Tag: Acradea (page 2 of 9)

Rewrite Report: Elves & Dwarves

Bard by BlueInkAlchemist, on Flickr

At time of writing, the rewrite of Citizen in the Wilds stands at 50,230 spanning 17 chapters.

I’m roughly more than halfway done.

In addition to completely reworking the opening so it doesn’t suck, I decided it would behoove me to move some of the folks in the story away from traditional interpretations of fantasy races. In earlier drafts, they were elves and dwarves. It made sense to go with what I knew, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I was doing myself a disservice in trying to make my world something special but making these races no different than what’s come before.

Acradea is a living, breathing world all its own. Its native races should reflect that. So elves and dwarves became Yusarulim and Vulumae. The Yusarulim, or Children of the Grove, blend in with the foliage and greenery of their home in the forests and jungles, protecting what wildlife and resources they can from human intrusion. Events have left their people a bit scattered, with the biggest enclave being the titular Grove that rests at the heart of what Citizens call the Wilds.

At first, Asherian saw nothing. Then he detected movement, sliding down the vast trunks towards them. The coloration and texture of those approaching was nearly identical to the tree. Others emerged from the bushes and ferns, fronds wrapping around slender limbs that looked so delicate, Asherian feared they’d break with the slightest pressure. Their features and proportions, while vaguely humanoid, unnerved him, from their long digits to their slanted, almond-shaped eyes. The more they moved from the trees and plants, the more they appeared to be clothed in garments bearing motifs of leaves and sky, rather than those elements themselves. Their skin tones complimented these patterns, some with dark skin to match bark while others were the color of a clear summer sky. They were all armed, some with bows or spears, and others with wickedly curved daggers. And they were all staring at Asherian, not saying a word.

The Vulumae, while more numerous than the Yusarulim, are actually more secluded, living as they do far beneath Acradea’s surface in Holds of various description. With magic outlawed and lacking open air in which to travel, they have developed a rail system spanning the planet. Their society is highly regimented and vigilance is constant, as many believe that their proximity to the depths of the world brings them perilously close to what is referred to as ‘the Deep Darkness’.

Where the Yusarulim are slender and graceful, the Vulumae are massive, tending to move with deliberate purpose. They’re not quite as tall as the Children of the Grove, but the Stone-Folk easily have half again as much mass as a human of comparable size. Their skin tones range from soot to marble to obsidian and granite, slowly becoming more and more stiff and immovable as they age. They have large, dark eyes, well-suited for dark caverns and caves, and where humans have hair, they have either ridges of darker color than their skin that somewhat resemble cornrows or braids on a human, or strands or ringlets of what would appear to be spun metal, copper or gold or silver to name a few. They move in battle as one, with towering shields made to lock together and provide space for their spears, becoming mobile fortresses dangerous to approach and fearsome to behold when they charge.

So there they are. I didn’t want to just change the names of the races to sound different. My goal is to have them be functionally different from what we’ve seen before in “fantasy” settings. There’s a lot going on with Acradea and its origins, and these two races are a part of that. It’s my hope that readers will find them interesting and they add to the tapestry I’m weaving in Citizen in the Wilds.

And I managed to avoid spoilers! Not bad for my first rewrite update.

The Right Person

Bard by BlueInkAlchemist, on Flickr

One of the concerns I have about my major rewrite is the person.

Not the person of the protagonist himself, mind you. He’s (probably) fine. It’s the perspective that bothers me.

You see, I wrote Citizen in the Wilds from third-person perspective to avoid pouring myself too much into the protagonist. I may be overly paranoid about it, but projecting oneself onto the lead character can be the death knell both for the narrative and the writer’s credibility. However, it’s entirely possible that this fear has lead to a diametrically opposed problem. There may be too much distance between him and me, and by extension the audience.

There’s also the problem of world-building. I think part of the issue in opening this tale is that we have an entirely new world. I want to set the scene as much as possible by talking about the society our would-be hero was raised in, so it can be compared to the reality of what’s outside his little bubble. I’m probably bogging down the flow as a result.

This is why I’m considering switching back to first person.

The thoughts and emotions will be more immediate. I’m likely to cultivate more energy and drive by removing the barrier between reader and character. And if things start to bog down, I can sit back and ask myself “Do eighteen-year-old bookworms think like that? Did I?”

Or I could simply try to pare down some of the slower bits of the first few chapters I’ve gotten through. It’s hard to say which course is best.

A Writer’s To-Do List

Checklist

So last week’s ICFN was delayed. It’s still on hold. I’m waiting to hear back from third parties that were interested in conveying it to a different format. Awaiting correspondence always makes days or weekends feel longer, from responses to job postings to queries about Magic trades.

But while I was waiting I took a look at the various projects I’ve lined up for myself.

There are three things that go against me when I try to sit down and get my writing pants on: I’m always thinking of new ideas, I’m not terribly organized and I’m easily distracted. All it takes is a cat darting across the floor, a ringing phone or a stray thought on something awesome unrelated to the project at hand to force me to refocus my efforts. I do turn off HootSuite and other things when I’m actually writing, but that only addresses the distraction problem.

You can take a look at my desk, my kitchen sink or either basement I have stuff in (here in Lansdale or at the ancestral place in Allentown) as silent testament to my lack of organization and pack-rat nature. This also ties in to my ideas. New ones creep into my brain all the time. An action sequence, a bit of dialog, a new character in an old setting… this stuff floats in and out from time to time. It takes conscious effort to nail it all down. And once I do, I need to get it into some sort of organized sequence.

Obviously I want to finish things I’ve started before I begin anything new, so let’s get some priorities straight here. This is pertaining mostly to my own publishable (eventually) writing, not other projects I’ve taken on (the Vietnam manuscript) and the weekday drivel in this blog.

I feel I should finish Red Hood first. It’s the shortest piece, and with it my collection of mixed-myth stories reaches a total of five. Akuma (Japanese oni in a period slasher story), The Jovian Flight (Greek myth IN SPACE!), The Drifter’s Hand (Norse myth in the Old West) and Miss Weaver’s Lo Mein (Chinese myth as a modern romance) round out the rest. That may be enough for an anthology, but I’m uncertain. I may want to do a sixth story.

The rewrite of Citizen in the Wilds must come next. I’ve started outlining the new opening, and will track the appearances and growth of characters to ensure they’re consistent and sympathetic, two problems pointed out by at least one review on Book Country. The problem with the way it opened before was I was cramming too much exposition into the first few pages and not giving the characters enough time to develop and establish connections with each other and the reader – in other words, I opened too late. So I’m starting a bit earlier. Giving these people more breathing room. You know, before I kill most of them.

I have an idea for a Magic: the Gathering piece but as it may be nothing more than fan fiction and Wizards has better things to do than entertain the notions of a relatively unknown hack like myself (as opposed to known hacks like Robert Wintermute), I’ll try not to devote too much time to it.

Once I finish up with the other stuff I’ll go back to Cold Iron. I plan on taking this lean, mean and well-intentioned supernatural noir thing I threw together during my commutes of the last few months and putting it through the prescribed Wendig cycle of editing my shit. The Wendig cycle, by the way, has little to do with Wagner’s cycle. More whiskey and profanity, less large sopranos and Norse symbolism.

Meantime, the blog will keep the writing-wheels greased. More Westeros fiction for the Honor & Blood crowd. More flash fiction challenges. Reviews of movies, games and books. Ruminations on trying not to suck as a writer.

And Guild Wars 2 stuff, because that MMO looks pretty damn awesome, not to mention damn pretty.

Stay tuned. I may be down, but I ain’t licked yet.

Back On Track

Train

The holidays can throw everybody for a loop. I’m no different. Travel schedules, inclement weather and other factors unique to this time of year tend to play havoc with routines and timetables. Things have started to normalize a bit and it’s time I took a bit of stock of where I am now and where I’m heading.

Writing

Citizen in the Wilds is out for test reading. I’m eager to get some reaction and feedback, even if it takes the form of “CHANGE EVERYTHING ‘CAUSE IT SUCKS.” I’ve started compiling and expanding some notes I’ve jotted down on the next Acradea book. I’m going to edit The Jovian Gambit for this Saturday’s Free Fiction, and after that? I’m not sure. Possibly a hard-boiled Cthulhu detective story in the style of C.J. Hendersen, or perhaps a sequel to Akuma. I’m also getting back in the habit of writing for my Warcraft characters, both on forums and in the game proper.

IT CAME FROM NETFLIX!

The feedback on the first ICFN video has been generally positive, if somewhat cautious. I’m somewhat trepidatious myself, if I’m honest. I think I’m going to shoot for a new video every month and traditional audio enties in the intervening weeks. The poll will return for those audio entries, and as for the videos, I have a few films in mind. Stay tuned.

Dungeons & Dragons

Everybody in the group’s been a little off their game, no pun intended. We’ll be resuming our normal schedule of Tuesday night games, which means I’ll be returning to posting the adventures (or misadventures) of Andrasian, Krillorien, Lyria and Melanie on Tuesday afternoons. After this current printed advneture (Reavers of Harkenwold from the Dungeon Master Kit) I may move them into homegrown content rather than shoehorning Caern of the Winter King from the Monster Vault into the campaign. Or Wizards might have worked a smooth transition in already. More to come on this.

Magic: the Gathering

The local comic/gaming store has free casual play on Thursday nights, $5 FNM events on Fridays and special events like previews of the upcoming expansion Mirrodin Besieged. Attending paid events is a matter of my entertainment budget, and considering it’s something I enjoy alone and the entertainment budget must cover activies for both my wife and myself, it’s hard for me to justify the expense at this time. And I tend to watch my ICFN audio entries the Thursday night before I post the review. There’s simply not enough time, usually. Again, more to come.

World of Warcraft

Cataclysm has rekindled my interest and enjoyment of this game even more than I’d expected. Between the new areas, the promise of dungeons being challenging again (until the next nerf hits) and the resurgence of interaction with guild mates, this game is the other reason I’ll likely have less time for other activities. However, since I play it with my wife as we have since we’ve met, it’s a much more comfortable expense to work into our slender budget.

Classholes Anonymous Podcast

This is more dependant on Black Eagle’s band schedule than anything else.

This Blog

I plan to keep updating every day. Sometimes I’ll have a notion in mind for days before I post it, and some days – like today – I’m stumped up until lunchtime. Comes from everything else on this list as well as the day job and the other responsibilities of adulthood, I guess.

Until I rebel.

Courtesy Hyperbole and a Half

The Query’s The Thing

Red Pen

I’ve discussed querying in the past, and I’ve also mentioned the manuscript-mincing site Query Shark. Since I’m back at the point of sending out queries to agent, I think it’s worth reheating the subject.

Query letters are at once the most straightforward and the most complex thing a novelist can write. It’s straightforward in its concept: “Describe your story and make it appealing to others in 300 words or less.” But the simple aim belies the complexity of assembly. You don’t want to ramble overlong about your content or characters, but you also don’t want to leave out key elements that set your story apart. You also don’t want to spoil too much, however. It’s a fine line, or rather a series of fine lines that make the scope of the letter quite narrow and somewhat difficult to maneuver.

It’s a challenge that must be overcome, however. Unless one is of a mind to self-publish (if you’re not sure you are, consult this checklist) you’ll need representation with the guys that put ink on paper for tens of thousands of tomes. And they’re not going to take just any manuscript that floats in from the street. You need to get them interested, and to do that you need a query.

I plan on refining mine and sending it to Query Shark. I’m ready to be torn to shreds. It’s the only surefire way to build myself up enough to knock out the competition and actually get this thing published.

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