Tag Archives: The Bastard Line

Lots of Blog-Action – But am I working on Book Three?

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Actually, I am. Regulars to my blog have seen a strong rise in both posting and reach and this effort is currently taking up a fair amount of time – however, while I find my way and streamline my activities, I am also sorting out a better working schedule.

It’s taking shape. I am successfully getting in several hours of writing most days and I expect this to improve over the coming weeks.

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The “Uh-oh! Wait a minute!” Syndrome

A fractal created by me and my laptop in 2008.

This is what it’s like sometimes when shuffling plot segments around – a post from the past – Oh dear, here we go again – Remember when I told you about the which-comes-first dilemma of two story-moving events, each important, each one happening to a different character (Va’el being one of them), each needing to be separate from the other with plenty of space around it so that each can stand and be appreciated alone?

Then I sorted it and didn’t have to go through a double working of the events to see which way would sit better?

Remember that?

Well, I forgot about a scene that has to come directly before one of those events and cannot, in itself, be put off – which of course cements that one in place and so dictates their order.

Sooooooo… Did I get it right when I made my decision and Yippeed for Joy all over this blog?

:D

:)

:|

:(

No. It has to go the other way, the other something first, then Va’el.

Ohh, it’s not so bad, it’s just a bit like knocking out a wall and moving the lounge room into the bedroom, but writers are good at fiddling with words and shuffling prose, and I did kind of expect it. I do still manage to avoid the whole write-up of both versions complete with all the side bits and plug-ins that are a part of it all, and I did still have to write all the parts anyway, so… I’m still ahead.

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Realism versus the Uh-oh of Consequences.

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Do I or don’t I? In some areas The Bastard Line is developing to be more vicious than anywhere in the previous two books – it has more calculated cruelty and violence in the story – more blood, more death – The main thread was always certain, it just needed to be written and linked together in appropriate detail and order (yes, with some of that savagery), however a secondary thread, which is Va’el’s side of the story, had to be created from scratch and proved trickier than I anticipated, for reasons I didn’t expect – mainly because of the blood.

His age is a concern. How rough can you get with a kid? Yet, let’s be clear here, I don’t write children’s books and you always knew that once we got into Khekarian territory, things were not going to be so nice. This story is most definitely meant for adults. I had to give Va’el something more than a kiddies’ adventure and it had to be something fitting for the character, his future and the history and nature of Khekarian society.

What I have ahead for him is actually something pretty nasty, and I don’t mean Sevi. Given his age (ten), I’m not sure I should go there, but I’ve decided to push ahead anyway because the event has done a strange thing to his nature. Primarily, it will be what transforms him from spoilt-brat boy to eventual villainous adult, but along the way it opens him up a bit to sensitivity you don’t really expect to find in this sort of character. It also paves the way for connections with future ramification.

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Convolutional Characters. Should I even trust this guy? He’s a villain!

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I am one of those writers who adores it when a character plays up, determines their own way, refuses to cooperate, turns the tables, cocks up, throws a wobbly, changes the rules, or in any other way manages to wander off on their own as though seeking their own adventure – I suspect I like it simply because the first time it happened, I gave in and allowed the character freedom to move, and he took me to great things.

I was very much in the early stages of writing development when that happened. I was working on a story that is now so remote from where it ended up that it can only barely be thought of as related. Yet that character’s release turned out to be not only a fortuitous event for me (evolving a single book into a series), but also proved a major breakthrough in character expansion that has since helped me many times over.

Not all characters go their own way. Nor will they be prodded. I can’t make any of them take off on their own, but I have figured out that their “escape” has a lot to do with that individual character’s potential.

Va’el formed in my mind as a determined young man with his eye on the Khekarian Throne. He was in his late teens when I first met him, destined for book 4, as yet untitled. The “how he came to be” and his parentage was worked out in book 2. His introduction was minor and in the background, in place as a logical step towards properly introducing him later on.

Only, of course, in that book, he couldn’t be in his late teens, he was only a child – no threat to anybody, yet, but the germ of that had to be there, his nature had to show. So, in he came, a spoilt rich Khekarian boy of the opinion he’s not rich enough. At ten years of age, he already had an inflated sense of ego and a lust for power, but being the bastard son of a bastard son of the Emperor might just do that. Trouble is, while his esteemed father is inside the Imperial circle and a recognized Royal, Va’el is another generation removed and is not. A small matter of matrimonial lack has left him cheated of a princely crown.

When you meet Va’el, you know there’s trouble ahead.

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To both Delight and Disappoint

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This last weekend, things really opened up for me and I made a tremendous amount of progress on my current project, book 3 in the Khekarian series, The Bastard Line – the problems seem to have all dissolved and I am currently around the halfway mark of a 500-600 page book.

This might not sound so good, given my scheduled date of choice to publish (July), but it is huge when you consider I was only a quarter of the way only a couple of weeks ago and still struggling.

Things are going so well, I am going to run with it – I may not make the chosen publishing date, but I won’t be as far off it as I feared. That’s the delightful news. I can also tell you that I know at this point that I have a good story, as complex and intricate as my previous ones, and it won’t disappoint.

So what is the disappointment I hinted at in the title?

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Fact and Realism to the Impeding Conflicts – The Ministerial Role (oh fook!)

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I don’t dislike officialdom, it’s just not a fun thing to write about, although I love to read back and see it there – detailed, neat, but most of all succinct (nobody wants pages and pages of the stuff) – I don’t want to concoct ranks and roles and, worse, dozens of names for individuals who really aren’t Who and What the story is about.

I blame Khekarian royalty for all of it. I actually didn’t intend to put royalty into my books. At all. This series is science fiction, so my main aim was to write about the adventures of explorers.

It evolved. A long, long time ago (long before the first book reached publishing quality), I decided to put an alien war in the background, a long ongoing dispute between the Khekarian and the Chiddran Empires. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

From that backdrop of interspecies conflict – okay, galactic war – I decided to make my lead villain more powerful and influential in the scheme of things.

You learn very early on in the book (so it’s not a spoiler) that Sturn, the Prince, is the son of an Imperial elite family. That ramped up his personal desires, expectation and power. As one of the top eighteen families in control, he – exiled or not – had the personal fortune to do pretty well whatever he wanted. It also gave him reason to want to capture an alien-native of Zumaridi, bargaining his way back into Imperial grace through the procurement of a species that could bring about a sure win on their side.

It served, too, as a reason why even an untrained psychic might be helpful to him (to get him back in the door at home and to act as a psychic watchdog) and why he wouldn’t care if the Terran girl went against her will or not. He was above such concerns.

And, of course, it gave him Sevi as an elite Khekarian soldier bodyguard/companion.

Way back at the beginning of writing this, of course, I didn’t know the book would become a series and we would be meeting kings and soldiers and officialdom and that it would entangle me in research for details to give the leading parties flesh and blood realism.

You can’t write royalty without layers and layers of officialdom. Well, you can, but you end up with one ruler, one adviser (possibly with evil intent) and a couple of guards standing by the door. That’s just not realistic.

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Another Short One.

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Another shorty (things are like that at the moment, my apologies to any who want something more substantial – later, later) – Yesterday I took pause in hammering all the new stuff into the manuscript and sat back and read what I have so far for book 3.

With a great sigh of relief, I realize that it’s working. The pace is right, the action is right, the characterization works, and everyone has room to breathe and to adjust to their new circumstances. Last time I looked a month or so ago, a lot of that was wrong or missing.

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Laying Out the Bones

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Time to get radical. I’ve been hovering around the 130 page mark far for too long (moving things, changing things, fighting with things and ripping out things), the page count has ebbed and flowed like the tide – problem is it’s a book not a beach, and the page count would be fine if I was aiming for a 300 page novel, but I’m not, I’m looking at twice that.

Last weekend I surged forward and the page count currently sits at over 160 pages with no turning back. I’ve done my slash-and-burn. However, that doesn’t slow the clock down any, so it’s time to get a wriggle on – for those who aren’t familiar with the expression, it means I need to get moving.

I normally like to work with a clean area, but it’s time to open all my working files and lift over everything I have. I need to lay out all the pieces – all the bones of the story – nice and neat and in order, and have a look at what I’ve got and what is missing.

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Hey, it’s the weekend again! Who speeded up the week?

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It’s a long weekend here, too (I do enjoy the early part of the year, we get clusters of days off) and while that allows certain freedom, such as sitting up late and sleeping in, I will not be taking any working pause – I am beginning to see that some serious, serious catching up needs to be done on the writing front.

In some ways, book 3 has been more frustrating to write than the first two. There have been several mundane reasons for delays along the way, but recently I discovered an unexpected one. I’ll tell you about that next week. Weekends are often quieter in Blogsville (or is it just me?), so I’ll save it for when you’re all awake and visiting.

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Progression Update and Shuffling Cards.

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Well, I’m largely back to where I was before the unfortunate collapse due to a thread strip-out – the removal of 26 pages unbalanced a further 130, or so it seemed, so there was much scrambling and rewriting – anyway, all looks well now, though, actually it all looks a whole lot better, my “first marker” is back into the page 77, exactly where it was before, and the overall page count is 130, which not quite where it was, but close enough for me to feel back on track.

Throughout all this, I have been switching things around and stripping out surplus bits and bits needed in other places – which means that in the end a lot more than the 26 pages got pulled out. It’s hard to tell because many of them have gone back in or will go back in. Never mind.

I have sorted out the jumble in my working area, which should never have been there in the first place. I try to keep that area as clear as I can, but it happened to pivot around so many things “about to get going” it was hard to sort out how, when, what, why and in which order.

Some things have been shuffled along and put in place. Some bits I’ve zigzagged over a few times. This, now, is causing me to lose my place. It’s not quite like shuffling cards, but the analogy is good enough and the end result is the same. I’ve thoroughly disrupted the pattern and picture in my mind, so there’s nothing else for it but to go for another full read through so I can pick up the reins of all the threads and know which direction I should next move and what needs work and how to go about it.

This is not a delay. This is a natural course that must be taken after working backwards and forwards repeatedly until I don’t know which end is up and what’s in and what’s out.

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