Thursday, March 27, 2014

Some rough sketches for A Sawmill's Hope

Feeling excited.

I'm writing this today because ASH's illustrator, Tracy Flynn, just sent me a fresh batch of roughs.

bridge remains

You may look at the above and not discern much worthy of note. A few silhouettes.

I'm sitting here with my mind blown because I know the gravity of the scene and I'm afraid Tracy's going to nail it and totally own the book!

boats leaving

father and helstem

shadows of the lake
I've adjusting their titles a bit and cropped out some authorial notes to avoid spoilers. But i couldn't just keep these to myself.

Some of them will be the first entries of the Compendium.

I hope you enjoy them. I personally can't wait to see the finished pieces!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Into my process - Turesia

When I was rewriting A Sawmill's Hope I wrote a post describing how I was organizing the story and the point of view characters - How I was writing all the way through, one character at a time so as to keep firmly within their voice instead of having to jump back and forth. It worked very well, making each character at least a bit unique from the others, so I'm doing it again for Turesia. The difference is that in ASH there were 5 point of view characters, 5-10 significant side characters. In Turesia there are 14 POV characters and about 15 significant side characters.

One reason this complicates things is because of the potential for huge advances in plot that break up an individual's point of view. For example - Kraus is drunk and ambushing passerby's on a highway the first time we're in his POV. The next time, he's been arrested, fought monsters in Keswall, sworn loyalty to Torvald and is escaping from Orcanes. A lot has changed! His voice needs to reflect that change, so as to keep his arc smoothly transitioning. I need to know exactly where he's been, where he's going.

To keep it all straight, I made an outline of an entirely different sort than last time. I think this outline would have been most useful if I'd done it first, before my train wreck of a first draft. Then again, I might not have discovered some of the details on this outline if I hadn't tried writing through first.

Red = Dead
(yellow = presumed dead)
I've zoomed out to include as much of the chart as possible and to keep it illegible, to avoid spoilers.

This is actually all the significant characters, not just the POVs. Each row is a character's individual journey. The X axis represents the flow of time, from left to right. In this way I can refer to this while writing to see where everyone is, what just happened and what's about to happen.

It's also extremely useful once you determine a starting point and ending point for a character emotionally. Bilbo Baggins would have started on the far left as comfortable and self assured, not terribly motivated but living a quiet, orderly life in the bubble that is the Shire. By the time we reach the far right, he's in the Shire once more but has undergone some serious character reformations. In the middle would be all the inciting incidents - spiders, elves, barrels, goblins, dragons, battles, treasure... The fun parts.

To me, the more well rounded a character begins (especially if they're quite unlike how they'll end up) the more hell they have to go through to transform throughout the book. If you use your imagination, discovering that journey is the most exciting part of being a writer.

This outline came about once I realized the story had become bigger than I knew how to handle. Necessity is the mother of invention, they say and I must agree. If you've written a (I hesitate to say epic...) large-scale story and found yourself lost amongst the details, characters, and side plots, what technique did you use to keep it sorted? Or did you blindly forge ahead, hoping for the best?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

IWSG March 2014

IWSG, brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh, occurs once a month. It exists for writers to voice their insecurities and offer advice. The official website, continues to be a priceless commodity in my studying and research. Any one interested in writing to have a look!

I've got a very niche subject for IWSG today. And after writing it out and having read this post again in its entirety, I must admit - It's not the most grievous of quandaries.

I'm writing fantasy that takes place in Silexare. There are certain trades and skill sets that are going to need to measure things in a precise manner, like engineers, mechanics, surgeons, physicists, apothecaries, and so on. In its history, Silexare has experienced a lot of similar challenges as as we have. And although they have certain extraordinary ways of dealing with issues, they've arrived at some of the same conclusions as us, regarding health, physics, aerodynamics, weaponry, agriculture, economy, and especially measurement. This brings me to my current dilemma. To what systems of measurements should I adapt that will least distance my reader?

Allow me to illustrate:

"Scribe, I've looked over your report of the beast but there are some details about which I'm still unclear. How big was it?"

"At least twenty feet long, if I remember correctly." 

"Ah, feet. The unit of measurement exclusive to North America... On Earth... how utterly not-fantastic."

"Did I say feet? I mean he's just under eight yards!"

"Oh, yards. Like a touchdown. On tv." *yawn*

"No no no, he's seven meters long from snout to tail!"

"Meters? What is this, science fiction?"

"Argh. He's about twenty paces!"

"Paces? Like strides?"

"No a stride is like three paces."

"According to whom? A dwarf? A giant?"

"I'd guess a human?"

"How tall? How vigorous a stride?"
"Uh, well... um  -"

"Moving on. Your report says the beast's firey spit can burn at 1,000 degrees Farenheit?"


"You mean Farenheit like this grouch? From Earth?"
Danny G. Farenheit. Thanks,

"No! I meant Celsius! 538 degrees Celsius."

"Oh I see. Celsius. Like this shmiling shmuck."

Mr. Celsius. Thanks, Wiki.
"No! I -"

"Moving on. The gestation period. You said it lasted from January 1st until October 1st?"

"... That's correct... ?"

"Says here  about 37 weeks."

"... correct."

"259 days."

"... yes."



"I see."

"... that's it?"

"So you're telling me not only do we have seven day weeks just like Earth, but distance in time from the month of January (which just happens to be named after Janus, an Earth doorway god) to October (which literally means eight despite it being the tenth month) is exactly the same as on Earth?"

*sigh*  "... I guess I am."

"Therefore, the circumference of Earth, it's distance from the sun, the sun's circumference, and every other tedious factor that might play any part whatsoever on the perceived passage of time for Earth is not just similar, but identical to that of our world, thereby greatly limiting potential for spectacular events in this or any future book?"

*sigh again*  "Weren't we talking about a beast?"

"We were until you threw me out of the story with your Earth words. Begone."