Not all magic is equal. Even hard work and determination is no match for skills passed on from generation to generation, each time being built upon and growing stronger. These old magic families have hoarded their secrets with every generation, using them to get ahead where they could – or leaving a mess for their progeny to deal with as soon as they have passed.
Legacy delves into the people who have had the responsibility of generations passed down to them and how they use their family’s magic with the time they have left. This generation knows that eventually the End will eventually come for them and that they might not have much time to stop it. If they want to stop it at all.
So I found an old document from 2006 for a serial I started working on, but never finished. It was a comic at one point1 and then I tried to go back in time and write the whole thing. Eventually, I abandoned the project, though I have thought about picking it back up from time to time. It’s interesting going through the original files and seeing what I was trying to do back then.2
Shattered glass and flying mortar were the last things he remembered seeing, the last things he felt embedded into his flesh and drawing out his blood at a rapid rate. Now he was simply awaiting death.
What death was waiting for, he had no idea. There was a point where he thought he had died, feeling a cold hand rip his soul from his body and hurl him into a small pinpoint of light that grew until it engulfed him in the warmth of the afterlife, but that image had faded away a few moments after. There was just nothing, and he started to feel like he wasn’t quite dead anymore. Not quite alive, but certainly not quite dead.
It felt like quite a long time now. Dying, it seemed, was not as quick a process as he had hoped and he was waiting for something, anything really, that would give him a reason for still sitting in limbo waiting for the great beyond. Unless he was a ghost now, ready to meander the earth but not ready to get up quite yet. He might even buy that if he could actually feel any of his limbs, but all he felt now was detached.
Perhaps he was lacking in the self reflection and coming to terms with his own death, before moving on? Would that make the gods happy? Fine.
He had stolen a car. It was a stupid move now that he thought about it, but he had already done it. It had been a nice one too, but there was hardly any reason to regret that now. He had done it, gotten in, and very easily managed to hot wire the thing.
He remembered that the engine roared at his touch, a thing he was very proud of at the time before he had closed the door. And then he had done the stupidest thing in his entire life. He shifted it into gear and stepped on the gas.
It was about that time that he had realized that, while he had seen people drive before, he did not know how to drive himself. Even then, however, completely out of control, he had been laughing and enjoying himself, confident that he could pick it up along the way.
And then he had crashed. He had managed to get very far along the way, well out of town and crashed into the side of the building. The wall gave out under him, though he saw nothing but the shattering glass and falling mortar which should have by all means managed to kill him by now. Especially now that he had come to terms with the fact that he was fully aware that he had died in a stupid manner and he was very ready to face judgment or reincarnation or whatever it was that death had in store.
Still not dead. What else did he have left to do? He’d already done every damn thing that he could come up with and that had done a grand total of nothing. This was going to be agonizing. That, or this right here was death. He was quickly discovering a deep hatred for death.
He was also discovering that his face was becoming warm. More startling, he was discovering that he could feel his face at all, as well as a slight feeling that there was light in his eyes. Death, it seemed, was getting sloppy because he was definitely not dead now. Not even heading towards it.
Opening his eyes, he winced and let out a soft groan against the light, shying away from it as he brought an arm up to shield himself from the glaring sun streaming in over his face. Maybe he was just regaining sensation after being in the light for so long. Perhaps when the light had engulfed him, he had just gone blind for this agonizingly long time and now his sight was returning along with the feeling of whatever body he had for his afterlife.
The sound of the small, startled scream, he was pretty certain that he was alive, though.
So you know how I love plots? There’s a secondary thing I have to mention about that.
See, there comes a time when I’m writing that the plot, great as it is, doesn’t work anymore. The characters have become people rather than vague memories of people I knew once that I’ve placed into the story as stick figures to dance at my every whim. When that happens, events start to unfold differently and, a lot of the time, it means that the original plan no longer works.
Then I throw out the plot.
And that’s totally fine. ((For me, anyway)) By that time, I’ve usually gotten to the point in the story that I already know what my characters are like and what they would do in any given situation. Not only that, but I’m also very familiar with how the antagonists will move as well, so the rest of it comes together in a secondary, on the fly sort of replacement plot to follow instead. One that is this time informed by what the characters are actually like and not what I think they will end up like.
I try very hard not to get attached to those original endings.1 In doing so, I don’t really mind when something changes drastically and I can make it all work out in the end. It’s not like the original ending is going to waste,2 it just means that it doesn’t work here. And so it’s totally fine to let those endings go away and be replaced by something that’s more fitting for the characters that the story actually churned out.
In the end, it makes for a better story. I love plots, I really do, but sometimes you just have to know when to let that plot go. If it doesn’t work anymore and you have another idea that’s really good, you can always toss out the original and go with the new one. In fact, you should probably do that. If it doesn’t work out, your original plot will still be there3 and you can go back to it if you need to.
There’s an old question in the writing community that I think most of us have been asked at least once. Plotter or Pantser? Do you already know your story when you start writing, or do you write without a plan and let the story flow naturally and see where it goes?
Pantsers do have more fun. I was a pantser originally and there’s a thrill and joy in just barreling through a story and seeing where it goes. You have a lot more opportunity to be surprised and invested in the story because you are seeing it unfold as you write. Every twist is interesting and, sure, the editing in the end is a bit crazy, but the ride is worth it.
Or it used to be. I am a plotter now. The trouble I kept finding when I was pantsing was that I had a lot of stories that never got done. I kept getting stuck and I didn’t know what I was going to do next, so I would go to another project. I had every intent of coming back, really, but I just never did. Worse, I’d come back to it later and realize how little sense previous scenes made in the context of newer ones and the work required to bring it all into something cohesive was too daunting for me to want to go back to it.
I love having a plot to work with and knowing where my stories are going. If I know what’s going on, then I never have to stop to consider what’s come before and figure out how the next sequence of events actually fits in. The plotting process, for me, is where I get the first run of the story done. It’s where I get the story figured out before the characters come to life. It’s when I get to barrel through the story and see where it goes.
Essentially, the plotting stage is pantsing for me.
I get to see where the story goes and learn about the characters as I see what their actions are. If something doesn’t make sense, I can very easily go back and see what works and what doesn’t. Because I haven’t written it proper yet, I can change the notes and it isn’t too daunting. And while I’m going, I can throw in all the specifics of a scene to include when I get around to writing it, as well as create those scenes that I know I’ll be really excited about getting to.
I also finish a lot more now that I’ve started plotting. The first draft now feels a lot more structured and I know when it’s going to end. I don’t always know how, but if I ever get lost, I have something to fall back on, and that has made all the difference. Well, for me at least.
NaNoWriMo is done! I managed to write two full novels, a bonus short, and worked out a few other things for next year during the month, so I’m pretty happy with myself. I also managed to cause myself quite a bit of wrist pain, but overall I’m pretty happy with things.
It’s also December, which means that I have started coming up with my to do list for the new year. If you prefer, you can think of them as goals or resolutions, but for me, it’s really a checklist of stuff I want to get done next year. And, as usual, it’s a little bit ridiculous.
So what’s the plan?
It’s the last book in the series! I am incredibly excited to have it so close to completion and to be able to reveal a couple of the mysteries that have been in the rest of the series. I’ve got a firm date for release on this one: April 4, 2016.
I wrote the book for NaNoWriMo in 2014 and it’s the next one on the list. It’s another shot at writing for an older audience, this time in the more familiar Urban Fantasy genre that I like so much. I’m going to need two rewrite and edit and all that good stuff. Hoping to get this out by the summer.
Looking Glass Saga: Book 4
Once a year I’m going to put out one of these. It’s a good pace. We’ll continue Alice’s adventures in and out of Wonderland as everything starts to fall apart even more. Any more than that would be a spoiler, so I’ll leave it at that. This one I’m planning for an October release.
Cloned Evil: First Steps
I have no idea what I’m going to do with this one, to be perfectly honest. I know I’m going to write and edit it, but I don’t have an exact time for the release of it and I think I might actually end up serializing it before releasing it in full to everyone else.
I was originally planning to release this one this year, but stuff came up and I started to over complicate some matters, so I’m going to instead try and get this one out for the summer. It’s a tie in and companion to the Tales from the Twisted Eden Sector series and it’s one of those fancy choose your own adventure novels that you can play online.
I am not aiming to get all of this done, but I want to have the base of the code for it done this year between all the other projects. I can at least get that much done, and if you want a more in depth look at the process behind actually making this thing, you can check the link for the Facebook page I set up for it. I continue talking on there about the progress.
White Noise Sequels
There are two more books planned for the series. I’ve been changing the plot over and over again, but I think I have the core of it down and I’ll be writing both of them at once as soon as I get a spare month to do that in. With any luck, the whole thing will be out in 2018, but I’ll update you on my progress as I get them written.
I have no idea what this book is yet, but I’m going to do it. There will be a poll showing up in September-ish to vote on which book I end up writing. It’s probably going to be a stand alone this time, though.
Looking Glass Saga: Book 6
Because of how NaNoWriMo goes, this is probably going to be the second book I write in November. Unless something really inspires me and I want to write it earlier, of course.
I am going to give Patreon a shot for a year. I have a lot of plans for it, including a lot of bonus content that I’ve written and never put out for various series, requests, and general nonsense. Of course, I might get no one, but on the off chance I do, that would be pretty awesome.
Syndicate Print Book
As per the poll, I am already working on making the Syndicate book into a print novel. At this point, it is already formatted, the cover has been acquired, and I have ordered a proof copy. I might actually be able to finish this off before January at this rate, but we’ll see.
Buy an apartment
Through a very convoluted series of events, I found out that I can afford a mortgage and an apartment of my very own. This is both terrifying and fantastic, but I’m slowly learning that my obsession with HGTV is not helping me all that much on this front. That show channel has lied to me on the house hunting front.
You can keep up with the list all year over on the page. I’ll also be doing check ins once a month about my progress to keep myself accountable for all of this.
There once was a man named Lyle S Tanner. In April of 2012, he put out his first short story and started really working on his series, Tales from the Twisted Eden Sector. It is a short story series that he put a lot of time and effort into, putting out books twice a year and hoping to finish the series in April of 2016 with a total of six collections and a tie-in novella.
If you read the title of this blog post, you’ll see where I’m going with this.
Back when I was first deciding how to go about the publishing thing and decided to try self publishing, I was worried about what would happen if I did actually do it and how I would do it. I researched and tried to make sure I knew as much as I could before I started.
There were a lot of articles at the time about people losing their day jobs for writing racy fiction. More talked about how JK Rowling and others changed their names to be less feminine so that they didn’t get put in a female writers corner and could appeal more broadly in genres that alienated them.
I made the decision to use a pseudonym because of all of it and started putting out books under Lyle S Tanner, both to protect myself from any repercussions from my day job, and to avoid getting put into the romance category because of my name.1 And for a while, things were pretty good.
One of these days, I’ll go through everything I learned as Lyle. I had the freedom under that name to make a lot of mistakes and try out different tactics and strategies, seeing what worked and what didn’t. I used Twitter and Facebook and tried to make him as real as I was.
Unfortunately, now that I’m publishing under my own name, those efforts have tapered off into pretty much nothing. Maintaining him as a separate entity has gotten exhausting and I just haven’t been able to do it. While I have plenty of energy to work on the next book2 I just can’t seem to keep up with the other elements of the identity.
And so, that’s why you’re going to start seeing an influx of new books. I’ll be slowly moving the books over to my own name over the next little while3 and I’ll be talking about them as well here and there. It’s a bit of a strange series, but I love writing it and I do hope you’ll check it out.4
As for Lyle, he’ll fade away. It’s been an interesting run,5 but this is the end of his story. Time to continue on with my own.
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t use a lot of science in my stories. When I do use it, I tend to pick and choose between various elements and skim over the rest, usually to keep the text from dragging like crazy while I’m writing. I might have been great at math and science while I was in school, but even I found most of the classes pretty dull.1 That means After Destiny doesn’t have much in the way of long explanations for some of the elements in it.
It also means I definitely made some of the science up and based it off of old propaganda films I remembered from high school or that binge of them I watched a decade ago back when I first wrote the story.
It doesn’t, however, mean that some genuine science didn’t slip in there. I took them to a different place, but they do exist.
The first of these things is the farm downstairs that is entirely underground. While there is mention of these plants being engineered to have different nutrients and tastes to them,2 I added in an interesting bit of research. See, apparently you can grow plants under different coloured lights to create different effects.
It’s cool, right? You grow plants under a different colour and you get a different effect on the plant. Blue will allow plants to grow and red lets them flower, all based on the spectrum the chlorophyll can take in and process. Over the years, the plant leaves may change colour to adjust to their environment.3 Give science a few generations with this technology and who knows what it could eventually be used for.
Well, besides using various spectra to help create a genetically-enhanced, protein-rich apple that tastes like bacon.
Of course, this is not interesting to the people on the Janus Complex, so they don’t really mention it. Those who even understand how it works.4 It was an explanation I couldn’t work into the story and, in the end, it wasn’t that important to leave in. The food was strange colours and there were strange lights on the ceiling to help the genetically modified plants grow. Downstairs was more important as a setting and the food as a background element that the explanation for the lights and the science behind any of it seemed unnecessary.
One of the many darlings I ended up killing. And that’s not the only one.[AMAZONPRODUCTS asin=”B010RQ22HK”]
- Although that’s true of most of my classes back in high school. [↩]
- And that would imply that, reasonably, they were also engineered to survive in the climate created in their underground farm [↩]
- This was from another article on the process, but I can’t seem to find it now. [↩]
- Admit it, you don’t really remember how plants feed themselves anymore. My mother plants a garden every year and she couldn’t tell you about the inner workings of her plants. She can tell you which ones are jerks, though. [↩]
By this point, I think everyone’s familiar with the Quiller-Couch1 advice of “Kill your darlings.” It doesn’t matter how much you love that passage or that word, you need to get rid of it to make your story better. Unless you have a good reason to keep something, you should probably cut it.
I went through a very extensive high fantasy phase in my reading in high school,2 followed by a space-related science fiction one. If there’s one area where people like to throw this advice right out the window, it’s with world building in these two genres. In order to get their point across, these authors often feel the need to explain everything about their universe so that the reader can understand.
Now, there should be a lot more world building in these sorts of stories. You have to. There’s a whole world you’re plunging the reader into that they are going to need to understand in order to follow along with the story. There’s a lot they need to know, and there’s a lot you need to get across. I’m just suggesting that maybe it’s not all relevant information.
For example, I distinctly remember a fantasy story that explained that they had a system to empty chamber pots so that they weren’t dumped out the window and into the streets. At no point in the story did a character ever use a chamber pot. I don’t think they even had to urinate once in the entire narrative. They didn’t even spend much time in towns or cities where this would be relevant information and, say, they would want to stay in the middle of the road to avoid unfortunate accidents.
Universe elements are like everything else in the story. Feel free to include them all you want in the first draft, but when you’re editing, really think about whether or not that information is actually doing anything for the story. I know how tempting it is to include every single thing about the universe and how it all feels important so that the readers know exactly what they’re dealing with in terms of the universe, but it’s probably not all necessary.
When you’re looking over those parts of your story, keep the same thing in mind as you have with the rest of the story:3 Is this actually important to the narrative? Does it further the plot? Does it add to the characters? Does it help the ambiance? Does this element ever come back into play again later?4 If it doesn’t, make it do one of those things somehow. If not, consider cutting it to help keep the story moving at a good pace.
I know I’ve had to do a lot of it with After Destiny. I’ll tell you about some of the world building-related cuts from that later.
So I am a bit of a notebook hoarder. When I go to the bookstore, I always head to the notebooks section and I drool over the books for a good, long while. And then I try my hardest to come up with a reason to get a new one.1 And, of course, this means that I have a bunch of them on my shelf and it was a bit of a mess.
It was time to clean them up, so I finally went through them all and got them together. First was getting them off the damn shelf to see just how many there were and… well, I wasn’t really expecting that I had THAT many.
I needed a system. I always need a system. I hadn’t even looked at half of these since I started actually getting things together and started working on finishing stories. So, naturally, I spent a long time trying to figure out what all the stories in them were2 before splitting them into categories.
Stuff I’m currently working on:
Stuff I want to work on next:
Notebooks for stories that I already had notebooks for:
Blank notebooks I haven’t used yet:
Not actually for projects:
And then throw them all onto the shelf roughly in size order. Because I have no idea what priority any of these go in or when I’ll actually get around to any of them. And by throw, I mean shove them in and pack them so tightly that I can barely pull one out anymore.
And that is the grand tour of my notebooks shelf. Now that I can’t get distracted by that mess anymore, I’m getting back to work.3