Working on the Book

Posted: January 12th, 2024 under Characters, Craft, Horngard, Progress, the writing life.
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The first chapter of Horngard I is now tighter, cleaner, more direct, less allusive.  Starts in POV of major character.  Sets out the initial situation directly.  Introduces second POV character, hours later than the original start.   Better, in other words.  I’m now charging through the other chapters (agent had a copy I’d sent him in October; I’d lost my copies here, as you know, so it was seeing it very fresh indeed.)    Every place that my eyelids sag (before midnight; sagging at midnight is normal.  Right now I’m waiting for the dryer to finish with a load of wash that suddenly had to be done at about 10:30 pm.)

For instance, Gwennothlin Marrakai is taking her youngest brother Julyan on a trip and includes moving some horses from the Marrakai estate somewhere else.  I had, in the previous file, a sketch map of the journey, a timeline, a note of every horse, its name, its breeding, its color, its size.   Today I was reading along, early in that journey and they stopped for lunch and then…I spent most of a paragraph on the horses.  Not interesting stuff about the horses, not enlivening details that also show I know what I’m describing, but…she helps Julyan get on the horse she wants him to ride that afternoon, and in the process of that tells the reader (only some of whom will care) the horse’s name, breeding, color, and size.  Does any of this matter at any point in the story?  No. Does Julyan care?  No.  I found myself mentally staring at the 11 year old kid, who darn well ought to be able to mount that horse without help, and at the horse (which is not going to DO anything remarkable at any point!) and erased a paragraph.  After lunch they started off upstream on the trail.   It’s not about a mare named Daisy.  It IS about one of the horses in particular, but right now they’re going to ride south, upstream, day after day until they’re….never mind.  Lips are sealed.  THAT bit has details that matter.

More of that section–the travel–will also come out because it’s a separate sort of sequence that ties into the main sequence down the line.   “The Chainsaw of Correction…” is snarling in my ear.

On the other hand, I’m still very happy with the battle scenes.  Gritty.


  • Comment by Jonathan Schor — January 12, 2024 @ 8:50 am


    Hello – glad to see you are making progress. Concerning the little details – your slavering fans do appreciate the minutia of the world you have given us. I am conflicted about sagging eyelids at midnight – while I want you slogging along with the NEXT BOOK, I also want you healthy and happy, no working till you drop as the Japanese do.
    From up here in New Hampshire where we have some snow, then rain to wash it away.

  • Comment by Linda — January 13, 2024 @ 5:37 pm


    I too am glad you are up to writing and feeling good about the outcome.

    Speaking of snow … both Paksworld and recent Vatta books involve critical events happening in deep or at least accumulating snow. As a Texan I wonder where / when you experienced maneuvering in that much snow.

    Have a new twist in VT this year, the heavy snow which turns to flooding. Hope all is well.

  • Comment by elizabeth — January 14, 2024 @ 12:14 am


    Jonathan…I’m TRYING to be sensible about work levels. Really I am. But things like minor illnesses or weather events that require me to check on or feed horses a late-night visit…those do keep me up.

    Linda…When I was in the military, I was stationed in Virginia, which has snow. My mother, who had also gone from S. Texas to snow country (Chicago, during WWII) to get outside every day I could to avoid winter depressions. So I did. I even camped in the snow, up on the Blue Ridge, hiked in the snow, and walked in city parks, etc. WHen we first moved to central Texas, it was a location that had several (little compared to Virginia) snowfalls a year, and I walked in it and rode a horse in it. Once we took a horse-packing trip in Canada–and I’d written the Paks books by then but they weren’t published yet. And thought, as we rode through the mountains and forests in thick snow the first day, that the only thing I hadn’t gotten right was the way the snow built up in the horses’ hooves, and then broke off suddenly and they lurched. And the snow coming off branches we rode past and landing on us. But the rest…it was eerie. (We had only one day of that much snow.) So I do have some snow experience, and the way a writer’s mind works, it’s been enough.

  • Comment by Nadine Bowlus — January 17, 2024 @ 3:48 pm


    I think enjoy the progress reports on the books currently in the writing/revising stage almost as much as I know I will enjoy the end product(s)

    Be well.

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