The year’s looming end is a time for reflection, and Christine Smith’s three-part tag is a way to have a not-so-serious look at the state of my project. So, here come her 10 questions and my answers.
If you want to read the first and second parts, you’re welcome to do so, but jumping in here should be no issue. The nature of this link-up was originally intended for a work-in-progress, which my trilogy technically is (with one book published, one in drafting, and one in a rough first draft) but the aspect of my writing may mean bending the rules a bit to answer the questions. If possible, I’ll focus on the in-progress book two of my Eternal Defenders trilogy, titled Secrets of the Eternals.
1. How did writing this novel go all around?
I’ll answer in two parts – one for the first (completed) book and one for the second (in progress) book.
The first book: the first two years were the time of blissful ignorance. I was winging it, having no clue what the hell I am doing. It was like watching a pile of burning leaves. Fun, nice to look and enjoy the moment, but not much for the long term. Only after finishing the story in its second (or maybe third) draft, I decided to seek some feedback, which was the real start of my journey. Thanks to the patience of my betas, I’ve learned so much and the story changed a lot for the better.
The second book avoided the initial failures of an inexperienced writer. The first draft took a while, but it was smoother than the first book. I had some idea of where and how I want the story to go, what characters will play a major part, and so on. The big picture was easily done – but the details are now challenging me. The current draft faces major pacing issues, and some others, and fixing those will take the next couple of months. Though, truth be told, the current draft is progressing nicely, maybe better than I thought.
2. Did it turn out like you expected or completely different? And how do you feel about the outcome?
A lot of progress in the first book was improvising. I had the major plot points in mind but let the story guide me from one to another. Compared to my initial ideas, the cast expanded a lot (I expected maybe 20 characters, the reality is around 60-70, not counting mentions such as ancestors of “present” characters) and so did the backstory. Some characters wrote their own story – especially some that came to be spontaneously.
It’s hard to judge the outcome, as much is still in progress, but I believe the major story is to my liking. Now it’ll be about making sure the story itself is readable and, hopefully, fun.
3. What aspect of the story did you love writing about the most? (Characters, plot, setting, prose, etc.)
In the beginning, I loved writing action (combat) scenes. I believe that was because I had to grow into writing a real story and not just a sequence of battles. So, over time, things changed a lot. At this point (and for quite a while), I love going deep into characters, exploring their thoughts, goals, and values.
4. How about your least favorite part?
As an introvert, writing dialogue that feels like it makes sense is a major challenge. I also struggle with expressing character emotions well, and with descriptions/details. That said, while those aspects are challenging, I don’t dislike (or even hate) writing those parts. They’re an integral part of the story, even if harder to write at times.
5. What do you feel like needs the most work?
Pacing, then dialogues.
6. How do you feel about your characters now? Who’s your favorite? Least favorite? Anyone surprise you? Give us all the details!
I mentioned this a bit before – Shianna Featherfoot was definitely a surprise. She was made up on the spot with no expectations and no goals for her past the first half of book one, yet she’s a part of the story to the end.
Of course, Tyr’eshal Darkwood as the MC is among my favorites, as is Archmage Ereanel. Among minor characters, Captain Damian of the half-human, half-elf town of Twin Watch became my favorite. There are some more but some would be spoilers.
As for the other end of the spectrum… even the characters that evoke negative emotions have their place in the story and are an important part of it so while I may dislike their character, I have no negative emotions tied to writing about them.
7. What’s your next plan of action with this novel?
Fix the pacing issues with book two as well as any issues that can be fixed along with it. Read through, then fix all the rest. Another read-through. Then prepare it for the next beta-reader.
8. If you could have your greatest dream realized for this novel, what would it be?
Since it’s part of a series, this can’t be answered standalone. My dream for the story as a whole is to find readers that will genuinely like it and have fun reading it. If you know someone who loves coming-of-age fantasy and elves, send them my way [Goodreads link] 🙂
9. Share some of your favorite snippets!
Doing so for book two without spoilers isn’t easy. But I’ll share three. First, a throwback to one scene I loved writing in book one:
Calyssa was already waiting for him [Tyr’eshal], standing in the massive oak’s shade. “So much has changed since we had met here,” she said. “Back then, I talked with a boy scared of real responsibility and afraid of making his own plans. Now, the same boy is working the hardest of us for the chance of a better world.” She looked at him with a gaze filled with respect. “In just a few years, you’ve grown into a leader.”
“Thank you for those words,” Tyr’eshal said. “Was I given a choice, though?”
“I know it’s not something a Darkwood would do but you could’ve sat back and waited for someone more experienced to come up with a plan.” She looked up into the tree’s branches, then back to him. “What I told you back then… about the birthright to lead the Eternal Defenders… maybe birthright is not really necessary in your case, because you deserve it by your actions. As did your fathers before you, which is maybe why we all believe in your bloodline so much.”
Tyr’eshal wiped the tears that welled in his eyes as Calyssa spoke. “And still cry like a boy when the skills of my ancestors are mentioned,” he said in a shaking voice.
“They are legacy worth respect,” Calyssa said.
Tyr’eshal nodded. “Talking of my legacy is not why we’re here.”
“I know, but I think it had to be said.”
Then, a snippet from after a battle (won’t say which, for spoiler reasons):
“Thank you,” he [Tyr’eshal] told Shianna.
She leaned against him and gave him a weak hug. “You wanted me as your cover in battle. That’s what you’ll have. For as long as there’s blood in my veins, air in my lungs, and arrows in my quiver, I’ll stand behind you and shoot anyone foolish to oppose you.”
Tyr’eshal laughed. “You’re stubborn enough to be one of the Eternal Defenders.”
And one snippet of dialogue from the prologue. Warning: slight spoilers for book one.
[Raltash the demonlord speaking] “Why are you so few?”
Kraasian frowned, then looked at his scarred shoulder [injury from the end of book one]. “Were you once something like I am? A creature needing food, drink, sleep… instead of just magical energy?”
Silence followed for a while. “If I was, I don’t remember it.”
“Mortals are complicated,” Kraasian said. “They often won’t agree with one another, let alone work together, unless they really have to. We each have our own goals, our own view of the world and our place in it…” He paused, thinking about the people he knew, wondering how they might’ve reacted to his capture. His son and Ereanel would miss him, but some – like Marshal Jaimos – probably wouldn’t.
Kraasian shook his head, sending the thoughts away. “It took a lot of effort just to build the wall back then and decide on the way it should be guarded and defended. I don’t know how it works on other worlds, but… most of the time, mortals will be divided into groups that don’t agree with one another. That’s how it’s here. We’re united enough to keep you at bay but not enough to get rid of you… but I wanted a change. So I and those who believed me, often the best of the best, decided to fight back as best as we could.”
10. Did you glean any new writing and/or life lessons from writing this novel?
The process is a never-ending progression. In writing and in life, things can always be better but it may be hard to see what path to take to make things better. It takes trial and error, and sometimes the fresh eye of another person is the best friend.
So, that’s it – managed to do all three parts. I hope you’ve learned something about me and my project in a not-so-serious way. If you feel like sharing something about your story in such a way, give the original post a look and maybe try this yourself.
Until next time…