A Story’s Transformation

Today, I feel fabulous. Today, I’m on fire in the best way possible. Oh god, I forgot how good this feels. And I’m going to share the feeling with you! Or at least try to. I don’t know if it’s going to be the same for anyone who is not me. Maybe.

Enough build up for you? πŸ˜‰

Guess what I’ve been doing today? If you guessed WRITING, you would be correct! And possibly following me on Twitter where I already mentioned this.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I have written WORDS! New words. The rewrite of the prequel has begun! I’m now 2400 words into it and may do more later tonight, depending on how I feel.

These words probably suck on at least some level because, well, they’re first draft. I don’t try for pretty words at this point, just telling the story and making sure it makes sense. Seriously, that’s my whole yardstick for first drafts. It’s the important part. The rest can get taken care of in revisions.

It’s nice to visit with the world of the Mirrors of Bershan. I’ve created other worlds since, but this one holds some special things for me and I missed it. I get to explore some other aspects of it this time, particularly the lives and experiences of experienced Magicia, whose lives are defined more by that than other roles. That wasn’t so much the case with Fay and Tavis, not to mention those who joined them on their journey. It’s creating interesting ripples and opportunities in the story.

Some of you may recall that in a way, I’ve written this story already. There was a novella I was working on last year that featured the basic story I’m writing now. It’s been scrapped and rewritten for a number of reasons and I feel like sharing at least some of them.

First, I always wanted this prequel to be able to stand on its own. I intended it to be something you could pick up, understand and enjoy without having read the trilogy. I wanted it to be self-contained, though there are some things that lead into the trilogy. Naturally, one of the things I did when I was ready for beta feedback on the novella was to make sure I had someone read it who had never read Bound (the only one published at the time this happened). I’m glad I did, because the questions she asked in her feedback and comments she made told me I hadn’t achieved what I wanted in this department. A number of things weren’t clear because I hadn’t explained them enough. She also wanted to know more about some things that were important to the story but I’ll admit hadn’t been fully explored in the novella.

This put me in a slightly tight spot, as the novella was already within a thousand words of maxing out the novella category. I didn’t have room for more without sacrificing the story I was telling, which I definitely wasn’t willing to do. You know me, story is king. I mulled this over for a while, unsure what to do or if I want to try to expand it into a novel. I was worried it would feel like I’d just padded it out if I tried to just add stuff in. When I write, there tends to be a natural flow to the story and I find adding in stuff I hadn’t planned at the time hard, with it sticking out badly. It frustrates me, plus I didn’t want to make a mess of this story.

Then something else happened that suggested a better path forward. It’s a funny thing, putting a book out there in the world. People find different things in it. They see different aspects of the story and get attached to characters you didn’t expect anyone to notice that much. Finding these sorts of things out since publishing Bound has been fascinating to me. Every time someone tells me they want a story with one minor character or another, or just that they wish there had been more with their favorite, I get a kick out of it. My plot brain naturally tries to explore this (as if I have some shortage of stories to tell. πŸ˜‰ )

A very good friend of mine really likes one of the minor characters who is in the novella, Dal. When my plot brain got involved in thinking about Dal, I realized that by nature, Dal would have a LOT of stories to tell. He and his partner both, really, but the novella was already about Samell. He’s the main character. Dal, on the other hand, didn’t get that much attention. That was wrong on a number of levels, starting with the fact that he’s Samell’s bound partner, which means their lives have been intertwined for about 90 years at the time of the novella.

It was more than just the realization that I shouldn’t be telling Samell’s story without giving Dal his due though. Dal is, as he exists in my mind, a rather interesting guy who’s done a lot of stuff and has his own VERY distinct personality. It didn’t come across much in Bound, because he gets the equivalent of 30 seconds of screen time, but he is very much his own character. I realized that this novella needed to show that. Dal would have his own part in this story, his own side of it.

I believe this so much that, though I’ve already outlined the rewrite, I’m toying with the idea of interleaving Samell’s PoV with some scenes in Dal’s. It will change the tone of the story some, and certainly problematize Samell’s interpretation of, well, Β almost everything. And I think that’s a good thing, to challenge Samell’s built in biases. I tend to believe that every narrator is at least a little unreliable, largely because they’re human. Everyone has biases, right?

Thinking about how much more Dal needed to be in this story than he was made me see the path I needed to take here. A total rewrite, and it becomes a novel as part of that. No more 40k word limit. I fully expect this to be in the 80k range now. The possibilities making that decision opened up for me were amazing. It transformed the story and gave it more scope than just the relationship I’d originally set out to explore. It allowed me to make this a true prequel to the trilogy and involve aspects I hadn’t planned but that slotted into the newly rebuilt story perfectly. This makes me think they should have been there all along and I just got stubborn about it being a novella. I do that sometimes, get stubborn.

I’ll admit, throwing out 40k words of revised and fairly polished story stung a bit. But I’ve thrown out more and had it work out beautifully. That’s how Bound came to be what it is, after all. The story is what’s important here and that is going to be so much better this time. I’ve even thought of a new title for this now-novel-sized story. I’m even going to share it with you, because it’s passed the sleep-on-it challenge. Are you ready?

The prequel is now called The Pendant of Bershan.

Those of you who’ve read Bound at least, yes, it’s THAT pendant. πŸ™‚

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About Julie

I'm a writer and photographer. I always have something with me to take notes for ideas or writing projects I'm thinking about or have on the go. I also like to go around with my camera and take pictures of anything that strikes me as beautiful or evocative. I'm perpetually working on one story or another, while waiting for enough distance to judge the last one (or more). I'm always working on several projects at once, developing the next book, even as I'm editing the last. Beyond that, there's always plenty of scraps and twists of ideas rolling around in my head, eventually turning themselves into full blown stories.
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6 Responses to A Story’s Transformation

  1. Oh my gosh, I am so excited about this! I’ve been curious about Samell and Dal since I read Bound! I can’t wait to read this new novel!

    • Julie says:

      It’ll be a little while. First draft is barely started and it’s all being redone from scratch. But thank you. It’s always wonderful to hear people are excited for the next, especially for the characters in it. πŸ™‚

  2. Pete Denton says:

    Good to hear you’ve burst through to writing again. Sometimes I think your brain just needs to organise the thoughts to clear some sticking points in the plot or characters. Once done, the flood gates can open.

    That’s my story anyway πŸ˜‰

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