Oct 05

Finished, Sort Of

Posted: under Editing, Revisions, snippet, the writing life.
Tags: , , ,  October 5th, 2022

NewBook is now complete, where complete means the story makes sense end to end, the plot and subplots are correctly articulated (in the sense of how a skeleton is articulated), there are causes for effects, and effects from causes, and the motivations of POV characters, in particular are shown through behavior, not just chit-chat.  Though frankly I think any female person will know *exactly* why Gwenno was bored with the Royal Guard.

It is a proper Paksworld book in size  (a bit under 170,000 words)  and geographic scope (smaller than some, but covering locations from northern Tsaia, in Arcolin’s domain to well south and west of Valdaire in Aarenis.)  Chronologically it’s a spring/summer/fall book, even though there’s a blizzard in it.  It’s an *early* blizzard and melts back into a cold nasty wet period.  The gap between this book and the last previous Paksworld book is about 5 years, so the page who woke up, ran upstairs when everyone else was spelled, and pulled the non-working rope that wakes the Bells of Verella only in real disasters ….is now a late teenager  and considered a young man.  The prince with no memory is 20 or 21.  An 18 year old squire of Duke Verrakai is 23.  And so on, including the people who were hale and healthy five years ago and now…aren’t.  Some of them.

It also has horses, swords, spears, lances, thieves (not nice ones), brigands (ditto), pirates (ditto) ,  bad relatives, good relatives, an overprotected little boy who isn’t that little or shouldn’t be, a birth, some deaths, and–because it involves the Matter of Horngard–Dragon.  Several assumptions about eldest girls in a family.  But also politics, economics, history, psychology, and such things.  Oh, and a song.    Sung in an ordinary way and people who also make weird scary noises some other way.

Someone on a Twitter writing group asked people who were writing things  “What is your book about?”  and I always draw a blank on that because I think my books (and most books) are about more than one thing, and different readers will fix on one or more of the possibilities.  But this book–still untitled, though its “barn name” is Horngard, name of the place in which a lot of important things happen–is a story about friendships as people grow up, trauma, memory, honor, personality, politics (et al) from the above list, and so on.   The “lead” characters are two boys (in the Paladin’s Legacy books) who became friends, were separated by violence,  and their meeting again 5 years later.   One has lost all memory of his past due to a traumatic brain injury.  The other temporarily loses the memory of having seen his friend again, for the first time in five years because someone else thinks it’s the wrong time for them to be together again.  Now the boys are men.

The loss of memory, whether temporary or permanent, has profound effects on them.   It interferes with “agency”–that capacity to make things happen, to not be just an object swept along, but to make decisions that work, that move other objects.   If you do not know–if you have no story of–your past, it’s a mental amputation of the information most of us use to make decisions and act from.   I remember the first time I was lifted up to sit on a horse; I remember how wonderful it was to be up there, able to see so far,  to not be blocked in by the legs of older children and adults.  That memory starts the chain of my understanding of how I feel about horses.  I remember being in an open boat out in the Gulf of Mexico and peering over the side into the green depths…seeing something large rising out of the dimness far below and come up closer, closer, and reveal a mouthful of very sharp teeth.  That memory starts the chain of my understanding my relationship to deep water.   Horses are wonderful, they’re freedom, they’re lifting me out of limitations.  Deep water is scary, dangerous, limiting me to less vision, less freedom, less opportunity.  These are not “facts” about horses or deep water, but the memories are at the roots of my attitudes, my deepest feelings.

Soo…what about a snippet, then?  And a test on it?

Here are the words of a song (translated into English because I write in English) which can be sung to the tune of one of my favorite songs.  The song itself was not, originally, English.   Can you figure out from reading the words what the music is?  (Don’t go looking over in the Universes blog because it’s listed there.)   These words appear in this book (unless an editor rules them out) and I hope to write some music to sing it to *other* than the one I know.

Dragonkin we stand before you

Dragon’s iron wings fly o’er you

Dragon’s iron teeth will score you

We will stand for all

 

Though we tire, though we hunger

Though we grow not any younger

We will stand as stone in thunder

All will stand for all

 

Men of Horngard ready

We will all stand steady

Taste the iron of our spears

Your swords will never wake our fears

 

Our hearts lighten, our eyes brighten

Blood or death, they do not frighten

We of Horngard, Dragon’s kin,we!

Never will we yield.

 

If you do catch on quickly, just answer with “Got it” or something like, until others have a chance to answer.

I can’t find on YouTube the version I like of the original, which was a capella, not over-enhanced with orchestra  or even piano accompaniment.  It doesn’t NEED that.  It does need a good stout choir.

Comments (15)

Sep 17

Snippets

Posted: under Contents, Craft, Editing, Progress, Revisions, snippet, the writing life.
Tags: , , ,  September 17th, 2022

Time for some snippets, yeah?

This one will not be in the final book….it is the original start of the book:

Camwyn had no memories of his childhood, only those begun in a dark cave, when he woke from grievous injuries.  He knew of his past only what he’d been told by Dragon.

…………………………………………………………………………………………….

This was followed by pages of past-history stuff and landscape descriptions that (aside from describing  a gorgeous view of the Vale of Valdaire and a good opening shot for the movie, maybe)  have nothing to do with the story because he’s never there again.   Also, there’s no tension.  People who’ve read the Paladin’s Legacy group know who Cam is, what his injuries were, and that he’s lost his memory.  People who haven’t will be thinking ‘How many pages of infodump before I have a reason to care about this character?”

Worse, the next person being shown is thinking about how disappointed he is that on his last trip over the mountains, there’s fog and he can’t see his favorite view.   Interior monologue with nothing happening but the fog lifting and a horse whinnying.  Ho-hum, ho-hum, the starting point is dumb…and then it goes into pages more of trivia that’s interesting to ME, because I was working back into this invented world, checking that Fenis Kavarthin & Sons were still in the building they’d been in that previous book, that this and that were in the right place and the right kinds of interactions were going on. Fine, for a book on the economics of merchant-run late-medieval cities, but this is supposed to be a story.

………………………………………………………………………………………..

So now we have the result of a complete mental reset:  When the problem is a static passage, nothing really going on, AND it’s in the POV of a known character who’s a protagonist…don’t whittle away at it hoping for something better.  Take a big leap.

The blade lay lightly, but dangerously, on his neck, just under the side of his jaw.  “You haven’t paid your bill,” said the voice in the dark.

………………………………………………………………………………………….

The next sentence tells you who “he” is…Ilantides Balentos.   Those who’ve read the short story “Mercenary’s Honor”  may have a vague memory of an Ilanz Balentos who was Aesil M’dierra’s uncle and the reason she became a merc commander.   Ilanz in that story is a middle-aged merc commander who helps a village win independence from its greedy neighbor city, and when that city hires a much younger Aliam Halveric to attack, and Aliam sends out his squires to a recon mission, Ilanz meets Kieri Phelan for the first time.   Between then and now is a story of the young Aesil M’dierra and how she met Aliam and Kieri in dire circumstances–unfinished, still.  Maybe now I can write it.  Ilanz left his company (and some money) to M’dierra when he died.

This isn’t Ilanz; this is Ilanz’s much younger relative (and thus, more distantly, M’dierra’s relative.)  You don’t yet know who the other person, the voice in the dark,  is (and won’t, thanks to, ummm, errr, mmph, and mumble-mumble-writers-keep-secrets.)   But you know, every one of you, that you do not want that voice in the dark in YOUR bedroom, and you already suspect Ilantides may have a shady side.   You also want to know if the guy gets his throat cut and what happens next.

Does this 13 page segment connect to anything else in the book?  Yes, it does.  It foreshadows events already written some chapters later (and thus was easy to think of and write) that make other connections…and so on.   So when mmmrff happens, readers (the more astute ones) will be thinking “It’s those Balentoses!” while at the same time wondering if fffnnf can possibly make it out and can vlkksr get there in time.

………………………………………………………………………………………………

But remember the entire first chapter had problems of insufficient forward motion and insufficient tension.  Yet certain precursor things had to happen before other things could.  A had to meet B.  B had to not meet C.   D had to misjudge a situation.  And so on.  So what should come after that 13 pages that makes it clear the initial engine is putting tension on the same overall plot, getting the whole thing rolling?   Who gets the next POV slot, and why, and what do they do with it?

To keep the tension on, the next logical POV will be either the other conspirator or…another potential victim. The other conspirator has no further appearance in this book, as who he is, at least.  Readers are free to think he took part in a certain nefarious deed, or to think he was in another part of the same organization.  Doesn’t matter.  Another potential victim is already in the book, several chapters ahead, and was going to be in chapter 1 anyway, but from a different angle.  Well, then…make the next POV that of that potential victim’s POV and take a first look at Protagonist through that potential victim’s eyes…and at Balentos through that victim’s eyes as well.    Another big leap.

So the next POV is Aesil M’dierra’s but not in an exciting moment, though exciting moments are referenced, and a Significant Moment occurs in that POV segment when she walks into The Golden Fish and sees an obvious newcomer.

…………………………………………………………………………………………

She noticed a striking young man at the front window table, richly dressed in yellow and black over mail and–her experienced eye recognized the way the cloth laid over it–breast and back plate.

……………………………………………………………………………………….

Other necessary nubbins have been dispensed in this POV section before this moment, relating to the matters her cousins have kept bubbling on the legal stove, adding to the tension of *that* plotline, but this is where another and major plotline’s rubber hits the road.  The naive reader (the one who hasn’t read the previous volumes) doesn’t know who he is, and even the experienced reader–though perhaps guessing correctly–isn’t sure either.  The last black and yellow colors shown so prominently down here were–as far as readers know–on Siniava, the Honeycat.  Who IS this fellow?  Why hasn’t he doffed his heavy-weight armor, or taken the coif off his head?  M’dierra (experienced readers will know) knows every merc commander in Valdaire…this isn’t one of them.  So who and what is he, and what is he up to?   That’s revealed in their conversation, or the part of their conversation that’s shown, so the main direction of that plotline seems to be clear and straightforward.  The book is going to visit a place none of the previous books have shown, but that’s been mentioned a few times.

Another POV section is coming, which introduces two well-known characters from previous books but in different roles, and foreshadows (obscurely) a major road-block in the major plotline that’s just been shown, though the actual roadblock isn’t at all clear.  One of those two is the second, co-equal protagonist.  And Dragon, who, though a plot-mover, isn’t a protagonist, and gives readers the chance to question Dragon’s good will, sanity and, um, “wisdom.”   If humans have holes in their logic, and gaps in their knowledge, how is it possible for a creature of such length of age and vast experience and desire for all to be wiser…to be so blind to certain things?  Why isn’t Dragon the perfect deus ex machina, instead of…well…fallible?  Or are the humans just misunderstanding the nature of the beast, so to speak?

But that would be telling, not showing, says the mischievous writer, running off to work on other chapters.

 

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Sep 12

First Draft: Done. First Revision Draft: Done

Posted: under Craft, Editing, Life beyond writing, Progress, the writing life.
Tags: , , , ,  September 12th, 2022

NewBook isn’t *finished*, but it is complete in the sense of beginning, end, middle untangled so the segments are in the right order, some major side issues that belong in the long arc but not this volume sequestered for the next (or after that), and sufficient interior notes to do the next stage.

So…what are we looking at?  It starts the day the two major characters look down from adjoining mountains, one facing east, one looking south.   Everyone in it–whom I thought I knew from the previous books–surprised me at least once and sometimes more than once in the course of the book.  They showed up not when I expected them to, but when they just did.,..they were different than when I saw them last in Crown of Renewal.  Stuff has gone on behind my back, so to speak.  Because of characters’ physical separation, while each character’s plot line is briskly going on about its business, there was “braiding” to be done in this first, structural, revision draft.  Some of that may still be revised in the next revision draft.  But most of the characters are people that veterans of Paksworld, especially the Paladin’s Legacy group, will know, will have seen before…just 5-6 years on from where they were in age, experiences, locations in some cases.

From here–as fast as I can make it happen–NewBook will get its second revision draft, which will deal with remaining structural issues (a few gaps, now clearly marked on the first revision draft) , and its first “construction” revision (where something needs to be built better, so to speak…design is fine but that bit right there is crooked or unsound)  and then its third revision draft, which will deal with its more surface issues: the polishing part.  Third draft should be ready to submit, after a final run past some readers.  If the dental stuff hadn’t slowed me down, I’d be sure it would be done by Oct 1, but now I’m not…this dental thing is supposed to take several more days in the chair, I’ve been warned, and if they break the molar it will have to come out.  Last time I had one pulled it cost me 4-5 days of misery & no work on anything.  However, the later drafts usually (used to) go faster than the first revision, the structural one.

Once it’s clean enough to satisfy me, it goes to my agent, and if it passes him it goes out wherever he sends it (to start with, Del Rey, we’ve already decided) and I start the next one.  Then the decisions are up to someone else, and I’ll just work on what’s next and hope for the best.  It WILL come out in some form or other, if not from a trad publisher then Indie.   It’s certainly not perfect at this point, but it’s complete enough that I’m convinced it’s a real, and satisfying, story.    Right now I’m also having problems with my regular email but I can still access Earthlink’s WebMail, though the book is very close to its size limit on attachments, while Thunderbird was gulping it right down.  Another thing to fix when I have time.  No snippets today–apologies–but I have to feed horses, dress, etc. and get to the dentist this morning.

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Sep 07

The Good News & The Good News

Posted: under Conventions, Editing, Good News, Life beyond writing.
Tags: , ,  September 7th, 2017

Editor has accepted the manuscript of INTO THE FIRE (after the second rewrite) and it’s now in production.  Once the copy edits have come and gone, I’m off the contractual hook, so to speak, with the time to arrange for the medical and dental procedures I need.   Whew!   Because an eye with a cataract in it does not get better on its own, nor does a dental situation.

DragonCon was fun but challenging, as the throat injury was still causing discomfort and some loss of voice strength, and the knee injury didn’t allow the kind of fast, steady walking that going from hotel to hotel makes much easier.  OTOH, I made it, so there.

Renovation on the house next door that we bought to rent has gone well, and it’s now time for the flooring crew to put in the new floors.  Then installation of appliances, final plumber visits and electrical visits, and it’ll be about ready to go.  In the meantime I need to have a talk with our lawyer about “being a landlord of residential property.”  The basics; I’ve never done this before.

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Apr 25

Found Bloopers in Deed of Paksenarrion?

Posted: under Editing, Errata.
Tags:  April 25th, 2017

Richard Simpkin asked over on the Universes blog if it would be possible to fix the various typos, etc. in the first-original mass market paperbacks of the Deed.   He could think of one off the top of his head.  So could I (but I don’t know yet if we had the same one in mind.)   So I’m opening up a topic where you can post the ones you’ve noticed, and meanwhile I’ll ask Baen Books if they’re prepared to fix a few things that slid through.  Please reference the mistakes to the title (since the anniversary edition will be in three separate ones) and if possible the page 3 of the original paperback.   At this point I don’t know how many, if any, of the errors they’re going to have time to fix.  My guess is that they’ll be willing to fix typos & misspellings, but not change the places where it was my research or analysis that went wrong, because that would falsify the “new edition” thing.  Or maybe not.  We’ll see.

 

 

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Feb 22

Writing? What Writing?

Posted: under Editing, Life beyond writing.
Tags: ,  February 22nd, 2014

There are still bits of good writing news I can’t talk about yet, and thus am required to look carefully blank about when asked.  But I can say that besides dealing with many other things yesterday, a Paksworld story sold to an anthology showed up with Editor’s marks and comments and would I please get it back to Editor by the 28th.  It went back last night.   Editor did a good job of pointing out some things to fix, one of which I really wish hadn’t been necessary to fix, but…Editor had a point.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Sep 09

Copy Edits

Posted: under Editing.
Tags: , ,  September 9th, 2012

Copy edit checking is under way.  There is muttering, mumbling, and thoughtful staring.    Marking, leaving alone, and changing.

And so on.   The copy edits were crammed into a box a little too flat and far too long,  so they were/are mussed and rumpled, but I’m smoothing and flattening and will send them back in a box that fits.

There will be a few things to talk to Editor about.   (Have I mentioned here how nice it was to meet Editor at WorldCon?  Lovely.    If I had to change Editors mid-series, and I did, I was certainly on the lucky side of the street with this one.)

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Jun 22

Progress

Posted: under Editing, the writing life.
Tags:  June 22nd, 2012

Dropping out of the choir concert was definitely the right decision:  the hours I  did not spend driving to and from the city, and in rehearsal, have been put to use, and the lessened strain helped too.   Usually I spend a lot of time in prep for a concert working on the piano at home, listening to rehearsal tapes or CDs of the music, and I like to come into a concert able to “hear” my part in my head the whole way through, no doubts.  This time I couldn’t–and I could not take the time to do the prep work I wanted to do.    That made it harder to concentrate on the edits.

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Jun 08

Buried in the Edits

Posted: under Editing, Life beyond writing, the writing life.
Tags: , ,  June 8th, 2012

Just in case you’re wondering where I am, I’m digging through the computer file line by line, while changing things in accordance with (or similarly to, or in a related way to) Editor’s comments.    I don’t always do *exactly* what Editor advised, because in some cases the exact phrase Editor wanted to change isn’t there now (having been expunged in my own editing earlier) and in other cases I see what I (no doubt arrogantly) think is a better fix to the problem Editor pointed out.   (I’m nearly always agreeing that what Editor points out is indeed something to be pondered and then fixed.)

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May 25

Editor’s Letter Arrives: Much Rejoicing

Posted: under Editing, Limits of Power, the writing life.
Tags:  May 25th, 2012

Remember how I said I was impressed and grateful that NewEditor (hereinafter known as Editor) had read through the whole monster pile of the preceding books?    The proof is in the editorial letter I just received this afternoon.  WOW.  As in,  I have landed in the lap (OK, laptop or desktop or whatever) of another great editor.  An editor who is going to help me make LIMITS and Book V better than I could possibly make them on my own.

It’s not that I doubted her editorial skills before,  especially since (like anyone who’s been in the business this long) I inquired delicately of people who’d worked with her and got rave responses.   But with so much backstory to get through, and all her other work, I wondered how much she could grasp of the whole Paksworld mythos, having to read at top speed.    And there’s also the chemistry thing.   Sometimes it’s not the book, the writer, or the editor…but just a lack of spark between editor and book, or editor and writer.

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