Author's note: I wrote this as a letter to myself (as the title suggests) to convince myself to write. I've been sitting here at Starbucks for two days (don't you judge me!), in a weird lull time between Spring and Summer semesters and moving to a new apartment. I have a lot on my mind, but forefront, always, is my writing. I know I can't realistically start writing a new story right now (there's just too much to do and I'm not ready), but I needed to figure out what I can do, so I just started asking myself some questions. It started as a word document:
And then I remembered I was in Starbucks, and they play their music really loud and there was just no way I'd get anything done. So I switched over to FocusWriter, put on my headphones, changed the background to one of my own photos to help get me calm--and started writing.
This letter is to myself, I'm OK with spoilers (they remind me to actually write the scenes!), and I wanted to share this process with you even if it does tell a lot about where I want to take the series and how I want to get there. So read on if you want to see what's happening down the road or what I'll be busying myself with, or how the story may change for better or for worse: but I warned you!
Also titled: A scene you haven’t scene before
"Your job is to chase your characters up a tree, throw rocks at them, then get them down."
What is it about the Transcendence series that I love so much? Is it the demons? Is it the love story that will build between Malisyn and Nox? Is it the fantasy setting? Is it that I can tie characters directly to my own family and, in a way, keep them alive forever? I’m not overly knowledgeable about the Fantasy / Medieval genre. I think I write it well but--is it really the best genre for the story? Am I more of an expert on “modern” day?
My plan was always to have Malisyn inherit, from her biological father, his demon Bloodbane. When she Transcends for the first time she becomes the BloodGate Heir and therefore takes over his responsibilities. [Are BloodGate Heirs effectively “immortal” until their children take up their position? Is that why Jaq never wanted Malisyn to know, he was cheating death? And once she found out--perhaps, with help from Jaq’s enemies--she could Transcend, and after she had help Transcending--help from Nox, since she’s crippled by fear of death--then Jaq realizes what’s happening. It’s time to confront his daughter and train her.
Key characters, then are:
Malisyn Nox Jaq Allyn
Dawn, as Stephanie, will become a sister to Malisyn after she loses Allyn (if she does); or when she loses Taelor.
Kellea, as mine and Malisyn’s mother needs to play a prominent role somehow.
Av’niel, as Allyn’s father, and Malisyn’s effective step-father, needs to be involved.
Will Kellea and Av’niel act as Jaq’s “enemies”? Or do they stand to protect Malisyn, not wanting her to become a Transcender either? No, of course not, they know that lifestyle is hard and thankless--and dangerous. They’d want to protect her and Allyn for as long as they can.
Until life--and demons, and an antagonist--has other plans.
Just like real life, the enemies of Jaq will find his weak point--his daughter, the part of him that keeps him immortal--and they’ll go after her to get to him. Killing her would only keep Jaq immortal--but forcing her to Transcend would steal Jaq’s power and give it to her, then they could kill her [Wouldn't she be immortal now? Ok, yeah, need to think about that... slight delay? Waiting period?]. And then Jaq. And Allyn and Kellea and Av’niel as well.
But where in a story like this do we start? If Jaq is really the one the story is “about” why are we focusing on Malisyn? Because she is the one we can relate to. The unknown, the quiet one, the one without magic, the girl who wants more than what life has given to her--and can’t ever see it happening. She has no idea that she may be one of the most powerful blood mages in the world once she inherits her father’s powers--but she’ll realize too late that she really wanted him in her life all along. He won’t die instantly, no, but he’s going to get his first wrinkle or white hair and be very, very upset about it (he’s had a long time to get narcissistic).
Nox’s role, eventually, will be that of protector and friend--and eventually a lover. But he’ll have a personal journey of his own, through redemption for his past, for a life he lived before he met Malisyn that he’s not proud of. Kellea and Av’niel have their own story, a complicated past that involves keeping secrets from Malisyn, Allyn and even Jaq. They know more than they let on, know more about where Jaq is than they let on, and it’s those secrets that will lead to Jaq’s eventual whereabouts/life being revealed.
This has to start with Malisyn because she is the one that will have fate unceremoniously thrust upon her. We can all relate to having an unfair burden (or what we see as difficult and unfair at the time when we’re spoiled children) placed upon our shoulders and the bitterness and resentment that comes with it. Maybe Malisyn never wanted to be a blood mage. Maybe it isn’t her dream (I never had dreams when I was her age). Maybe she herself considers blood magic to be something evil or scary or unnatural. Obviously, now that she is one, she’s going to either have to change her mind--or accept her fate. And the train wreck that shows up in the fine print shortly after.
Allyn can be the shining beam of acceptance and optimism and excitement. He won’t understand the fear that people have or the prejudice that people have about blood magic because he’s simply too young. He can be a catalyst for change and if he dies, his ideals can not be allowed to die with him. Malisyn would go forward--even with Allyn--to help change the minds of people about how they view blood magic--did this just become an allusion to sexuality or faith or something? Well now.
The demons are important, I won’t cut them. Transcendence is important. The whole fucking world is important, I can’t change it. I can’t get caught up on “Oh my gosh, I don’t know how they heated up water or shipped things in medieval times.” Guess what, I’ll figure it out or I’ll make it sound convincing. I’ll ask people. I’ll watch videos. I’ll take a class--but I cannot let it stop me from doing what I want to do. I can’t change the genre because I’m feeling shitty about myself or the story.
It’s a beautiful story and I have to tell it.
It needs demons as much as it needs terrible humans capable of good deeds, and good humans capable of terrible deeds. The world isn’t fair, life isn’t fair, but we get to choose how we react to it: a choice my characters get that I never have. I mean, sure, I have a choice but I always choose to get upset by it. Malisyn doesn’t have to be that way, and neither does Nox or Allyn or anyone else. Intrusive thoughts, be damned!
Blood magic stays because it is a part of me. Interesting that I myself have a blood disorder that could kill me if left untreated--how can I “give” that to Malisyn? Does being a blood mage ultimately shorten your life? Not if you’re a Transcender. At least, not if you’re a BloodGate Heir. What about regular blood mages? Is Transcending kind of like drinking alcohol? Do they run the risk of a slow, painful death the more often they cross the threshold to dig at humanity’s secrets? But society keeps asking them to do it, to help, risking their own lives? Hard to say. I like the thought of somewhat sickly, physically weak heroes who have to depend on magic, charm and friends to succeed. Then when they reach the “bottom” with none of those things, it’s truly a sad experience.
I need to find the best parts of each chapter, of each character, and keep them. And throw the rest away. I need to find the heart of each chapter, “What does this chapter accomplish? What character does it illuminate? Does it take a step forward in the plot or does it pause to appreciate the world or character (which is also acceptable)?”
Although reading each chapter objectively isn’t really an option--I know at some point I’m going to start reading and I’ll hate it. I just have to be honest with myself. So what are my options?
1. Make a new outline and write it from scratch
2. Go through, highlight only what I like about each chapter (still requires re-reading it)
I think my best option is to re-write the whole damn thing with a new outline. There’s plenty about the story that I don’t like that makes it not salvageable.
The motivation for Tas’kara is weak and weird. Kellea’s role as a Nightwalker doesn’t make sense. The Trials of Blood held in a dinky little town because of one or two demons doesn’t make sense. It needs to be different. I don’t want to re-work the story, I need to remake it. So it needs to be a whole new outline and keep just the aspects and nuances from the first draft that I really like. It’s simply too much work (and anger) to try and fit back into a pair of jeans that doesn’t fit anymore. Buy a new pair.
So my goal now is to work on a new outline for the Trials of Blood--but actually make an outline for all three books (or at least notes for the 2nd and 3rd if there are broadly connecting themes and goals). I need to be critical about my characters and my plot. I cannot be afraid to radically change characters, setting, ideas, plots, characters: I need to revise fearlessly. I can always go back to the first draft (yuck) but I cannot always improve successfully. I need to just really look at the overall theme, the trajectory of the story, how I want my readers (and characters) to feel, and write to that objective.
So that's really my plan for the summer: to work my way through a new, strong outline so that I can start working toward a strong second draft. I can't rush this, I'll be juggling some accelerated (basic) math and chemistry classes that have to take priority, but I want to use this as my "down time" projects. Whenever I'm not working on school: I need to turn to this project, pick it up, pet it, make sure it's feeling OK and spend some time with it. My cat may get jealous. I'm a little jealous; I haven't spent this much time with my characters in a while. It felt good. Thank you for joining me.