d1/67,000 words

I am having a little writer’s block these days, and since I am nearing the end of my first draft (sortof), I’ve been googling and reading a lot about the process for moving into draft 2. Sounds like it is a lot of mechanics, cutting, focusing, and cleaning. A lot of work, in other words. I’ve been looking over my notes and work for the first time with the idea of cutting in mind, and something unfortunate has occurred to me. There is a LOT of material I haven’t been able to work in yet, or has taken an unexpectedly minor role, and will probably not end up in the final at all.

For example, the Mechanist church has played no role at all. I introduced that late as a counter to the Vortranist church (which does play a role), but it hasn’t taken hold since so little of the action is set in the Citadel. More critically, is Augmentation. This is a key theme in the backstory, but has very little role so far. There are also some character relationships and details that may never play out… for instance Tristi and Kaylee, and Tristi’s character in general.

This is the problem with a single novel instead of something more epic… this level of immersion is just not feasible. So for now, I am just making a list of all the things/relationships/people that have a weak role, and when I come to draft 2, I’ll have to either work these things in properly, or cut them entirely. That won’t be fun.

“Thrall” Preview

Note: Most of the post material relating to my writing project Spawn / Thrall was originally in a different blog, so this post was a summary of that effort.  I have since merged the two blogs, so this post is somewhat redundant.  Nonetheless, it contains a few more insights into how this project got started, so I decided not to delete it.

More than half a decade ago, I started writing a screenplay, drawing on inspiration from a number of sources, but particularly the main-streamed worldbuilding as portrayed in the James Cameron movie blockbuster hit “Avatar”. My story had nothing to do with that one, but I struggled at creating a world on which interesting things could happen.

The effort stagnated and went idle after a few years… it turned out the reality of writing a compelling story was a lot more than just worldbuilding, and I didn’t really know what I was doing.  I had come up with some interesting “gotcha” twists, and some fascinating backstory I thought could be revealed over time, but none of it really came to anything.  I knew more about the backstory than the present story I meant to tell.

After sitting on the shelves for a time, I dusted off the project and recruited one of my friends to attempt to convert it into an RPG-style video game.  He holds a masters in creative writing, and I am a software engineer, so together — I hoped — we could make this into something.

Unfortunately that effort stagnated as well, due to the same problem.  Worldbuilding does not translate into a storyline, and my friend was not really in a position to bridge that gap in his spare time.

Back on the shelf.

In the last few years my personal repertoire has changed.  For the better part of a decade post-college, my casual reading was consistently non-fiction, on topics of physics, philosophy, and biology.  All things I find very interesting.  But at some point in the last couple years I changed gears and decided to revisit some of the fantasy / fiction books I had read in my youth.  I rediscovered enough forgotten nuggets that my appetite for fiction grew markedly.  After a couple years of enjoying properly done worldbuilding and immersion, as well as epic fantasy-style plots and characters, I decided it was time for one more spin on the old project, this time with a very specific goal in mind: a fantasy novel.

I went back to the drawing board.  The worldbuilding I had was good, it just needed cleaning up.  Then I put that aside and began the project of actually plotting out a story and creating characters, instead of just trying to roll with the world and nothing else.  The process is a ton of fun, and even though I am an obvious novice, I like it enough to try and stick through it.

So, update to right now.  I am 55,000 words into my first draft, with a goal of about 100,000 words total.  If I follow through this time (third time is a charm?), I hope to have a draft I can publish (self or otherwise).  The tentative title is “The Shadows of Thrall”, although I fully expect that to change in due course.

Here are the first 500 words of the prologue as a preview:

Tukánî surveyed the vivid flames, his nostrils filled with the the scent of char and death.  A blue hue colored his perspective. It was fear. He had not seen with blue as long as he could remember. He blinked slowly, eyes still stinging from the blinding light that had erupted from the small village seconds ago.  What had gone wrong? Whatever it was, it had nearly washed him away too, as it had his brothers.

His query touched the Adonis field, but with a shock, he pulled his senses back.  The field was molten and violent, seething with a deadly hunger he had only ever seen in the currents of the Scar itself.  How could it be so disturbed this far to the north?

He stepped along the high stone wall, one black scaled boot before the other, making no more noise than the night around him.  He flexed his muscles and inhaled deeply then removed his Harvesting blade from beneath his cloak, and gazed for a moment at the black steel rippling like flames. It was more for comfort than utility considering there were no survivors.  For comfort… how unusual.  Apparently, seeing with blue made him behave in strange ways.

With a quick leap, he dropped twenty-five feet to the forest turf, landing hard but steady. The nearest of the destroyed building was just ahead, bricks and wood in shapeless heaps, engulfed in flames. He walked up the road until the trees parted to give him a better view. It was a snapshot of pandemonium.  Bodies and burning buildings everywhere.  Serpents of glowing Adonis sputtering from the ground in a hundred places, lighting the ash-enameled stone road in dancing rainbows.  Debris casually detached from the ground to drift leisurely towards the sky, gravity abandoned.

The Adonis grew louder and more aggressive as he neared the center of the desolation, until he could not approach any closer lest he submit himself to the tides that had claimed his Brothers.  Although not quite all of them, he realized.  He was not alone after all.  A moment later two tall black figures stepped up from beside him, soundlessly.  Their eyes glowed with a deep blue.  The three stood in a silent vigil.

He scanned the many bodies strewn ahead of him, all were human, pale and dull.  The bodies of his own were gone. As he looked further into the tempest, one form stood out.  It was hard to tell, but yes, one small body was still shimmering with the gentle green glow of life.  He angled his head, watching the child.

Could it be? For the first time since the burst of light, his fear began to drain, replaced by a boiling excitement.

The small being was alive, but unconscious, laying right at the center of the destruction.  The Adonis was spiraling about the child and yet it’s inner gleam was steady and strong.

“As Cereb’os foretold, the Child has arrived,” he said quietly.  His thoughts changed tune, and he saw with red once more.