ROW80 Update: When in Doubt, Add Dragons

Around of Words in 80 DaysI’m afraid I don’t have much to update today, and I’m sorry that seems to be a common refrain lately! This weekend was a bit rough–I won’t go into details, but suffice it to say I was ill enough that I didn’t writemuch, and only today am I beginning to feel myself again. Nevertheless, I’ve managed to write in fits and starts, and have accomplished about 1000 words. This means I’m three quarters finished with the rough draft of Court of Rain–which means I’m about halfway through Phase One of my project. I was hoping to be finished all four parts of phase one by the end of December, and I’m not sure that will happen–but I’m not going to change my goal just yet. Be positive!

In the meantime, although I didn’t write many actual words, I had a lot of time to think about the story. I’ve been a bit dissatisfied with it lately. I love the characters and the idea, but it’s starting to feel flat. There’s too much discussion and humming and hawing. This, I’ve realized, comes down to the structure of the project.

As I’ve mentioned, the whole project is based on the structure of the tarot. The Court stories are based on the four court cards of each suit–Pentacles (Sand), Cups (Rain), Swords (Sylphs), and Wands (Tinder). The court cards can be thought of as members of a family–mother, father, son and daughter–and when they come up in a reading, they often refer to a particular person in your life. As such, the ;purpose they’re serving in my story is as a sort of character study.

And there’s the problem. There’s not much action in these stories. I figured it wouldn’t be an issue since each scene is only 2000 words long–but with a total of sixteen scenes, you get what amounts to a short novella. That’s a lot of text without much action–it can’t all be character development.

So I’m learning a couple valuable things about my writing. First, that you can’t concentrate on description and character to the exclusion of action. Something’s got to happen to move the plot forward, and the machinations of my antagonist won’t cut it. Second, I need to learn to be flexible with my structure. Basing this on the tarot is all well and good–and will contribute to the mystical symbolism of the overall project–but if I keep to it too much, the result will be bland and constricted. Sometimes you have to colour outside the lines.

So where does that leave me? I’ve got to kick things up a notch. And what better way to do that than to throw in a dragon or two?

Dragons have always been a part of my “world,” though they’re not common. They are the physical manifestations of their respective elements–thus there are four species. A Mage practicing with a particular Element can, if powerful enough, summon a dragon. Though that doesn’t mean they can control it…

Dragons aren’t something the general populace knows about. They’re creatures of myth and legend, and it’s been centuries since a Mage powerful enough to summon one has been active. Over the course of this story, I wanted dragons to appear, but more in the background than anything. Now, I think I want to bring them in early. My antagonist is threatening to change the status quo for all the other characters–he’s trying to start a war that will eventually involve the gods. If he has dragons on his side, the stakes get suddenly very high–maybe high enough to challenge the gods themselves.

Now I’ve got an interesting story. We’ll see where it goes.

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2 comments on “ROW80 Update: When in Doubt, Add Dragons

  1. […] going in the wrong direction. Pick a new one, and it’s amazing how much easier things become. Last week I had a crisis of faith with where my story was going, but I found a solution by taking it in a […]

  2. […] wrong. I need to repair the foundation, rather than thinking up new and creative ways to solve the problems inherent in the story. I didn’t expect that lesson, but I’m glad for it. It’s given me a lot to think […]

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