#amwriting: the rough draft

My Writing LifeI have begun a new novel set in Neveyah. It is the “how it all began” novel and takes place at the beginning of their recorded history. It’s been rolling around my head, and bits of this story are alluded to at various points all through the Tower of Bones series and also Mountains of the Moon.

The protagonist of this story is mentioned regularly in the Tower of Bones series as a character featured in children’s books. He’s portrayed as a kind of superhero, doing many impossible things.

But as always, there was a real man and real events at the core of the mythology.

I am taking the mythical man and giving him his place in history as the founder of the City of Aeoven, the College of Warcraft and Magic, and the first leader of the Temple of Aeos. I had the basic story drawn up back in 2009 when I began devising the world of Neveyah—three lines mentioning their childhood heroes.

The events that launch Aelfrid down the path of the mythic hero are all laid out. Now I must connect the dots and bring him to life.  If the story grows too large, it will be published as a two volume set, but my intention is to keep it to the same length as Valley of Sorrows.

As an indie, I must pay CreateSpace up front for my stock whenever I go to book fairs or signing events, so keeping my costs down is critical. CreateSpace costs are dependent on the length of the book, so if I have to pay $6.99 for each book, it limits  how much stock I can afford to keep on hand. I don’t want to run short of books, so I try to keep my costs to below  $5.00 per book. This also makes donating them to libraries and shelters affordable.

Even though Tower of Bones was published first, the rough draft of Mountains of the Moon was actually written first. In early 2009 I had been asked to write an epic fantasy story-line for a Final Fantasy-style anime-based RPG that was never built. For that reason, the world building was super-heavy.

Before I even had a story, I had to spend months

  • devising history and mythology
  • designing all the many environments where the story would take place
  • drawing maps
  • designing the creatures the characters do battle with
  • I also had to design the rules for magic, including its limitations

Having all these things so well-drawn and documented has been a bonus, as I can just write the story. The setting is clear in my head, laid out in a style sheet for that world, and the terrain is detailed on maps.

The north in the time of AelfridI have learned from the mistakes of others. Unlike the Saga of Recluce series, my maps for the early days detail the world as it was then, so there is no struggling to guess where the major towns are. (See my post, of  March 10, 2014, Spanking L.E. Modesitt Jr.)

I would definitely do two things differently, if I were to create that world today: the calendar, and the names of the days. I wouldn’t go with a 13-month lunar calendar, and I wouldn’t name the days after Norse gods.

But the calendar is canon now, and just as in real life, you must work with what you have. So, right now I am nearing the first plot point, where the first calamity occurs. Since this is the rough draft, everything to this point is really sketchy—a lot of “he said,” and “he went,” just to get the ideas down and everything in place.

These “telling and not showing” places are road marks, to guide me when I sit down to write the true first draft. My synopsis was about 3000 words. This rough draft will top out at about 55,000 words, and the first draft of the novel itself will be around 90,000 to 100,000 words.

398px-Heroes journey by Christopher Vogler

Hero’s Journey, by Christopher Vogler, via Wikipedia

What I am doing at this point is setting the scene, introducing and developing the characters, and finding the reasons why they are who they are as people. I have a grip on my mentor’s character, and also the side characters.

I know my protagonist fairly well, although what initially motivates him is still a bit of a mystery. His personality and what he has to do are clear, but I haven’t yet discovered what lies within him that pushes him to achieve this thing. That is part of the journey for me.

For this book, I know exactly who my villain is, and how he came to be that person. He is new to me, but his motivation is clear and easy to imagine. I feel a real connection to him.

Altogether, if everything goes according to plan, writing this book will take about a year for me to get it to the final draft and into the editing process.


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3 responses to “#amwriting: the rough draft

  1. Stephen Swartz

    There’s those words again: “epic fantasy”! You make them seem so gentle.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for being so open about your process. I should think this would be helpful to others working to get series off the ground.

    Liked by 1 person