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Four Plotlines in Search of an Ending

August 22, 2006

I'll admit this up front: I don't know how to end this story.

I know who lives and who dies. I know how the final battle that provides the climax for the entire story is going to play out. I know who does what and when and where and why and how. It's that final chapter I have planned once the action comes to a head that I cannot seem to pin down. I've got a couple of different things in mind, but I'm unsure how to tie up in a nice, tidy little "they're happy for now, but not for ever after" bow. It's very odd. I have all the chapters leading up to it planned out (mostly). By that, I mean I know who is going where and what they'll do. For the most part, I think I'm done introducing characters. There will be a few more that pop up from time to time, especially among the humans as their political push for power play themselves out (Dr. Egan, eat your alliterative heart out).

It's just kind of frustrating. It hasn't slowed me down. In fact, I want to stay up later to keep writing so I can keep going further. I want to get there badly. I haven't felt like this while writing in a long time. Perhaps it is refreshing to write short, neat little one-shot, stand-alone stories like this. Long, grueling series may keep your readers buying your books just to see how the story plays out, but after a while, the author can get sick and tired of certain characters. Not that I hate my Hundred Kings Saga cast (on the contrary, I quite enjoy a few of the new charactes I've dreamed up and can't wait to include in the cast...the fact that suddenly Lord Greyskye is no longer an only child will make for some very interesting character development...which is important since a lot of the religious background of these people hinges on him...is that a teaser enough?). It's just that sometimes I would be like "Damn, another Montgomery chapter...why did I make them have five kids? AND then start getting married? Thank God this series only comprises one generation!"

Anyway. Talk about digression.

Instead, let's talk Boars and Wars.

I set for myself some rather aggressive goals (I thought). Let's see how we're doing:

Finished chapter 11. I am now currently working on 4 and 13 simultaneously...but a lot more on 4 right now. It's time to build that backstory up more.

Started three new chapters tonight. Chapters 14, 15 and 16. 14 and 16 are in the infancy stages. I got about 1/3 of 15 done. For some reason, I really like this chapter. Once it's done, I'll probably focus a bit more on 16. It, too, has some good promise for development of plot and intercharacter relationships. Or at least interactions. Some characters are going to soon discover that they must rely on other characters. Whether they like it or not.

I'm hoping to get 15 done tomorrow night. I have most of my chores done around the house, so hopefully after the midweek mopping of the kitchen floor, I can sit down and crank out some pain and punishment in literary form. After that, I hope to finish 13 either Thursday or Friday.

Now, let's look at the numbers:

Word Count: 60073 (I think the goal for the week, if I remember right, was 65,000)
Page Count: 200

I'm rather proud of myself.

I went and signed Madeleine up for soccer this evening. They asked me if I wanted to help coach. I thought about it, but I'm going to have to take care of Thomas while we are at soccer practices and games. So, until he gets older and a bit more manageable (how I'm going to keep him off the field while sissy is playing, I'll never know...), I'm not going to be coaching anyone. Besides, I played the one position on the field that is mostly useless in youth soccer (as I understand it): goalie. Besides, I'm sure 5 and 6 year olds don't want to learn about angles and how to avoid corner kicks as opposed to throw ins. They want to play with flowers and bugs they find on the field.

I'm going to have to learn to squelch my competitive side...fortunately, it's soccer and not basketball. I'd be in real trouble then...

Tiny Xenophobic Yetis

August 20, 2006

I've started with this whole "goals" concept in my writing. Well, it's in a lot of things I've been doing lately, but for purposes here, we'll focus on the book-writing.

My goal for this past week I set kind of low: Finish either chapter 12 or 13 and get to 50,000 words.

It's a very fufilling thing when you finish a chapter. It's even more fulfilling when that chapter helps you reach a goal you've set for yourself.

So, here's the numbers:
Word Count: 52591
Page Count: 173

As you can see, I'm progressing nicely.

So, my goal for this week: Finish 13 (I chose to do twelve, since it was a battle scene), start a new chapter, finish an old chapter (probably shooting for chapter 11 here), and get to 65,000 words. Now, that's 13,000 more words than I have now, so I'm assuming that I'm going to have another couple of chapters either started and/or completed in there somewhere. Now that I've woven two pieces of my plotline together, I need only to get them to one place and get the two other main plotlines moving toward the final showdown (I've already started with one of mine...I'm thinking chatper 14 or 15 should be the other leg moving toward the final showdown site).

All of this should be doable, which means that I could be about two thirds of the way done by the end of August.

I guess that means I should stop updating and start writing!

Right after I start another load of laundry.

A Victim of my Own Addictions

August 15, 2006

As I alluded to a couple of weeks ago, I bought a sketch pad. My first intention was that this sketch pad was going to be long enough and wide enough that I could draw out the map that's been in my head for a long while. That's the map of the world in which The Boar War takes place. Fortunately, this is a map I see crystal clearly in my head so I don't need to commit it to paper in order to know where my characters are going and what they are doing.

Maps are just fun for me. I love them. I love looking at them, I love drawing them, I love everything about them. I just wish that I had time and or space to properly spread out the sketch pad and start putting in the mountains, seas, lakes and forests of my world (and, of course, the REALLY important place, which is yet to be named here in order to keep a surprise at the end of the book).

However, instead of drawing maps, I've been tinkering around with something completely different.

Anyone who knows me knows I love playing video games (see last night's update in case you want some more info on that) and anyone who knows anything about my video gaming love knows that I love Final Fantasy games. Of all the FF games out there, I love Tactics the best. I'm not sure why. There's just this sort of fine balance between monsters, storyline, and character building that intrigues me. If I ever had to pick one game to play for the rest of my life, this one is probably it. It's a different game everytime.

But, I digress.

Inside the booklet, there are sketches of each of the class types for the characters. Naturally, the drawings are far more rich in detail and design than the characters on the screen (not that that detracts from the on-screen personae...in fact, there's a certain beauty in the simplicity). However, I absolutely love the sketches in the instruction manual and it's one of those things that I've always wanted to imitate in my own drawing.

So, with pencil in hand, I picked out one of the characters to replicate the other night. It was the male knight, since I love knights and all, and it was fairly simply yet elegant in its form. I started sketching it out and I thought "Wow, you know what, a comic book/graphic novel with these types of characters would be way cool." Of course, I knew that the Final Fantasy story lines are owned by SquareEnix and that I shouldn't wander into that realm too much. However, at some point, the world in King of Shadows et. al. would be mine. All mine. So, why not use these character types in a graphic novel that way.

I think you can see where this is going. But, before you think I'm headed off chasing yet another crazy idea, this one is simply in the fledgeling stages, and will have to stay there for some time. You see, I developed this idea, thinking about the question that any fantasy author (or any author in general) should think: What happens after the story is done?

Lots of authors go for the nice, neat, happy little "and they all lived happily ever after". Being that I cut my teeth on Tolkien, that's what I was used to. Thanks to Tad Williams, I saw the other side. The "Things ain't going to be so easy for our heros" ending. And, as Tad is a huge influence on me, that's how I opted to finish my books (much like J.K. Rowling, I have part of the final chapter of the final book written...that way I remember everyone who dies).

What happens next?

Well, it's not all happy. People will still do anything for power and money, and with all these new avenues into various forms of power popping up all over after The Hundred Kings Saga is finished, there will still be countless stories to tell.

And I plan on telling them.

One of the ways I was planning on telling them was in a new series that comes after I've finished Hundred Kings that focuses on several of the same heros (and villains) from the original series, just fifteen to twenty years down the line (haven't nailed down the timeline yet, but the story is, loosely, sketched out in my notes). However, in that time period between Hundred Kings and the as-yet-unnamed second series (still kicking around ideas for it), there will be lots of stories to tell.

These are the stories that will be told in graphic novel form. I think.

I'm hoping that, with six books under my belt (The Hundred Kings Saga and The Boar War), I'll have enough notoriety and/or money to write this out, draw it, and either get some small, indy publisher to pick it up or even finance the idea on my own. I've got some plans for it. Again, they're all in the infancy stages. It's what I think about while watching my rotovap stir.
However, I do have a name. And some characters. And a place where the action starts. And some of the things that are going on. All jotted into notes (again, it's what I think about while watching solvent creep up my TLC plate). The title of the book is Chivalry.

I know. I heralded the greatness of Robin Hobb last night (and she's still great...read her stuff!). However, I feel that this isn't exactly infringeing upon her work (I'd worry more about The Boar War, since I, you know, have people who can talk to animals in it and all) as none of the characters are actually named Chivalry. That's just the title of the book. And, it was the code of conduct held by knights. And since this whole thing started because I felt the need to draw a picture of a knight, you can see where this is going.

So, seriously (I didn't intend this post to be this effing long...I'm terribly sorry), give me some feedback here. I know some of you might not be big comic fans, but would there be any interest? I know several fantasy authors have found a niche by having their stories told in graphic novel form (the Dabel Brothers do uncanny work...read their stuff if you're a graphic novel fan), so I thought maybe, some day, I could tap into this. But, I would need an audience. I'm sure, with the glut of comic books/graphic novels on the market, it's even tougher to break into that biz than with the authoring business.

Plus, if I'm successful enough at it, I can write books, write comic books, draw comic books, and finally have a job that's fun while also not nearly as life-threatening as chemistry (though I still do enjoy the chemistry).

Curse you Wizard for putting the idea in my brain!

Gross Blog Negligence & Good Boar News

August 14, 2006

I'm very sorry.

Life beckoned.

(Un)fortunately, nothing truly exciting happened.

I mean, aside from further work on The Boar War.

Yes, actual progress.

And then I hit a snag. I got readdicted to playing this silly video game that I bought a few months ago. I started building up my weapons and all to try and get past this one point in the game. It became a bit of an obsession. I got past that point and then worked on taking the sword even higher. When I got the sword maxed out, I switched to a different sword, and then I broke it. And then I got pissed and shut the game off. So, I'm not speaking to the game currently.
So, you know what that means. Yep. I'm working on the book. And I've made a few adjustments to King of Thistles...er...Shadows. I keep forgetting that. Plus, I'm ThistleKing, not ShadowKing.

Ugh.

Anyway, I wrote the epilogue. It's a nice little wrap-up. If you've ever read the very ending of Lord of the Rings, in one of the appendices, Tolkien tells of what happened to the rest of the Fellowship. I just remember getting emotionally charged when Legolas builds his raft and sails past the Gray Havens with Gimli on board. That's what I tried to do with the epilogue. I basically gave a wrap up of what happens to the people on the quest in this book. I, of course, looked forward into the future and left the requisite holes in the story for a follow-up tale (I've already referenced it, but I haven't thought anything further on it). I don't want to pull a Robin Hobb and write something like "Fitz never lived in the castle ever again" only to find, a few books later, Fitz living in Buckkeep once more (not that I'm complaining...God knows I love the Fitz books, even if some people think he's way too whiny--a pox upon them, I say! (This is the part where I tell everyone who hasn't read the Fitz books to go buy them. Now! Fitz and the Fool rule, dawg. Even though, I know, no one likes a schill, Lisa)).

Not only did I do the epilogue, but I finished chapter five, chapter eight and chapter nine. I FINALLY found a way to start the beleaguered chapter seven and got about five pages into it before I decided that I really needed to finish a few of the chapters I had started. So that's why I doubled back and finished five and then pushed eight and nine to completion. I've also moved the part I had written for chapter seven to chapter ten. Very smooth transition and cuts the length of seven in about half and really works to weave several of the threads of the story together.

In all, I'm really happy with the progress I've made. And, hopefully, this week I'll top the 50,000 word mark, which is just about halfway (I'm thinking 120,000 should do it, and that makes a novel of about 400 to 450 pages (from estimates) and that's a good length for a first book, in my opinion). That leaves me roughly two-and-a-half months to complete everything before I start up NaNoWriMo (I've got a story picked out...I kind of like it). Can I do it? I hope so. I should also be able to push forward on chapter four and the two chapters I'm really deeply involved with, 12 (battle) and 13 (ties two threads together). Getting those done will really make me happy.

I also tried the Sam Adams Patriot/Brewer series. The porter was good, the dark wheat reminded me of a dopplebock, the ginger and honey beer was tasty and the root beer was horrid. The last was far too sweet for me. And I like malty stuff. Also found that Mad Hat is distributing here in North Carolina now. I didn't know which sixer to pick up, but then I saw the sampler pack. You know how that story ended. I really need to update my beer list...

Numbers for you (to track my progress):
Word count: 46818
Page count: 155

I will update later in the week. And hopefully it will be shorter than this one.

Back to the Wars of Man and Beast

August 1, 2006

I will admit, my momentum was shattered last week. I had been going well, writing and pushing forward. I was rather pleased, and then suddenly the wheels came off the proverbial wagon. I think staring at some deadlines at work kind of threw that penny on the tracks, if you get the vague allusion. Also, trying to figure out what to do with my gall bladder surgery (which was supposed to take place on Thursday, the 3rd) caused more trouble than good (I cancelled it by the way, for a variety of reasons, most of which involved timing and the fact that I really need about five grams (x2) of two different vinyl triflates by the end of this week...).

So, I haven't updated in a while. This isn't to say I haven't been working. It's just been a bit slower than I would have liked. In a different twist, however, the reason my productivity has plunged has had nothing to do with video gaming. I'm rather proud of myself. I blame most of it on the heat, and my tall-ass yard that is suffering from too much rain, too much heat, and a broken lawnmower.

I have gotten things, done, however. Not just around the house (I am almost finished with the remodeling of two of my bathrooms) but also in my book. I completed a chapter. Small victory, one might think, but even small victories are victories. However, the bigger coup has been finally settling on a beginning for the afore-damned chapter 7. That's not the chapter I completed. However, I do have five pages of words on a screen for 7 (the last paragraph I wrote in it, I don't like, so that will be changed). And, I've almost finished chapter 5, which is the big battle scene. There are some intense moments in it, and I've enjoyed writing it. It really flowed well once I got caught up in the moment. Now it's slowly winding down and Redear has to make his choice, so I am hoping that sleeping on it will help me help him make the right one. I've also started chapter 10, which was actually the back half of chapter 7 that I had started to write, but then decided it fit into the story better as its own, standalone chapter. I also started chapter 11 today, which is another chapter of Redear and Jane. Chapter 12 is soon on the horizon, as well, which is one of those pivotal chapters in the book. I've got a few notes jotted down about it. I'm excited, because it will use my "vast" "knowledge" of wildflowers that I've been accumulating over the past few months.

So, here's the numbers. I've rambled on enough. I need some sleep. Damned alcohols don't oxidize themselves (well, not without some metal added to the mix...).

Word Count: 42462 (almost halfway there!!!!)
Page Count: 140

My task for tomorrow will be to finish chapter 5 and perhaps work on 11 or 7 more. Or start 12. I'm giddy about that one. I guess.