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Know Your Novel, Part 2

Hello, again! I don’t know if ya’ll remember, but back in October I took part in Know Your Novel writer’s link-up. That first part was about introducing your novel, and while it’s too late now to participate in the actual link-up for this second part (which was supposed to be last month) I still wanted to take the opportunity to answer the questions and share them with you!

1. How’s the writing going?

Had I answered two weeks ago, I’d have had to say ‘slow, sporadic’. But that last week of November it was more like ‘off the rails like a crazy train’. I wasn’t writing the whole time, granted, but reading through a 250k word manuscript, cutting scenes, rewriting scenes, and generally sprucing up and paring down in a span of six days is probably the greatest feat I’ve yet accomplished.

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

Watching everything come together, I think. I’ve been struggling a lot with the main character and his internal dilemma, trying to pin down the essence of what it really is, going back and forth on how to express and deal with it. But then that Thursday night came, and I reached that part in the story where that particular issue he’s having is really slapped in his face, and it all kind of settled into place. Getting that part cleared up and sorted was super awesome and a huge relief on some major doubts I’ve been harboring.

3. Has your novel surprised you in any way?

Well, perhaps in the aspect that what it is today isn’t hardly at all what the original idea I had was. It’s grown into something much bigger and deeper with roots and branches that exceed the story-scope (which will allow me to tell more stories!)

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

To be honest, this time around I’ve been having a hard time with my characters; getting to know them as intimately as I knew the characters of TJT hasn’t been a smooth ride. On the other hand, I think they’re a bunch of great guys, all around. None of them have particularly pastoral pasts, and while they’re all haunted by it some are trying harder to see the hope in the future than others. I’m just hoping that with the POV I’ve chosen that I can convey enough of their personalities to make them real and dimensional to the reader.

As for my favorite to write about . . . that’s kind of a tough one. Shyloh’s an emotional roller coaster, Roscha’s emotionally constipated, and Jōb’s a puzzle. I suppose each one has their moments, but if I had to chose I might go with Jōb, who’s a little off his rocker and perhaps a couple sandwiches short of a picnic, although he would argue that they are all perfectly sane, thank you very much.

5. 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?

Well, I’d have to say I’d be Roscha. Why? Largely because a great deal of him is based off myself, and when figuring out how he would respond to something I would ask what my own reaction would be were I in a similar situation ─ granted, factoring in that he’s also a nineteen year old man with a great deal of military training and background. Given that, and thinking over his actions throughout the course of the story, I find it hard to come up with any specific thing that I would have done differently. Except, maybe I wouldn’t have made those faces and said those things behind Olyn’s back.

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

The first sentence:

Roscha leapt back to avoid being eviscerated.

Snippet 1:

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.

It felt to Roscha as though they stepped through a gate into some realm far transcending their mortal world. But it could just be his nerves playing tricks on him.

Snippet 2:

Zuriah paced back and forth, five strides exactly ─ the number of steps between the foot of one raised bed and its neighbor. Before the battle he was dismissed to the infirmary, in the far corner of the fortress,and he listened with growing anxiety the sounds of the fighting as it rained down around him in a dizzying cacophony. Nearest him were the groans and moaning of the injured. At least those who had been dragged here ─ who knew how many were yet out on the battlefield unaided. 

“Settle down,” the head medic told him. “You’ll wear a trench in the floor.”

But Zuriah couldn’t settle down. Through all the noise of yelling and beating drums, past the crackling and roaring of fires, crumbling structures, and clashing arms, he was listening for something else. He caught only snippets beyond the rolling thunder and footsteps hastening to and fro, but he was growing more certain of the scuffling of soft leather boot soles and the whispers of foreign voices.

Someone was inside. Someone who should not be.

“Sar’mave-” Zuriah began to call, but a hand came from behind and clamped upon his shoulder, silencing him.

“Now, now. What’s the alarm for?” The inquiry was spoken with an accent. “You ought to do as the surgeon says and settle down.”

“How did you get in here?” Zuriah hissed, heart racing.

“How do the spiders find their way into their dusty corners?” the voice replied. “Or the hand of judgment upon concealed sins? As surely as these things will we find you, Druyd.” The hunter drew closer and spoke into his ear, the man’s breath hot and making his skin to tingle. “Saîd broke the code, leaving you alive. This is no time for plucking flies’ wings, after all. Te kashin dyr lonad s’porta menes e betabd’un dar kain . . .

7. Have you come across any problem areas?

Of course. Several. Most of them have been more along the lines of the abstract concepts threaded throughout the story than physical plot points, but when those abstract parts manifested in the plot I had problems explaining and sorting them in a comprehensible and resolute way. Another one had been how to make my characters believable and relatable and not just one-dimensional cut-outs.

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

Finishing it. I’ve been working on this story for over a year, now, and the fourth draft is finally done. I can say it’s the best it’s ever been and that I’m about as ready as I’ll ever be to hand it over to beta readers (as soon as I can find any).

9. Be honest, have you killed any characters off yet?

I have. Quite a few, actually. It was sad, but necessary to get the plot and the MC to where he needed to be. Besides, sometimes sacrifices need to be made for the good of the people and the hope of their future. It was necessary, Ross; I’m sorry, but it was necessary . . .

10. Take us on a tour of a what a normal writing day for this particular novel has looked 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!

A tour of a normal writing day would imply that I have a normal writing day! That said, until last week I wrote on a couch in the livingroom, where my computer and notes and books lived (I have a great family who lets me leave my mess in the corner), but then I moved it all back into my room office. I have spent all day writing on many occasions, but experience tells me that my best work is done after dark once the day’s activity is done and no longer distracting, and I absolutely cannot concentrate when other people are talking or watching something that’s talking. But music I can work with, so long as it doesn’t have lyrics. I prefer epic orchestral, trailer/soundtrack types of music. I love the music channels on YouTube, but I also have a lot of Two Steps From Hell albums, some Thomas Bergersen, and Audiomachine. I love candles and have been known to light them, I also consume quantities of tea, but onl yreally in the autumn/winter and largely for the heat it provides. I don’t know if caffeine works on me. And lastly, no, I do not get distracted by social media. If I did, though, maybe more people would know I’m around and that I write books!

And there you have it, folks! Also, I do believe that by this time next week we’ll have part three to share with you, so be looking forward to that, because I know I am.

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