Saturday, 2 June 2018

The Black River Chronicles Book 3: May Progress Report

I swear I'm not going to get into monthly reports on the new Black River Chronicles book or anything
like that.  But now that we're out of May, I did want to share some good news while there's good news to be shared.  I'm considerably past the halfway point with the second draft now, and things are going well, despite my concerns around turning in a way-too-long first draft.  However many books you have under your belt, it's a little scary trying to wrangle a bloated novel into shape: there are all those words, and many of them are the wrong ones, and they're going to need carving out or else replacing with ones that work.  Plus, with all that dead wood, it's hard to see what shape the trees are in.

But two thirds of the way through and the trees are looking pretty respectable.  Eye of the Observer is a very different book to either Level One or The Ursvaal Exchange, for a whole variety of reasons.  It kicks off with a bang, both literal and metaphorical, and a great deal of what follows is spent picking up the pieces of what's gone badly wrong, though of course our intrepid gang don't necessarily realise that's what they're doing.  From their perspective, they're mostly just muddling through, and even more so than usual, Durren tends to be oblivious to the bigger questions.  That leaves the sort of narrative where it's tough to see the exact shape of what's been going on until after it's happened ... which, frankly, isn't easy to get right!  There's no neat three act structure here, but there's a lot ticking away in the background.

That flabby first draft made it difficult to judge whether crucial character beats and plot points and those sneaky bits of foreshadowing were falling in the right places.  Now, having already hacked away the equivalent of a couple of chapters, what remains is a good deal more reassuring.  The underlying story is definitely the one I set out to tell back at the end of last year, and that's a story I'm still really excited for.  In particular, I love where this book takes Arein, who, between you and me, has always been sort of my favourite character.  And isn't your job as a writer to put your favourite characters through the wringer without mercy?  I think it is.  So while I feel bad about what our resident wizard has to endure, I don't regret it for an instant.

Of course, I've still got the better part of a hundred pages to go, and the easier stretch is behind me.  There's definitely some significant re-writing ahead.  But there again, I'm feeling confident: I know where I've gone wrong and what needs changing.  In particular, I know what needs fixing for the big climax - and it's a huge big multiple-chapter-spanning climax this time! - to really come together.  So while the next month isn't likely to be easy, I'm not so nervous anymore.  There's a long way to go before our end-of-the-year release date, but I'm confident that come December, Eye of the Observer will be the book I've always hoped it would be.

1 comment:

  1. Greatly enjoyed the first book, just started the second book. Was bummed that there was not a full series already written, but glad/hope that you are continuing. Reminded me a bit of the original Crystal Shard, but reads more like new D&D players learning along with their characters. Or at least what I remember :-)