Writer As Whirlwind

Posted: December 21st, 2010 under Craft, Editing, Revisions, the writing life.
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The last “block” of Book III fell into place with the completion of the swordfight at, um, 2:15 am this morning.    So between now and January 1,  there are decisions to be made, and multiple rewrites/cleanups to be done.  More text may need to be added (transition cues, scenes that now,  though not formerly, need enhancement.)     About 4-6 weeks of work is going to have to be accomplished in 10 days, two of which are Christmas Eve (when I have two church services to attend and one to sing in) and Christmas (when I won’t be working on the book–I’ll be sleeping and recovering from Christmas Eve.)  Plus a necessary social thing on 12/26 (annual party at close friend’s house given by her kids…not missing that.)   Hence, “writer as whirlwind.”

The big decision about where this volume’s timeline ends was made in the scene written last night, by a death.     So you will find yourself in another “short” timeline, as with Oath:  going on past event X would require many tens of thousands of words more to bring all the timelines up to reasonably parity.     The ending is a solid one–it does create an internal arc–and though I’m sure you’ll want to know “What next?” it’s not (in my mind) a cliffhanger like the one at the end of Divided Allegiance.  And I will start Book IV with some thousands of words in hand.  Which is good.

This was a scene that took longer to write than you might expect.  But it involved one conflict segueing into another…and then another…and then an all-out  multi-character swordfight.   Every segment had to provide the solid ground for the next to spring from, be internally consistent for both the physical actions and the emotional shifts, and rise above the previous in terms of tension and impact.

If I did it right, you will forget that you know this technical stuff when you read it, and you will be yanked breathlessly from A to B to C…and through C, which is the longest…and then feel the impact of D.  If I mess up anywhere along the line, you will flash back to this post and feel very superior to the poor writer…”Ah, I see what she’s doing here.  She’s….”  Which is not ideal on first reading.  Third, maybe.

So…the first task of the day is to decide exactly how to  lop off the parts that will be in Book IV.   Which ends can be left hanging loose and wiggling, and which should have at least temporary tie-ups?    When that’s done,  then the serious (more serious) three-layer revision starts, as I’ve talked about before.

Writer as whirlwind is now spinning up to full velocity…


  • Comment by Ulrika — December 21, 2010 @ 12:54 pm


    A death?

    The tension to read book three just quadrupled and book two is not out yet! And I cannot grumble because you (and the publisher) is releasing book two on my birthday (and I am _very_ happy about that!). *mutters a little anyway*

    I wish you, the book, and of course the eminent Plot Daemon a “God Jul” (=Merry Christmas in Swedish). Have a safe trip through the whirlwind!

  • Comment by APJ — December 21, 2010 @ 3:02 pm


    Thank you for the teasers Mrs. Moon, you accomplish your goal we are anxiously awaiting the stories to come 🙂

    Blessings to you during this holiday season, i pray that they truly are Holy Days for you and yours!

  • Comment by Jenn — December 21, 2010 @ 4:31 pm


    Now you have me fretting.

    I just finished the Vatta series and you killed off the entire supporting cast in one battle!

    Now I am going through the list of Characters looking for a who-could-be-dead. There are a lot of possibilities and I am worried for my list.

    On a different thread. I was wondering how last night’s lunar eclipse on a (nearly?) full moon the day before the solstice would be read at winterseve?

  • Comment by elizabeth — December 21, 2010 @ 4:48 pm


    They don’t have a moon…if they did, I’m sure it would be a major portent. If they’d had a moon, I might have been tempted to arrange that they had an eclipse of it one winter.

    Killing off characters I like is never fun…but a story in which only the unlikeable or bad guys die is…thinner. Some days we need stories in which all the good guys, every one of them, come out OK–it’s been that kind of day. Other days we need stories that remind us good guys also die, and there’s a difference between being hit by a drunk driver and holding a bridge against enemies.

    The trick for readers is knowing which kind of day it is, and thus which kind of story to reach for. One really bad days, I tend to re-read Arthur Ransome’s Swallows & Amazons stories–they’re not simplistic, but they aren’t going to kill off a favorite. (They’re also a good example of how much tension, how much emotional and moral complexity you can have in a story without killing off a favorite.)

  • Comment by elizabeth — December 21, 2010 @ 4:53 pm


    Almost 10,000 words has now been shunted into a new folder for Book IV.

    There may be a bit more earlier, that’s now not fitting in this one. This opens a little space for scene expansion that I think may be needed. But adding back in 10K words in 10 days? Hmmm.

    There’s a kind of “settled” feeling inside…”Yup, this is it.” What this means for you is that the book will go into production on schedule, which increases the likelihood that a) it will be out roughly a year after Kings and b) I won’t run into big snags in getting a contract for the next one(s).

  • Comment by Eir de Scania — December 22, 2010 @ 6:53 am


    No moon…but I remember mention of tides in one of the earlier Paks books… ;-P

  • Comment by elizabeth — December 22, 2010 @ 8:01 am


    Even without the moon, our oceans would have tides, just much smaller ones–(the sun also exerts a tidal force on the ocean; “spring tides” occur when the sun’s pull and the moon’s pull coincide, and “neap tides” occur when they’re exactly opposite.) So there’s a small (compared to our tides) tide, and topography affects the magnitude, just as it does here.

    I worked this out for the tides in the cities at the mouth of the Immer, and it’s probably in the scene where Paks is down at the waterfront and sees that much open water for the first time.

  • Comment by Dave Ring — December 22, 2010 @ 3:47 pm


    Sounds like Paks’ world is a planet, then, probably with a somewhat elliptical orbit. Do the residents realize this or do they have other ideas? Are there unknown (or selectively known) continents lurking off the edges of existing maps?

  • Comment by elizabeth — December 22, 2010 @ 4:59 pm


    Dave, this is not something I can discuss much while I’m writing the book. (I could if it were science fiction. This is different.) Intellectually, with my background, there’s a ground-level presumption of world = planet, gravity works, water is H2O, etc., etc. But the worldbuilding is done from the inside out, through the characters, not from the outside in.

    They aren’t scientists. Technology as we know its development has been slowed and even truncated by the existence of effective magic (and different kinds of it.)

  • Comment by Jonathan Schor — December 22, 2010 @ 5:53 pm


    Just finished listening to Oath of Gold and will begin listening to the next one tomorrow – Very nice. Well worth the price of admission.

    Have a happy holiday season.


  • Comment by Adam Baker — December 23, 2010 @ 7:58 am


    Ah, the joys of the end of year holidays. A million things to do, and almost no time to do them in.

    When your running around like a mad person, trying to accomplish 10 tasks at once, do you hear “Flight of the Bumble Bee” in the back of your head too? haha

    Glad to hear that the last bit of the book has fallen into place, and now its time to just polish it to pristine condition.

  • Comment by Dave Ring — December 23, 2010 @ 3:41 pm


    I understand your choice not to get very far into discussions of Paksworld science. That’s fine.

    In reading fantasy series, though, I don’t automatically assume world = planet, or that the availability of magic necessarily precludes interest in or development of empirical science.

    It’s hard to imagine someone like Arranha not speculating about the origin of an interesting phenomenon like tides.

  • Comment by elizabeth — December 23, 2010 @ 5:47 pm


    Dave, you’re right that Arranha was a born natural philosopher…most of his thoughts had question marks on the end, and he was always ready to poke hard at other peoples’ certainties to see if they’d fall apart.

    Had he lived by the sea he would’ve been interested in tides, and might well have tied them to the sun’s motion…I’m assuming that the seafaring and coastal peoples did, because it’s a fairly simple observation. Explaining the observation in terms similar to ours is another thing entirely. The earliest idea that the earth was round, and of its diameter, came from the observation of lunar eclipses.

    As well, even brilliant persons interested in natural phenomena (I think Arranha was more interested in moral phenomena) could–and have–been satisfied with magical explanations.

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