Category Archives: Book 3

Three things.

First: Bugsnax is gloriously weird and charming as all get-out, and I am bad at it for the same reasons I was bad at Portal, I think — something about first-person physics-puzzle solving? But at least it’s cute and extremely weird while I flail around.

And fairly gay, I was not expecting that! Nice. To be honest, I went in as uninformed as I could be, apart from “puzzle game” and “weird and cute”. I’ll buy a ~$20 game on that much. I’ll buy three ~$20 games on that much, yet I’ll balk at one $60 AAA game if it never ever goes on sale. Looking at you, Fire Emblem: Three Houses.

Second: I just read Glitter Up the Dark: How Pop Music Broke the Binary, and it was delightful.

Third: Edits are going well. Cut 10,000 words this week without taking out any whole scenes — just tightening up dialogue for the most part, trimming out the parts where I wasn’t sure where the scene was going and let the characters ramble till I, and by extension they, figured it out. And it worked. I don’t think I’ve tried specifically that approach before. I like it. Very satisfying. Usually I focus on overused specific words and cutting entire scenes. I’d lost my old “overused words” list from the last draft, so this was a lucky mistake.

[edit: I forgot, I did take out at least one scene. Not many, then.]

Mostly I let the emotionally important scenes ramble; these are primarily scenes where we’re just getting from point A to point B in dialogue. Those can stand to be more brisk.

Well, back into it. Almost ready for actual beta reading, I think — and as always (ALWAYS), if you are available for beta reading and don’t mind that my budget for it is zero dollars, hit me up at wheel.of.a.different.color@gmail.com or u/ofthecageandaquarium on Reddit (not using Twitter anymore, because… well). I think this thing is legitimately ready for a beta read now. As in, I think it has as complete a plot as it’s ever going to get.

Really truly back into it now. — Now.

The light at the end of the tunnel

Still at it. Big Dramatic Scene is done. It’s far, far, far too long, but I will worry about that in the next round of editing.

I think this draft might actually work? It will need some tweaking and edits, especially to carve down its 150K+ word count, add more descriptions (blank white room syndrome strikes again), and make sure all foreshadowing is retroactively included. But… I think it will work. I think we’re actually going to see this thing released eventually.

Huh.

(Yes, epic fantasy is routinely longer than 150K. That’s fine. Books 1 and 2 came in around 130, though, and I don’t want to overshoot that with 3. Even that’s a lot for a series where nothing happens.)

On to the denouement. — Though now I am questioning the very little I know, because the definition of “denouement” I’m getting from the internet is opposite what I learned as a wee sprout. I learned that the denouement comes AFTER the climax, i.e. “ah, at last the kingdom is saved. FOR NOW…” Google is trying to tell me that the denouement IS the climax, which I thought was only the case if you’re writing a cliffhanger.

Can you tell I have studied writing for a total of… like, one elective in high school and comp 101 in college

oops

Still going.

Finally faded out the header image so that the title and subhead are halfway readable. Only took… three years?

Still working on Big Dramatic Climax after a week. It’s long. My plan is to write out all the moving parts I can think of, and then come back and prune until it feels zippy enough. Trying out multiple narrators in sections to try to capture that chaotic, “too many things happening at once” feeling. We’ll see how that goes, too.

Otherwise:

Finished the Perfection run of Stardew Valley. The end content was cute, and I didn’t get too bored in all that time, honestly.

Started the Switch port of Final Fantasy IX. That was the last FF I played when it was new, I have not played it since, and I remember hardly anything about it beyond the character designs and some shreds of plot. It landed in a very… idiosyncratic… period of my life, and I’m trying not to think too much about that. Twenty years is a very long time. If I hardly recognize myself now compared to myself then, that’s a good thing.

[edit: omg though, ~2000-2001 is also when the first bits of worldbuilding and character started to come together for what would eventually be *gestures broadly* all of this. I would lie down but I have things to do]

You know what else is a long time, 6 years, so I’m going to get back to working on book 3 before it’s old enough to vote. Yeesh.

Lightning. Bottle it.

“To get unstuck and fix this last act,” I said to myself, “I need to tie together the plot threads up to this point, use an external threat to force the rivals to work together without making it come completely out of left field, and let the narrators exercise what they’ve learned up to this point in their growth arcs. Seeding ideas for potential sequels wouldn’t be so bad either, as long as it isn’t obnoxious. So…”

Three brainstormed ideas later and I had one so obvious that I’m mad at myself for not thinking of it sooner. Ten pages of outline / summary / links to Wikipedia after that and we have a road map. Started writing it on Saturday.

Some people can come up with this stuff without writing dead-end drafts for years, but you know, practice, etc. Also, I can only work with what I’m able to do.

I think I also have a new direction for Strangers, the potential project after Healers, that would get more magic into the story (something I’m insecure about) while staying true to the characters and the theme of that story.

What is HAPPENING here. It’s about to make me paranoid about another shoe dropping. Well, time to write down all these ideas and ride the wave.


Entertainments: Up to what seems like the last arc of Dear Brother, stopped for a bit because I want to hear AF‘s commentary. Gameswise, almost done with that 100% completion run of Stardew Valley on the Switch; finished 2064 on PC and will probably pick another game from my PC backlog after writing today. Started Monster Prom on Switch, which is gleefully, unapologetically ridiculous. It seems nearly impossible to 100% complete that thing, so I will likely keep doing runs until it starts to feel repetitive and then move on. I’m not very good at it, mind you; I’ve succeeded three times out of probably 15 runs. Haha.

Meanwhile, since January I have gotten hooked on Ring Fit Adventure? I’ve played exergames fairly frequently since the mid-oughts, and this one is… actually fun AND challenging AND has a lot of variety? With this thing and the treadmill we got about six months ago, I don’t really miss the gym? Huh.

Earworm of the day

The first shot of ODDTAXI is a cinderblock-weighted, tarp-wrapped body sinking into deep water.

This is its ending theme.

I love a good dissonant song choice. Five stars.

Every so often I think: I ought to post pointless thoughts like this on Twitter or something, that’s what it’s for. But then I remind myself that a life goal of mine is to spend as close to 0% of my remaining time on earth as possible arguing with assholes, and that’s what Twitter is also for — so uh, here we are.

(That said, I did not realize the DMs on my reading account were turned off. They’re on now. So like, if anyone has any… questions, I guess? @sadsackgetdown. I am not interested in buying any get rich quick schemes, thank you)

Bookwise, I’m in the middle of rewriting act 3 after pulling what used to be the main plot point in it. It didn’t feel right. We’ll see what remains in act 3, i.e. tying up the threads in acts 1 and 2, and go from there.

I’m starting to feel like some of the stuff in book 3 belongs in another book. I think I’ll be done with A&K after this one, but something like “further tales from Wildern.” I want to get into the establishment of germ theory in a world with magic in it, and the strife in a city with a sudden influx of residents and trade, and Nessiny’s overthrowing the monarchy, and eventually the story-world’s version of the Industrial Revolution. [Also: Realizing jokingly that Agna’s story is the Girlboss trilogy; the one I’ve started working on, with two unreliable narrators, is the Gaslight book; so I’m going to need a Gatekeep book. /j]

It is an absolute miracle how other people can plot things and have them make sense, one thing happening after another, with perfect sense and gripping action, everything unfolding with polished precision to keep people turning pages deep into the night. I am truly in awe. I’ve read books on this, I’ve tried outlining over and over, and it still isn’t happening.

Guess this is why I’m a weirdo semi-monetized amateur instead of a pro. Just appreciating pros for a second. Wow.

Back to it.

One… non-ideal solution.

Alternating edits/rewrites on book 3 with some loosely planned writing on book ?4? (actually takes place before book 1, so we’re going to have to come up with some better numbering).

Couple of thoughts. It starts with cringe comedy.

I don’t like all cringe comedy, but I like a bit of it. I’ve gotten some disdain from friends about it, because how could anyone possibly witness those horrible people doing and saying the Wrong Things? Doesn’t it hurt to see someone so imperfect?

Thing is… I’m a full garbage human who has never said a Right Thing in my life, and almost-impossibly-flawed characters are some of the types that I find most relatable. I think one of the reasons I’ve found book 3 so hard to write is that the narrators have worked on themselves to the point where they are not horrible people anymore. They have flaws and shortsighted spots, but their bond continues, they are not actively self-sabotaging, and they’ve Learned some Stuff.

At the start of the new story, one of the narrators is an inept people-pleaser who is neck deep in well-deserved self-loathing; the other is a likeable extrovert who is a) silently cataloguing everything wrong with everyone around her, in order to use it against them if they ever cross her; and b) perpetuating a very long lie about what she did at the Academy. This is finger-steepling cartoon villain level fun to write. They are awful at this point, and as with book 1, I know where I want them to go; it’s just a matter of figuring out how to get them there and make it feel deserved. It’s a breath of fresh air.

That said, I’m realizing that there is even less magic in this story than the Healers trilogy. It follows two more Academy graduates, but they’re a priest (skills: talking) and a swordmaster (skills: hitting things with swords). I really, truly do not know what genre we’re doing anymore. I should care about that? It’s hard to care. As long as I’m writing something, that feels better than writing nothing. Maybe I’ll figure out a way to shoehorn some magic into the plot. I don’t know, man. They’re words. Read them if you want to.

In conclusion: January is nearly over, February is short, and then our hemisphere will be nearly done with winter. Can’t wait.

Happy things, scary things

As a reader(tm): T. Kingfisher’s Paladin books, Paladin’s Grace and Paladin’s Strength so far, have me wanting to run around in circles yelling about how awesome they are. I’m only about halfway through Strength, and it is something I have never seen before, in ways that I have a lot of Feelings about. But I’ll leave that to people who can speak coherently about books. I can’t right now. I can just run around in circles yelling. I am so happy these books exist.

[EDIT: There’s a third one, Paladin’s Hope. Bought, read, enjoyed. Absolute corker of a final line. Wow.]


As a whatever(tm): Realizing that I asked both beta readers to read a draft that ended up not being final, and then made a bunch of changes. Now I have no beta readers left. I’m slightly fucked at this point. I could afford to have one book edited if I tapped out my savings, but this is book 3 of a trilogy. An editor would probably suggest well-deserved changes that would drastically affect the continuity/world/etc., so I’d have to pull and rewrite the first two to match. Which I don’t really want to do, even if I should. I’d rather move forward onto new projects when this one is done.(*)

So…

I mean, even if I have to shove it in a drawer and let it die there, I’d rather do so with a finished book. So I’ll keep going. But I don’t know what to do after that.

Well, onward.

(* aside from maybe some extras for an omnibus or something)

[EDIT: To defend my beta readers, they are great and have not gone anywhere. But I have already bothered them, and I don’t want to take any more from them than I already have. If dumping a book that took decades to write and refuses to come together allows me to write another one someday, I will take that bargain. We’ll see; I’m still trying to come up with another way out.]

In my defense, I barely knew what time was in the Before

I spent last night journaling about what I did during September, and I still don’t know where it went.

Hello. What’s up. Here are some unorganized thoughts.

  • Changed the blog category “proof of life” to “checking in”, because for me it crossed the line between “ironic overstatement” and “hmm, no thanks”.
  • Got all of those great notes back from the beta readers, identified some large elements that Book 3 was missing (more motivation for the “antagonists[ish]”, some logistical changes to the second half, commitment on the shipping question), ignored them for the rest of the summer.
  • Vowed in October to write something every day, whether that’s a bit of the story, some journaling, or this here procrastinatory blog post. I want to make it a habit again.
  • I want to not be scared of finishing Book 3, of doing a bad job, of writing something that some undefined someone doesn’t like. I want to write something that I like. I want to bring this storyline to a close and switch gears. I can do it. I just have to keep moving and keep my motivation in mind.

And what’s my motivation?

I read this tweet recently by the truly original Chuck Tingle, and it really struck me. I’ve tried to force sincerity out of my work and become more of what I feel like I’m supposed to be: better plotted, more marketable. It doesn’t work for me. It’s great if you can; I’m not talking about you. It doesn’t work for me, though.

I felt really bad for a really long time because Some Undefined Person Didn’t Approve of Something I Did, and many things in my personality make that just unthinkable. But it’s at the point where to keep doing something I love, I have to put up with that feeling.

I choose the story. I choose to keep going. Not out of spite; I have nothing to prove to anyone. Just because, well, I want to do this thing, and only I can stop me.

So I want to bring Agna and Keifon’s story to some kind of conclusion. I think after this point, if I come back to write about them, it will probably either be a short story or as side characters in a book narrated by another character. But hell, who knows what the future holds.

At the start, I assumed that I’d follow up Agna’s first book with one about Rone, her mentor, because he’s A Guy with a Sword and everybody loves those, don’t they, that’s important, isn’t it. After a while, I assumed I’d follow up Agna’s third book with one about Lina, her sister, because Lina is closer to the political upheaval in their home country, and political upheaval is Exciting and everyone loves Exciting Stories and Plot and that’s important, isn’t it.

I had a story framework on the back burner for a lot of this. A scenario, a setting, two narrators: more Academy graduates, former classmates who can’t stand one another and get assigned to a posting in the same small town. It takes place before Agna’s story, it has nothing to do with the political upheaval (I think), and I’m still not fully sure what Happens in it. The psychological themes are chewy, there’s the kind of drama I love, absolutely nobody was asking for this story and nobody gives one solitary crap about it. Except me.

And I’m writing for me.

So maybe it’s next. Maybe I’ll jump ship from fantasy and write that sociological science fiction idea ricocheting around in my head, about what happens down the road if nightmare capitalists actually do start a space colony where the poor colonists’ descendants are indentured servants. But by the time I do, nineteen other people will have already written theirs, so I can just read theirs.

I hope to write with love, even if I’m writing about unlikeable assholes or nightmare capitalists. Because that’s what motivates me. Not money, which is fine if that’s your motivation. Not approval, even though I feel like I’ll die if I don’t get it (which is fully asinine, I acknowledge that). I like writing. That’s why I do it. That’s all.

Ahahahaha.

After years, I think the covers of both books are finally fixed on Kobo. The help team DID get back to me, but I’d stopped checking that email address out of free-floating despair (not their fault!). I just FINALLY did what they suggested and it seems to have worked.

So *ahem* Books 1 and 2 continue to be available at Kobo, DRM-free:

The Healers’ Road

The Healers’ Home

Yay. If all goes well, I’ll add book 3 when it’s done.


Can I just say for the ten millionth time that I enjoy writing and editing and dread everything else? Writing cover copy, coming up with titles and keywords, researching the market, setting prices. Checking email is terrifying. And I check email all day every day at the day job with no problem. How is Outlook comfortable and familiar and Gmail terrifying? I mean, other than Google being Google…

Everyone’s personality is different, is the thing. Lots of people would rather write cover copy all day long than turn over control to someone else. More power to them. Meanwhile, if someone were to hand me money and say “we’re going to do all the work, just write the things”? Yes please, so long as it’s not a naked scam. I mean, I have read about how publishing contracts can be fully terrible, and I’m speaking out of frustration here; I know it’s complicated. But I have the kind of personality to which that appeals, generally. I just wanna do the easy part.

But that’s okay. If I had a publisher, I couldn’t write the stuff I write. It’s a mess and it doesn’t fit into a market segment and while I wish I could write a coherent plot to save my life, it’s evolved into its own weird little thing. Not better than commercially viable fiction, I don’t believe in that sort of stance; just its own thing.


Progress: Ebook edit round 1 is done; beta readers have the same draft; first draft of the book 2 synopsis for the start of book 3 is done. Gotta work on extras, decide on a title, talk to the cover designer, write the cover copy for 3, get the betas’ comments back, and do at least one more round of edits. But I think it’s coming together.