The end of the beginning

Two days ago I submitted the first (ish) draft of Book 3 to my agent. The final book in my debut trilogy. The end of a road I began walking fifteen years ago.

The actual submitting of it was easier than the writing had been, particularly the final chapters where all the hints and foreshadowing finally play out, where characters who’ve become family take the lonely road and leave us all behind.

I shed quite a few tears over those final chapters, and again when I read it through before submitting. I hope they were because the writing is emotionally charged and that, by this point, readers will be as invested in those characters as I am. That I’ve done them all justice in the conclusion of their stories. That the dead died appropriately (if not well) and that the living have a future that readers can be hopeful about.

Was the ending exactly what I’d dreamt it would be all this time? Yes and no. My writing is different now, and the characters have set themselves on different paths in many cases. There were entire chapters that played out differently during the writing than they had in the thinking or the planning, and those are definitely some of the best chapters – my subconscious took the reins and I’m glad to be confident enough to let it do so and see where we end up.

But ultimately, that final conclusion was the one I’d originally planned – a rough shape carved in stone, but polished and smoothed in unexpected directions.

I spent a lot of time rewriting the middle half of Book 3 – I reached 58,000 words and realised there were serious errors, so I jumped around for a couple of weeks writing thousands and deleting thousands more words until it was the right shape, and then I moved on. That’s not something I’d have done before; previously I would have made a note it needed changing and just ploughed ahead.

I’m really glad I took the time to pause and work that section out. I hope it’s a result of the steep learning curve I careened along with the editing of Darksoul when I learnt a lot of hard, but valuable, lessons about story structure. I think the difficulties I went through with Darksoul have made me a better writer, and that time dedicated to structure and narrative helped me pull this book into shape faster. Of course, that’s just my perception. Maybe I’ll get a call from my agent saying the middle of the book is a hot mess!

Either way, although this is only a draft and there’s probably a lot more work to do, I’m proud of the ending I crafted. No doubt there are places where the pace flags a little too much, or there’s too much introspection and not enough action etc, but the bones are there now, and I’m excited to start putting some muscle on them.

So I’ve got a couple of weeks until Harry sends me his thoughts (and prayers, if it’s bad!) and I’m not going to do any work on it until then. Come back to it fresh. So, what to do instead?

First, I’m going to work on my notes for my Edge-Lit workshop. I did a workshop at that convention last year on points of view, and this year I’m tackling the thorny subject of writing battle scenes – From Battles to Brawls, the art of writin’ fightin’. So, if you’re coming to Edge-Lit this year (and why wouldn’t you, it’s brilliant) do come along to the workshop if you can.

Second, I’m going to work on a new Syl Stoneheart short story. Syl is the captain of the famed Iron Blades mercenary company, and she’s appeared twice in the last year: in the Art of War charity anthology and Grimdark Magazine issue 15. She’s actually the cover model for GdM 15, though she’d sooner stab you in the eye than pose in a bikini.

Grimdark Mag issue 15 cover - Syl Stoneheart posterI don’t have a home for the story yet, but Syl’s one of those obnoxious characters that keeps running around inside my brain kicking stuff over and getting drunk. It’s best to just exorcise her and get it over with.

After that, if there’s time, I’m going to move on with the WIP – the first book of a brand new trilogy – and its associated research. I probably won’t get a great deal done before I’m back into rewrites for Book 3 prior to submission to my publishers, but it’ll be good to know that that novel is alive and waiting for me too.

Finally, I now have bookplates! If you want one (shipped internationally – I may regret this) contact me through social media or this website and I’ll get one sent out.

No rest for the wicked? Maybe. But I do so like being wicked…

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