May is off to a good start on the ol’ word count tracker.
Roughly a thousand words a day, on various projects, for the first half of May. I can live with this.
Additionally, I enjoyed some opportunities to hone my craft and improve my understanding of all things writing. I picked up Sol Stein’s much-lauded classic, Stein on Writing, and I attended a workshop on story structure led by an award winning sci-fi author who for various reasons retired and decided to teach on Okinawa, Japan.
Not only that, but my local writer friends and I finally held the first full-fledged, in-person critique group that we’ve been talking about off and on for over a year. Getting fresh eyes on a segment of Diffusion chapter 1 helped me identify what’s working well and what I should clarify.
Also I discovered–to my chagrin–as far as readers are concerned, I named a character “G-Mail.” One of the things I love to do in crit groups is read portions of everyone’s submissions out loud. Your ear catches things your eye glosses over when reading silently… like the fact that Gemail (pronounced in my head as guh-mail) turned into Gmail.com for everyone else.
This morning, I’ve been working on the overall outline. I’m a planner with sci-fi and fantasy… and pretty much everything I write, now that I think about it. Planning means I need to know Point A and Point Z, along with several landmarks and stops in between. There’s room for some creativity between these points, so characters can still surprise me as I write. But conflicts and character developments have to lead to certain key events–especially if I want the reader to get to the end and look back, thinking, “Oh, there it was all along, how did I miss that?”
I’m definitely not doing the “seat of the pants” method of “write whatever comes to you.” My multiple Grant & Teagan posts for BlogBattle entries are the closest I can get to that, since it starts with a word prompt that gives me an idea for a scene.
So one of the unrealistic things about fantasy and YA fiction is how the main character just so happens to be the linchpin of the entire world, connected to and holding everything together. And there’s room for that in the genre–it’s kind of expected.
Sure, you have stuff like Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire (a.k.a. Game of Thrones), where riveting, beloved characters are killed with extreme prejudice. And as a result, certain fans look down on books that don’t have a double-digit death count of potential fan-favorite characters. But that’s the exception, not the rule.
Still, even if the hero/heroine is the center of that novel’s universe, there has to be a reason for all this attention. And in fantasy, one favorite way to get there is prophecy–partly because it fits the genre, partly because it ties current events to the past, and partly because the myriad ways characters misinterpret it can lead to wonderful conflicts (spoilers for my book 2 and beyond, haha).
Also you get to dabble in poetry, because as The Lego Movie taught us, “all this is true, because it rhymes.”
So, in first draft form, here’s a part of the “Daughters” prophecy that helps explain the motivations of and manipulations by characters in positions of power. It also plays a big part in the growing conflict between Lyllithe and Josephine:
In centuries yet far beyond I see four years of blight
When ev’ry soul is shaken and their hateful foes delight
As all the pow’r of Hell breaks forth with endless appetite
For blood and death and chaos plunging nations into night
In centuries yet far beyond, behold the Naurchoth’s rise
Whose rifts shall tear asunder and darkness blot the skies
Whose wrath—though slowly kindled—shall break forth as a flood
Let mankind’s candle dwindle, drowned in a sea of blood
Daughter of Puremight, hold back no more
Daughter of Twilight, fulfill what you swore
For the Daughter of Midnight stands at the door
With an army of Shadewrought ready for war.
Daughter of Puremight to break and restore
Daughter of Twilight, to bind up the core
Of the Daughter of Midnight whom all abhor
As she shatters and scars Avatars we yearn for
Daughter of Puremight, do not stand alone
Daughter of Twilight, move past what you’ve known
Lest the Daughter of Midnight come into her own
And annihilate all that remains of the Throne