There will be an official post about this sometime on Paul’s blog, but I’m impatient, and I want to tell you all my thoughts on how the story is going.
Yes, all of them. Or at least all of them that you have clearance to know about. 🙂
Word count on the current WIP, Stars’ End (the fourth and next-to-final book of The Awakening series), is now more than 75K. This is approximately half of the intended word count for the finished novel.
The current state of the various plot threads… The main thread, having intertwined with a few others for a time, is now a couple of chapters away from moving into the sequence that gives this book its title. One of the secondary threads has diverged and will remain separate for the rest of this novel (Drake has gone off to do his own thing again — completely unsurprising to anyone who’s read the other books); another has diverged for now, but will be woven (not weaved, dammit — at least give me credit for knowing the correct forms of the irregular verb from which my own middle name derives!) back into the main story arc of this book soon. (Character needs to be present so he can share his somewhat limited knowledge of a place that the primary POV for the main thread has never seen. Also, it provides further complications for all characters involved, which is a good enough reason on its own.) There’s the big fun (for readers who enjoy dramatic irony *raises hand*) of worrying whether a newly acquired ally will react with violent anger if/when that character discovers the true identity of one of the other secondary characters… And my dear twin reminded me a couple of days ago that even the main character for the series doesn’t know everything about that person. (Knows who he is now. Doesn’t know who he used to be. And to think that I used to worry mostly about Brennen… *shakes head*) The “problem” character is currently not in the main thread (he somehow got stuck playing the Mentor/Wise Old Man for a short time — I’d borrow a rant from the dearly departed M. Shadovsky, but it wouldn’t be appropriate, since we know this other character was not good in his last life, a fact he’d point out himself because that’s sort of, y’know, important and stuff), but he will be again soon, if I have anything to say on the matter (because, contrary to internet “wisdom” on writing, some makers of fiction have no trouble at all putting their imaginary friends in dangerous situations).
Yeah. And speaking of the Aurorans (“I didn’t realize we had been speaking of them, Weaver.” Well, pay attention, then), they have so far been conspicuously absent in the WIP, but this is only the first draft, and the author tells me he will work them into some of the threads on the second pass. (Small “plot spoiler” for anyone who hasn’t read The Madness Engine: When last we saw them in a published novel, Lyra Rhys-Griffith and David Morgen had both been wounded while defending Hrothgar Tebrey’s family from an attack by Thetas. There’s also a bit with Brennen, in which it is revealed that Geoffrey had met him some time before.) Although it may not be absolutely necessary for any of the Aurorans to be present in the actual “Stars End” sequence of events in this novel, I have told my twin that Ryan, especially, must be involved in the main thread of the fifth book. (Just because something never happened doesn’t mean we don’t want payback… Oh, wait, we did get payback, in the form of turning the main antagonist to our side. Nevertheless, to borrow a borrowed quote, “Because I helped to wind the clock/I come to hear it strike.” It all has to do with why the pillar stone in the “castle” got smashed, and by whom, and what would have happened if events had gone otherwise. Part of me feels as if I should apologize for the would-have-happened getting diverted into someone else’s story. Guess we maybe shouldn’t have had the “burly brawl” in the previous book happen where it did, yeah?)
For me, one of the biggest struggles in writing a work of fiction is trying to give the reader as big and detailed an image of events, characters, and setting as the one in my head. There’s a problem inherent in “write what you know” that many people don’t acknowledge, and the Hemingway-ish iceberg in my head extends so very far below the surface… (No, dammit, this is not some “theory of mind” bullshit. All writers have to balance what their readers can figure out from context — or what they may already know — with what they need to be told. I know these characters. I know their original backstories, and I know the variation on same that we’re using for these novels. Yes, I’m even allowing my twin to tell lies about Morgen, because as Morgen himself pointed out to me, it’s not as if we have any proof this isn’t the truth. As with the major backstory revision we gave another character, we simply realized that it had been this way all along. Or could have been, and who are we to say it wasn’t?)
Anyway. For those of you who are interested in reading more about the Aurorans, rest assured that they are still around and will be in Stars’ End, too. (Part of me really, really wants to be there — figuratively, of course — when Drake and Morgen finally sit down and discuss their shared past. Some relevant information has already been handled in a conversation between Drake and Deegan — the “souvenir rock,” in particular — but there’s that fragment of dialogue I overheard once about a battlefield… And to think that I used to worry mostly about Brennen.)
…D’you have any idea how difficult it is to enthuse openly about a story that no one else has read? So many people have the weird notion that even a hint of what happens in a book somehow ruins the experience of reading it. Personally, I like “plot spoilers,” because then the whole story is full of dramatic irony for me, and as I may have mentioned (over and over), I do love dramatic irony.
As a reward for reading this long blog post, here’s a Photoshopped picture of a baby neo-panther. (Feel free to squee…) Her name is Rose, and yes, she is a redhead like her grandfather.