Three weeks ago, I was ecstatic when I finished the previous two chapters, “The Aldashi Plain” and “The Aldashi,” in two days. With only two chapters left to finish, the end seemed very close. Then, life reared its head, and I was unable to write—except for brief moments—for nearly three weeks. It was excruciating. On Friday evening, I let the floodgate loose. I wrote until well past midnight. Every free minute on Saturday—when I wasn’t doing laundry or giving the house a well-needed cleaning or cooking—I was writing.
It turns out that the break gave my mind the chance to flesh out the final chapter, which was lacking in the first draft. So, a lion’s share of the writing on Saturday—perhaps 12000 words—went into capturing that and filling in places in previous chapters to support the new ending. Once I landed on those details, the missing pieces in the current chapter, “Tishta,” filled themselves in.
One significant improvement was in the stories of the two Dark Wizards who are competing with Criften for Tishta. In the beginnings of the book, when these two are mentioned, the scenes were very short. Later, they got longer, but still weren’t nearly as long as the ones involving my main characters. In these two chapters, their roles in the story gained a lot of significance. The scenes about them became just as verbose as the ones for the main characters.
I actually added a new character—a novice Dark Wizard—giving me a device through which to explain how dark magics work, and a little more about the magical talents and how they work. Children are a wonderful addition to stories—they ask question and have to be told things they don’t know. I’ve used my three main child characters to do just this, throughout the book. It was nice to have a child on the other side. She filled a void. I had to go back four chapters to add her in. I know how she will fit into the next book, and she helped flesh out some parts of it that I had skimmed over during its first very rough draft.
In “Tishta” itself, beyond all the new scenes with the Dark Wizards, I changed some of the story to fit better with the way the characters have developed since the first draft. I added some things that definitely weren’t there the first time around.
Coltan does something fairly rash that jeopardizes the mission. I added this because he makes a decision based on emotions that he would never have done in the first draft. I hope it shows his humanness coming through. Later, Criften lights into him. It is an unusual behavior for the wizard, but I wanted to show a reflection of how tired and stressed out he has become. I like this better than the way I kept him aloof and distant throughout the first draft. This time, as I fleshed him out, I made him more approachable, but, ultimately, he needs to keep himself a little distant from the others. He feels the entire weight of the decisions to take his people into dangerous situations. It is also the start of him withdrawing into himself, which will continue in the next story.
Some things I have been paying close attention to are how many days have passed, what the season is (and, so, how cold it is and how long the daylight lasts), and the phase of the moon. I know when it should be full and bright, and if and when it should rise, if it is not. This makes me more comfortable in the world—I pay attention to the phases of the moon in our real world. While writing this chapter, I realized I was missing a river. Once I added it, right where it should be, the story changed a bit, and it became an obstacle to overcome. It also provided a definite border—as definite as a river can be—for the Aldashi Plain. I like how it helped create the scenario for another encounter my heroes face as they escape back to The Plain.
As always, I recorded all the scenes, plus all the changes in previous scenes. For me, it was an exciting read. As I listen to them, I’m sure I’ll find some things to change—it is my best editing process—but for now, I just want to listen to this new chapter. It’s been too long since the last one. Beyond spending all day Saturday writing, I’ve spent the best part of yesterday and today finishing this chapter, and now, I need to get some other work done. One. More. To. Go.
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