Update…and thanks!

Thanks

First up, thanks (again) to all those who’ve bought Kinsmen Die in recent weeks. I hope folks enjoy it. Please, let me know what you thought of it!

Preorder Now: Dark Grows the Sun

After literally months of dithering I’ve launched the preorder for Dark Grows the Sun, my second book. It picks up right where KD left off. I think the writing in DGtS is better overall and the book itself is much “tighter” than KD. IMO. We’ll see what y’all think.

Here’s a couple minor examples of specifically how the writing is a bit cleaner/better.

In KD, I used the word “like” 693 times in ~642 pages … or 1.08 per page. In DGtS, I used “like” 279 times in ~375 pages … or 0.74 per page. That’s still a lot…but, like, a lot less. In KD, I used MANY similes, all the similes. I still used quite a few in DGtS…but fewer. And in my third book I’ll use even less.

In KD, I used the word “just” 478 times … 0.69 times, dude, per page. In DGtS, I used “just” just 80 times … 0.21 times per page. I’ve come to just hate the word “just.” It’s just awful, I mean, if I could just stop using it my writing would improve even if just slightly. In my third book I just won’t use that word.

Why did I dither?

Lots of reasons. Most of the advice I’ve read and heard for book launches is this: rapid release a series to a mailing list in order to keep sales flowing in Amazon…which will “trick” their algorithm into recommending the book(s) and thus keep them visible which will help prevent the book dropping off the 90-/60-/30-day sales cliff. And then advertise/market. Also, the more books in your backlist, the better.

It’s not bad advice. It works for many authors. The problem is: I don’t have a mailing list, I don’t have an audience, I don’t have a series, I don’t have a backlist.

I didn’t market KD (which resulted in marginal sales)…based on other advice from authors. — i.e., it’s a waste of time & money to market only one book)…because you’ve nothing else to follow up with. Made some sense.

So, I allowed KD to languish. I was also hip deep in writing DGtS…and I had three small kids…and a full-time job. Adding advertising & marketing to my life just (hah!) wasn’t appealing.

Skip forward three years and I have marginally more time available. And a second book. So I figured /why not. YOLO.

On advice of an author who’s in a Facebook group I’m in, I bought Mark Dawson’s Self-Publishing for Authors course. I’m not entirely sure it’s worth the price, but it did explain the basics of how Facebook ads work and how to build the ads, basic terminology — learning curve type stuff.

But, wait, there’s more!

Based on that course (and other sources) it was clear that I needed a reader magnet to get people onto my mailing list. I needed that list to market to. Which meant I needed a landing page…and email copy…and a newsletter…and, dangit, ad copy…an ad…and an ad plan. And I needed to get it RIGHT otherwise people wouldn’t click or sign up or buy or whatever.

So, I tried finding an assistant to handle the marketing, etc. She (and others) wanted $130 to consult with me about what I needed to do. Yeah, no.

But do you see what I did? Added hurdles. Disincentives. I dithered.

About three weeks ago, I said “eff it.” Screw the mailing list. Screw these stupid hurdles. I put a Facebook ad together and launched it. Lo and behold, some people out there in the world liked the ad well enough to buy KD and preorder DGtS.

The impact of this forward movement was a huge confidence boost. People are interested; people will click & buy. All that other stuff — mailing list, audience building, etc., — is super important and I will circle back to it. But for now, I’m just happy folks are reading my book(s).

My advice for authors…

For what it’s worth (and I’m happy to answer questions, etc.): Do it. If you have one book, advertise it. If you have two, advertise ’em. Get them out there. Promote them. Do it.

Sure, maybe the ads will suck or you’ll make mistakes (that last part’s gah-rawn-teed), but you’ll be learning.

In the months ahead…

I’m currently writing (off and on, as the disir moves me) a short saga / novella that I’ll use as a freebie to get folks onto my mailing list. Or just to “hand out,” as it were. And it’s written such that I can continue her saga should I so choose.

The short saga is about the ordeal of Kesa Garinsdottir (a character of my own creation). She’s off stage during one event in Kinsmen Die where Thor attacked a Jotunn mining town. She and her warband take shelter in a Jotunn stone-home. Things go downhill from there.

I chose that event b/c of a scene (and character) deleted from Kinsmen Die — a Jotunn scout named Hyrrokin. (She figures in Baldr’s funeral.) Hyrrokin became Kesa because the name Hyrrokin ended up not making sense in the emerging story. The chapters and events I’d written about Hyrrokin also went by the board b/c they too didn’t make sense. (I’ve deliberately used one “k” in Hyrrokin’s name.) But maybe they will someday.

I ended up creating a new adventure for Kesa that tied into some mysteries Odin experienced in Kinsmen Die…and answered those mysteries while introducing something new that ties into other things that Odin experiences in DGtS. I nearly busted my arm patting myself on the back after that.

I also threw in another “easter egg” of sorts that probably only I would ever get and maybe those I played World of Warcraft with back in the day (and folks who read this). In my short saga, Kesa eventually meets Kali Varensdottir. Kali also figured in Kinsmen Die; she was Vafthrudnir’s shaman apprentice. But, I never used her last name — not b/c I didn’t know it at the time or anything /cough.

In WoW, my “main” for Legion was a monk named Kalivaren. One of my (many) alts was Kesagarin. Before that, Kalivaren was a rando name generated for me in Elder Scrolls Online. Kesagarin is from one of the Jack Aubrey / Steven Maturin novels by Patrick O’Brian. Always loved the name and that particular character. The series is fantastic (except for the last couple books) particularly when read by Patrick Tull.

The short saga of Kesa Garinsdottir will be finished sometime in 2020.

Book Three

I’m still in the planning phase of writing the third book in my first series. I’ve kinda stalled out in the last few weeks b/c I hit a wall in how events in the last quarter of the book were playing out.

Essentially, I need certain characters doing certain things in certain places at certain times and none of it was lining up right. And that’s largely b/c the myths require certain participants. For example, Thor catches Loki, but in my narrative I’d sent Thor away (for reasons) and I can’t figure out how to believably get him back where the myths say he should be.

The major difference in my writing process with Book 3 versus my prior books is this: I’m not writing full chapters yet. I’m basically iterating on outlines and getting increasingly more detailed as I go, so I’m not writing a full scene and then throwing it out in a year (ideally). Instead, I’m figuring out what I need and (eventually) writing just that.

I’ll go into more detail on what I’m doing in a future post. Till then, stay safe & thanks again!

Would you yet know more? Buy Kinsmen Die; Preorder Dark Grows the Sun.

Netflix’s Ragnarok, Season 2…

Netflix’s Ragnarok has been renewed. Yay! ‘Course that means I’ll have to renew my Netflix sub 😛 But, I’ve got time — Ragnarok Season 2 won’t be out until sometime in 2021.

The available promo pics suggest that the four kids will again be the main characters. The shadows obviously hint at who they’ll be (are), but for Saxa and Fjor a spear and axe don’t really narrow the possibilities as to which Jotunn they might be. Warriors, sure, but who?

I thought it’d be interesting to share a bit of what I’m hoping for in S2 as well as what character developments might occur. This post will spoil Season 1, so you’ve been warned. Also, see my review/explication of the references to Norse myth in S1 of the series.

Avoid teh /meh

First up, I hope S2 has less teen angst. I get it, it’s gotta be there (target market, I guess?), but please dial it down. Second, don’t try to make a STATEMENT. The story in S1 kinda hung on “evil Jutul wreck environment,” but it felt clunky and ham-fisted. For me, it was the least original and therefore the least interesting part of S1.

Who’s yer daddy

I suspect that Laurits is Vidar’s son:

  1. Turid and Vidar very obviously had something going on
  2. There’s a greater physical similarity between Vidar and Laurits than Laurits and Magne. That casting has to be deliberate.
  3. WTF was up with that weird leaping, contortionist dance Saxa, Fjor and Laurits engaged in. Some primal Jutul/Jotunn thing? Laurits seemed drawn to it while the other students stood around and watched. Was Laurits drawn to it b/c he was interested in Fjor or for some other reason (ie, he’s half-Jotunn/Jutul). Or both.

(It occurs to me that I don’t remember the show explicitly saying that Saxa and Fjor were the “by-blood” daughter and son of Ran and Vidar, though the physical similarities suggest that they are. But, they could just be acting the parts. Anyone remember?)

It’s not him, it’s me

Snorri refers to Vidar as “the silent god,” which is just cool. Snorri gives him other names, too. And in Grimnismol, Vithar’s land is “filled with growing trees | and high-standing grass….” Padraic Colum plays off of these names (here).

Vidar was my initial inspiration when I started writing these Norse myth-influenced books, mostly b/c of the imagery cited above. As Colum tells it, he is the only god in whom Odin confides his secrets. And, Vidar’s main role (as we know it) is to avenge Odin’s death. Vidar also makes it through Ragnarok.

I took this all and, in my story, planned for Vidar to become the new Odin. Not that he’d be the same as Odin was, but he’d be his father’s son in the way Thor was not. To become that, Vidar would have to have a transformational journey which I could return to either as individual stories or as parts of others.

My second series does (will do?) just that; Vidar acts as a patron deity. A least as it’s written now. That may change just as in DGtS and my forthcoming third book, Vidar lost his POV status b/c the story required it.

So, anyway, I had plans for Vidar…which is partly why I find Vidar being the “big bad” so annoying. The other reason is that the writers/producers of Netflix’s Ragnarok must know Norse myth better than I do, so why would they choose such an important name for the bad guy? There are so many other cool Jotunn names to choose.

(Note: It’s not necessarily the case that Aesir = good and Jotunn = bad. It’s more accurate to say Aesir = order and Jotunn = chaos, but even that’s not quite right. In my books I’m trying to make Aesir & Jotunn both conventionally as good and as bad as my meager talents allow…while also incorporating the mythic roots.)

BUT!

Is there a compelling reason why the writers & producers of the show chose the name Vidar?

Was there a mighty duel (Princess Bride fans rejoice) between father and son? Was that why the big battle happened?

Is that why Odin’s in a motorized wheelchair/scooter? (I wonder if it’s named Sleipnir.)

I’d be okay with a falling out between Odin and Vidar (not that my opinion matters) because the writers/producers would be putting their own twist on the myths rather than appearing to use such a key name out of ignorance.

/end rant

In other names…

I still think that Iman will be the Sif figure. In the myths, Sif is Thor’s wife. Loki cuts off Sif’s black hair. Thor gets angry and makes Loki replace it. Loki goes to the “Sons of Ivaldi” and not only replaces Sif’s hair with tresses of gold, but he brings back other goodies for the Aesir.

In Lokasenna, Loki also says that he and Sif had an affair. But, he said that to most of the women present. Who knows if he was talking sh!t, being truthful and/or saying, obliquely, that he tricked them b/c he’s a shapeshifter.

If Iman is Sif, then alluding to the above or somehow using it could provide some good conflict between the (half) brothers.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Any speculation from other fans of the show?

If you missed my first post on Netflix’s Ragnarok, check it out here. And here’s a more detailed look at who survives Ragnarok, according to the myths.

Stay sanitary; stay healthy.

Plague schmague

The signs of Ragnarok do NOT include a plague. So, we’re in the clear. Right?

Right?!

Let’s run thru the checklist:

  1. The great coldening of Fimbulvetr. Three winters back to back with no spring/summer in between. But before these back-to-back winters will come three super-severe winters. So far, not a problem.
  2. Laws and morals will break down. Hmmm.
  3. Lack of food: Well?
  4. Lack of toilet paper: Not a sign, but people are STILL buying it all up. I still don’t understand why.
  5. An age of swords and axes; everybody killing each other. Another month of quarantine and we might be there. (I kid.)
  6. The wolves Skoll and Hati capture and eat the moon and sun. Hasn’t happened.
  7. Stars will disappear. Nope. Unless you count smog covering them up. Or a rogue black hole rampages thru the Milky Way (Bifrost?), omg!
  8. Earthquakes, etc. No more than “usual.”
  9. A huge wolf and serpent rising up and wreckin’ sh!t. Not yet. Would be cool to see, though. If it wasn’t near me.
  10. The ship of the dead disgorging zombies upon the earth. Well, if you consider each house a ship, and all of us “zombies” (from being inside…and having to do that for another month)…then, sure, the undead will soon walk the earth.
  11. Fire giants rupture the earth and set fire to everything. If they did, then maybe that’d burn away the virus…but alas, no…or at least not yet?

There is of course more that happens during Ragnarok, but the above pretty much cover the signs of it coming.

And like I said, no plague is mentioned!

So, we’re in the clear. Rest easy. Stay sane.

Would you yet know more? Check out the sources: Prose Edda; Poetic Edda: Voluspa and Vafthruthnismol.

Finished Netflix’s Ragnarok

One of Netflix’s new (teen) dramas is Ragnarok, set in Edda, Norway. First up, the views of the mountains and fjords are amazing. Second, the series is enjoyable, but gets a little slow and is full of teen angst. It’s watchable, though. And fun.

In this post I focus on the Norse myth stuff I caught while watching — and I will be spoiling the show, so you’ve been warned.

Myth references

All right, here we go. this is from my (crap) memory so when I miss stuff, lemme know! And, btw, there’s definitely some Marvel comics/movies influence going on in the show (imo). Which is fine.

Magne

Magne / Magni is the son of Thor in the myths. At the end of the show — SPOILERS — Magne fights Vidar. Magne brings down the lightning (finally) and blows them both up. It’s unclear whether or not they both die, neither die or only Vidar dies. I don’t know why lightning would kill Magne when he survived getting run over by a snow plow but w/e.

Magne being the SON of Thor is important b/c at the end of the show Wenche (more on her) says something along the lines of “most believe Ragnarok is the end, but it’s actually where it all starts.” There were other references by the Jotunn (the Jutul family) throughout the show to the old gods dying in a big war, maybe some survived b/c the battlefield was chaotic, etc.

Magni (Wrath) and his brother Modi (Mighty) live through Ragnarok. So, Magne’s name makes sense in that context. And it makes sense that he is not Thor. (Thor also had a daughter named Thrud. Will Modi and Thrud make an appearance somehow next season?)

BTW, I SO wanted one of the hammers Magne chucked to come flying back at him.

And, when Magne fights (and kills) the dog Tryme (sp?) — which is possibly a Garm (or Fenrir?) reference — Magne kills the dog by pulling its jaws apart. Which is one of the ways Vidar kills Fenrir. The other way is stabbing thru the mouth with a mighty sword.

Laurits

This is the Loki figure. But here’s where the Marvel comics/movies influence comes in. In the myths, Loki is Thor’s uncle (kinda). In the comics, he’s Thor’s adopted brother.

Laurits in the show appears to be gay (which Magne knows b/c he makes a reference to Laurits being interested in Fjor (Vidar’s son). Laurits does some cross-dressing, goes heavy on the eye-liner and is most definitely a trickster type. Particularly at the end.

Vidar

In the myths, Vidar is Odin’s son by the Jotunn Grid. So, he’s half Jotunn (like most of the Aesir). I was annoyed by the big bad being named Vidar. It’s just not who he is in the myths. Oh well.

Or, is there some other reason why the name Vidar was used that the show will make clear in S2?

Ran

In the myths, Rán is a mysterious goddess of death associated with the sinister aspects of the sea. Her husband in the myths is Aegir who is associated with the life-giving aspects of the ocean. (In my books, Rán and Aegir are the gods revered by my characters. Aegir more by the Aesir; Rán more by the Jotunn.) Cool character.

Jutul

Obviously a reference to the Jotunn. In the show, the Jutuls say they used to be worshipped by humans. The characters in the show have been around for 3,000 years (I think Saxa said that). Saxa at one point asked Vidar if he’d gone “berserk.” It’s a little unclear what “powers” the Jutuls have except for strutting around, flexing and super strength. Their eyes go feral when they channel their Jutul powers or w/e. Weird.

There is a scene — which was fantastic — when the Jutuls have Magne and Laurits over to their house for dinner. It had elements of the Utgarda-Loki myth. Just a great scene. Anyway, Magne arm-wrestled Ran. In his drunken state, Magne saw Ran as (perhaps) she truly is — some old, wrinkly hag thing. And he saw himself as a blood-smeared warrior.

Also, there’s a mummified head laying on the shelf in Vidar’s office. A reference to Mimir?

Fjor & Saxa

Meh. The bullying rich kids. I’m not clear on whether they’re actually the kids of Vidar and Ran or if they’re just pretending to be. And if they are, being 16 for 3K years would suck big time especially if your dad is “old fashioned” and beats you.

And, why haven’t they aged? Saxa could believably not be in high school, but Fjor looks like a punk.

In Old Norse, Saxa means “to cut, chop with a small knife.” She’s aptly named at least — lotta knifeplay from her.

Wenche

I’m not certain if she’s meant to be a chain smoking seer (a vólva), a valkyrie or Frigg. Wenche apparently means something like “friend” in Norwegian. At the end of the show she appears to transform into a raven, which suggests she’s associated with Odin.

My guess is she’s probably a valkyrie. Few reasons:

  1. she’s first seen with Odin (more on him)
  2. she “chooses” Magne by awakening his powers. I’m not clear if she could have awoken Thor-power in anyone or if Magne was the only one who could receive Thor power.
  3. The valkyries were the “choosers of the slain” — the heroes who were taken to Valhol to become the Einherjar. Did Magne die in his fight with Vidar? Is he now an Einherjar? Was he just knocked unconscious? /shrug
  4. Ravens are associated with Odin, as mentioned above.

Old guy in an electric scooter

When Magne et al arrive in Edda, he hops out of the car to help the old dude with an eyepatch in an electric scooter across the road. (Odin has one eye.) Wenche is chain smoking nearby. Great stuff.

Other stuff

There’s a scene where the new girl, Iman, sits down next to Magne out on the field. The scene sticks out for two reasons.

First, it parallels how Isolde and Magne met almost exactly, so it must be deliberate. Second, Iman says: she’s such a fake (referring to Saxa) and then says something like “maybe you and I can make Edda better.”

Is this girl going to be a Sif character? Sif had black hair before Loki cut it off. Sif was Thor’s wife…will this girl be Magne’s love interest in season 2?

Turid is the mother of Magne & Laurits. According to babynames, Turid is derived from Thor which means ‘thunder, thunder god’ ; fridr ‘peace, beautiful, fair’

Turid seems to have had a fling with Vidar way back in the day. Is the implication that Magne is Vidar’s kid? Or Laurits?

Why were Magne and Laurits cast to be so physically dissimilar? Conscious choice, I assume, but why? Different fathers in the show? A nod toward the Marvel comics depictions of Thor and Loki?

Erik, Isolde’s father, is several times shown wearing a shirt with “Parsifal” on it. Why? Isolde is primarily from Tristan & Isolde. Parsifal is a German spelling of Percival and refers to that knight. Why were those names used? Is Erik just a dirtbag? Did the costume change person fall down on the job? Continuity errors? Dunno.

Finally, Old Norse is spoken multiple times in the show by the Jutuls. It’s not translated, which I assume means that the language is also strange to the people in the show. Hopefully that’s the idea. Also, each show quotes the myths and/or provides some explication regarding mythic figures. Cool to show the roots like that.

That’s all I’ve got for now. What did I miss?

Would you yet know more? See my recent post on what mythic references may lie in wait for us in Season 2 of Netflix’s Ragnarok (it’ll be out sometime in 2021).

Links!

Click here to buy Kinsmen Die, book one (of three) in my series.

Click here to pre-order Dark Grows the Sun, book two (of three) in my series that brings you into the minds of the gods of Norse Myths.

Aaand back, again.

A long time since posting, largely due to some unexpected family stuff (ongoing & unresolved). Since early December, I’ve been:

  1. Sitting on the finished version of Dark Grows the Sun. It’s uploaded to Amazon but I haven’t hit “publish” yet because I’m…
  2. Working thru some marketing/advertising stuff that I need to get a handle on if I want even modest success as an author. This stuff sounds simple — book blurbs, Facebooks/AMS ads & building an email list — but the nitty-gritty is tough and time-consuming. Doesn’t help that my time is already split a dozen ways. It’s also depressing af.
  3. I’m also considering un-publishing Kinsmen Die so I can serialize it on a different platform. I need to grow my audience and the only way to do that, basically, is generate awareness. I can’t leverage KD across other (or multiple) platforms while “shackled” to Amazon. I hesitate b/c this approach doesn’t solve the problem, it just creates different problems. But, different problems that are easier to solve? Dunno.
  4. Writing a “reader magnet” short story that shows a different angle on the same story in my novels. It’s meant to be a short, snappy intro to the world and conflict. I’d intended to finish it by Jan 6, but that didn’t happen. I have the story worked out. I just need to rewrite it a couple thousand times while…
  5. Planning & plotting my third book: I want the outline/framework as complete as possible before starting to write. I can tell that I’ll still be “pantsing” my way through some of it, but my goal is to nail the turning points before I start writing. The prior 2 books were much more fleshed out before I started writing unlike this third book. I’m hoping that a month spent planning will save more than a month of rewriting & revision. If it doesn’t, then I should’ve just pants’d the whole damn thing.

As I reread the above, I realize how down in the dumps it sounds. Can’t have a flow without an ebb, right?

3. Fire he needs | who with frozen knees
Has come from the cold without;
Food and clothes | must the farer have,
The man from the mountains come.

Hávamal (https://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/poe/poe04.htm)

Back…

So yeah, I vanished from my blog. Been a busy couple (three?) months. Four business trips, kid stuff, short vacation, etc.

Since my last post, I’ve gotten my manuscript back. I’m almost done going through the edits, comments and suggestions. I’m amazed at how many grammar errors I made. And commas. Jebus.

As compared to Kinsmen Die, however, the level of rewriting/reworking in Dark Grows the Sun is minimal — mostly just adding some action beats, tweaking some scenes to get deeper into the POV, smoothing out some rough spots/language, etc.

The next step is to create an actual marketing plan…something I keep swearing I’m gonna do but I never do it.

Anyway, just wanted to “resurface.” I have a few ideas for Norse-related posts rattling around in my noggin which might prove interesting to folks.

Done again, for now

Yesterday afternoon I submitted my “final” manuscript. I should get the edits back in early October.

In my last week of editing I used ProWritingAid to focus on issues in the writing. Two reasons:

  1. I didn’t want to re-read every chapter. Not only would it take too long but I’d get bogged down.
  2. I wanted to focus on removing words w/o rewriting every other sentence.

Words removed!

Here are the results of that process:

  • Starting word count: 91,971
  • Ending word count: 88,000
  • Words removed: 3,972 (~4.3% of the book)

Got report?

I used three PWA reports on three passes per chapter:

  • First pass, Sticky sentences: Sentences overloaded with “glue” words (and, in, the, of, etc.). On average I had ten of these sentences per chapter. Sometimes these are fixed by removing words or, more often, by rewriting the sentence.
  • Second pass, Writing Style: This report highlights issues involving passive and hidden verbs, over-reliance on adverbs, repeated sentence starts.
  • Third pass, Real-time: My final (quick) pass thru the chapter just to catch anything the first two reports missed (very little).

PWA has many other reports: cliche, structure, readability, pacing, overused, echoes, etc. I’m sure some of those also would have been valuable. In my unscientific “tests” of those reports, the three I settled on seemed to provide the most bang for my time. YMMV.

Next steps

During the next 6 weeks or so, my plan is to:

  • Put some time & effort into learning how to advertise & market. More on that later. This is critical.
  • Revisit the 67K words I’ve written for Book 3. Ninety percent of them werds is trash — old ideas, bad ideas, crap writing, wrong POV characters, obsolete plot points, etc. My goal is to get BK3 thoroughly revamped and outlined by year end. After that, It’ll probably take two years to write. Which is depressing.
  • Keep writing by working on my Lit-RPG series. I want to figure out a way to work on BK3 while also writing ~1,500 words in Lit-RPG…with the goal of publishing ’em every month as a serial adventure. More planning needed.

And, finally, if all goes well, DGtS will publish in December 2019. So, yeah, done but not done.

Before and After

Here’s another short example of a first-round edit to a chapter hook — the bad before and mediocre after.

Here’s the before (128 words)

Frigg watched sparks fly from the hooves of the two goats—Toothgrinder and Toothgnasher—who hauled the cart through the sky. The skies rumbled like a rickety bridge beneath the wheels of Thor’s cart. At first, he was a speck in the sky no bigger than a distant bird. By the time she’d climbed down to the ground, Thor was overhead.

He circled the hilltop once, twice, leaning out over the rail as he peered down, and then guided the cart down to a bumpy landing. He stepped from the car, freed the goats from the traces so they could wander, and then in a booming voice said, “Why was the Gjallarhorn sounded? I see no army at the gates nor any trace of an enemy within miles.”

Matt Bishop, Dark Grows the Sun

What’s wrong with the above?

Nothing grabs you because:

  • Frigg is “watching” — inherently passive and boring.
  • The scene is about Frigg but the attention is on Thor.
  • Thor gets all the action, such as it is.

And here’s the after (107 words)

Frigg climbed down from Heimdall’s tower to greet the arriving Thor. The skies rumbled beneath the wheels of Thor’s cart as he circled above the hilltop, one hand raised in greeting. A pair of goats pulled his cart—Toothgrinder and Toothgnasher. Their shod hooves hammered sparks from the air.

Somber, Frigg raised her hand in reply. Thor wouldn’t know why he’d been summoned. He’d flown faster than the news had spread.

The hilltop boomed first beneath the cart as it landed and then again beneath Thor’s voice. “Why was the Gjallarhorn sounded? I see no army at the gates nor any trace of an enemy within miles.”

Matt Bishop, Dark Grows the Sun

What’s better about it?

  • Frigg is more active; she’s doing something
  • We’re more in her head — she’s somber, there’s an inkling as to why Thor is arriving…which the reader knows but Thor clearly doesn’t.
  • It’s a little shorter

What’s wrong with the revision?

  1. The second sentence is clunkier than Thor’s cart.
  2. It’s still more about Thor than it is about Frigg.
  3. I’ve basically just reorganized the existing text. The transitions from ‘graph to ‘graph feel stilted.
  4. I think I’m cramming too much into that first paragraph. The bit about the goats needs to go, maybe. Frigg knows their names, so that’s an infodump that could either wait till later or just never be provided. It’s not relevant to the scene.
  5. It’s still boring.

I suspect I’ll end up ditching the last two sentences of the first paragraph and/or rewriting the entire hook. Either way, I’ll let ye olde subconscious work on it for a bit.

8 Days Out

I have eight writing days until my deadline (the 19th). Yes, that math doesn’t work, but I typically don’t write on the days my wife works.

Eight days works out to roughly 30 hours of writing (assuming I hit my average hours writing per day). That’s not a lot (especially considering I dropped ~16 into one scene). I could probably scrape together another ~8 hours, but I can’t count on that.

The good news is that the work I’ve transitioned into is mostly “editing.” For me this means going through each chapter. Repeatedly. Here’s a short list of what I’m doing.

Revising chapter hooks

I make sure that the first sentence of each chapter begins with:

  • The POV character’s name
  • An active verb
  • A decent hook.

This can mean considerable rewriting…or not. Depends.

Tip: If your opening paragraph is passive / boring, skip down a couple paragraphs. That may be where the “action” starts. Put that bit at the beginning and either delete or splice in the original chapter beginning. Usually does the trick. But, it takes some work. In my case I often end up “killing my darlings” … which are almost always purple. Or just bad.

Revising chapter endings

Search “how to end chapters” and you’ll get a bunch of hits with advice on how to end chapters. Personally, I can’t keep all that advice in my head at once.

I just try to do two things:

  • Always end in the character’s POV
  • Have them doing/thinking/saying something cool (that relates to the plot, etc.).

Then I move on — which leaves me where I am now: going back and working out the kinks.

Tip: I also try to tie the closing words / concept / thought / action of one chapter into the opening of the chapter right after it. Doing so can help pull the reader through from one to the other. I’m pretty crap at this.

Multiple editing passes

DGtS happens over a nine day period & that’s how I’ve organized my Binder in Scrivener. Each day consists of multiple POV chapters.

In my first “editing” pass I stick to one POV per book-day. Example: Odin has 2 chapters during Day 5. I’ll edit his consecutively rather than go: Odin > Frigg > Loki > Odin. This helps me keep the POV voice consistent from chapter to chapter.

During my second pass, I will work consecutively through each chapter so I’d edit Odin > Frigg > Loki > Odin. In this pass I’m more focused on the chapters flowing smoothly from one to the other.

Throughout these passes I’m looking at words: Are these the best words? Which words can I remove? Can I use fewer words to say the same thing?

But I also try not to get too nit-picky b/c that’ll slow down the overall process. And my editor will do that. But the cleaner my copy, the better her edit.

Wait, what?

I’m also looking for inconsistencies, plot holes, opportunities to improve clarity, etc. .

Here’s an example. A bunch of rebels get captured in one of my early scenes…and are never referred to again. That makes no sense because in two later chapters Odin interrogates one rebel and then another.

So, I had to figure out a simple way of weaving in a reference to that first group of rebels. I can’t write a new scene b/c I don’t have time and it’d detract from what I’ve already written.

My solution: A two-ish line reference by Odin that essentially said “those bad guys were questioned but had no actionable info.”

Follow that thread

I’ve mentioned this in other posts, but there’s always a chance that when you change even a single line you have to fix everything else associated with that line. Just goes with the territory. I’ve chased quite a few already; hopefully won’t be too many more.

Overall, I’m confident I’ll hit my deadline. I’m at the point where more time won’t help…I’d just end up futzing with it. Gotta move forward!