time on sorting out plot and timeline and character stuff rather than actual narrative and didn’t get as much done as I’d have liked. It also doesn’t help when someone starts playing the Lord of the Rings in the same room. I haven’t reached the level of dedication in requires to turn off LOTR, so we can see how that turned out.

But watching it did help me reaffirm once again what I’m trying to accomplish with my stories, so it can’t be counted a total loss.

So, I write most at night, on my bedroom floor where I can spread out my notebooks and lists and reference books and sit in front of my heater like some weakling who can’t handle a bit of winter chill.  Candles sound like a fantastic idea and I might have to try that.


And that’s about where we are right now! Are any of you taking part in NaNo? How’s it going for you? I’d love to hear about it!

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2 Comments

  1. It’s been going fine so far. Tempest of the Dragon is developing. We’ll see how it continued to evolve. I’m glad you WIP is going well. Cheers.

    • That’s awesome! ‘Tempest of the Dragon’ sounds like such a cool title, and I’m glad to hear it’s going well.

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