Table of Contents (thus far)

As of yesterday, I’m on the last chapter of Act 2. Act 3 is a very linear part of the story and I am hoping I can move faster as it flows more freely. Below is a screen clip of my Table of Contents where you can really see the progress.

What do you think of the chapter names? Do any stand out? Are any awful?

table_of_c

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Everything I Believe In

“It stands against everything I believe in. To cast aside the unknown, to deny that without explanation, and to close the coffin lid on the life purchased by knowledge and the quest for understanding. Truly, it is unacceptable and such persistent ignorance will destroy us all in the end if it is not readily contended with. In truth, such things are most likely what destroyed the people that lived here. Not the mechanisms and machinations of this now shattered city. No, they may have played a role in it, of course. But the thing that I believe may have gotten the better of them once and for all can only be described as a knowing denial of truth, a casting aside of knowledge.”

-Actaeon Rellios of Shore

SciFan!

I recently joined a new group on Facebook called the SciFan (Science Fantasy) society. Since I began writing the Chronicles of Actaeon, I’ve been trying to define the genre to people that are interested. Science fiction/fantasy is always what I’ve described the setting. Things are bound by science within the story but it takes place in a fantastical world with otherworldly creatures.

If you want to know more about SciFan, check out this post:

https://scifanfic.wordpress.com/2016/09/29/scifan-definition/

Happy Autumn!

I’m at the end of the story’s Act Two and our dear protagonists are at the annual Clear Skies Festival to celebrate the end of the long, depressing and dangerous monsoon season. This chapter and the next will help transition the book into the exciting third act, where our heroes will really be put to the test.

Appropriately, we’re also entering a new season in our world, Autumn. I hope everyone is enjoying their final days of outdoor weather. I’m trying to get in a lot of BBQing and showing my infant son the outside before it gets cold. What is everyone doing to transition into the new season?

Happy Autumn!

clearskies

150,000 words!

The Engineer surpassed 150,000 words tonight! Thank you for everyone’s support and interest so far. I’ve never before gotten so far along in any of my novel projects, so this is a huge milestone for me – I know that I’ll be able to finish this one. Now on to the final third.

For those interested, the 150,000th word is… ***drumroll***

Moment!

And what a good moment it is.

150kpost

Character Highlight: Wave

Little is known about this man’s past other than he was a fighter in the Invasion Wars alongside his good friend Trench. Even this bit is only gleamed from boisterous bits of conversation overheard from the pair in The End. He and Trench previously found employ as mercenaries and caravan escorts for many years before the Engineer, Actaeon, hired them on to work with him. The two men were initially thought just to be the hired muscle of the eccentric engineer, but have done their part to aid in the strange experiments and exotic studies that come out of the workshop in the Outskirts.

wave.JPGWave looks young for his age and frequents the social events held in and around Pyramid. To many people’s disdain, he flirts openly with the noble women and fits easily into circles that many feel he does not belong. His loyalty to his friends is unquestionable and he’s known to be a skilled swordsman and duelist of rapport in the area around Pyramid.

In recent times, he wears a black silken eyepatch about, though some speculate on whether he actually needs the new addition to his wardrobe. A man of unbridled humor and frequent cynical jests, he is easy to talk to but not easy to get to know well.

 

Conflict is the Root of all Storytelling

conflict.JPG

At the beginning of The Engineer, Actaeon Rellios is already immersed in some serious conflict.  Raiders with crosses painted on their faces have captured him and are escorting him through the ruins of Redemption – taking him somewhere unknown.  The reader has no idea who these cross-faced raiders are and comes to find out that neither does Actaeon.

It is a mystery that continues to hound Actaeon throughout The Engineer as he has more encounters with these people whose motives are unknown and quite enigmatic.  Further complicating that is the fact that anytime he comes close to capturing one of the cross-faced raiders, they take their own life first.

The first scene plunges the reader into immediate conflict and hopefully engages them with the story.  As a writer, it helps me as well, because I’m not burdened with the dull task of explaining the entirety of the world, the cultures, and the characters.  Instead I get to dive right in to some action and through that conflict I can drop hints and bits of the world and the cultures.  The characters unfurl through the continuous action and dialogue as well, with less need for explanation.  It is altogether much more interesting for me as a writer – and ultimately, the hope is, for the reader as well.

Some of my favorite booImage resultks begin with immediate conflict and I have always been drawn right in to the story through that conflict.  In the first book of the Amber Chronicles (one of my personal favorites), the reader is immediately drawn into a conflict as the main character wakes up in a hospital where he is being kept unconscious with drugs and restrained to his bed.  He doesn’t remember who or where he is, but he knows that something is very wrong.  Zelazny begins his story with a conflict that needs to be dealt with immediately: who am I and why is this being done to me?  And the subsequent actions that address the conflict help us to learn about both the characters and the world of Amber, which is an amazing way to delve into a universe.

 

AnothImage result for gardens of the mooner novel that drew me right in with the action was Gardens of the Moon.  It begins with a battle for the city of Pale where a legendary unit, The Bridgeburners, are betrayed by a sorcerer.  For the remainder of the book, they seek to understand the motivations of those that betrayed them in a story that leads them deep into politics, subterfuge and war.  The characters and the world come into shape around the conflict and the reader is given a hook right from the beginning.  Through the conflict, the reader really gets to know the different Bridgeburners and their struggle and even feel like they are experiencing the events right alongside them.  We find ourselves rooting for them; mourning their losses and cheering their victories.

 

In Donaldson’s Gap Series, the story begins in the middle of a Image result for gap seriesconflict between two very unlikable characters: Nick Succorso and Angus Thermopyle.  Nick and Angus are fighting over a woman named Morn Hyland, who is caught in the middle of their struggle and wants nothing to do with either of them.  Through the conflict, we get to know the characters, their strengths and their motivations.  Their story then springboards into an epic space opera as the characters find themselves drawn into a conflict that will determine the future of humanity.

 

 

There are many more great examples, but one thing has always held true for me: conflict is always at the root of all great storytelling.  It is what draws me in and what keeps me turning the pages.  What books have you read that pull you in with action right from the beginning?

 

 

 

Keep the Faith

Keep the faith! It is writing Tuesday, and I’m still writing on! That said, here is an odd excerpt from my current chapter, 24. Tell me what you think. Write on!

*****

Actaeon stood in front of the entrance to the workshop and appeared to be pleading with the large crowd, though little he said was heeded. Wave stood beside him, hand on the hilt of his rapier as he regarded the proceedings with a look of monocular incredulity.

“I will drop the damned thing in the Felmere if you do not stop your accursed chanting. I cannot even hear myself think! Please, if you want to sit there like a bunch of lifeless husks with no other motivations in life, then at least be quiet!”

Wave raised his brow in surprise and turned to regard his boss – he had never before seen him so agitated. To his surprise, the murmuring finally stopped.

The crowd parted and an elderly man emerged, leaning heavily on a makeshift staff, his clothes ragged and dirty. With much difficulty, he lowered himself to his knees and bowed before the Engineer.

“Master Rellios, Bringer of the Keeper of Light. Long have we have waited here this evening to hear your words of wisdom. Please… will you share them with the First of the First of the Waiting Ones?” said Phyrius Ricter before he lifted his gaze to Actaeon’s face, his eyes ablaze with light and expectation.

None noted the arrival of the artist as the First of the First confronted the Engineer. She slipped quietly among the worshipers and approached the statue as the first rays of light began to emanate from within its form. The artist’s mouth dropped open and she approached the statue more closely, reaching out.

It was not the glow that caused her lifebeat to quicken in her chest though.

“First of the First of the First of the First… Yes, you tell me this every time I come out here! You want my words of wisdom?” asked the Engineer, shaking his halberd. “Go forth! Do something worthwhile with your lives! Stop wasting my time out here.”

Phyrius’ eyes widened at the words and he repeated them under his breath before he bowed again and retreated back amongst the others. There were murmurs as he spoke with the group quietly.

After a few moments, the Waiting Ones began to chant in a deep tone, “Go forth… do something worthwhile… …stop wasting time…” As they continued to chant, Phyrius spoke over them, “We must spread the word, my brothers and sisters! The word of the Bringer!”

Actaeon shook his head as he looked on in disbelief. If he had any amusement in the beginning for the nonsense with Phyrius’ cult, it had long since faded due to lost sleep and his inability to concentrate on projects with their endless chanting and ridiculousness.

*****

Drowning

It is writing Tuesday and sometimes the shear amount of writing that still must be done makes me feeling like I’m drowning in the shear magnitude of plot. That said, I leave you with this excerpt from Chapter 20 where Actaeon and friends likely feel the same way:

*****

“Yes, yes… the Engineer is right. I… have forgotten something. No… not my walking stick. It was something else entirely. Something up in that room. What was it?”

As the old Loresworn spoke the sound of cascading water erupted from behind them. When they all turned, they were confronted with a deluge of water from one of the larger pillars that had opened somehow and was dumping its contents onto the floor of the large chamber.

With a yelp, the Keeper Knight ran to the shattered pillar that they had emerged from and descended the rope ladder and out of sight. Almost as soon as she had descended, the deluge followed her down into the hole in the floor. A moment later, she was spit back out as the water filled the hole to the brim and flowed over.

The Keeper Knight sputtered and struggled to regain her feet. The two Arbiters rushed forward and pulled her away from the hole. She sputtered and coughed up water, bent over at the waist, “Closed… …closed it.”

“It seems a test for the young Engineer has arisen. Will he be able to figure us a way out of it?” came the voice of the Loresworn, as though he were narrating some story.

As the cold water washed across their boots while the chamber began to fill, Wave leapt into action. He ran towards the Loresworn with lightning speed and his fist flashed out towards the old man’s face – and passed straight through it without impact. It threw him off balance and he stumbled past.

The Arbiters reached for their swords but were stayed as the Engineer raised his hand. “As I thought. It is naught but a projection. Controlled by him, likely, but a projection nonetheless.

Actaeon spoke, addressing the projection. “We are not amused by your manipulations. Tell us what to do to reverse this. You are playing games with our lives and those in all Pyramid.”

The projection took no notice, but appeared to be distressed by Wave’s punch, despite the lack of connection. “Cold… so cold. The people here are.”

“Oh, you’ll be plenty more cold than this when we’re done with you, old man,” said Wave, spitefully.

“So cold… a touch blue, I feel. Spiraling away. Take me home.”

The gray bearded man in the crimson robe began to flicker and was gone.

*****