Sunday, September 21, 2014

Inching Towards Daylight

Thought I'd title the blog with a line from Matthew Stover, because I'd like to think it's apt. It's been a long year, filled with delays and ulterior obligations, but we're closing in on the final section for City of Blades.


I'm really happy with the way it's been turning out. Even if you get an outline going, sometimes you can never tell where the story's gonna take you. The second and third acts are entirely different from how they were originally plotted out, and I'm hoping it's a little less predictable because of that. Even though the entire premise of the story is predicated on our three main characters going up against your standard fantasy tropes and reacting in odd ways, I still want it to have a few twists and turns!

But as to the goals that I set for myself before starting the sequel, I would like to provide a rundown in terms of what I think I've achieved so far, and what I still have left to do:

1. Create a Standalone Adventure: I've been working and reworking City of Blades so that if this is the first book in the Lore of the Reluctant series you happen to pick up, you won't be scratching your head and wondering, "Vampires?" I do want to give the impression that Acys, Jasper, and Kalen have been through the wringer, and that this certainly isn't their first adventure in Shiloft. Part of the reason I made Jasper a woman (who was previously a man before getting completely owned by that rogue necromancer) was to give an immediate cue to the reader that stuff has most definitely gone down.

There will be references to past adventures, scars from previous losses, but on the whole I don't believe City of Blades leans on any of those incidents to tell its own story. This was one of the major criticisms from The Outcasts of Vampire Flats, that readers had felt like they'd missed something. This is definitely something I want to correct to a point, and I hope I've succeeded.

2. Keep the Story Brief: As I've pointed out in other posts, I really feel like stories that try to be heavy on the funny work best when they stick around only for as long as they need to. Outcasts was around 47,000 words, which is probably as short as a novel can get and still be called a novel. City of Blades will be decently longer, maybe as much as 70,000 words depending on how I taper off the ending. And the increase in length directly correlates to...

3. Show More of Shiloft: Even when I was writing Outcasts, I had much of the Realm of Shiloft already plotted out in some form or another, but not a whole lot of it made it into the actual story. This was due to my commitment to making the story as streamlined as possible, and because I thought excessive worldbuilding would feel out of place in a novel that sported dick and tit jokes. But after looking at some of the feedback, I decided that I would draw a lot more of the world to the surface, and throwing our adventurers into the city of Elsingr seemed like just the way to do that.

It's certainly a far cry from Mythrin Forest, I'll say that!

4. Maps: I've been gradually working out a map of the North, the region of Shiloft in which these two novels have taken place, as well as a detailed-ish map of the city of Elsingr. I'm hoping to have them finalized concurrent with Book 2 itself, and I'll also be researching the obvious: how to incorporate them into the ebook itself.

5. Short Story: I mentioned before that I'd like to get some kind of novella or short story onto the Kindle Store that I can give away for free as a kind of entryway to the series. At this point, I do have something in the works that I'll be poking at gradually. As of now it's titled "None Shall Pass," and it will begin just after Jasper's resurrection in Endarin and follow the three as they make their way over the Backbone of the World.


I think that's everything I wanted to cover! I'll be tinkering with the progress bar, since it doesn't properly reflect where the story's at. I was using 50k words as a goal, but I'm well past that now.

Oh! And I caught that I had somehow posted the same excerpt for City of Blades twice, so I'll be posting another one within the next week or so. Just gotta nail down the right part.

Later all!