Tishta the Crystal Orb: Keeping Up the Pace

This week was challenging in terms of finding time to write. Even tonight, I took the time to go to my monthly reading event, Two Hour Transport. I was lucky enough to have the chance to read a scene, although it has been rare when there were actually too many readers for the available time. Last month, I read “Intestines From a Gremlin,” from Chapter 20, “Strong Magics,” which went over pretty well (especially, the part where Criften has Coltan hold the spindle while he measures off a strip of gremlin guts). I decided to follow that up with the very next scene, “See? Magic. Not Tea.” I had to trim out some of the words to fit it in the five minute timeframe. That has been an issue since the length of my scenes has increased, overall, in this revision. I had to speak really fast, but I’m glad I read that one.

I thought I would never make it through the next chapter. Then, I analyzed the scenes. For one thing, there were far too many to be consistent with other chapters. Secondly, it turned out that the first half was about questions and the second half provided some answers. I was able to neatly slice it into rough halves and create two chapters, Chapter 24, “Questions,” and Chapter 25, “Answers.” Neat!

One of the undertakings for me was to decide how and where to include something about Coltan finding a sexual outlet. His training with Eido—to separate his lust for blood from his lust for sexual gratification—included him feeding no less often than once a week, or maybe ten days, as well as satisfying himself sexually every day or so. Learning to be a wolf provided him a way to feed without harming people at all. I’m fairly certain that he has not fed on a human—except for that one time in Haliton—since he learned that skill. Before Coltan became involved with Gentu, he would steal off by himself to masturbate or occasionally slip away to bite some poor farmer. In Part 4, “Castle Colmaria,” the group spends most of their time at the castle. In this chapter, I added a brand new scene, “He Went Out,” where Coltan makes a trip to a brothel. In the next chapter, I will add something to deal with his need to feed.

Other than that addition, the scenes in this chapter remained relatively in tact. One addition was a fairly detailed description of Elizan, Petran’s wife, when she is first introduced. In the original draft, I didn’t include much in terms of descriptions for any of the characters. This time through, I rectified that. With Elizan, I even had Gillan speculate on where she was from based on what she looked like. I think it was a good opportunity to describe more about the different ethnicities in the various regions, as well as reinforce what some of the main characters look like and where they are from.

Because I made Gillan’s role as the leader of the warriors much more apparent in this revision, I changed the scene where Malcan goes to visit his brother to have Gillan—instead of Toran—go along with him and Coltan. Again, this reinforces something about the character. I am glad I made this change. In the original draft, I just randomly picked who accompanied Malcan. I knew I wanted Coltan there, but I think it was my own bias that it would be the men who would talk to Belcar—the general in charge of the armed forces of Colmaria—that led to my choice of Toran. This time, it is Toran who is left behind with the children. This feels much better.

As usual, I did a lot of flipping back and forth from working on the scenes in this chapter to making changes to the previous chapters, while looking ahead to the next one. It is a real endeavor to keep all the ducks in a row. Whenever I add or move a scene or partial scene, I have to carefully ensure it doesn’t end up out of sequence with other events. As soon as the troop is back on the road, I will have the added task of watching the phases of the moon again, so the nights are appropriately dark or bright. One upcoming scene, in particular, requires a full moon. I should start lining up the days to enable that.

My usual practice includes recording each of the scenes before I call the chapter finished. This chapter was no exception. I think a lot more about what I have written when I read it out loud. Saying the words and then listening to them utilizes different parts of the brain from writing and reading silently. I am sometimes blown away by how difficult it can be to read my own writing. It frequently forces me into breaking up sentences that are way too long and complex. Now that my ear is attuned to listening for gerund phrases, they stick out. I usually quash them. The ones I keep are rare and usually very short. “Having regained his composure, Brant took the cookie,” or “Being fairly drunk, Tulcar rambled on for a long time about sons and responsibilities.” It looks like I am doing a pretty good job avoiding these little beasts. I had to go through many scenes to find these two examples.

I am very excited about diving into the next chapter. It is the final chapter in Part 4. Once I finish that one, the end is in sight, although, Part 5, “Heading East,” will offer its own challenges. I know there is a big chunk of words to add between the wizards’ battle and the end of the book. I can’t wait to write that. It will be fun to do some actual writing instead of constant revisions.

Copyright ©2014-17 Ramona Ridgewell. All rights reserved.

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