Stone Unturned: Unnumbered Progress Report

Okay, first let me emphasize that I am not announcing a new serial; in fact, part of this post explains one major reason I’m not going to serialize Stone Unturned. (The other major reason is that the last couple of serials didn’t do that well.) But I thought this might still be of interest to folks here, so I’ve ported it over (somewhat edited) from the discussion area of my webpage.

First, for those who have missed it, Stone Unturned is intended to be a Big Fat Ethshar Novel combining several old ideas, as explained here. As it presently stands, it has three viewpoint characters — Morvash of the Shadows, Darissa the Witch’s Apprentice, and Hakin of the Hundred-Foot Field — who appear in separate chapters, in rotation. In theory, their stories will merge about halfway through the novel.

I thought Ethshar fans might want to know how it’s going, and might be pleased to see a familiar name or two. And I thought that some folks might find the insight into my writing process interesting.

So here’s the Discussion post:

Current page count for Stone Unturned: 68, not counting front matter.

Estimated final page count: 500?

This got complicated. Last Friday we had a day out with friends that involved getting me up earlier than usual, then driving for an hour or so. I don’t drive first thing in the morning; it’s not safe. I’m not awake when I first get out of bed. Julie drove, and I was a passenger.

Which is a great situation for working out plot problems, so I did. In fact, I worked out pretty much all the remaining plot of Stone Unturned. Stuff that had eluded me for years all fell into place.

I’d worked out some stuff earlier in the week, too, when writing Morvash’s chat with Ithinia — for the first time I looked at the situation from Ithinia’s viewpoint instead of Morvash’s, and realized a few important things. (Morvash is the protagonist of Stone Unturned, and Ithinia has appeared in a couple of previous books.) That probably helped, as I was telling Julie about it in the car. Anyway, on Friday I figured out what the villain’s up to, how he’s stopped, how our heroes clean up the resulting mess, how Hakin and Karitha and Tarker (characters Morvash is completely unaware of at the start of the story) fit into the main plot, what Morvash does, what Pender does, how it all ties back to The Vondish Ambassador and The Spell of the Black Dagger, everything.

Except how Darissa and Marek (other characters I’d intended to be important) contribute anything, or why they’d even go after the villain with the others. They fit into the story up to a point, and serve an important role, but then they have their own story after that, and wouldn’t go along with the others beyond that point.

So I’m now wondering whether The Petrified Prince should be spun off into a separate short novel. That would remove Chapter Two and Chapter Five from what I’ve written so far, and what I’ve been calling Chapter Seven would really be Chapter Five.

If I do split it off, it’s a good thing I wasn’t serializing this — donors would be understandably pissed if two paid-for chapters disappeared. Which is part of why I’m not serializing it; I thought something like this might happen.

In another possible complication, I think the stuff I wanted to include from the proposed novel A Slave of Wizardry may not fit very well after all. It doesn’t contradict anything or mess up the plot, but it doesn’t really suit Morvash’s personality.

Added 6/2/15: Though thinking about it further, maybe I can split the original wizard character between Morvash and his uncle Gror, whose personality does fit the story.

So that’s all complicated, but interesting. I can go ahead and write the story now, and then figure out what stays in it and what doesn’t as I go.

And then I got back to work on Chapter Seven (or Five), and it occurred to me to see whether a description matched what I’d said in The Vondish Ambassador.

It didn’t. Not even close. I’d completely misremembered. So I had to go back and rewrite the last three pages of Chapter Four (or Three) — didn’t really add or subtract any wordage to speak of, but revised it drastically. Interestingly, this fix also serves to foreshadow some of that plot stuff I’d worked out on Friday.

And then I revised a chunk of Chapter Seven (or Five) because I had shown Morvash saying things he has no reason to say. I kept going, and added one page on top of all the revision. I also see where I’m going to re-incorporate the remaining false start (there were originally three of them) I made when I first started the novel — in fact, it’ll probably be incorporated into the second half of Chapter Seven (or Five).

So the page-count only went up by one, but I feel I’ve been pretty productive, all the same.

The current word-count, not including the lost pages*, notes, front matter, and the remaining false start, but assuming I don’t split out The Petrified Prince, is 17,366.


* I lost several pages — about eight, I think — early this year, when a file disappeared, apparently accidentally deleted.