Saturday, December 26, 2009

... zeroing in

I hope everyone had as merry a Christmas as I did (or even more merry!)

I am continuing to develop the nature of the next project(s) and since the last post I've revised things further. At the moment I am looking at two distinct projects; COT1.5 and COT2.

(Note that the terms COT1.5 and COT2, like COT-O and COT-R, are used merely for the sake of this blog and will not appear in any official form along with the completed projects!)

COT1.5 will (maybe) be called Circle of Tales. It, like COT-R will be a collection of six books, but each book will be stand-alone and there will be no specific order (with one small exception!). Four of these books will introduce new plots and characters within the COT/CoSaS/Thief universe. One will be a prequel to COT-R and another a direct sequel.

COT2 will be called (as has long been known!) Contravention of Thieves, and will be quite like what has already been discussed.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

... multiple accounts

It looks like we're in luck. Redface has offered to take care of the formatting for the finished novel, and so far his work looks excellent. After a recent poll taking at TTLG (sorry blog followers, but I needed more than the three votes I usually get over the course of four weeks) it was decided that more pages, thus higher cost, was worth it for larger text. Redface should hopefully be taking care of two of the covers as well. ~~ In fact, I've asked all three of the artists if they could focus on getting the cover images done during January, and they seem optimistic. ~~ Our editor won't be available to work again until the end of January so I'm considering asking for additional help in the mean time. Actually I already replied to someone who had offered to do so, to see how serious he is. I'd really like to have someone who's never heard of Thief to read it and critique it as a piece of fantasy literature, but I've had no luck there so far. ~~ Meanwhile I'm thinking of a few additional things I missed during the last revision, but I'm not yet ready to jump back in for more work. These additional things involve Lytha, and it occurred to me that I had no intention of addressing these items during COT2 so it's now or never. I'd like for COT2 to be as baggage-free as possible: no leftover issues from COT-R to deal with.

Speaking of COT2, I keep going back and forth on certain issues. If you've been reading the blog you know that I was strongly considering doing the whole thing as a series of short stories rather than the tremendous epic novel that COT-R became. Now I am pondering actually splitting it into three separate projects. ~~ The first would be a collection of (rather long) short stories that can be taken totally in isolation. Some would be completely stand-alone tales set in the CoSaS Universe, some would be fairly closely linked to COT-R but not to Thief itself, and some would be Thief fan-fictions in a very true sense. The six principals from COT-R would get a mention from time to time, or even a cameo, but would not be featured heavily. All of these stories would be setting up backstory for what is to come, but all would also be rather self contained. ~~ The second would be again a series of short stories, but far less self-contained and rather more chapter-like. It would be a direct continuation of COT-R and feature the six principals heavily, though many would be told from the perspective of new characters. In fact I even considered naming this project "Book 7". On the other hand there's a total of eight stories planned for this project, so it might as well be called Book 8 as well! All of these stories would address an issue left unresolved at the end of COT-R and either provide a complete conclusion, or develop that plot in preparation for the third project. ~~ The third project would be Contravention of Thieves itself, and would be an actual novel with chapters and an interwoven plot just like COR-R. It would tie things from the previous two projects together and bring everything to a conclusion. Since so much ground will already be covered in the previous two projects, COT2 can launch directly into the meat of the story and provide a very fast-paced narrative with a minimum of exposition or backstory explanation. My goal would be to make it half to one-third the length of COT-R. Sounds good to me.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

... and now, from our sponsor

COT isn't my only writing project. (How could it be?) Another book which I wrote about two years ago and was recently illustrated is now online for sale at CreateSpace.

This children's book features a group of seven friends who confront a mysterious and (as the title suggests!) massive wall, and the adventure that results. The book is 8"x8" and 26 pages, with color illustration on every-other page. Recommended for ages three to ten, or grown-ups who are still kids at heart. 1st grade reading level.

Arnie's favorite thing to do was to run around and see what he could find. But one day Arnie found something new, though it had been there all along. It was a great big, enormous, neverending wall. He wondered what could be behind it. He was sure it would be new places to run and explore.

I hope there will be some interest for this here among my blog readers and COT fans. This little project came about back during architecture school while I was designing a preschool. I wanted to collaborate with my sister on a book project and this seemed like a great place to start. So, I found it, dusted it off, rewrote some parts, and she did watercolor paintings for it. We have a second storybook in the works, this time written specifically for her particular illustration talents. I'll be posting about that here, too, when it's done.

Some previews can be found here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

... passing the torch

Nearly half an entire chapter.

That's now much longer COT-R is now that the 3rd draft is finished; around 8K words. That doesn't even take into account all of the stuff I deleted, either. If the new content is taken in addition to the deleted stuff (rather than in place of) the total comes around 30K words, which is longer than the longest chapter by just a bit. So basically, I deleted a whole chapter worth of stuff during this revision only to add back in a chapter and a half! (Or a really really long chapter!)

I'm pretty satisfied. The story seems much more solid, now. Plot holes were filled in and smoothed over. A great deal that was left unexplained has now been made much more clear. Conflicting and contradicting things have been straightened out. I think this will be the last revision. All that's left now is proofreading.

Unless, of course, one of my critics discovers a new plot hole I totally missed. It's still possible. I hadn't realized before that there would be so many.

Oh, and the current page count? 1,113

... and we have a 3rd draft

Well, not quite. I still need to go through and create a version clean of all editing marks and grayed out deleted text. As expected I very nearly flew through Book 6, though some large edits were still necessary. All in all it was extremely beneficial to do the entire revision in under two weeks. With this speed everything was very fesh in my mind as I read through it, so that the smallest plot hole (I hope!) was able to be spotted. I feel, finally, that the story is finished. All that remains now is the final proofreading and grammarical fixes... unless of course one of my critics or editors spots a new plotty error!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

... by virtue of deletion

Book 5 was smooth sailing until I got to chapters 19 and 20, and that's when the major surgery resumed. There weren't alot of scenes that required heavy revision, just a few that needed a few paragraphs outright deleted (when this can be done without changing the scene, it's probably a good idea to do so!) and a few new scenes added to fill in some plot-pot-holes. I still have my list of things to fix, though at the moment it's void of plotholes. I already know that book 6 is going to need one semi-major change, though I don't know yet how I am going to do it!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

... stop looking for patterns

Of course as soon as I notice the pattern from books 2 & 3, book 4 doesn't follow it.

What was expected, though, was the dramatic reduction in surgery needed during the revision. I'm keeping a little "todo" log of things I need to keep my eye on while reading and revising. There's only one major plot-hole left to fill, a list of three topics I need to check for consistancy throughout the rest of the story, and six topics which I need to better explain, add more information on, or provide a reference to somewhere. I expect smooth sailing, except for that plot hole... which may be tricky to fill.

Friday, December 11, 2009

... surgery continues

I'm half done with the revision (just finished Book 3) and the major surgery continues. The frequency of the needed changes are growing less frequent, but their severity has not. Book 3 has some big story chapters, and a great deal of contradictions and confusing facts were sorted out, and at least one gaping plot hole filled in. I also noticed a funny pattern in the way both Books 2 and 3 play out. Both begin with a great deal of intense action, which calms a bit in the 3rd chapter before a fairly tranquil forth chapter that mostly serves to built up to the first chapter of the next book. I wonder if it continues throughout the next two books.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

... book 2 done, moving along

With the exception of Chapter 5 (which saw huge rewrites) most of Book 2 only needed tweaking. Most of the problems where in the form of characters knowing more than they should or less than they should, and was correctable in just a few lines. It comes from having written this in so many revision passes that did not always include a thorough read-through like I am doing now. I'd go to one section and do a change, but would forget that several other sections later on needed to be changed to reflect the alteration. It also came in the form of descriptions. Often a more lengthy, detailed description of something was inserted during a revision, and during this revision I'd notice a shorter, less clear description of the same thing later on. The older, second description is then removed.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

... sometimes you just redo

There's a list of things I planned to correct during this revision, but in Chapter 5 I stumbled upon some problems I had not expected. Correcting those problems required more work than all of the previous revisions to the previous four chapters, and included many new edits to the previous four chapters.

It was another case of me attempting to be vague with the reader, but falling into the trap of being vague with myself too. Even if some things are kept hidden or unclear, they should not be hidden or unclear to the author himself. Undoing the damage this caused resulted in the complete rewrite (not just deleting a few lines and adding a few) of two sections in chapter 5, the creation of a totally new one in chapter 4, heavy changes to a few others in both 5 and 4, and a dozen of small changes to sections going as far back as chapter 3. In the end some stuff I liked had to be thrown out, and the new stuff is not necessarily more entertaining, but now it all actually makes sense and has a logical flow of events.

What more can I say? Simply that Ghost gets a bit more backstory now than he did before.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

... final changes

The changes in the 3rd draft's revision are not sweeping by any means, but they are important. It's not only a chance to make sure that events (and locations) in the early chapters are in continuity with the final ones, but is another chance to correct some mistakes in the storytelling which I can either chalk up to lack of foresight, or laziness! It's the type of thing that can only be done with the entire story written, the sprinkling of details and tiny events which serve to tie the entire work together.

At any rate, I just finished with Book 1, though I may return to it before the 3rd draft is done. I except that it's Book 1 that required the most attention, but I will go through the entire story with the same care nonetheless.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

... a third draft, work resumes

Yesterday I received the completed second draft of COT-R, along with a generous helping of additional materials. My editor provided some in depth analysis of problem areas to help me fix them (they almost always deal with inconsistencies of location descriptions) as well as a guide to writing Hammerite lingo. I haven't jumped head-first into work on the third draft yet, though I did take a crack at rewriting (again, for the eighth time) the passage which acts as an introduction to the story, Thoughts Concerning the Delegates...

Though usually only my critics get to see this stuff, I thought it'd be nice to do a comparison between the 2nd draft version and the 3rd draft version. But first, the bit that came before any of the eight revisions: Foreword, by an anonymous Keeper. In the original this section was written by a Keeper, Daelus was of course named Daneel, and much time is spent summarizing Thief: The Dark Project. Now, here's the 2nd draft version...

Their numbers are as unknown as their intentions and origins. Even the title ‘Delegate’ is based on cryptic passages in old tomes. It is suspected that many pivotal events within The City for the past one hundred years could be linked to them, and that some important historical figures were actually Delegates themselves. Nothing is conclusive. There can be no conspiracy when the agents, by their very nature, do not conspire.

Five months prior to this day, and twenty nine days after the passing of The Trickster (see any and all annals concerning ‘The Dark Project’ for further information on this and related events), a suspected Delegate arrived in The City. The nature of his arrival within our borders was not uncommon; hence this event was not recorded, only researched in retrospect.

His name, Daelus Thresh, was discovered after months of delving through ancient texts. It had been written that he was a man possessing a shattered past welded back together by force of consciousness, with scars of great power and conflicting magical energies still burning at the torn edges of his psyche. His every action mirrored the duality of his nature, a subconscious schism which divided one path into two, yet with the conscious illusion of being one. He believed that his use of alternate identities was of his own free will; it was however a fact of his existence which ran deeper than he could fathom, an aspect of himself which he was unable to escape.

Like all Delegates, he came from another place; a place hidden from us. He was not the first of them, and not the last; but held an important distinction amongst them, for he would bring with him a shard of this other place into our own land, and from this shard his journey upon branching, twisting paths would begin. It was both arrogance and naiveté that allowed this Delegate to do what no reasonable practitioner of bizarre arts would dare to in all but the greatest of privacies. He conducted a ceremony which caused a structure to spring forth from the mountainside to the north of The City.

It was written that the Delegates, as their first rule, were not to make contact with one another. By this act, in all likelihood, soon every Delegate in The City would become abundantly aware of him, just as we were made aware. How this has affected their plans remains to be seen, but it is an important sign: secrecy is becoming a lower priority in comparison to other goals.

Now the tower stands as if it always had, and the people of The City seem to have accepted it as such; a startlingly appropriate metaphor for the man himself who, in this short time, has dug himself deeply into our society.

Though it's not stated, and Keepers are not in COT-R, it's still written with the idea that it's being spoken (or written) by a Keeper doing a report. Some have suggested that this entire passage ought to be dropped, as a story like this doesn't really seem suited to such a dry expositional opening. Well, it hasn't been dropped, but it's been rewritten in such a way that I think suits the story much better.

I had been obsessed with them since the moment I came to this land. Some unsubstantiated notion hidden deep within my clouded and damaged memories propelled me to pursue them, study them, and know them. In time I gave in completely to this desire, discarding all semblance of a life in the pursuit of this coveted knowledge.

They called themselves Delegates. In spite of my amassed discoveries, their numbers remained hidden as did their true intentions and origins. Though they all were perfectly unique, they held one important aspect in common. Their every action mirrored the duality of their nature, a subconscious schism between obedience and rebellion which divided one path into two, yet with the conscious illusion of being one. They believed that this was of their own free will; it was however a fact of their existence which ran deeper than they each could fathom, an aspect of themselves which they were all unable to escape.

Within that context they seemed to operate under two principal rules: achieve great power, and make no contact with one another. I found that many pivotal events within the past century could be linked to them, and some historical figures were actually Delegates themselves. Though they excelled at the fist rule, it seemed at the second they were less successful.

Five months prior to this day a Delegate arrived in The City. I did not notice it at the time, for the daily comings and goings of people through the sprawling, nameless metropolis were countless. There was however something specific which drew my attention to him, as well as the attention possibly of all other Delegates.

It was both arrogance and naiveté that allowed this man to do what no reasonable practitioner of bizarre arts would dare to do in all but the greatest of privacies. He conducted a ceremony which caused a structure, in all likelihood a shard of the Delegate’s own land, to spring forth from the mountainside to the north of The City. While it was possible that in some lands a deed such as this could be considered commonplace, in the world of The City it bespoke powerful and dangerous sorcery.

I soon discovered his name, Daelus Thresh, and that somehow I remembered him. I knew him, though I could not understand how. What relic of my shattered past did he represent? Could I weld the memory back together through sheer will of consciousness alone? That recollection, that spark of self awareness was what propelled me to focus all of my energy on mending the torn, burnt edges of my psyche. My obsession grew tenfold. My resolve became absolute. I would know.

Regardless of my own personal investment, what this departure from discretion meant for their plans remained to be seen. It was an important sign: secrecy is becoming a lower priority to them in comparison to other goals.

Though the rewrite of this was inspired by the passage at the very end of the story where I decided, finally, who this section is spoken by, the key term here is in the second-to-last paragraph. Personal Investment. A dusty exposition by an unknown scholar was no way to introduce the book. A passionate recounting of an obsession suits it much better.

Several bits of this which had been devoted to Daelus are now no longer pertaining to him. The first, dealing with the duality of nature, I felt was more appropriately applied to ALL of the Delegates. I also decided to go ahead and actually explain what the hell this is getting at – the idea that the Delegates are both compulsively loyal to their masters and must rebel against them. The other bit is the part about the torn burnt psyche, which now more appropriately pertain to the speaker himself.

Finally, I nixed the reference to Thief: The Dark Project because I felt that it was simply irrelevant to the speaker and would only confuse readers who aren’t familiar with the games. Fans of Thief will get an idea of where all of this takes place in the timeline later on.