Tishta the Crystal Orb: Part 1 Editing Done (for now)

I was super excited six days ago to announce I had finished the second draft of Book One of The Wolf Dream Books, “Tishta the Crystal Orb.” I envisioned a quick final edit through the whole book—correcting case; adding missing periods and commas; making sure the characters’ voices rang true.

It turns out, even though I thought I had changed my writing to use fewer gerunds and shorter sentences, I hadn’t. Well, not the way I’m writing now. So, the beginning of the book is in a much different writing style from the end of the book. I guess, I should have expected that. I was trying out new writing skills, and that was nine months ago.

I have made some pretty extensive changes in “Part One: Coming Together.” Not to the story, so much, but to the way I tell it. Even spending every free moment (and some when I should have been doing other things) working on these five chapters, it took me six days to finish. I ended up re-recording every one of the twenty-eight scenes. This is the shortest part, at 71 pages (down from 73, pre-edit). I hope, by the last half of the book, that I won’t have so many of these kinds of changes to make. When I finish this edit, I will circle back to do the edits I was planning to do around syntax and whatever.

One of the nice things about going through these first chapters is revisiting the beginnings. Although much of it is very, very familiar, there are things I added in the second draft that I don’t remember so clearly. It is giving me a chance to experience at least some of the story as a “new” reader might. I still like it. A lot. I think this is a good thing. But, I like it even better with the edits I just completed.

This edit is going to take a while—at least a month, if I can manage to get through a chapter a day—but, I am all right with that. Everything about writing this book has taken far longer than I could ever have imagined. I’m not trying to make it perfect, but I want to ensure it is complete. I am much closer to that than I was at the beginning of the second draft. I feel fairly confident that I won’t be adding much to this revision. I hope I don’t need to, because that will mean I found a hole in the story.

When all is said and done, I love to write. I knew this before I started writing in earnest two-and-a-half years ago, but I never found the time to act on it. Now, I know. It’s something I must do. The more I write, the more I write. It stimulates ideas, even if they’re not for the story I’m currently working on. If I could, I would do it full time. I like it that much.

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

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Tishta the Crystal Orb: Escape and Reunion are the Final Chapters

I am giddy.

I would  have called “Chapter 31: Escape” and “Chapter 32: Reunion,” of “Tishta the Crystal Orb” finished many days ago, but, since they are the final chapters in the book, I went through the editing process I normally do when I review the following chapter—because there is no following chapter. I spent the past few days listening to recordings of the scenes in “Reunion.” As usual, it led to lots of edits, including merging one scene into a later scene, to avoid telling too much, too soon.

I spent a lot of time going back over the previous chapter, “Chapter 30: Tishta,” to make sure everything lined up correctly with the final ones. During my review and edit of the “Escape,” it grew way too large. I split it into two chapters. I’m still struggling with placement of scenes in these chapters, but I might have it close now. I’ll have to listen some more to all of “Part 5: Heading East” before I feel comfortable with the current arrangement.

Part of what happened in Part 5 is I added a lot of stories around the Dark Wizards Baldru and Anakru. They both play major roles in the end of the book. I also added a whole new battle scene, which was great fun to write. It changed the original ending quite a bit, so that took some work to polish.

I let my writing take me where it wants to go. In this case, the Aldashi warrior, Freyl, plays a key role in how it ends. He will now have a presence in the next book, “Into the Wolf Dream.” For me, it balanced out the addition of Keldra, Baldru’s apprentice Dark Wizard. She will take over some roles in that book that I didn’t know who was going to play. I’m not sure yet what Freyl’s impact will be.

Another new character I added was Landru, who is a Dark Wizard that ends up with some holes in his body after encounters with Coltan. I already have some ideas for him in Wolf Dream, as well. It’s always interesting to me when I add a character, and suddenly something in the future resolves itself. I was really excited for this to happen in this book, so there is continuity in the long-range story line instead of creating new characters to fill the roles.

All this character development and world building have take my word count from 87,528 to 187,965. I had no idea. I like it so much better now. The hard part is going to be trimming out the unnecessary words and scenes. Like tearing a hole in the fabric of my soul. It will be a good exercise for me.

I will stop writing about Tishta now, so I don’t give anything away. My next step will be to read the book from cover to virtual cover. I might do this while listening to my recordings. I haven’t decided yet if that will be the most useful way to spend my time, or to simply read it. I might need to do both.

Now that I am one large step closer to actually publishing, there are a lot of other tasks to be completed. I’m just starting to focus on that list, which will include deciding if and when to have my editor review it, providing a vehicle for my Beta Readers to download a copy of the book, getting my cover artist set back up (and getting the artwork completed), drawing maps (which I think I might be able to do on my own, at least for the very first edition), diving more into marketing and brand building, and figuring out how to convert my audio recordings into an audio book. It’s a long list and this is definitely not everything I need to do.

One thing I’ve been struggling with is what name to publish under. Up to this point, I have been using my given and family names. I have thought about the options, including using my initials instead of my given name, but I have always been me. I need to make up my mind about this before I move forward with creating more social media. Up to this point, all the book stuff has been on The Wolf Dream Books social media—@TheWolfDreams on Twitter; The Wolf Dream Books on Facebook; of course, this blog. Many authors are encouraging me to create author accounts. I’m not certain how I want to manage that. Lots to think about.

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

Tishta the Crystal Orb: Tishta

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.

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

Tishta the Crystal Orb: The Aldashi

Well, this has never happened before. After finishing the previous chapter, “The Aldashi Plain,” in a day, I’m writing the very next day to say I finished chapter 29, “The Aldashi,” of “Tishta the Crystal Orb.” What an exciting way to celebrate #WorldBookDay.

After only two more chapters. I’ll be done with the edit. That is a big motivator to just sit down and finish it. I anticipate these final two chapters will take a fair amount of work. I will very likely come back to the Aldashi chapters to make tweaks and add details about the Dark Wizards, for whom there is not a single scene.

By this point in the book, the relationships between my characters have grown. They trust each other. They know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. They are ready to pull together for the final push.

I like this chapter, along with the pervious one, a lot. It provides a respite for the group before they head into the most dangerous mission they have been on together. They have time for introspection. Especially, Coltan.

In the previous chapter, when the group entered The Aldashi Plain, Coltan battled with a repulsion spell—meant to keep demons from crossing the plain. While Criften was able to mitigate its effects, it told Coltan, in no uncertain terms, that he is a demon—not a man. I don’t think this would have bothered the Coltan who joined the group at the beginning of the book. He was a vampire. He had accepted that fact centuries earlier.

But something happened along the way. He was accepted into a group—which became a family. He remembered how to love. He developed a friendship with Gillan, and showed he would support her as the leader of the warriors—instead of trying to usurp her—when she lost her confidence and was was ready to quit. He and Malcan—whose ancestry includes vampire hunters—became brothers. The most profound was the relationship that formed between the vampire and a little girl—Mar. She showed him unconditional love, and even adopted him as her father.

In “The Aldashi,” when the group arrives at the Aldashi encampment, Coltan faces a whole camp full of people whose main purpose in life is to keep demons out of the plain. The Aldashi warriors stare at him with mistrust. When everyone else has dinner together, he is shunned from sitting at their fire. Everything reminds him that he is not a man.

Two of my favorite scenes fall back-to-back in this chapter—”Keeper of the Prophecies” and “I’m Not a Man.” In the first, Malcan rides alongside Freyl, the leader of the Aldashi warriors. Freyl does not understand Malcan’s relationship with Coltan. Here is a snippet from their conversation.

A quarter of an hour passed before Freyl asked curiously, “How can you stand to travel with a demon?”
Malcan took a calming breath. He glanced at Freyl. He decided he wasn’t being malevolent.
“He doesn’t really act like a demon. I’ve stopped thinking of him as anything but a man.”

In the very next scene, Coltan talks to Malcan about his thoughts since arriving on The Aldashi Plain.

“It reminded me, I’m not a man. I don’t want you to forget that. If anything happens to Criften—if his taming spell goes away—you have to protect the others.”
“Nothing’s going to happen to Criften,” Malcan said emphatically.
“Listen to me, Malcan,” he went on intently, just above a whisper, “I need to be able to trust you on this. You have to promise me that you’ll kill me. I don’t want to hurt any of you.”

By the time my readers get to these chapters, I hope they can understand the conflicted emotions going on in Coltan’s mind. This is the message I’m trying to present: the outsider—the other—trying to find his place.

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

Tishta the Crystal Orb: The Aldashi Plain

I blew through chapter 28, “The Aldashi Plain,” in a day. Right now, it might be the shortest chapter in the book, “Tishta the Crystal Orb,” although, I am very likely to add one or two scenes to include my Dark Wizards. I just don’t know what they would be right now. So, I am moving on to the next chapter.

On the Aldashi Plain, Coltan is faced with his demon-ness. Throughout the book, up to this point, he has been treated more and more like a human, and he has started to feel less like a demon. The acceptance he got from group, especially from Mar and Malcan, let him feel that way. Reminders that he is a demon will be a recurring theme throughout the rest of the book. Maybe that is why I liked writing this section so much.

Coltan is not the only character going through self-doubt. Malcan continues to struggle with his PTSD. Primarily, he is afraid he will let Coltan down again, but, if he does, it will put the mission to retrieve Tishta in jeopardy. Criften is dealing with his own self-doubt. He made a decision to defy his Master Wizard and The Council—he doesn’t trust them. He has lied and kept his knowledge about the location of Tishta a secret. He is following his instincts—which is one of his characteristics—but that doesn’t preclude him from questioning his own decisions.

There are only three chapters left. I am so excited! In the next one, we meet the plains folk. It includes my favorite scene in the book. Then, on to the climax and resolution. The addition of the new dark wizard apprentice, Keldra, has helped me formulate some ideas on how to make the ending more satisfying—it was one of my editor, Anne Bean’s, comments from her review of the first draft of “Tishta the Crystal Orb.”

I like the way adding darker characters makes the story come together. The first time this happened was when Coltan walked into the story—he surprised me. He paved the way for the whole story and stole the limelight from Malcan. I purposefully added Contara to add some conflict when my characters where getting along all too well. Keldra might do the same for the ending. I can see how she will cause conflict for The Others starting really soon and continuing into “Into the Wolf Dream.” Never be afraid to add new characters.

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

Tishta the Crystal Orb: Invasion

Whew! Another slog to finish chapter 27 of “Tishta the Crystal Orb.” I spent a large part of my writing time going to NorWesCon40 last weekend, so spent it listening instead of writing. I believe these events are well worth the time. During my edit of “Invasion,” I made many changes to the last chapter, “Denalton,” to tie the two together. I probably added more new stuff to “Denalton” than I did to “Invasion”—although the current chapter required all its editing.

The new writing has been fun, but challenging, to add to the story. There have been some new interactions within the main group, but the biggest part in these chapters was adding a lot more story around one of the Dark Wizards, Baldru, who has been hounding them.

Working from some notes, I added a totally new character—an apprentice for Baldru, called Keldra—as well as giving some more personality and description to a couple of other wizards that work with him. Keldra surprised me by turning out to be a girl—in this world, girls don’t tend to be very powerful as wizards, usually becoming witches, which is a totally different thing. Baldru looks right past that. She can conjure demons, just like him. He is ecstatic. They were featured in two new scenes.

I knew Baldru kidnapped Gentu, but not how he pulled it off. When Keldra joined the story, I found the answer. With Keldra joining his forces, Baldru can put up quite an army of demons. This will help towards the end of the book, where Criften and Baldru get into it—but, that’s getting ahead of myself.

In “Invasion,” I expanded Coltan’s interest and concern over Gentu. In the original draft, after Gentu goes off to be with Maglin—due to his injury with the poisoned dagger—Coltan didn’t do much grieving. It was something my editor, Anne Bean, found lacking. I’ve added quite a bit about it in this version. It helps that I also added Criften’s communications wth his allies, Maglin and Eido. Coltan now regularly checks in with Criften to see if Gentu is getting any better. He’s also very upset when he finds out he was kidnapped. I think it adds a lot to his story, and to the story in general. Gentu’s rescue is becoming a larger plot point and I have plans for it to interfere with Coltan’s judgment.

A fun scene that I added to this chapter was “Not Your Servant.” In it, I show the interaction between the god, Rindahl—currently inhabiting the body of a young boy—chastising his wizard, Anakru, after he sends him on a task.

Anakru turned to Rindahl. The god held his eyes. His orotund voice shook the wizard.
“I am not your servant to bow to your beck and call.”

I like the incongruity of the apparent young boy having a deep, resounding god’s voice. Even the choice of the vessel in which to make himself corporeal is telling. When gods inhabit humans—or whatever—in my world, they can’t just pick anyone they want. It’s someone weak, and it’s difficult for their wizards to keep them there. This is also true for Rahl. Baldru works hard to keep the god in the eunuch’s body, and he can only maintain him in Gentu for short periods of time.

It’s demanding to keep track of all my characters and what rules apply to them in this world. I keep copious notes. I write backstories. I try to ensure that if a character comes from the same region as another character, that they share similar names, physical traits, customs and speech patterns. I work way ahead in the series to ensure the things I know are going to happen will still make sense when we get there. I don’t know how much other writers do this. I always knew this would be an epic story, so have taken great care with it. I’ve heard stories about publishing a first book in a series and then abandoning the series because some key point was overlooked in the first book. I am doing everything possible, within some constraints—time being the most crucial one—to make certain that doesn’t happen to my story.

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

Tishta the Crystal Orb: Denalton

Twelve days after I finished the previous chapter, “Answers,” I finally finished Chapter 26, “Denalton.” I had a lot of distractions going on over the last two weeks, including my Mom having surgery. It turns out, I understand writer’s block now. This is the second time it’s happened this year, although, this one wasn’t nearly as bad.

I was so excited to start into Part 5, “Heading East.” It starts the warriors heading toward the object of their journey. I thought I would dive right in and be done in no more than a week. That’s not what happened at all. The first scene was a bit of a struggle as I completely re-wrote a scene that had been torn asunder when I moved a significant portion of it to earlier in the book. Once I figure out it needed to actually be two scenes, with a mostly new one leading into the bulk of the remains of the original one, I was able to write that new scene. The harder part was writing the second scene.

In the original draft, this scene included the telling of the rather long story about Tishta’s origins. It needed to be told much earlier to help set the stage for the journey. As I tried to re-write the scene, it still seemed to need a story. I decided it should be a story about the original hero, Actalim, from The Great Battle, which took place centuries earlier. I felt like I couldn’t write a legend about Actalim without writing some of his backstory. So, I dived into that. While it was a good thing to do, it ate into the limited time I had available for writing. It was frustrating to have the novel sit idle for days on end.

Last night, after spending two days with my mother while she recovered from her surgery, and not getting any writing done, I was feeling really depressed about my progress. This morning, I wrote the legend. It didn’t even take that long, once I got going. I guess I just needed a few hours to focus on it. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. If I ever write a book about Actalim’s adventures, I think it can follow this story pretty closely. It’s a legend, anyway, so some of it would be incorrect or exaggerated. When I wrote the little backstory that I did, I could see how it could suck me in to writing a whole story around Actalim. I’ll probably need to write more of this before I’m through with these first Wolf Dream stories.

Once I finished the second scene, I blew through the other three scenes in a couple hours, including recording them and doing a first edit. As I go through the book, I’m adding backstories. I did this in a couple of places in these scenes, especially for Coltan and Malcan. I also included more speculation about a new prophecy I introduced in the previous chapter, and had Malcan be reflective about the legend that he told in the second scene. I like that Malcan is not just the keeper of prophecies, but also of stories.

I currently believe this chapter is complete, although, in practice, I know I’ll jump back here to make updates and modifications as I move through the next chapter. I  may also need to add a scene with dark wizards, but I don’t know what it might be right now.

I’m back to being happy about the progress and hopeful about the next chapter going more smoothly. I’m also back to having fun writing the story.

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

Tishta the Crystal Orb: Answers

I am smiling as I write this. I just finished the final scene in the final chapter of part four—Chapter 25, “Answers.” It has been only four days since I finished the previous chapter, “Questions.” I guess staying home this weekend, instead of volunteering at film festivals, allowed me to spend my time writing. I was a little overextended for the last few weeks.

In “Questions,” the group found some strange goings on at Castle Colmaria, as well as reestablishing some old connections—especially Malcan—meeting some new people, and learning a bit from their encounters. “Answers” doesn’t answer all the questions, but it does answer the biggest question that has been looming since the beginning of the story—where is Tishta? It sets up the final part of the book—Part 5, “Heading East.”

We learn a little more about Malcan’s childhood at the castle, a bit about Coltan’s past—when he has another flashback—and a bit more about Brant, as he recalls living with his mother at Castle Bindar.

Once crucial event happens when Criften finds out where the Orb is—he crosses a line about who to trust and, more importantly, who not to trust—that sets the stage for future interactions with his Master Wizard and with The Council of Master Wizards. It won’t come into play much in this book, but it is an inciting incident for some of the things that occur in the next one, “Into the Wolf Dream.”

Because “Tishta the Crystal Orb” has never been a stand alone book, at least in my mind, I have introduced people, prophecies and events that drive the epic story along.  They will come into play later, as Criften’s team prepares for what I am currently calling “the coming battle.” Part 4, “Castle Colmaria,” was a vehicle for this. Otherwise, it was really a pit stop where my warriors could rest and regroup mentally. For Coltan and Mar, it gave them the opportunity to spend a lot of time together, bonding. When Malcan joined them, it completed a family unit that will continue to exist and flourish as the story progresses. For Criften, it started his path to isolation, even from his most trusted allies.

I am not sure how other authors accomplish setting things up for following books without doing exactly what I have been doing. I have put a lot of thought into ensuring “Tishta” has a solid story, with its own inciting incident, challenges and conclusion, but I already know most of the next story. “Into the Wolf Dream” starts right where “Tishta” leaves off. Some of the major story arcs continue to the end of “Wolf Dream.” It is already one-hundred-twenty thousand words long. Hopefully, with what I have learned while writing “Tishta,” I can have that book ready within six months of publishing this one.

But first, I need to finish this one. Part 5, “Heading East,” is going to have a lot more added, especially near the end. It currently has six chapters defined with twenty-four thousand words over forty-seven scenes. I am sure I will massage it, combining scenes and moving them around a bit. I will also certainly add new scenes. It will be interesting to see how these numbers change. Now that I am paying closer attention to these types of details, I noticed I will need to go back through some of the earlier chapters to do more edits like these. Learning more each day.

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

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.

Tishta the Crystal Orb: Another Week, Another Chapter

This week was a good one. I finished another chapter. In chapter 23, “Good Food and Kitchens,” I added quite a lot of relationship details. I like it when my characters share their feeling and emotions with each other. I hope it all comes through in my writing.

Criften continues to share his emotions, especially his fears and insecurities, with Maglin. More of his magical abilities are exposed, like when he overhears a conversation between one of the dark wizards and a spy at the castle. What he learns guides some of his subsequent behaviors, but has him questioning his own motivations. At the same time, we learn more about Baldru and his relationship to Rahl. I added a whole new scene for that conversation.

Large parts of the chapter were salvaged from my first draft, although I think all of them were expanded or had new interactions added to them. Late in the chapter, I added a second new scene between Criften and Maglin where she gives a report on Gentu, and Criften relays a message from Coltan.

Since I started exposing these conversations, it has added an unexpected richness to the story beyond giving Criften a vehicle to express his deep self. It has been fun to see Maglin’s character become fully fleshed, especially since she has a physical presence in the story now, so the reader knows what she looks like and some of her behaviors.

We get to know Eido a little bit through Criften’s conversations with him, but he doesn’t manifest physically until later in the series—he lives in far away Soldur-gan. It’s going to take more than an attempt to retrieve Tishta to necessitate him making the journey. Besides, Criften has successfully found and recovered it in the past with a smaller crew than he has at his disposal in this book.

This chapter sheds light on Brant’s past and he’s not very pleased about sharing it. In the aftermath, though, his relationship to Malcan solidifies.

As I have worked my way through this chapter, I found myself reading forward into the next chapter—and even revamping one of its scenes before I remembered I was only visiting—to make sure my timelines stayed reasonable, and also to keep the storylines consistent with what is supposed to happen next. I also spent a fair amount of time reworking the previous chapter to get everything to line up better with this current one. I am positive this type of back-and-forth editing between the chapters in this part will continue until my travelers get back on the road.

I still find my audio recordings of each scene to be an invaluable resource for catching odd phrasing, repeated words and things that are out of place or time. I also really enjoy listening to my story, which I think is a good thing. I read blogs by other authors who complain about having to read their scenes over and over, to the point where they hate them. I wonder I would also feel this way if my only means of editing was by reading—or, conversely, if these other writers would find the same joy that I do in hearing their stories read to them out loud.

I listen to my recordings constantly—in the car, at the store, when I’m walking and even on the bus, if I’m not able to write. Once I identify something that I don’t like, it catches in my ear every time I hear it, until I fix the text and make a new recording. It takes a lot of time, but I don’t watch TV, and I rarely read anything outside of technical journals—even though the writing community encourages me to read more in my genre—or news articles.

I’m pretty confident I will be writing in this space again by the end of this week. I’m in the groove again. It feels good.

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