Archive for the ‘Tears of the Mountain’ Category

Dragons are a ubiquitous element of fantasy. They are one of the first things most people would think about when the word fantasy is said to them and it is quicker to list fantasy series without dragons than it is to list those with them in it.

Dragons are also rather varied, with many authors putting their own take on it. TVTropes says it best in their Our Dragons Are Different entry – this trope deals with big (maybe) strong (possibly) scaly (sometimes) flying (perhaps) fire-breathing (at times) lizard (usually) monsters (traditionally).

Normally I’m one to buck typical fantasy elements but I have to admit that there are dragons in my setting, though as with others I’ve put my own spin on them. Dragons in Sharael are vast and powerful and ancient. And seldom seen. They also don’t have to deal with knights, their traditional foe, as knights never have (and never will) exist in my world. They also appear a little different than your standard dragons. While the fit the large scaly reptilian clause, they are based on a lizard native to Australia – the Thorny Devil, also sometimes called the Thorny Dragon. As the name suggested they are covered in thorns and coloured in shades that help camouflage them in the desert.

This is what one looks like.

Imagine one of them much, much larger and with wings and you have an idea what they look like.  If only I was a decent artist I’d give one a go….

Of late I’ve been making good progress with the rewrite of Tears of the Mountain, averaging two to three thousand words a day. Until last week, when I got sick.

Nothing terribly major, just the latest head cold that was going around. Unfortunately it stuffed my head up good and proper so that my brain decided it was a good idea not to do any thinking and my work rate plummeted putting my schedule way behind. Even after recovering enough to get back to writing it took me a while to get towards being back to speed again.

Writing for me is a bit like driving a car. Once you get out on the highway you cruise along smoothly and keeping up a good output isn’t that hard. However when you stop for whatever reason, you have to work to get back up to speed again.

It did get me thinking about sickness though in stories, especially fantasy stories. It does crop up now and then but is not really nearly as prevalent as it should be in a pseudo-medieval setting. Health was not all that good back then – medicine was as much superstition as anything. Plagues and diseases regularly swept through regions as things like causes and hygiene were unknown. Sailors got scurvy. Soldiers were more likely to die of diseases and sickness than in battle. Modern problems like obesity weren’t as common, being more restricted to the nobility who did have plenty to eat.

Of course the standard answer is that ‘magic did it’ in response to health issues. There would have to be a lot of magic healers on hand to deal with everything though, and it is more likely only the nobility would see them.

It does bare thinking about in terms of my world, that more people should get sick in the stories.

As some may have noticed, I haven’t been posting as much on here of late – though that isn’t due to lack of want, just lack of time and topics.

But I do have news, of a type.

A few weeks back I went through an old novel I had started quite a long while back now – Tears of the Mountain – looking for some information that was in it I wanted for another story. In doing so I was surprised at just how much I had done. The synopsis/rough draft was around 44,000 words long and better than I remembered.

Long story short, I returned to it. The rewrite is now at 55,000 words and still plenty to go. That is just the main plot, which has another 5-10,000 words left in it. Then I have to go and do the secondary plot and weave them together. All up I reckon come the end it’ll be 90,000 words long, which is a good length for a novel.

Once the rewrite is done I can start on editing and polishing and then the long hunt for rejections, er an agent.

Just a quick recap on what the story is about. It features Halir the explorer, adventurer and historian who features in Gifts and Sacrifices and also Tomb of the Tagosa Kings. It takes place about twenty years after the first and ten before the second and is one of my gunpowder fantasy stories. It features deserts, lost cities, a treasure hunt using an old map (or in this case an old journal), monsters, magic and a war.

Here is the unedited, unpolished opening few paragraphs.

The sheet of lightning flared bright, rending apart the night’s sky with its intense brilliance. For a split second it illuminated white the city that huddled around the sheltered bay, weathering the wild storm. Then the light was gone and it its wake came booming peals of thunder that rolled on and on through the night.
The wild tempest that had raged through out the day and battered the city had eased as night had fallen, though constant drizzling rain was still being swept across the city, collecting in growing puddles along streets and rooftops. A breeze gusted, swirling the falling rain in billowing veils before it, splattering it across a cloaked man as he scampered on down a street. Droplets of water beaded across his hood and cloak, running down them in rivulets to fall to the already sodden ground. His sandalled feet and the lower portion of his baggy trousers which peeked out from beneath his cloak were already soaked through from having splashed through puddles of water.
Another raucous crack of thunder rumbled across the rooftops overhead. For the cloaked man it carried within it the ominous overtones of the executioner’s drumbeats as they ushered their victims to their final fate. A shiver ran through the man, and not from the cold for despite the storm the night’s air was fairly mild. Worry frayed at nerves tightly strung, and in each shadow he half expected lurking danger. What he was undertaking he did not see as treason. Ho could it be, supporting the rightful prince? There were many others that would not share that view, and foremost amongst them was the current prince. He knew that if he were to be apprehended then it would not be the thunder he heard but the drums themselves.

Making progress on the writing, which is good. The rewrite of Tears of the Mountain is at about 20,000 words now. Around a quarter of what I’m aiming for. Hopefully by the end of the month I’ll be close to completing the rewrite.

Still also mucking about with ideas for the plot of Shadow Watch in preparation for NaNoWriMo. Some more ideas clicked and I rearranged the plot a bit as well to fit them in. As I was working on ideas, some of the background details of the nature of the universe took on more of a final shape – including some to do with the mist and shadows of the name of the blog. Of course details won’t be forthcoming until the story is written.

And that is September done – just three more months left of the year.

All up for the month managed only around 35,000 words, which was a bit of a let down.

Only managed to add one more story to the collection, Cara’s Choice Part Four, though did start on a couple more Cahuac stories, which I really need to get back and finish off.

Most of the word was done on Tears of the Mountain. Finished off the rough draft/synopsis and commenced work on the rewrite, which to date is up to 13,600 words and slowly making progress.

I also started writing up notes for the idea that came to me recently, temporarily titled Shadow Watch. Done about 3,000 words of notes for it.

Plan for October is to try and finish off the rewrite of Tears of the Mountain and also get enough notes together for Shadow Watch to make it my NaNoWriMo project.

Making good progress on the rewrite of Tears of the Mountain so far, hitting 5400 words already. Feels like I’m making decent progress, though there is still a long way to go. I’m adding a excerpt from early on in the story – this is still the first rewrite so hasn’t been polished yet, and to me at least it feels like it still needs a decent amount of polish put on.

Walking down the path that lead to the doorway with its supporting peacocks, the rain mizzling down around him, the man rapped on it twice with his knuckles, quickly and quietly. No reply was immediately forthcoming and after a short wait he was about to knock again when the door finally opened a fraction. A beam of warm light spilled through the gap it out into the dark, wet night. The silhouette of a head appeared in the crack.

“Yes, what?” it asked brusquely in a rough voice.

“It is Sanjhar,” the man out in the rain replied. “I have news.” The door was opened quickly in response and Sanjhar stepped in, the door just as quickly shut and bolted behind him once he was inside. There was only one other man in the entrance parlour, a villainous looking man with a shaved head, a long curved knife shoved through the sash around his waist and in one hand a cocked flintlock pistol. He eased off the flint and pushed the pistol into his sash which was tied over a knee-length sleeveless grey tunic. Sanjhar turned away from the gaze of the dark eyed man who had been studying him with almost contemptuous hostility.

Now that the rough draft has been completed (for a given value of complete) and I’ve been through it, making some notes on what needs some changes or added, as well as trying to sort out the chronological issues, the rewrite has started.

I find rewriting something from an older draft much easier to do – rough drafts at time I struggle getting down, but rewrites seem to fly along, even if things change a fair amount between the draft and the rewrite. Getting the drafts done is still something I need to work better at.

Following my normal method, the rewrite is turning out much longer than the draft. So far 572 words of rough draft has turned into 1278 words in the rewrite. At this rate the rewrite will turn out at 80-90,000 words, which is a decent goal to aim for.

Now that the rough draft is finished I’m going to be doing a few posts while doing the rewrite exploring the story; its locales, peoples and background. Nothing that will give away too much of the plot though.

The first post will be about Adranatti, the City of Dreams.

Located on the northern shores of Amaralii, the Sea of Amar, lies the city of Adranatti, the largest, oldest and most prosperous of the Amari holdings in the land they call Hovendriun. Legends say that the city is two millennia old. Epic poems of the event describe how a pair of fishermen were caught in a fierce storm and swept them far to the north, where they were washed into the bay upon which Adranatti sits. There they met the primitive natives who, according to the poems, took them as their chiefs.

Few scholars take the poems seriously.   Adranatti – more properly Adranatti Vesa Criporo, that is the Colony of Adranatti Lesser – seems to have been founded in the period when the Amari city-states were establishing colonies around the Amaralii, during the transition between the bronze and iron ages. Adranatti Vesa Criporo was the daughter colony of Adrantti Traduin; Greater Adranatti. The colonists subjugated the native Gajaru, simple subsistence level farmers and fishermen who couldn’t stand up against the technologically superior colonisers.

In the years following its colonisation, Adranatti slipped into obscurity and became something of a backwater. Wars gripped the Amari city-states as they clashed for dominance, during which Adranatti Traduin was destroyed. In the end the Amari Rhapernumi was founded, a unified nation under the Rhapernum, the High King, though intrigue and plots were never far away as the Amari cities still sort dominance within the new nation.

Adranatti itself, all but forgotten, became more a Gajaru city with each passing century. The discovery of gold changed all that. For the five centuries after its founding, it was known small amounts of gold could be found, mostly traded with the Tchirrik, a alien race of insectoid men who dwelt beyond the northern hills in the arid lands beyond. When prospectors found vast quantities of not just gold, but silver and gemstones as well in what was nominally Tchirrik lands, all that changed.

Men flocked to Adranatti, seeking fortunes and it thus acquired the name the City of Dreams. Not just fortune seekers, but the full might of the Rhapernumi. Adranatti had at the time something of an experimental democracy running the city, but that was set aside as one of the Blood, a Prince of Amari was sent to take over the city and its wealth. War soon followed, a by-product of the greed for gold. The Tchirrik nation was destroyed as the Amari sought access to all the sources of gold and precious gems and the surviving Tchirrik were driven deeper into the arid lands.

Rumours surfaced during the last years of the war that the Tchirrik had hidden a vast wealth of treasure in a city that lay deep in the deserts, a city that grew in fame and legend as the story was spread. The Amari called the city Illiatorian and it became a lure for explorers, adventures and treasure hunters.

Amar has seen great upheaval in the following centuries, with rebellions and coups, dynastic changes and assassinations. The power of the Rhapernum has waned into little more than a figurehead, the city-states mostly independent once more. Adranatti too has seen its fair share of change. At its height it was one of the most powerful cities of Amar, controlling vast stretches of the north. But the gold mines began to play out and its wealth diminished and its northern holdings shrunk. Given its locale though, it remained an important hub for trade in the north and, while not as powerful as it once was, is still a prized possession.

As the Rhapernumi begins to break apart, foreign powers circle hungrily, chief among them the Empire of Hakset and the Maedari Commonwealth, eager to bind Amari city-states to their side for a coming war that seems inevitable. Of those cities in the north, Adranatti is the most prized. A city filled with betrayal, intrigue, bribery and corruption, with a young and untested ruler, it seems primed for one side or the other to snap up.

The rough first draft of Tears of the Mountain is complete, more or less. It is very rough in parts, little more than an extended synopsis with minimal descriptions for large parts of it. All up its is only around 43,000 words but that will expand out to a more normal length once the rewrite starts.

It is going to require some extensive editing over the net couple of days before the rewrite starts though. Various plot and character changes happened during the period of writing the first draft. Names changes, ideas changed, new plot ideas came about and more. The first thing that will need doing is to fix up the time line, trying to mesh it all together properly. Currently some of the chronology is a little skewed and needs fixing.

Actually having finished a rough draft is good though and I’m looking forward to this next phase, even if it promises to be more difficult.

Been a few days since I last posted, so just popping in to do a bit of an update.

After starting off the month in a blaze, the output has been slowing down but I am now at around 40K written on the first rough draft of Tears of the Mountain. I had expected to be writing the main battle by now, but events kept coming up pushing that back – funny how that happens. Not sure now when the draft will be finished – except sometime this month.

Will try and get back in to the swing of posting soon as well.