I finished the second intense round of edits to The Black Sunrise, and this is what I discovered:
The picture above is before I started this adventure in October. The last edit to the book was in 2012.
The picture below is what is now.
I used to be one of those writers who coveted the word count. I thought that the higher the count meant more, but I have since seen the fallacy in this logic. Writing 90,000 words was easy, but tightening the story – I mean really editing, was harder. I am proud of the smaller word count, proud of the clean story that emerged.
There is a problem with punctuation, my punctuation, to be specific. Something is wrong with it, but I don’t know where the problem is. I know is there. Since I burned through the books that I have, and used the internet, I decided I needed a structured course. No, I can’t afford to go back to college, nor have a car to take me to classes; I did the next best thing. I ordered textbooks, workbooks, and teacher guides for a home schooling course. I hope that a guided course with exercises (and answers so I can see where I am wrong) will click the little light bulb on in my head. I want to improve. I don’t want to sound like an idiot. The books should be here soon.
When you write a novel most people will tell you, upon finishing, to let it sit for a while. Come back to it with a better and more objective eye. Some people flat out refuse this advice; others take it to the extreme of never going back. The advice is solid, valid, and imperative.
I learned this the hard way. I couldn’t count the number of times I ran through The Black Sunrise, one go after another, without letting it sit. The problem there is that you can’t see what is up close – a novel is similar to Tetris – the pieces can all fit together, but you have to figure out how, and there isn’t just one way to do it either.
I realized the undisputable proof of letting a novel sit last night. I ran through the Black Sunrise almost a month ago and left it, all lonely, split into chapters, and gutted – went back to it a week ago. Now, there were some handfuls of tweaks, rearranging sentences into a better order, finding repetitive verbs, nixing adverbs that I left – most of it minor. The biggest additions are descriptions of the characters, which I didn’t have before. Mostly, cutting. Lots of cutting. Not drastic chunks either, shaving sentences down racks up an eliminated word count quickly.
Stuff like this:
The town looked different than he remembered. Thick green moss had grown over the charred ruins. There were dense patches of flowers. The only oddity was that none of it smelled. He reached one house that was completely untouched by the greenery. The floorboards of the porch creaked under his weight. He pushed the door open.
The town looked different than he remembered. Thick green moss had grown over the charred ruins of the homes; dense patches of flowers grew through the broken stoops. He stopped at the only house untouched by the greenery. The door hung on one hinge, the wind swept the ash away. The floorboards of the porch creaked under his weight. He pushed the door open.
This sentence alone:
Original: He reached one house that was completely untouched by the greenery.
New: He stopped in front of a house untouched by the greenery.
The originally passage stood after the first major edit then got slaughtered in the second.
Yes, there is reason when a person tells you to let a novel rest.
In case you didn’t read the opening scene: Here it is
I’ve decided to post the first chapter of The Black Sunrise, but since it is long I am going to break it into parts. I hope you enjoy.
Nia went to a private waiting room. She locked the door behind her, and cleared her throat. A tall, muscular boy stood under the corner mounted television, flipping through the channels. He landed on a news station. His eyes followed the ticker at the bottom.
“Been learning how to read, Seth?”
“Yes,” he answered. “I’m not good at it yet. You didn’t come here to check on my human skills.”
“What do you think?” She gestured for him to sit.
He flipped the television off, and paced the length of the room, his head down.
“Cristia’s powerful, but you didn’t need me to tell you that. It’s unstable though, spikes when she is …” he fell silent, and shook his head.
She knew what he meant to say, emotional. Her energy spiked every time she felt fear.
“I asked you what you thought, not what I could already conclude. How many times?”
“Three. But the last one…” He shuddered.
“How is she now?”
“Calm. But Nia, the power that I feel isn’t right.”
Nia sank down into a free chair and chewed her bottom lip. She expected this from the moment she found Cristia, “How so?”
“It’s not elemental.” He said.
“She has energy and it is powerful, but it is not from the Elemental Stream.” He shook his head and sat down, staring at the floor. “It’s like she is all around me. I don’t even have to reach out to find her….”
Nia returned to the lab on Kira’s orders. Cristia sat on the metal table looking smaller by the minute; her eyes met Nia’s for only a second. Nia knew the fear of being in one of Kira’s labs, and wished with all her heart that she could take the girl away now, but it wasn’t possible. Cristia was a danger to everyone.
Kira began the examination. The humans had tests to determine health that were unneeded in Nia’s home. Blood pressure, height, and weight all figures that Nia had no mind for. Kira scribbled them down on a clipboard, her frown deepening. Cristia hardly twitched a muscle, still and silent with her gaze locked on the ceiling. If Kira followed her gaze she’d only see cold white tiles hiding a maze of wires, but Nia knew. Seth waited directly above the lab, obediently, sensing for signs of danger.
Kira set clipboard down, and went to a cabinet and began pulling out needles.
Cristia reacted instantly. The lights erupted in a shower of sparks, and she bound from the table and slammed into the sealed door. She clawed at it like a feral cat.
Kira grabbed Nia’s arm before she could move.
“I expected this,” Kira said so only Nia could hear. “It locks in the event of an emergency.” Nia let out a gasp when the sprinklers went off overhead, and soaked Cristia.
She recoiled from the door, shivering.
“This is cruel, Kira,” Nia said in horror.
Nia stripped off her jacket and laid it over Cristia’s shoulders. She led her back to the table. Kira grabbed her arm and took four vials of blood.
Kira held the vials to the light, her eyes shining with victory. A smile swept across her face. “If you want power, Cristia, stick around.”
An offer that few refused. Nia wanted to say every warning in the world, but power sank deep in the heart of any man – driving them.
To Nia’s utter surprise, the girl lifted her eyes and said, “I don’t.”
Nia saw Cristia every night. On the sixth night, she sat at a small desk with a book on human religions open in her lab. Cristia huddle in the corner hugging a pillow to her chest.
“I don’t like this place,” the child confessed. “It’s like the forest. The people walk around but they act like no one exists.”
“It won’t be much longer.” Nia snapped shut the book and laid it aside. “Who taught you how to read?”
“Elena. She was the only –,” she closed her eyes.
No, keep talking. “I have a daughter, you know.” She rambled. “I haven’t seen her since she was five. Her or her brother.”
“Don’t you like them?”
“I do, but I knew they would be safer without me. We are different from normal mages, Cristia. My fate is higher than my wants and needs. I am a servant to the Spirits.”
“Is that what I am?”
“Well, no, but we all have a role to play.”
“I don’t want to play,” she jumped to her feet. “My father told me to never use my power. He hid me away from everyone and everything. He was afraid of me.”
“He shouldn’t have been. Tell me Cristia, what do you want to do?”
“I want be a healer.”
On the eighth day, Nia escorted Cristia to Kira’s lab, for what she hoped would be the last time in a long while.
“I’m done with my tests.” Kira set a vial of Cristia’s blood aside. “You’d be surprised by what they have and can show me; not what you are now, but the true potential of what you can become. The question, however, is not how much power you have, but if you can control it. Since I don’t have time to take you touring, Nia has agreed to do it.”
Cristia slid off the table and went to Kira’s desk picking up a magazine. She frowned at the picture of a model, “how do I be like them?”
“The humans?” Kira asked.
Kira sighed, “intriguing question … learn their technology, their writings – understand their history and religions. Now go.”
After eight days stationed at the hospital Seth had grown bored watching the humans heal without energy. He longed to move on and do something else. Humans weren’t nearly as intriguing as he once thought. In fact, once he understood them, it wasn’t entertaining at all.
He could sum his first day in the Human World in two words: confusing, disjointed.
After a year, he still hadn’t got used to the size of human cities or the number of inhabitants. The streets filled with the sound of cars, horns, and people. Children laughed and played around their mothers. Doors slammed, cars backfired, and cell phones rang. A few friends walked down the streets eating. First, he tried to keep his eyes on everything, but it together made no sense. The humans moved in different directions at different times.
“Would you stop pacing,” Nia said wearily.
He didn’t. He paced the length of two cars, over and over again. He didn’t have Nia’s ability to stand still. She watched the emergency bay doors without moving. He didn’t need sight, already he felt Cristia leaving the hospital. He felt her energy rise, when she burst through the doors, in a sprint, her power spiked with each step.
“She’s panicked,” Seth said.
Nia made no move for Cristia, but Seth couldn’t bare it. She stopped crouched against a wall with her hands over her ears.
He approached her, and knelt down.
“It’s hard at first… to see their connection. The humans I mean, like you and me they are connected to the Elemental Stream. We all belong to the same world. Once you accept that you will see them clearly.”
Her eyes gave him chills, round and wide like that of a doe, striking like a crystal, but full of untold power. He, of all people, knew better than to meet her gaze. Small she may be, but she didn’t lack energy – she lacked control.
She was like him, on some level, a Remanlist. Their powers allowed them to access the mind. An adapt Remanlist only needed eye contact while a lesser physical touch. Knowing this, he shifted his gaze.
She flung herself on him, slammed him to the ground, and tore at his face with her fingernails.
A million thoughts ran through his mind. He trained with a blacksmith – he split logs and dealt with the drunken rages of his father. This girl didn’t weigh ninety pounds and beating her would be easy. He couldn’t. Nia tore Cristia off, and then shoved her into a wall – the shock and pain caused her power to stabilize.
“This isn’t the forest Cristia,” Nia said in a firm voice. “I won’t coddle you. One slip from you could spark a war. Your power, and his, must remain hidden.”
He hadn’t expected the violence.
“This is Seth. He’s a soldier in the Human Mage Alliance. I’d advise you two to get along – be friends.” He didn’t understand her emphasis on friends. She hadn’t told him anything about what they were doing, or what Cristia was supposed to be. He hadn’t decided if he even liked her, she was unique … but friends. “Come, we should get moving.”
Seth hated silence, and this girl hadn’t uttered a word to him. If they were meant to be friends then he had to start somewhere. He blurted out the first thing that came to mind.
“This world is the complete opposite of ours.”
She cocked her head; light glittered in her purple eyes. “What makes you think I am different?”
“Have you ever looked into a mirror?”
“I look different?”
“Here,” he pulled her close to the nearest car. “Look.” She bent down to look. “No human has eyes like that.” He reached in his pocket and held out a pair of sunglasses.
“Wear them?” She turned the glasses over in her hands.
“That’s the idea. Mages may have elemental power, but humans have guns. Most normal mages can’t dodge a bullet any faster than a human can. Their technology gives them a nearly level playing field.”
“Well, there are exceptions to the rules,” he answered with a wink. We are the exceptions.
I’m in a bit of a quandary. What to do with this blog? During the second round of revisions to The Black Sunrise, I wanted to slow down on looking up new topics, which was the entire idea behind my blog. I know I still have a lot to learn, but I won’t know what until I sacrifice TBS to beta readers. I am also reading High/Epic Fantasy just to be familiar to the genre. It’s slow going and the famous epic fantasies start in ways that are frowned upon, which almost makes me wish I was born in the 80s, but even after a handful, I have yet to encounter anything close to mine, which is making me wonder what TBS’s genre is.
I am learning a great deal on detailing the world and the clothing. I am also paying attention to the use of punctuation, but there are things these books aren’t showing me. I also picked up Divergent, but it is giving me a headache. The ways sentences are structured seem backwards to me, and I find myself editing it more than reading it, which is disappointing considering it is a world-wide best seller.
I also gave a lot of thought to adding that scene in the fifth chapter, even wrote a few versions but in none of them can I not show what I can’t show – so I just decided to clarify the following scene, which might fly. At least for me, maybe a future beta will help.
I am still working on my WIP tentatively titled Silver Moonlight. It has required more research than I thought, since the only thing I studied about medieval times was the warfare, formation, tactics that kind of thing, which doesn’t help me when trying to figure out of ‘Hand of the King’ is a real thing, which it wasn’t. Then I had to look up how liege lords called their strength together.
The story is going great. I wrote myself in a dead-end, figured it out and ripped about ten-thousand words out of the story. While I haven’t recovered the word count, I wrote several better scenes and the story is moving again. There is still no protagonist; however, all the core characters are about to converge. I’m using this story as a challenge to freely experiment with areas that I am weakest on, and writing without any of my usual crutches stemming from technology. However, as I write this is becomes very clear how under read that I am in the Epic/High Fantasy genre – in fact, the only full series I have ever read that is adult aimed is A Song of Fire and Ice, and that series isn’t completed, but I am working on reading more.
I want to be able to engage in conversations about the genre I write, which right now I can’t do after only reading half of Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and the Everworld series.
I wonder if there are other writers who don’t read the genre, they write for? I read horror, crime/thrillers, science fiction, and military manuals, but as I said at the moment I am focused on fantasy.
Wow, this has to be the most uninteresting blog post ever.
The writer Gods have frowned upon me. I’m in the middle of chapter five, editing of The Black Sunrise, and stumbled upon a gaping hole left from a scene cut out of a much earlier edit. For the sake of the first novel being stand-alone, this scene missing presents a problem.
It is the first time anyone ever sees Godma.
A rundown of Godma:
Godma is pure energy without body, form, or consciousness. Once unleashed it is unstoppable and will destroy the world. Thousands of years ago, Godma was sealed inside a soul. Skip forward to modern times, the seal of Godma is unstable and it is feared that the corruptions of power will shatter it. So, Kira genetically engineers someone who has the strength and powers, and control, to maintain said seal. That person is Cristia.
Also Saden Infection
A formula developed by Kira Sims that increases a mages ability to harness energy. Developed for Cristia, SI has military applications. It boosts energy, grants different abilities, and takes away mortal restraints. Side effects: Most people go insane, they lose themselves to the power, become pure energy and destroy stuff, and it renders the person immortal.
Godma is not in the first book. Cristia is, but any mention of her true purpose is left out of this book otherwise it would not be able to function as a standalone novel.
In chapter five, Cristia takes Seth to his home village of Rin. Seth finds out that his father killed his baby sister and grandmother. Cristia, who is lacking control of her abilities in TBS also sees it happen, goes into a rage – and Seth sees for the first time the horrible energy within Cristia. He manages to calm her down and she takes his memories in order for him not to know, and so he can go help the heroes. In doing so she almost kills him.
What does any of that have to do with the first book? Absolutely nothing. Aside from the memory loss and fatal wound, the first emergence of Godma cannot be in the book.
But the missing scene bugs me.
The following scene in TBS is when Seth is brought mortally wounded with a three-year gap in his memories, to Kira who realized that only SI could save him, and as an infected, he will be on a level playing field with Cristia. It backfires on Kira and once he is infected, he is saved and joins with the heroes.
That scene is important, but I think it is jarring without the before scene.
I don’t know what to do.
I don’t know if you guys would find this interesting, but I had a lot of fun doing this. And I am totally going to build this in the Sims. I designed my castle for my WIP. It took hours, but I had to do a ton of research to know what rooms I needed, how to handle the bathroom and kitchens.
Vex is the capital city– population one million.
The castle is massive and can house several hundred people. The Northern side of the castle faces the city while the Southern faces the sea. A cliff a few hundred feet high raises it over the water. The land for the castle split from the mainland so it is connected to the mainland by a bridge, half of which can be drawn up.
The Great Hall.
A massive chamber with nine hearths, can seat two hundred people. The dais is at the end of the hall. Two small wood doors are behind the dais concealed by tapestries of the Fates of Life and Night.
The Small Chamber.
A tactical room, designed for the King and his army commanders to use to devise battle plans, contains a two man long table with the Averin Kingdom carved into it. The chamber has one fireplace. It is richly decorated paintings of battles against the Winglings. Blue and silver trimmed carpets and whitewood chairs.
The kitchen is connected the Great Hall by a stone hallways there are two smaller rooms in this hallway used for storage – one for smoked meats, the other for grains and flours this room has access to tunnels that run sewage under the castle.
The kitchen itself contains four massive brick ovens, two large open fire pits, and several long preparation tables.
A door to the outside leads to a large garden and small animal house that at any time contains, hogs, cattle, chickens, and other birds.
The entrance hall.
Two-story double wood and steel open to the entrance hall. A massive marble stair is directly in front of the doors. Four two-story high marble statues line each side of the stairs. Curtains hide two doors to the left along with an archway that leads to the throne room, archways on the right open to the Great Hall.
The furthest door in the entrance hall leads to the armory. A wooden stair leads to quarters for the nine Moon Knights.
The second small door leads to the Temple of the Fates, which has man-sized statue of each Fate, carved in marble save the Fate of Death, which is obsidian. There are no decorations in this room and no benches though under each Fate are a table for candles.
The Throne Room
A massive chamber decorated with black columns and two balconies that run the length of the room. The Throne itself is a high-backed crystal chair with blue cushion, a platform raises it half a man higher than the floor. A door adjacent leads to the Temple.
The Second floor.
On the East Wing.
Sixteen guest bedrooms.
Each Room is richly decorated though only two contain a fireplace. Each room contains either a small solar or balcony that either overlooks the courtyard or sea.
The Privy Room.
A small chamber with a basin and seat with a hole cut out. Waste is deposited in the seat, which runs down pipes connected to the sewers. This room is located at the end of the hall and triple walled and double doored.
The Star Tower also known as the astronomy tower.
The entrance to the tower that spans the height of seven floors is found on the second floor though it is nothing but a hollow windowless chamber with a spiral stair.
The West Wing.
Contain the royal apartments.
These are the span of four bedrooms. Each of the four rooms contains a solar, wardrobe, and privy. Each room has a fireplace and a balcony to overlook the courtyard or sea.
The Moon Tower.
This tower is a library that spans seven floors. Contains the rookery and chambers for the librarian. The shelves of leather bound books, scrolls, an assortment of treasures, keepsakes, stones, bones, and weapons from all across the world are located in the room.
The Third Floor.
The access to this floor can be found in the stairwell to the Star Tower. The floor is divided among the servants and workers in the castle. Along with extra chambers for lower class guests.
The Courtyard (Front)
Is rich in flowers and ponds as well as stone depictions of the Fates and fountains.
The Kennel and Stables
Are off the front Courtyard and sheltered by the inner wall. They are relatively small and contain chambers for the kennel master and stable men.
The Courtyard (back)
Is open to the gardens off the kitchens and contains an array of night flowers and fountains, plus ancient Oak Trees.
The posterior gate
Is found off the back courtyard.
The Castle has access to a private dock.
The entirety of the castle is surrounded by a stone wall thirty feet high (outer) and twenty feet (inner) fifteen feet (outer).
The Outer wall is manned.
There are four towers on each corner of the outer walls. These towers are designed to house ten knights at a time.
The outer gate is made of steel bars while the inner reinforced oak and steel doors. A Gatehouse is constructed between the outer walls they contain a small armory, quarters, and the wenches that lift the outer door.
Originally posted on The Sprint Shack:
A character arc is the full spectrum of the character’s change throughout a story. While many writers have different names for each step of a character arc—or, if you Google the term, numerous complex and often scary-looking graphs—the idea remains the same. Namely, a character ends in a different place from where he or she started.
Some writers list these steps in three, some in four. The following are my take on the steps required to build a three-dimensional character (and story!). If you’re the type of writer who hates outlining and feeling restricted, the following steps might scare you. Don’t worry—they aren’t as bad as they look!