Wednesday, April 19, 2017


"Writing: somewhere between torture and fun.":

         I know I said I was going to talk about races this week, but I couldn't let this opportunity pass by.
         I'm going to be completely honest: the beginning of this book has been one of the hardest to decide upon. I mean, Really. Hard. I've written the beginning at least six times in three different ways. First I started with a Narrative (just for the very beginning) so it was like somebody reading history, which is what it kind of was, then I switched to First Person, and then I switched to Third Person and stuck with that because that's how I like reading books n and it communicated in the most efficient way. But then I couldn't find a satisfactory way to kick it off. There's a lot of information, geography, and relationships that needs to be grasped all at once; and it all needed to be written in such a way that hooked the reader and made them actually want to keep reading.
         So I started writing. My first draft was probably the result of way to much tea and not enough planning. For all those authors reading this:
         A great resource that I used was Kingdom Pen's Jumpstart Your Novel class. If you have never visited Kingdom Pen, I highly recommend it and this series. I grew beyond words through this class! 
         Anyway, (embarrassment ahead) my first scene was of my character making a harebrained attempt to slide down the stairs on a mattress while nobody was looking. (Inspired by my childhood memories of doing the exact same thing. If you haven't ever gone down the stairs on a mattress, or in a sleeping bag, or on a sled I highly suggest you try it and I don't care how old you are. You're never too old to go down the stairs in a new way!)
         I realized that, although this was a hilarious way to start the book, and you got a great feel for the character's sarcasm and energy, it didn't do justice to his relationship with his brother, his lineage, or how he lived. Also, while taking the Jumpstart class, I was able to thoroughly develop Reynold's character into what he is now. 
         My next attempt was little better different as my character was running through the woods fleeing the village bullies. (Yes, I know it's cliche!!) 
         On. And on. And on. I ran through all my ideas for how on earth I could start this novel. I wrote, deleted, re-wrote and repeated. I got closer when I started the scene with my character slipping off in the dead of night before getting caught by his brother Edmund. It introduced Reynold's desire for being alone, the place he lived, and the stiff relationship he had with his brother. I was actually about to settle on this introduction when I realized my major problem. I was getting bored just writing it! How was I going to expect my readers to keep reading when I could hardly drag my fingers over the keyboard and force my brain to come up with the next line in the limp dialogue? 
         Another idea got scratched from the screen and I was faced once again with empty whiteness. I prayed for God to just give me something, because I wanted Him to move through his book. I shut down the computer and went back to schoolwork, trying to make myself not think about it anymore. 
         Then it came to me! It was so perfect I couldn't believe I had been so thick headed to not think about it earlier. I needed something punchy and exciting to introduce Loriens, Reynold's brother Edmund, the world Reynold lived in, his habits and desires, as well as who he was. And I finally had it!

          As followers of my blog, I'm going to actually let you get a sneak peek into the beginning of my book. First, you can read my draft of the scene where Reynold is slipping out into the night.(The one I was originally going to settle on for the best I could do) Then you can read what I have for that scene now and compare which you think is better and captures your interest more, as well as any tips or advice you might have for my final idea. (That's an invitation for critique, my friends!) 

Original Draft:

Reynold lay in bed staring up at the ceiling. Even in the darkness of his room, his eyes were able to see the shapes of the furniture and the four straight walls that held him in. The silence told him that is was far past the time when decent people were asleep. But he wasn’t exactly decent. His heart was pounding and the muscles in his body were taut. Sleep evaded his eyes no matter how hard he wished it upon himself. Reynold threw back the covers and swung his legs over the side of the bed, his feet tingling as they touched the cold stone floor. His hand fumbled around until he touched the soft leather of his boots. He tucked them under his arm, draped his cloak over his shoulders, padded across the room in his bare feet, and eased the door open. The manor was silent, as it should be. But he couldn’t stay. This was the only time he could slip out – the only time he could be free. The question of whether or not it was the Lorien blood within him that fueled his desire for freedom or simply his own will could never be satisfied. His two sides were in a constant state of warfare which left him restless.
                Reynold looked down the hallways before slipping out of his room. His bare feet made no noise as he glided over the floor. The halls were pitch black to the Human eye, but his heightened Lorien senses expanded his pupil like that of a cat to take in any shred of light cast by the stars outside the window. He could see the walls that confined him like a prison, but led him to freedom as he kept walking down their path. He paused momentarily outside his brother’s door and listened. The only sound Reynold could hear was the hiss of the wind outside the rock walls. It whispered to him – calling him outside. Reynold slowly backed up and was about to go on his way when his sensitive ears caught the faint tread of padded feet. Reynold whirled and grasped the wrist of an outstretched hand, pinning the person to the wall. Edmund caught his breath to stifle his exclamation of surprise. Reynold leaned closer, his heart threatening to pound through his chest. “What are you doing here?” He hissed, trying to hide his surprise.
                “Isn’t that the question you should be asking yourself?” Edmund whispered back.
                Reynold relaxed his hold and Edmund slumped a bit, though it did nothing to hide the fact that they were now the same size; despite the fact that Reynold was seventeen and his little brother a year younger. Edmund’s eyes, whose pupils were expanded so far you could hardly tell they were blue, peered at Reynold from beneath dark brown hair that hadn’t yet been rumpled by sleep. Reynold ran a hand through his own short hair, which was the color of copper and refused to stay anywhere but directly in his face.
                Edmund glanced over his shoulder and Reynold listened for any sign that they had awoken the servants. All was still silent. Somewhere the hoot of an owl sent its eerie call through the night. Reynold turned back to his brother with a scowl.
                “Don’t give me that look when you’re the one sneaking off.” Edmund said as quietly as he could and still sound upset.
                Reynold held a finger to his lips before gesturing for him to follow. Together, the brothers made their way down the hall until Reynold turned into one of the rooms that branched off. The musty smell of old books made the air even more oppressive and Reynold fought down a quick surge of frantic energy to escape. He walked over to the window and slid back the lock with a sharp click. The window lifted silently and Reynold hoisted himself onto the sill before dropping onto the dew covered grass below. He quickly stole into the shadow of a bush to his left as Edmund thumped down behind him.  Reynold pulled his boots on and lifted the hood of his cloak over his face before taking off to the far corner of the manor. He could hear Edmund’s heavier tread behind him as they dashed from shadow to shadow. The precaution was probably unnecessary at this time of night, but it helped ease Reynold’s nerves.
                A hand clasped the corner of his sleeve. Reynold turned and pressed a hand over Edmund’s mouth before he had the chance to speak. Reynold brought his mouth close to Edmund’s ear. “Wait until we are in the woods.”
                Reynold turned again and continued his escape through the night with Edmund following. They crossed the manicured lawn, with its perfectly trimmed hedges and sparkling fountain, before coming to the edge of the estate. Reynold paused by the road that disappeared into the darkness to his left. All other directions led into the woods. He heard Edmund’s heavy breathing behind him and turned. Edmund waved his hand and they plunged into the woods.
                “How long do you think you can keep this double life up?” Edmund asked, still keeping his voice down to a hushed whisper.
                Reynold’s shrug was lost as he navigated a fallen tree and several clumps of brush that would have woken every forest creature had he stepped on them. “As long as I’m half Lorien.”
                Reynold could almost feel Edmund’s eye roll.

 What I Have Now:

          Reynold’s heart pounded in his ears and his lungs burned with fire as he dashed through the shadowed forest. His soft leather boots made only the slightest thump on the marshy floor with each flying stride he made. His flight was as silent as it was swift. A patch of mist hovering low over the ground warned Reynold of the starving mud below. Rapidly counting the strides, Reynold leaped over the mist and landed on the safety of firm ground. He glanced back and saw several fleeting shadows following him like wraiths in the night. Reynold snapped his head around in time to dodge another patch of bog. A fallen tree lay up ahead, its gnarled roots splaying in all directions like an overgrown palace. Reynold bounded up and slid down a root that led into a maze of dirt tunnels that barely allowed his slim form to slip through. He clambered up a web of roots and slid down to the other side in a desperate attempt to lose his pursuers. There was a loud scuffle and several hissed oaths because the pathway only allowed one person to go through at a time. Reynold changed his direction and grasped a low hanging branch, swinging himself into the tree. With the agility of a squirrel, he bounded from limb to limb; using only the sturdiest ones that wouldn’t shake as much. After a distance he dropped back onto the ground and continued to run. His legs felt like water and his heart was a burning ember in his chest. With a final burst of energy, Reynold swung himself into another tree and climbed up into the crotch. He sucked in several chocking breaths before forcing himself to stay quiet. He shut his eyes to focus on steadying his trembling limbs that would shake the branch he was hiding in. He resisted the urge to pull down the black cloth covering his mouth and nose. His pale skin would shine out in the night if he pulled it down to gasp in fresh air.
                All was painfully silent for an eternity of time. Reynold’s eyes scanned the forest floor, picking out the areas of mist covering the bog that, in the day time, looked like any other patch of marshy, moss covered ground. The mist, the key to avoided death by drowning, only appeared in the dead of night and evaporated in the morning– making the Murkwater Forest the most treacherous to anybody other than the Lorenians. Reynold only wished he wasn’t a halfblood. What a blessing it would be to see with the eyes of pure Lorien.
                Reynold tensed as a shadow silently drifted by underneath him. Judging from the broad shoulders and sturdy stride, Reynold suspected Garner was just below him. Another figure, slimmer than the first, joined Garner, and they held a hushed conversation. Reynold’s sensitive hearing picked up several words.
                “…Must have headed towards the Blackwater”
                The slim figure shook his head. “Would have heard him... ... Dry brush there.”
                Reynold held his breath as the two figures looked around the forest. As long as they didn’t look up he would be safe.
                The rustling of the branches behind him caused Reynold to jerk around just in time to see a third figure pounce on him. Reynold gripped a branch and let himself fall, only to be caught by his hand. His assailant fell to the forest floor with a thud and the other two figures looked up. Reynold hung precariously from one hand other thin air for a moment before hauling himself back into the branches. He considered jumping to the ground and fleeing on foot. A glance down made the decision for him. Too late: Garner and the other figure were already halfway up the tree while the third figure picked himself up and waited for him to make just that decision. Reynold slung himself through the branches, jumping from tree to tree. The next tree was a far jump and Reynold took it without hesitation. Suddenly his leg was caught from behind and his momentum stopped. Reynold fell to the forest floor inches from a section of mist and the air was forced from his lungs as his attacker fell on top of him. Before Reynold could catch his breath, his hands were pinned and a dagger was at his throat.
                “Close. But not close enough.” A smooth male voice said from behind the black cloth that covered everything but his eyes.
                Reynold looked up into the green eyes of his captor, whose razor sharp blade was dangerously close to slitting his throat. The corners of the green eyes wrinkled as the owner smiled. Reynold tensed as three more black figures joined the victor who pinned him down.
                “You don’t have to completely humiliate me, Twain.” Reynold gasped against the dagger.
                The figure sheathed his dagger and got to his feet, offering a hand to Reynold. Reynold allowed Twain to pull him to his feet. His legs were still shaky from the flight and his lungs burned as his breathing gradually became normal. He ripped the cloth away from his face and inhaled the cool forest air.
                “You nearly gave us the slip by going through the Tarn,” Garner said through wheezing breaths.
                The slim figure pulled off the hood and revealed his tan skin and black hair. “If Garner hadn’t insisted on going first we wouldn’t have lost him.”
                “That’s what you think, Varl,” contradicted the third, who had attempted to pounce on Reynold in the tree. “You were the one that – “
                “Peace, Severin,” Twain said with a smile and clapped a hand on his companion’s shoulder. All of them were nearly the same height except for Garner, who’s thicker build made him appear larger, but Twain was most certainly the shortest. “Reyn gave us all the slip quiet neatly. I just happened to be the lucky one in the tree when he took that foolhardy leap.”
                “Couldn’t you have avoided landing on me?” Reynold asked, wrapping his arms around his bruised chest. “I would never be able to explain a broken rib to Edmund.”
                The green of Twain’s eyes shone around his massively dilated pupil, which looked eerily cat-like, as he grinned. “Be thankful I didn’t grab the hood of your cloak or you would have had to explain a broken neck as well.”
                Reynold rolled his blue eyes, which showed more blue than Twain’s showed green. He was still able to see better in the dark than the average Human, but the woods were still a canvas of greys and deep blues. The extra dilated pupil enabled him and all other Lorenians navigate the dangerous Murkwater Forest where no Human feet ever tread.
                Twain looked up through the fluttering leaves of the trees. “The moon is going to sleep.”
                Reynold nodded and pulled his cloak back over his face, giving a farewell nod to each of his Lorenian friends. “I need to get back before the servants wake up and Edmund hears I’ve been out again.”
                Twain gave Reynold and backhanded slap on the shoulder. “You did much better tonight. Perhaps tomorrow Severin will deem it a good use to time to throw some knives around.”
                The Lorien named Severin folded his arms across his chest and glared. Twain spread his arms out in innocence. “That was meant as a compliment. We all know you could pick a crabapple off a branch while reclining in the grass.”
                The cold in Severin’s eyes eased a bit and he nodded.  Reynold thought he caught the faintest hint a smile tugging at the corner of his stoic friend’s mouth.  Garner, Varl, and Severin raised a hand in parting.
                Masalim,” they said in broken unison.
                Reynold raised his hand in return. “Masalim bo rulont.”
                The three Loriens disappeared into the forest as silently as shadows.
                “Your forest navigation isn’t the only thing improving,” Twain commented approvingly, “soon you will be speaking Lorenian so well nobody would guess you weren’t a full-blooded native.”
                Reynold turned and allowed a faint smile cross his face at the compliment. Twain, who had just pulled the fabric over his freckled nose, gestured for him to follow.
                “Come along, rulont. I shall walk you to the Forest’s edge.”
                Twain began sprinting across the ground and swung into a tree. Reynold followed a few steps behind as they dashed from tree to tree. When they neared edge of the forest they dropped to the ground and walked until they could see the fields and dark silhouetted houses of Marlin. Reynold stopped and turned to his friend.
                “Tomorrow is a full moon. You will be able to see better while throwing knives.” Twain said in the typical blunt fashion that seemed to accompany the Lorien blood.
                Reynold nodded and grasped the hand Twain offered. Twain turned and vanished back into the forest while Reynold headed down the dirt road that skirted the village of Marlin. 

The goal behind this post is this: #1 - Authors, don't be afraid to start over. (And that means starting over as many times as necessary until it's actually something worth reading)
                                                     #2 - If you are bored writing it, your reader is going to be bored reading it. Writing shouldn't be a drag! Create an adventure that grabs your reader by the shirt and pulls them in heart and mind! I promise, if you do this, you will have a much more enjoyable experience writing, you will feel satisfied with your work, and your readers will love it!

Sorry for such a long post. Here's a video! (Because why would anybody want to see a potato after reading a long post?)

Have any thoughts or advice about my draft? Please comment below! It would help me SO much to hear what you guys think.

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