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Obsidian Throne: WIP Update 2 | Kestrel's Aerie

Obsidian Throne: WIP Update 2 | Kestrel's Aerie

Obsidian Throne: WIP Update 2

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Welcome back for the second in my series of articles on my writing odyssey from (extremely) rough draft to finished novel.

If you recall from Monday’s installment, I had rewritten the first chapter to create a more compelling premise for Connor to begin his journey from his home village of Rockbridge. I had also changed the relationship of Connor and Liara from “best friends” to “siblings.” Finally, I worked on making the relationship between Connor and Erian quite a bit edgier than the “love at (almost) first sight” situation I created in the original draft.

Since then, I spent quite a bit of time going through some of the earlier chapters to reconcile those changes internally. There is still a lot of work remaining in that regard, but for the most part, it’s the sort of thing that can be done as I work through each chapter. And to be perfectly honest, it’s rather boring to go through the text just to fix all the instances where I comment on the relationship between Connor and Liara.

As I thought about the story, I realized that (so far) I’m cutting more than I’m adding. As it currently stands, the book is just short of 66,000 words—and that’s without a last chapter. Even with other scenes I have planned (but not written), it will be a challenge to hit my goal of 80–100,000 words for the finished product. I told myself I needed an epiphany: I needed to come up with a reasonable way to add 20–30,000 words, without boring either myself or prospective readers.

So, I had my epiphany (I wish it were always this easy!): I will introduce a second point of view(PoV). I should mention the story is told in third person, from Connor’s PoV, so this is not as daunting a task as it would be if I’d written it in first person.1

My second point of view will be Liara’s. There are some things that happen in Rockbridge after Connor leaves that have a bearing later in the story, so rather than just mention them in passing later on, we’ll actually get to observe them. And Liara is more than a bit player, of course: One fairly dramatic scene should be even more so when told from her point of view.

Finally, if you recall from last time, I bemoaned the fact that my new beginning, while it had been quite exciting and dramatic in its original location, had lost a lot of zip during it’s move to the opening of the book. So, I spent a couple hours working on that last night. While I still don’t think it has the same punch as it did when I first wrote it for Chapter 7 or thereabouts, I do think it’s better today than it was yesterday.

But let’s see if you agree: Here are the first 250 words of Chapter 1. Does this excerpt make you want to read the whole novel more now than before? Less interested? Or about the same? Let me know in the comments!

Chapter 1

Connor was dreaming. He watched as a great red dragon breathed fire on a majestic stand of ancient oaks. The flames metamorphosed from an image of his grandmother, to his sister, then his dead mother, and again his sister. Still the dragon flamed the trees, then looked at Connor and laughed. The dragon was taunting Connor, daring him to intervene. Somehow, Connor realized if the trees were destroyed, he, too, would perish.

A black drake rose from the oaks to challenge the red dragon. The red stopped its attack on the trees and climbed higher in the sky. Then it dove at the rising black dragon, flames shooting from its mouth, but the black dragon created a wall of ice to block the flame.

The red pressed its attack, and the black was forced to give ground: The ice was a feeble barrier in the face of the red dragon’s fiery onslaught. With each attack, the red closed the distance to the black until finally it enveloped the black in its wings, then threw it down into the flaming grove.

Now Connor’s sister Liara and his grandmother Sasula stood beside him. Liara was crying—the tears running down her cheeks turned into flames, burning away her skin. She screamed. Sasula’s voice was quiet but strong in his mind: “Now, Connor, now is the time to use your Gift!”

“I’m trying!” he cried, as the red drake laughed once more, cruelly, before it plunged a long talon deep into Connor’s chest.

 

  1. I’ve read the occasional book that has two PoVs, one in first person and the other in third, and it’s very, very difficult to read (at least for me). I can only imagine the nightmares of trying to maintain the proper consistency by each narrator!
 

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13 Responses to Obsidian Throne: WIP Update 2
  1. Lauren
    March 3, 2011 | 07:43

    My first comment is to remove the first sentence, “Connor was dreaming.” We can tell he’s dreaming from the next two sentences (espcially if this is in italics in the book too) with the morphing flames.

    The 2nd and 3rd paragraphs fall a little flat for me. I had trouble keeping up a mental image of what was going on but that could easily be me and not your writing.

    Those two comments out of the way, I like it! It does make me want to keep reading, I can’t wait to see more!

    • Kestrel
      March 3, 2011 | 09:28

      You know, I kept looking at that first sentence, thinking there was something wrong with it. That’s what I get for trying to think around midnight! The problem was its very existence.

      Also, you’re spot on: The whole sequence doesn’t flow very well, yet. It really did work better in its original spot. Perhaps that’s really where the dream belongs…definitely something I’ll be thinking about!

      Thanks, Lauren <3

  2. Maerdred
    March 3, 2011 | 08:48

    Steve,

    I think that after reading those first 250 words, I’m invested enough that I’d be willing to read this.

    Taking into account Lauren’s comment, I agree that the first sentence should be removed, but not for the same reasons. I think that telling the reader blatantly that this is a dream removes some of the suspense of it. Without knowing the characters I still feel for them in this situation, and knowing that it’s a dream takes away from that a bit. I think that not knowing that it’s a dream until Connor wakes up may be a bigger hook.
    Maerdred recently posted…The One with the Diminutive MagesMy Profile

    • Kestrel
      March 3, 2011 | 09:46

      That’s a good point, Maer, about it removing suspense. And of course, the whole point of the opening is to create suspense.

      I’m glad I put this out here. While I think the idea of moving the dream scene was reasonable, I’m no longer positive it’s the right decision. (I’m not convinced it isn’t, but it’s definitely something I will be looking at quite intently.)

  3. Tami
    March 3, 2011 | 08:56

    LOVE the idea of making it two PoVs, and that makes the re-introduction of Liara later less jarring. Great idea!

    *cheer*
    Tami recently posted…In Which I Dream About ShampooMy Profile

    • Kestrel
      March 3, 2011 | 09:49

      YAY! I hadn’t considered the aspect of Liara’s reintroduction (which of course wasn’t going to be quite as dramatic as it was in the draft you read), but I think this will definitely help the flow. Of course, now I need to figure out how to mesh the two viewpoints—especially at the point of Liara rejoining Connor.

      Did I mention this is work?

  4. tedthethird
    March 4, 2011 | 08:37

    It is definitely an interesting intro. I would probably keep reading. I agree that the second and third paragraphs come off a little flat. Have you read any of the Dragonlance chronicles? They have some great dragon on dragon sequences.

    Also, this is probably just me, but why is the second dragon black? When I think of a dragon using Ice Magic, I generally think of a blue or white dragon.

    Overall, I think its a solid opening.

    • Kestrel
      March 4, 2011 | 08:52

      Hey Ted :)

      Thanks for the comments! Yup, paragraphs 2 & 3 are extraneous, and have been cut.

      As for Dragonlance: I hated ‘em. My dragons (and my magic system) are unique to my world: I’ve tried very hard not to get roped into the D&D/Dragonlance/Warcraft stereotypes.

      And don’t be fooled into thinking the black dragon can use only ice magic. ;)

  5. Wulfa
    March 6, 2011 | 06:49

    I liked the intro, and I would have willingly read the rest of the book. I’m not a writer, but having worked at Barnes & Noble (customer service side) for years and having read some of the of the stuff that manages to get published (and sold, which is the really sad part), I can honestly say your writing style is considerably better than many SciFi authors. Elegant, even.
    Wulfa recently posted…More- dangnabbit!My Profile

    • Kestrel
      March 6, 2011 | 09:32

      Why, thank you, Wulfa! Truth be told, I’m not aiming to be published (at least not with this novel). I’m going at this particular venture as a learning experience, and nothing more. But it’s gratifying to know that some people do appreciate what I write. :)

  6. Amber
    March 6, 2011 | 22:04

    I think it would benefit from some better pacing. I’m a huge fan of using sentence length and structure to increase tension. In the case of tense scenes, short sentences seem to work better.

    Shorter sentences might help people maintain the mental image as well.

    Forgive me the late comment, I first read this at work where it was blocked, and I didn’t remember that I had something to say until listening to a podcast on pacing!

    • Kestrel
      March 7, 2011 | 08:19

      Thanks Amber! Good point on short sentences for tension: That’s exactly the reminder I needed! I do tend to run on a bit, and I was looking at something I wrote last night—spent an hour chopping up sentences. :)