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Obsidian Throne: WIP Update | Kestrel's Aerie

Obsidian Throne: WIP Update | Kestrel's Aerie

Obsidian Throne: WIP Update

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Welcome to the first of what I trust will be many updates on my work-in-progress (WIP), The Obsidian Throne – Book 1: The Magic Returns. As I wrote last month, I intend to chronicle my odyssey of transforming what is currently a very rough draft (in truth, not much more than a narrative outline) into a finished product. Once I reach that point, I’ll figure out whether to go further (as in, querying, self-publishing, or something else entirely).

The Story So Far

For those of you new to the saga (of my writing this book, not the story itself), Throne (for short) was my NaNoWriMo entry last year. Here’s the synopsis of the novel as it currently appears at the NaNo website:

Connor, a youth banished from his village, discovers he is the one foretold a half-century earlier who will become a great mage and defeat the Obsidian Throne’s usurper, who intends to enslave all magic-users. But first, Connor must discover his hitherto unknown magic, then learn to harness it.

I was able to complete something over 50,000 words, thereby “winning” NaNo 2010.1

In February, I was able to get a couple critiques from members of my writing group. I was also able to read three of their manuscripts (and a fourth is pending). All three of the manuscripts I read put mine to shame, and I honestly believe all three have the potential to be published at some point. One is, in my admittedly unrefined judgment, ready for the querying process.2

Based on feedback from those readers, as well as from a couple other friends who read the first draft in installments as I completed each chapter, plus my own evaluation of what I’d written, I determined that almost a complete overhaul of the book was the next step. For those of you unfamiliar with the process of creating a novel, this is not an uncommon realization. In fact, it’s almost a given, according to almost every writer, published or not, whose blogs I’ve read.

Latest Revisions

In the original version, Connor (our hero) is banished from his village for what is little more than a schoolyard shoving match. While there were, I thought, a couple good scenes that revolved around Connor’s “trial” and banishment, the premise was pretty flimsy. So, good scenes (including one that introduced a pretty important plot twist) notwithstanding, I decided Connor needed a more plausible impetus to begin his trek.

I decided to take a scene that occurs about midway through the book, and make it the opening of the novel. In order to do this, however, I had to change the locale and characters involved (except for Connor, of course). I’ve made this change, although I don’t believe the scene is as powerful as it was in its original location. So, I already know an area that will need work in Rev. 2. (Lots of writers claim the beginning of their book is the hardest part to write, and to get right. I get that. I totally do!)

Another major change I implemented in today’s work was to transform Connor’s friend Liara into his older sister. I did this for a couple reasons.

First, in the original, the implication is clear that they were once lovers.3  At least one alpha reader wanted that relationship to blossom, and it just wasn’t in the cards. I didn’t want other readers to expect the same thing, then be disappointed.

Second, and more importantly, Liara’s magical talent will turn out to be second only to that of Connor’s. Given the scarcity of Talent in the first place, it was quite a stretch that two unrelated people from a tiny village would possess such strong Gifts.4 Plotwise, it makes a lot more sense for them to be related.

One suggestion I rejected (for now, at least) was for Connor and Liara to leave their village and begin Connor’s quest together. This just didn’t feel right to me, but they will be reunited fairly soon (and not via the clumsy “hand of God” mechanism I employed in the original draft, either!).

I was also able to retain most of the dialog from the first two chapters, which establishes a lot of the backstory and the history of fifty years prior to the time of the current story. Besides, I enjoyed writing a lot of it, and I’m not yet ready to cut it.

The third major revision has to do with the early relationship between Connor and Erian, who was to become his love interest. I established a closeness between them much too early, originally, and in fact it was rather cloying. As one friend put it to me, “Are you sure you’re writing a fantasy? Because it sure reads like a romance novel!” So yeah…I started laying the groundwork for a much edgier relationship between the two. To be honest, I’m unsure whether they actually will become close; however, I think that establishing that bond will make the ending I have planned more powerful and moving.

Next Steps

Several scenes need to be rewritten to maintain the edginess between Connor and Erian. I need to add in more suspense. There is one good scene that is very effective, but then the black hat introduced there pretty much disappears. He isn’t really such a quitter.

In addition, a fairly dramatic event I had planned for the original never made it into the first draft, due primarily to the time pressure of NaNoWriMo. I now have the time to write that event, which should also serve to advance one of the minor plot lines.

Finally, at some point, I actually need to write the book’s climax and ending. I may even write an epilogue that will presage the sequel, which is intended to be written during NaNoWriMo 2011.

How You Can Help

Any writer worthy of the name wants feedback (that’s one of the reasons blogs have Comment sections, believe it or not!). I’m no different. I realize I’m not giving you a lot of insight into the actual story, but I still welcome your comments and any other feedback you’d like to contribute. If there are aspects of this process you’d like me to expand upon, please suggest them! For me, the process is as interesting as the actual “printed page,” and I’m excited to share it with you.

I will also, at some point, want some beta readers for the second revision. If you’d like to be one of them, you can demonstrate your interest and enthusiasm through your comments on this and subsequent articles. (And just so we’re clear, there are a couple people who’ll be beta readers even if they don’t comment. But they already know who they are. *grin*)

  1. The criterion for “winning” is to complete 50,000 words during the month of November. Ideally, one’s novel will have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Mine had the first two; the third was contrived and wholly unsatisfactory, but I’m working on fixing that.
  2. I’m not the only one who thinks so, by the way, so I feel somewhat comfortable in my assessment. Let me just say the story was riveting.
  3. The only point to that revelation, for me, was to establish that they weren’t virgins. That’s not really as important as I once thought: for the purposes of this story, it really doesn’t matter. Probably.
  4. “Talent” and “Gift” are used interchangeably in Throne to refer to magical ability.
 

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7 Responses to Obsidian Throne: WIP Update
  1. Mazil
    March 1, 2011 | 02:39

    I really like reading your process posts, Steve! Especially as I’m meandering slowly along a similar path :) (I’m even hoping to get some blog posts on writing happening too!)

    Creating a more dramatic inciting incident for Connor at the beginning sounds like a good idea. I really feel I need to raise the stakes in my novel, too. Ava needs things to be really bad, not just mildly interesting and worrying. Unfortunately that means losing her best friend earlier in the novel, but the problem is, their interaction is just so fun…

    “Problems” in story-writing are strange… there doesn’t seem to be a right or wrong answer, as anything can be changed…
    Mazil recently posted On resolutions and the keeping of themMy Profile

    • Kestrel
      March 1, 2011 | 08:32

      Well, if you want to know the truth, I’m hoping that my articles DO encourage you! *cue evil doctor laughter*

      And yeah: Nothing horrible happens to Ava (well, nothing horrible happens to Connor either, but that will change as well), so a bit more drama there would be good.

      As for losing Blue earlier…I love the interplay between them, so I wouldn’t want to see that lessened.

      See why I call it work? :P

  2. Wulfa
    March 1, 2011 | 06:21

    I cannot imagine the time and effort put into writing a book. I spent two weeks suffering over a mere ten-page research paper.

    Your description of the book is tantalizing, and I look forward to reading it when it is published. I love the name, too; much better than some of the titles these authors (and their agents/publishers, not sure how that end of the process works) come up with.
    Wulfa recently posted More things for schoolMy Profile

    • Kestrel
      March 1, 2011 | 08:35

      Hi Wulfa!

      Writing because you want to and writing because you have to are two completely different processes. Sure, I realize writing research papers are, in the final analysis, because you want a degree; on the other hand, you don’t have completely free rein to pick the topic.

      That doesn’t mean, of course, that writing (in my case) fiction is easy: This whole past year (well, 16 months now!) has been an exercise in learning just how hard it is.

      But think back to the first time you downed a big boss in WoW: It was a lot of work, but it was fun, and the result was a lot of self-satisfaction. Ditto having babies. :D And the same with writing a book.

  3. Wulfa
    March 1, 2011 | 09:08

    Heh, that is true. I can spend hours every week running, lifting weights, etc., because I enjoy doing it, while to other people exercise is a mild form of torture. And there was a lot of self-satisfaction after both my kids were born:)
    Wulfa recently posted More things for schoolMy Profile

  4. Oyesnake
    March 2, 2011 | 08:23

    As in all stories (when written or read) its the “Hook” that gets you going. I love a good hook. You have gotten my attention.
    You are correct Sir in both the WoW and birth of your children reference.
    That first 40 man or your first Heroic in S.F.K. in Cataclysm. When my son was born i couldn’t believe he was finally here and what a joy (and trial) that was.
    Looking forward to reading your book in its many forms and the finished product.
    Oyesnake 85 Arcane Mage / Llane

    • Kestrel
      March 2, 2011 | 09:39

      Thanks for the encouragement! :) You’ll probably like the next installment of this blog series as well: I’ve made a decision with a huge impact on how the book will be (re)written. Stay tuned!

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