caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)
Chugging along here restructuring the Fairfields Arc, with several new scenes in prospect, and a much stronger rôle for Katy Elflocks herself.   Fixing of plotting and pacing continues.  I have two alternative timelines on the go, one of which is going to have to be eliminated before I know just what the whole plot and flavour will turn out like.  More work on hand before it's clear which version works best.
caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (three katherines of allingdale)

Three Katherines of Allingdale: Masses of research and plot-wrangling going on, though little enough actual writing.  The Wassail Arc is going through some serious changes, in the course of being drawn taut into the line of the plot.  By far the biggest change sorts out a number of my other problems simultaneously - it's now really the Fairfields Arc, spanning almost a year from the Wassail until the approach of the next winter.  Much of that year is going to be skipped over or alluded to only in passing.  That still gives time for a number of things to develop organically. 

Most of all, it gives Katy Elflocks time to try to deal with the situation her own way - and actually fail, learning first-hand what sort of impossibility she's up against this time.  That's really far more in character than deducing a lot about the Big Bad in advance, so Kate and Luke can convince her and her circle that it's time for desperate remedies already.  And I get to do big reveals in action rather than exposition!

I couldn't do that the first time around, because they hadn't been fully revealed to me either.

Also, Fairfields' military strategy in Langdale now looks at least roughly plausible - they actually do logistics, and get time to set up the anvil for their great stroke at Carrowglaze in a less handwavy manner.

Here I go again...

caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (three katherines of allingdale)

The Deed of Katy Elflocks: A new 2,000 word scene composed last night and this morning, to retrofit one of the thorns in Katy's side from Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland, and make the portrayal of the Dales more consistent between the two stories.  Also planted a couple of Chekhov's guns, so that they're not just pulled out of my ear in Killer-Kate.  Pulling guns out one's ear is not, I'm told, considered best practice by the cognoscenti.

I spent most of the last week donkeying through the major structural critique of Three Katherines as a complete novel.  What came out of this:

1) I'm going to go ahead with the two-part story in strongly differentiated voices.  First, the theme's expounding in Alan Eaton's lighter, terser, more courtly and satirical fairy-tale of Katy.  Then, the development and resolution in Hick-Mack-Heck and Sairey Salt-the-Stew's denser, fiercer, more grounded and committed folk-epic of Killer-Kate.  The Lord Dunsany knob is turned higher in Alan's style, the William Morris knob in Hick and Sairey's, though I think they're both recognizably modes of mine.  The authors don't explicitly intrude themselves into the tale at any stage, but it helps me to have a fair sense of where they're each coming from.

2) The unfolding of the untold middle tale of Kit Fox seems to more or less work in Killer-Kate: again, I'm going to leave that part of the structure largely as it is, give or take a bit of modification in detail.

3) The Rival Revolution subplot doesn't need much more work than I just supplied it.  The Lord Evil, Puffin Superior, and Diplomatic subplots will on the other hand require significant structural changes, not least because they all bear on just what exactly everybody is fighting for.  I've donkeyed up some of the legal, customary, and folk-historical groundwork over the past week, and shall start the Political Rewrite shortly.  This won't - or shouldn't - add to the proportion of politics in the story: it's about rooting it in local reality, and about making the characters' actions mesh more reasonably, whilst removing patches of pointless intriguey filler that never went anywhere.  It's by far the biggest and most critical section of the rewrite, and will certainly involve at least three new chapters.  It may also involve the disappearance of one or more of the existing ones: can't see that far ahead, yet.

Anyway, the job's begun, and I'm writing actual story again!

caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (golden kate)
Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: So I've finished knocking down all the bits of the political plot that don't make sense, and generating the brainstormy alternatives.  Now all I have to do is hammer the pieces of the New Plot into place, and prove that they fit.  If I've put the last month to proper use, this shouldn't be too drawn-out a processes.

It's about removing all the senseless plotty complications I can, and replacing them with consistent story complexity.

I'm too fried to even think about the Chocolate Story at present.

caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (golden kate)

Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: Oy! Still bogged down in the political revision, largely because the Puffin Superior's part in the later story has also had to put out back-roots that will support it - and some of her issues are metaphysical more than political, hence even more bewildering to deal with. This is the trouble with her rise from "plot person who knows something critical to the climax" to "significant major character in her own right". It's only a somewhat outrageous parallel to say that I got three-quarters through the first draft, and then Father Brown stepped out of Chestertonia to join the opposition. The Puffin is not a negligible quantity.

And she seems to have decided that what is best for my soul is lots of lovely work. Pah!

There are only so many hours one can spend on this sort of thing every day, so I've decided to start reserving at least one of them for Chocolate and the Gods, before it starts going all blotchy and bloomy on me.

caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (golden kate)
Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: Good news - lots of work done over weekend - and bad - lots turned out to be needed.  It turns out that I came up with the idea of Saturnist popular agitation as a serious plot issue... rather later in the book than I remembered.  Which means that for about the first third of the story, nobody mentions it or factors it into their plans at all.

This would have been rather idiotic of them.  So I haven't quite finished the political reworking after all, because I've had to sort all that out before progressing.  It's been a long slog, and I still have a weekday or three's hard labour ahead of me before I can get to the Big Bad.


caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (golden kate)

Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: A breakthrough!  I've finally teased apart the threads of the infamous Four Agenda Pile-Up at Garcastle.  Lord Evil now has something to do that is... worthy... of him; Relatively Okay Genius's masterstroke, disentangled with few changes from the former muddle, shows up as much more shocking and brilliant; and there is lively and desperate action to replace the worst passages of talking heads and ominous introspections.  The cost of all this is another chapter in the middle, provisionally dubbed Hell-Stalk.  That's the third, now.  Even at an optimistic estimate, I'm going to have to allow a month for this trio.  Depending on how the rest of the revision goes, the Easter deadline may still be attainable.

Coming to the end of the political critique now.  By this weekend, I want to have the revised structure it implies up and running.  The simpler critique of the Big Bad's thread, and the unpredictable process of trying to integrate Kate with Katy around Kit's pivotal untold story, will then conclude the structural issues, and set me free for the big new sections and deletions.  This will surely take me up to the beginning of March, when I can start the detail edits; after which, beta-reading, final polish, and submission I guess in mid-spring.

Quiet worldbuilding and fantasy for Chocolate and the Gods continues to lighten these sloggy hours, though it's not yet ready to be told directly.  Chocolate qua chocolate begins to seem an unexpectedly minor detail of its flavour.

caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (golden kate)

Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: At least 6 hours of the last 24, some of them very early in the morning, spent on a rigorous analysis of Lord Evil's Emergent Masterplan, and discovering...

...that it all cancels down to a 'scheme' Wile E. Coyote would have returned to Acme Co. for a warranty replacement.  In my defence, Lord Evil does jet a phenomenal amount of ink into the water.

Need an improved version, its beginnings shifted right back into the new chapter of the Debated Woods (which is presently a hole between paragraphs).  The rival plot with Relatively Okay Genius behind it needs only minor tidying, but similar time-shifting.

During the 'bored and confused' stage of this analysis, I also got my first chapter's worth of the ultimate donkey project: my comprehensive spreadsheet and index of characters and places down to the smallest.  This ought to be ready as a reference just in time for the actual rewriting.  Here we have another of those revision aids which would have been trivial to do as I went along, but whose need I didn't foresee in advance.  Next time!

caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (golden kate)

Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland:
Another short but intense phase of diplomacy  revised.  Huge matters got whooshed past in the first draft because I didn't know about them, and the emphasis left on more tedious stuff because I understood it and needed it to progress.  Structural changes indicated at present:

- Diplomatic infodumps, here and just before the climactic chapter, to be replaced with dramatic yarn showing the actual moves on the ground.  Two new chapters probably required, bringing the Debating of the Wood and the Doom-Riding episodes respectively to the fore.  Vividness and tension both thereby much increased from the original sketch, and space for some much-needed development work added.  Some signposting blah throughout the book can probably be removed at the same time.
- I may be able to get rid of one, or even two, of the shorter and less interesting chapters, by drawing off their vital spirits into one or other of the new ones.

- The manoeuvrings of the Duke's advisors now get spread much more evenly throughout the book.  The Puffin Superior can be contacted covertly as soon as it makes sense to do so, and so is no longer parachuted in late in the game.  As much delay as I need can be attributed simply to her age, the (tweakable) distance, and especially the combination of bad terrain and filthy winter weather.  Meanwhile, Lord Evil has a more interesting focus in the early part of the negotiations than lurking around plausibly upholding Evil.  I haven't got all the details yet, but I'm beginning to get a strong feeling for what the rebalanced plot must look like.

- I'm quite proud of Garcastle's physical presence and palpable weight of history, in the story as stands.  On review, I'm far less impressed with the way I've conveyed Garcastle as a living community.  This would be a fault even in a conventional epic fantasy.  In a commons'-eye tale like this one, it's simply not acceptable.  More research and imaginative exercise required here, and soon.

My pace isn't too horrible to date, but it's still not as fast as I'd like, and I think I'm going to have to do some heavy bashing over the weekend to keep to my schedule. 

caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (golden kate)
Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: Slogging away through the diplomatic muddle (I've got up to the first serious engagements now).  The original point of this week's work was just to get the political manoeuvring to make consistent sense from everybody's point of view.  But...

...I think that having come up with my first revision list, I'm going to need to do the character consistency passes for about a dozen major characters before I attempt the actual political rewrite.  There are so many personal agendas and idiosyncrasies mixed right up into the heart of the diplomacy, that rewriting on the basis of what makes sense for the two 'sides' would be vastly misleading and a big waste of effort.

The big revelation so far is Lord Evil, who on review is turning into a much more complex and formidable ratfink than I'd taken him for.  There really is a whiff of Falstaffian tragedy about him, and I am even beginning to sort of understand where he and all his wickedness are coming from.  In some ways his marrow-deep corruption is almost like a mundane and aristocratic mirror of the Big Bad's.  At any rate, I think his final version may actually display the charm of which he has always been supposedly capable.

These new thoughts about the Big Bad have also given me a great  idea for upgrading the Grand Finale, which I ought to try to put into actual prose tonight while it's... hot.

caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (golden kate)
I finished up my most pressing donkey-work on Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland, and am now the proud possessor of:

1) A complete scene breakdown, which I'm using as a template for all high-level revision passes;

2) A story calendar, which is considerably less buggy than I'd suspected;


3) A digest of all the political/diplomatic matter in the story, indexed by scene.

This is so that I can plunge into the first set of revisions, namely the ones which make everybody's agendas internally coherent.  (In the story, they make sense from the perspectives of the people involved, and evolve over two or three eventful months.  In the real world, they evolved over two or three years, and the plans I started writing aren't altogether the same as the plans I brought to a conclusion.  Also, I occasionally lost track of some of the multi-decker whoppers the Duelling Diplomats are exchanging in the background.  It's all right for the reader to skim that - background, and all! - but not for it to disintegrate when the reader does look twice at it.)

And now I'm started.

This is the one job which I need to get right in order for the story to hang together and make more than impressionistic sense.  I'm giving myself a week for it, or at least for the coarse-grained corrections which are all I need to make at this stage.  Some good stuff I can't discuss without absolute spoilerificity has already emerged from the shadows in which my subconscious or my good fortune hid it.

I'm expecting to lose a big chunk of wordcount in this phase, as I remove all the repetitious speeches and diplomatic blah in which various  characters kept me up to date on what they thought they were up to through different stages of the first draft.

After this is done, the next big job will be the handling of the Big Bad, which links up with the integration of Katy Elflocks and the Great Untold Story.  Successively finer-grained stuff after that.

My sinister master plan is to have a submission-ready manuscript by Easter.

Happy New Year, all!

caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (golden kate)
Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: Finished the big donkey-work project I need to begin my actual revision - namely, compiling a complete list of all 122 first-draft scenes, with the contents of each summarized in a sentence or short paragraph.  Armed with this map, I'm ready to begin some actual revision at last, starting with the major structural and logical issues, and working down to successively finer levels of detail.

The 'Prelude to Revision' posts will be continued as and when I can, as commentary alongside the revision as it progresses.  Just now, the sense of what I need to do is coming to me faster than I can articulate the whys and wherefores of it.

My first job is to go back through the Rising and the Embassy plotlines, and cause them to:

a) Make political and character sense, from the beginning, in the light of everything I learned before the end; and

b) Respect a consistent geography and calendar.

This is the hardest and iffiest job, since it involves proving the story's internal logic good, and must therefore be achieved first.

caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (golden kate)

Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: Sorted out the Big Bad plotline, which turned out to make more sense than I was afraid it did: only a few tweaks here.  The main edit is going to have to be for presentation.  The first appearance of the Big Bad is maybe not the grossest in terms of sheer power, but it is unfortunately still the most terrifying.  Second most terrifying, would be fine.  I need to polish the final confrontation some more, until the Devil is glaring out of its mirror.  I'm not saying it's flat, but there have been a lot of peaks in this book, and this one  has to make a fitting finale.

I'm coming to the end of this plotline survey now.  I'm not ready to tackle the top-level issues once and for all, so it's back to the geography (boo!) and post-draft research issues for the donkey-work.

caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (golden kate)
Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: Finished reviewing the plotline I'd been avoiding - the tale of the Young Duke, and his better and worse counsellors. Ngh. This may be the one in need of most work.

Not hard to see why - of all the elements in the tale, this one had the worst wellspring: neither a lively part of the original vision, nor a spontaneous outgrowth of the story's unfolding, but a rather passive and cartoony set of antagonists in the original plot, designed more to be important in their circumstances than in themselves. That changed rapidly from the moment the Duke himself burst onto the stage, but the changes are somewhat late-grafted and inconsistent, as I flailed around to make the matter come alive without completely disrupting the logic of the story. So now I'm going to have to go back and retro-fit the lords of Northdales as I came to know them, with the way they are on their first appearance.

Lordly behaviours, the diplomatic dance, and questions of malice and mammon. )
caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)
Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: Worked on geography and finished notes on the Witchy Wizardy subplot. Overall sense is that it needs a deal of work - but that work done, it could smooth off some of the other plotlines and ideas as neatly as sandpaper.

This large plotline is the most organically grown of all, having been completely unimagined in the story's origin, and by degrees become central to it. It centres around the three pure magic-specialists in the younger generation: Flashy Elder Brother, the virtuoso wizard; and Bonecold Refugee and her friend whom we might call Knife-Rede, the inexperienced witches. The subplot coalesced around a datadump excuse; the need to win two nonmagical tricks in order for Kate to challenge the Dull Tower; and an intended romantic tie-off at the ending, which has now grown implicit and ambiguous. Much was revealed in the telling, as its three central characters came out of the shadows and spoke to me.

Avoiding magus ex machina )

Finally, I've sorted out a bunch of details and raised a few more questions about Bonecold Refugee (by far the most pivotal character of the three, as things turned out), and the relationship between the various known approaches to the Art Magic in the Kateverse. One thing I should certainly have picked up without waiting for the revision for it to smack me between the eyes: Bonecold has the training and the turn of mind to be a most formidable witch - in many ways she is like a Katy Elflocks who got smacked with the predictable reality instead of the fairy-tale - but she doesn't really think in witchy terms more than she can help.* I think her true vocation is wizardry, even though she doesn't know or do any, at least in the main course of the tale.

Wherein it is seen that even the author can miss even the most blatant incluing threaded throughout their own text. Repeatedly. Extensively. D'oh!

* ETA: "turn of mind to be a most formidable witch... doesn't really think in witchy terms" appears to make no sense. What I was trying to say is that she has a mind that can wrangle witchy magical concepts and entities very well - but the directions she takes them in, given any choice in the matter, aren't very witchy at all. Gah, that was clumsy of me!
caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)
Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: Set in order the long and involved story of that most infuriating of my main characters, Prince Lucas the Proud alias Luke Lackland. He begins as an Entitlement Monster, ends as a Selflessness Monster, and it really isn't clear that anything much has changed about him except his fairer appreciation of his place in the world.

Noodling around a great heroic noodle. )

His strange genius for finding heroism by dodging any thoughts or choices that might lead away from it... could explain quite a bit about my Prince Charming manqué. If I come back to his mid-Rising decisions with that in mind, I hope I can get some sense out of them in the rewrite!

caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (golden kate)
Made sense of and wrote up the Elvish court's various agendas throughout Three Katherines, inasfar as I am ever going to make sense of people who are wont to treat time, space, logic, and basic arithmetic as despicable little bourgeois conventions, dahling.

This involved a severely reduced ration of sleep on my part, and the re-reading of the bits I'd signally skipped on my survey re-read, because I knew already what they did for the plot and what a rough ride they'd give me.

One thing I thought I'd remembered correctly, and hadn't, was the sheer amount of discord emanating from the Palace of Blue Flames in general, and the raving virulence of one of its voices in particular. That voice now seems to be introducing a theme which surfaces again and again in less horrid, often inverted, but equally terrible forms throughout Killer-Kate: in the desperate council at Fairfields; in the Young Duke's intoxicating vision of having all his cakes and eating them too; and in the Widow's apocalyptic reading of what the Langdale Rising has done, before the whole theme is resolved in the grand ending. Also, it's heavily prefigured by Kate and Luke's insane ambitions way back in Katy Elflocks.

Little of this was on purpose, and half of it I didn't consciously notice till I revisited the Elvish plot last night. It's a good theme and a central one, but I'm beginning to think I might do well to lighten up on the detailed hammering home it gets every time it surfaces in the exploratory draft. Something to watch, there.

I'm horribly tempted to think of this as the Elfmarch, Fuck Yeah! theme. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.
caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (three katherines of allingdale)
I caught one! Right at the beginning of Katy Elflocks, before I knew or thought I'd need to care about the details of the wider kingdom, I had Luke's father give him his ridiculously destructive magic sword as a parting gift - and it is explicitly the case that the old king has borne it into battle and knows what it's like, albeit clearly he doesn't think it's that useful a treasure for a modern monarch. But in the light of the way the worldbuilding subsequently develops, this is slightly more out of context than Henry VII's handing over his invincible Excalibur to his frisky younger son Hal.  I shall have to revisit this, one way or another.

Went through the Puffin Superior's plotline before bedtime. Huge amounts of detail there which will never make the story, but give me a better handle on and a better set of questions about that enigmatical and seriously pivotal character in the latter chapters of Kate. Since I didn't foresee her in Katy, and used her Sisterhood only as a background detail in another context, that's going to be one important place for me to work on foreshadowing and incluing in the earlier story. Also, major worldbuilding chore: finally sorting out to my own reasonable satisfaction how the wider local religion works, both officially and in practice. That turns out to be another matter on which my ideas have changed considerably during the telling.

From last night's belated birthday treat, the memory of a large and luscious Chez Gérard steak followed by pear in red wine syrup is still suffusing me with feelings of tenderness and bounty towards the wide world.

caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)
Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: Set down thirty years of the Royal Court's agenda in the remote and boondocky Northdales, and the dales-folk's frequently underwhelmed response thereto.   As I mentioned here, this is all important for the shape of the tale, but not particularly obtrusive.

Raised a few questions, received no big surprises, caught no big howlers.

Off on a belated birthday outing with my brother and sister-out-law now, so probably no more work today.

caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)
Donkey posts are going to do for various forms of donkeywork what wordcount posts did for first drafting, i.e. maintain a sense of progress on my part during a long slogging phase, whilst offering a tag by which readers can easily filter out unwanted wibbling if it all gets too much.

Today I wrote my summary-from-memory of one of the main character plotlines, namely Kate's thirty-year arc from the end of Katy Elflocks onwards. Encouragingly, it hangs together better - with respect to this drama of the final winter - than I expected. Maybe I won't need to cut out quite as many false starts and errant shoots from it as I feared.

I still have those top-level considerations to get back to, but I need to let Tolkien & Co. go on stewing for a bit longer. Meanwhile, on with the reviews of what's actually there, and research into things I don't really know enough about and kind of skimped on for the sake of getting the story out while it was hot, and worldbuilding consistency/inconsistency dumps, and other such stuff that I'm going to have to do whatever other decisions I make.

I would so love to have reached actual rewriting territory by Christmas!


caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)

August 2015

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