[My brain is fried guys, I accidently pressed Publish Immediately, instead of scheduling this for Thursday. At this point, I’m far too tired to care, so you lovely people get a Tuesday post instead of a Thursday one!]
Hello all! How are you doing? Pull up a chair and join me as I throw a log on the fireplace (I know it’s summer here, but it is dang cold, people. The coldest summer for a decade. And I’m still sleeping wrapped up in my huge winter blanket, plus two other blankets).
Today is the last day of the Know the Novel link up I’ve been prematurely taking part in! Also, this will be the last you’ll hear of this novel for a while (aside from perhaps the odd mention of how its doing). I’m keeping this novel fairly closely under wraps because I hope to do great things with it and I don’t want the whole world knowing about it.
So, now the fire is roaring cosily, let’s get into the questions for today.
1. Firstly, how did writing this novel go all around?
As I’ve already mentioned in my previous two posts (you can find them here and here), writing this novel was so easy, even though I’d been stuck in an eighteen month long writer’s block. Since I’ve already talked a lot about this point, I’ll say no more and we’ll get into the juicy questions.
2. Did it turn out like you expected or completely different? And how do you feel about the outcome?
Pretty similar to what I was envisioning, though I was thinking it would be more thriller-ish and it turned out more mystery-ish, which is completely fine and probably fits the overall tone of the story much better, so I’m very happy with that.
Also, the outcome is one very messy, but so beloved, first draft and I am absolutely champing at the bit to get going on the next draft (alas, I have other commitments before I can get to it, but hopefully I will start draft two in the next few months)
3. What aspect of the story did you love writing about the most? (Characters, plot, setting, prose, etc.)
This one is very predictable, my favourite parts are always the characters, usually hurriedly followed by the setting (am I the only one obsessed with settings? I legitimately feel like I’ve never met any other writer who loves settings so much). However, this time around I also really loved my prose. Obviously, it’s pretty choppy, but I can see the potential in there for some real lyrical, dark prose.
4. How about your least favorite part?
Maybe the plot? I loved my characters, my setting and my prose, but the plot is a bit lacklustre in my opinion. It doesn’t help that there’s so many holes in it either, but yeah, I think that was my least favourite part. I also know that I’m going to have one heck of a time trying to wrangle the plot into an actual, you know, story line and I’m dreading that a tiny bit.
5. What do you feel like needs the most work?
I pretty much just answered this, but I’ll be a bit more specific.
Characters: I didn’t do any fleshing out beforehand whatsoever, so all the characters were made up on the wing. I definitely need to solidify their personalities more and give them quirks, some more flaws and some better motives. I also need to do more research on ADHD for Ilio. I’ve done heaps already, but there’s still lots of vague areas in his personality.
Setting: I changed my setting from a more traditional medieval setting to an industrial revolution (heavily inspired by industrial revolution Edinburgh), which I’m really excited about. I just need to do a lot more worldbuilding, set some rules for the magic, work on the backstory of the villain (which is very rooted in the mythology of the world), and work out some culture and religion stuff.
Plot: I pantsed this, so there’s so many hinted at plotlines that I completely forgot about, so I need to comb through the draft and work out what I want to pursue and what I want to leave out. I also need to write a detailed plot outline before I start the next draft and I need to more heavily insert the mystery aspect (it’s so half-hearted right now) and work on the villains introduction and the final battle against her.
Prose: Not much to work on here, mostly just the obvious editing and grammar stuff. I really like the style I used (I started off mimicking a mix of some of the dark adult fantasy I read last year and the more mature style of the later Harry Potter books and then fell into my own style stemming from that) and I think it really fits the storyline.
6. How do you feel about your characters now? Who’s your favorite? Least favorite? Anyone surprise you? Give us all the details!
I love all my characters! Who’s my favourite, I hear you ask? I really can’t pick a favourite…
Ok, yes, of course I’ve got a favourite and that’s Ilio. Closely followed by Skaati, Sholo and Zmaj. My least favourite? Well, obviously my villain, Eala. She’s awful.
Did anyone surprise me? I think Sholo surprised me a little by being much more tragic than I originally anticipated. He really broke my heart with his sob story about his executed father and his mother who doesn’t love him and a brother who grew up rich and loved while Sholo scrabbled on the streets for bread.
7. What’s your next plan of action with this novel?
I’m letting it sit for a few months while I work on some other projects and then I’m going to read through the draft again and write out some detailed character charts and then plot everything out. I’ll probably end up rewriting somewhere between April and June if all goes to plan.
8. If you could have your greatest dream realized for this novel, what would it be?
To have it published! Honestly, that would be such a dream.
And I suppose I should say the obligatory thing about changing people’s lives and all that 😛
9. Share some of your favorite snippets!
Oh yes! I love sharing snippets.
“Ilio, my boy,” the president said, leaning toward him. “Are you sure this is what you saw? Perhaps…” he hesitated, glancing at the count and countess as he did so. “Perhaps you were mistaken? That is the case in the majority of these sightings. Merely a case of mistaken identity. Or perhaps you…” now he flushed and looked troubled. “Perhaps you’d been drinking?”
Ilio felt himself blanch, and then flush. “N-n-no,” he stammered. “I don’t…I don’t drink, sir. I definitely wasn’t drinking.”
“That is, of course, what you would say in front of your parents, boy,” sneered the secretary. “I believe you were simply inebriated and could not tell the difference between a creature of darkness and a white rag flying in the wind. Or better yet, you’ve conspired with some other young fools of your age to create a hoax in order to bring innocent citizens into a state of manufactured panic.”
Ilio went white again. “No, sir,” he said, rising to his feet in a sudden rush. “I would never lie about something as serious as this. And I definitely wasn’t drunk.”
Without a word, the Washerwoman lifted the jacket out of the water and handed the sodden garment to Sholo. He took the dripping jacket in his hands and inspected the coat of arms. A salamander, awash in flames, confronted him, two knights standing by as the creature burned.
Sholo felt his stomach sink. The coat of arms belonged to the Waterford family. He’d seen it so many times—on the side of their carriages, emblazoned on their saddles and their horses’ bridles. Stamped in wax in the official letters they occasionally sent him. Placed beside dozens of other old noble coat of arms in the Hall of Arms in the Council’s Civic Building.
But the Washerwoman had said they were the clothes of a young man who was going to die. That meant this jacket could not belong to the old Count of Waterford…
It had to belong to Ilio.
Ilio was going to do die. Maybe Ilio was already dead.
Sholo awoke the next morning, sweat beading on his brow and panic thumping at his chest. His hand was on the hilt of his knife before he knew it, and he leaping to his feet, searching for a fight.
The familiar voice calmed Sholo a little, though his heart didn’t subside the race it was running inside him. He lowered the knife and glanced up. Zmaj stood above him, a small smile that might have been amused flickering over his face. “Settle down,” he repeated. “You don’t have to protect us.”
Sholo put the knife on the floor slowly and deliberately, and then straightened up. “I’m sorry,” he said, the words coming out more strangled than he would have liked. “I didn’t mean to overreact.”
“You weren’t overreacting,” Zmaj replied, his voice still calm and soothing. “It’s perfectly natural after the past few months you’ve had. There’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
Sholo tried to force a smile, but he couldn’t quite do it. Zmaj was right, after all. He’d always been jumpy, on the lookout for danger at all times, easily startled, but he’d always done his best to hide it. His mother would berate him if she raised her hand and he flinched without even thinking, his friends—whatever friends he may have had once—would laugh at him, call him a fool or a coward, if he startled too easy. And that had all been before the attack in the woods, before the fight last night with the ghoul, before everything else.
Before he’d seen the Washerwoman and had that dream.
Ilio was going to die.
The realisation hit him again, almost knocking the breath from his throat.
“You forgot the werewolf part.”
Ilio froze. “What do you mean, the werewolf part?”
Nahesa laughed again, even more uproariously this time. “There’s no need to play dummy with me, Ilio. They brought you in here in your wolf form and you transformed, right where you are now.”
A cold stone settled in Ilio’s stomach and he rolled over to stare at Nahesa. “What do you mean?” he repeated.
“There’s no need to pretend,” Nahesa said, looking amused. “I’m not going to judge you—”
“What would you know about it?” Ilio bit back.
Nahesa shrugged, then leant his elbow against his knees. “I don’t know, maybe a fair bit since I am one myself.”
Ilio sat up quickly, staring at the monk, who was idly playing with a belt of beads around his waist. “Really?” he demanded. “Are you really? You don’t look like it.”
“And you don’t look it either, so let’s just agree right now that neither of us will ever say something so stupid again, yes?”
10. Did you glean any new writing and/or life lessons from writing this novel?
Hmm…I’m not really sure. With some novels, it’s immediately obvious what writing or life lessons I learnt from it and with others not so much. This was one of the latter. In some ways though, it kind of signaled to me that there are ways to move on after something terrible happens. Moving on and growing is something my characters here have to do a lot and I think writing them working through it helped me to work through a lot of things myself.
Anyway, that is today’s post. My apologies if it seemed a bit rushed, I’ve been flat out for the past week and a half (I started a new job! I enjoy it, but being unemployed and having so much time to dedicate to friends, family and writing and then going back to a 9-5, creates such whiplash. What about you guys? Did your last writing or reading project teach you any interesting lessons? What’s a snippet from your current work in progress?