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Obsidian Throne: WIP Update #3 | Kestrel's Aerie

Obsidian Throne: WIP Update #3 | Kestrel's Aerie

Obsidian Throne: WIP Update #3

Steve_90x86

Hello again, and welcome back to the continuing saga…wait. If you read the title of this article, you know it’s a continuing saga (“Update #3″ was a dead giveaway, right?). Even if you didn’t read the first two installments, you know. So let’s dispense with the hackneyed boilerplate and get down to brass tacks.

*ahem*

Since I last updated you, there has been progress. Unfortunately, it doesn’t feel like all the progress has been in a positive direction. Working with your critiques of the move of the dream scene from mid-book to the very start, I rewrote the dream. It’s better. It’s punchier. I still don’t like it. Here, judge for yourselves:1

A dragon…fire. A red dragon, flaming the oaks. Flames become images: Grandmother, sister, mother, sister again. The dragon laughs, taunting. The trees are life—they must not perish!

Connor faces the dragon, helpless. His sister cries; her tears turn to flames, her skin burns.

Grandmother’s voice in his head: “Now, Connor…now! Use your magic!”

“I don’t have any!”

The dragon laughs again, cruelly. A talon reaches out. It stabs Connor’s chest. AGONY!

Connor stumbling from bed, et cetera, is fundamentally the same.

First, I do like the punchier, shorter sentences. They are more like a dream, which (for me, at least) is seldom 70mm CinemaScope, but instead is a bunch of fragments, with the occasional bit of real action. Second, I don’t like the dream here. I like the idea of starting the book with the dream, but right now, it just isn’t working for me.

For those of you who haven’t read the complete draft (which is all but about five of you, tops), the book originally started out with Connor being banished from his village for cutting the ear of tormentor with one of his throwing stones. This, after the “victim,” and his friends, had been tormenting Connor for two years with their minor magics—ice needles, stinging sands, etc. So after two years of this harassment, Connor finally retaliates. But he drew blood, so the village council banished him.

I think the scenes were written well, but the premise was shaky as hell. I mean, we’re not even up to the level of a fistfight, and poor Connor is thrown out of town, forever! There simply was not enough context to support the idea of banishment for a crime barely up to the level of a misdemeanor. So, I had no trouble agreeing that the beginning needed to be changed.2 So now I have to decide whether to work with my current (second iteration) opening, or go to something else again. One step forward…two back.

In another area, however, I made considerable progress. That, of course, is the introduction of a second point of view: that of Connor’s sister, Liara. As will be shown, Liara has the second greatest level of magical talent in the world, after her brother, so her POV should prove interesting. This will be especially true once she rejoins Connor and observes his growth and maturation, coupled with her friendship with Erian, Connor’s romantic interest (who is disinclined to give him the time of day).

I’ve completed one chapter from Liara’s POV, and started a second. The narrative voice (still third person) is completely different from that of Connor’s narrator, which I like. I also developed Liara’s personality a lot more than is shown in the original draft; this is another plus. However (you knew that was coming, right?), I feel as though I got bogged down in detail. Some of it is important, to illustrate Liara’s skill as a healer, but even then, I practically described every suture (not quite, but I hope you get the idea).

Back on the positive side, though, I did introduce a little tension and drama for Liara, which will be explored further in her second chapter. But (always with the “buts”!), that scene is perhaps the most awkwardly written scene I’ve done to date.

(Do you recall me writing about this process as “work,” not so long ago? Well, it is.) (And no, Tami, not loving it quite so much at the moment. *grin*)

I think I’m going to let things percolate for a day or two. I plan on continuing to think about the book, but I’m not going to write anything, just so I can say “I’m writing!” Of course, I’m not going to wait for inspiration to hit like a freight train, either. A day or two, but no more. If nothing else, I’ll play around with a new beginning. Won’t that be fun?

  1. And trust me, this is a LOT better than the original punchy rewrite: Imagine every comma, and most of the periods, as ellipses. Ugh.
  2. As I write this, the genesis of a new beginning is stirring. Ugh. Along the same lines as the original, but a lot more plausible reason to banish. We shall see…
 

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9 Responses to Obsidian Throne: WIP Update #3
  1. Tami
    March 8, 2011 | 11:09

    Percolation sounds like a good idea (in more ways than one. I wonder if I can wrangle some coffee.)

    If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. *hugs*
    Tami recently posted Writing Status – In The Shop For RepairsMy Profile

    • Kestrel
      March 8, 2011 | 11:43

      You’re in luck…I have about one cup left. ;) <3

  2. Lauren
    March 8, 2011 | 11:40

    /agree with Tami on both counts. I call it marinating when I take a few days to let something creative sit around… let it soak in the juices… absorb some flavor… ok, now I want a steak AND coffee! Perhaps it’s time for lunch.

    • Kestrel
      March 8, 2011 | 11:43

      Steak sounds good! But wine (or beer) instead of coffee with that, alright?

  3. Naithin
    March 9, 2011 | 02:43

    Hum.

    At the risk of being a complete negative nancy or contrary conner (see what I did thar?) may I say I preferred the version from #2?

    Particularly if this is to be the opening.

    Short and punchy, more fragmented sounding sentences, may well go hand in hand with a dream sequence, but this is still the opening of the book. It needs more than disjointed sentences and dream-feel to hook a reader in.

    My suggestion would be to marry the two concepts together. This is going to be awful, but I hope it will better illustrate what I have in mind:

    —————
    Conner stood, transfixed in horror watching the red dragon moving amongst the ancient oaks. Conner felt naked against the raw power on display, the dragon snorting with disdain at the majestic trees and setting them aflame.

    Try as he might, Conner could neither run nor close his eyes against the sight, for when he did the flames seemed to sear through his eye’s lids. In the flames he caught flashes of his family.

    Grandmother. Sister. Mother. Sister again. The cycled through his vision again and again. Turning toward him. Faces pleading. Charring in the flame.

    Conner could take it no more and his eyes shot open with a choked sob. The red dragon was still burning all in it’s way. A new presence appeared beside Conner. He couldn’t quite see them, but he didn’t have to. He recognised it as his Grandmother. Conner wanted to turn and look but remained too afraid of the red dragon to dare.

    Another presence. His sister to his other side. Liara. He turned to look and at once realised it was a mistake. The red dragon soared through the air and thumped down on the ground in front of him, all in an instant.

    Conner turned back to face the great red beast and saw it . . . freeze in place. A sharp talon inches from his body.

    “Now Conner, use your gift!” a voice echoed in his mind. His Grandmother’s voice.

    He shook his head, eyes slowly falling closed, “I. . . I can’t.” he admitted. Eyes closed. The talon fell, slicing through his chest.

    • Steve
      March 9, 2011 | 08:24

      Wow. Want to do your magic on the rest of the book, Naithin? :) I liked that a LOT, and is exactly what I was looking for. (In fact, your version is a lot closer to what I originally wrote in the middle of the book, but yours is still a bit better.)

      The reason is, you did what I’m still struggling to do: Stop having Connor be so self-centered. For one thing, at the beginning of the book, he has no reason to be: he’s a tabula rasa, blank slate. But by mid-book, he’s gained a lot of friends, and his thoughts (and yes, his dreams) should not be so self-centered, either.

      Thanks very much for writing…some excellent ideas there for me to consider, and somehow weave into the other threads before me.

      • Naithin
        March 9, 2011 | 11:45

        Hah, I’m glad you liked it. That one was certainly a little (alright, alright, a lot) rough around the edges, and has much room for improvement still. Something like it I think could work really quite well though.

        Even in the longer winded aspects (relative to the shorter sentence fragment parts, anyways) I tried to give it aspects of a dream.

        Being transfixed in place while perhaps a rational momentary response to such a sight, is also what can happen in dreams.

        Likewise with feeling naked. Feeling naked against the power? Again, perhaps a rational feeling to have in the situation; but also akin to what can happen within a dream.

        I continued that theme into the second paragraph with the ‘Try as he might … he could not run or close his eyes’. This could perhaps reworded to be somewhat better though. Also since I made it in this instance that he does close his eyes a little later, might want to make it instead reinforcing his fear of doing so. Perhaps the first not quite rational albeit still understandable worry within this dream.

        etc, etc.

        So that’s sort of what I was going for with it. Hope it helps somewhat. :)

        I think you’re right though about the others being a bit Conner centric. I paused at first when you said that and went back to re-read. It wasn’t overtly so, but I can see what you mean.

        There was something about both I didn’t quite like but couldn’t exactly put my finger on at the time. That might have been it. :)
        Naithin recently posted Review- The Hero of AgesMy Profile

  4. Oyesnake
    March 9, 2011 | 05:57

    I like the dream set up this way. I would add more and less details maybe? Something like this?

    {(Fire). A red dragon, flaming the (ancient) oaks. Flames become images: Grandmother, sister, mother, sister again. The dragon laughs, taunting. The trees are (all)life—they must not perish! }

    Connor faces the dragon, helpless. His sister cries; her tears turn to flames, her skin burns.

    Grandmother’s voice in his head: “Now, Connor…now! Use your magic!”

    “I don’t have any!”

    The dragon laughs again, cruelly. A talon reaches out. It stabs Connor’s chest. AGONY!

    I agree with taking some time away.
    Term papers for college used to come to me in the middle of the night. I would get up and write for a while then go back to bed. So enjoy the coffee.
    I’m enjoying reading about the all of this.
    Thanks

    • Steve
      March 9, 2011 | 08:27

      That’s a good treatment, too. Maybe I should do this with every critical passage (but then you all would get bored and leave, no doubt).

      I’m glad you’re enjoying my process. It’s not one I recommend (even though I can’t, or won’t, take my own advice, I recommend Tami’s outlining strategy). (Of course, if you write an entire first draft, and then call it a “filled-in outline,” perhaps you get the same result?)

      I’m also very hung up on parenthetical comments this morning…

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