I claim to be writing three books; The West Queen, Danica Straughn: Chaos Flux and Unnamed Project. I thought I’d give a little progress update, because there is always progress.

The West Queen

As you know, I have completed a 120,000 word draft. What I’m doing now is revising it. That process, it turns out, is quite long. I’ve written three new chapters to shift the focus from one main character to another and I’ve rewritten several other chapters. Along with all the writing, I’ve been reorganising the story, shifting the chapters around, to try to make the story flow better and to increase the tension (see last week’s post for what I mean).

New Chapters

Originally, the story started with a character named Vanadian waking up in a forest with no memory of his past, absolutely none. He wandered through the forest until he came to a small village where he was helped by a strange man and his wife before being chased off by the local authorities. As a start it wasn’t too bad, except it lacked that driving element that would make a reader continue. We knew nothing of this man, his motivations or his personality. There was no context for him in the world, which is his role in the story, but it makes for less than stellar reading. Chapter five saw the introduction of Princess Candia West, sort of the title character, and she stole the story from this mysterious, yet dull, man. By the time I’d finished writing the draft I had realised that the real main character was the princess. She was far more sympathetic and more obviously motivated. So I decided to make her more central, or more immediately central. I read chapter five and stepped back in time a couple of days. That’s where I started the new chapter one, with the princess getting involved with some politics that would be important later in the book. The new start was more dynamic, more purposeful and more entertaining for the reader. Vanadian’s introduction was pushed back to chapter six.


So the original first chapter is now chapter six, chapter five is now chapter three and there are two new chapters to open the book. Another thing I discovered when I finished the first draft is the main story line. It sounds funny that I should only discover the main story line after writing the book, but it is book one in a planned trilogy, as all good epic fantasy is (I hope it turns into a twelve book saga completed only after my death, hooray). Knowing the full story line now I can see I rushed the ending of the book and skipped a whole heap of character development and world building. That means the third last chapter is being shifted to be the last chapter and the second last chapter, that clues the reader in to a larger plot, is being shifted to an earlier position. This will, again, increase the tension. By the reader knowing some of the background that the main characters don’t know, they will see the main conflict which will raise a mystery (why is character A acting the way he is knowing information X?) and increase tension. The reader will know something is going to happen, but will not know how it will work out.

What does this mean?

What this means is I’m still writing this first book even though I finished it at the end of 2010. I’ve been getting critical feedback from various sources and they have been very helpful in rounding out the prose and making everything sensible. With any luck I’ll finish rewriting to the point where any more changes will just be me chasing my tail. Once I’m at the point I’ll start asking around for volunteers to read my completed manuscript as if it were a commercial novel so I can get some feedback on the work as a whole. If that goes well I’ll be querying agents / publishers by the end of the year. It also means I’ll be able to get started on book two of the series.

Danica Straughn: Chaos Flux

I’ve knocked out about 70,000 words of a planned 100,000. The problem I’ve struck with this story is that I reached the planned end of the book and found I hadn’t told the full story yet. Being my second novel it is better structured than The West Queen because I chose a simpler story telling method. I stuck with just one main character and one supporting viewpoint character. The story is therefore more linear in its’ presentation and easier to write. The Queen has four, maybe five, main characters in several groups. Each telling a different part of a larger, epic, storyline. That is hard to do. Danica is just getting about by herself, occasionally hanging around with a fellow by the name of Jason. So the story got to where I had planned very quickly, a little too quickly. I even padded a chapter, which I now have to unpad because it feels padded. I read this story out loud to my wife and we both agreed it need to go longer. So I’m sort of¬†uninspired with it, though I still like it and will return to complete it, probably after what I’m working on now (and the rewrite of The West Queen).

Unnamed Project: Angel Bones

The previously unnamed project that involved an alternate history resulting in a darker near future has been named: Angel Bones. I’ve written the first five chapters, which equates to about 10,000 words or approximately fifty pages give or take a couple. The story is essentially a super hero story, though written by me, so not very comic book-like. The main character is the fellow I blogged about a couple of weeks back. He is a young man, addicted to drugs he uses to keep his mind from working too well. You see he is something of a social savant, he can intuitively understand connections and relationships between things. Very abstract, I know, but if you could imagine a person able to truly understand the butterfly effect, you could imagine a person who suffers from a mind that demands action. He can see what effect one person’s action will have on not just the immediate people around him, but on all of society. So when he walks down the street he is assaulted by all the horrible things that are going on in his world. He takes drugs (unspecified) that numb his mind and let it work at a normal level, but at the cost of being a little socially retarded. Sooner or later he runs out of drugs and finds he has to intercede in a fight. Naturally he gets beaten to death. Shame. He is resuscitated by the application of a powerful serum made from powdered “angel bones”. At that point he is drawn into a shadow existence where immortal “angels” fight for supremacy over humanity. Fortunately, as part of his miraculous recovery from being dead, he gains an enhanced body able to stand up to his freakish mind. Hooray. Oh and in the meantime there is a savage serial killer working for hire (I’d call him a hit man, except he isn’t doing it as a business or out of loyalty) wreaking havoc on the city’s gangs and the main character’s sister is being pressured by bikies into manufacturing drugs for them. So I’m quite enjoying writing this book and we’ll see how it turns out in a couple more months.

Short Stories

I’m still working on short stories. I’ve gone through a couple of ideas, written outlines but so far I haven’t been inspired. I’m hoping to have another one done in a couple of weeks, either that or I’ll polish my snow monster story and post that. We’ll see where we get to…


About sjohnhughes

Author, nerd, father, runner and more View all posts by sjohnhughes

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