Ashana Lian's Fantasy Lab

Fantasy and Fantasy Writing from every angle: fantasy and sci-fi novels, films, artwork, superhero cartoons, children's and YA books, manga, anime, video games and comics. Put the microscope on 'Geek Culture'.

Friday, 5 December 2014

FINAL Beautiful Books #3: Let's Talk Editing

WE ARE BACK for the third and final part of beautiful books, hosted by theee lovely ladies Cait at Paper Fury (formerly Notebook Sisters) and Sky at Further Up and Further In.

Quick recap - Beautiful Books is a link-up that helps writers focus and shape all aspects of their novel, especially during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) which just past. Round 3 looks at the editing process for those with a finished work (that'll be me someday. -le sigh-) so to join this awesome meme click either link above, answer the questions, add your link, and support those who added theirs. Let's go!

The Questions
I'm answering these questions for my novel OOTD/Karalan's Legacy (working title)

1. On a scale of 1 (worst) to 10 (best) how well do you think this book turned out?
Considering that I haven't even finished and barely wrote at all during November, I don't even know how to answer that question. Should I give myself a 1 out of 10 for effort?

2. Have you ever rewritten or editing one of your books before? If so, what do you do to prepare yourself? If not, what’s your plan?
Because I am always trying to capture my inspirations, I've never had a finished work before. But my plan, when I finally get there, is to read through it and weed out continuity issues, spellcheck and grammar check, see if any scenes can potentially be cut, and also I'll need at least 10 beta readers.

3. What’s your final wordcount? Do you plan to lengthen or trim your book?
Well... take a look at this right quick.

Chapter 1 is about 7000 words. Chapters 2-8 have gotta be about 9000. But by the time I got to Chapter 15, it was THIRTY-NINE THOUSAND WORDDSSSS OH WHY OH WHYY. I don't understand how that happened. There are 33 chapters so far (I don't think they're all staying) but based on that pattern I must have over 100,000 words already, and I'm not finished yet. =/ Can I ask YOU a question?

What on earth am I going to do!?!?!?!

4. What are you most proud of? Plot, characters, or pacing?
I'm most proud of my characters, because I feel that I've developed them to a point where their...  (?) ... 'innate goodness' shines through. I hope I can demonstrate that in my writing. I also really like my plot but then as they say, when you can't find the book you want to read - write it. This is my ideal, dream book. Methinks. c: I often over-complicate things so it'll need much more work until I'm 'proud' of it. Though I guess I am already.

5. What’s your favourite bit of prose or line from this novel?
I'd still say Chapter 6 (short excerpt posted on this blog). I can't shake that adoration I had of Milete Beyene when I first created her, even though she has a much lesser role now.

I also like the following scene because the reader can see for the first time what a happy childhood Karalan had. Which raises the question - how did she end up so bitter? What went wrong?

She always felt safe and as a result she never cried; there was always a smile on her face. As she was never touched by fear, she grew bold and daring. Her grin became as confident as her father’s. Kyaraus followed Karalan everywhere, and she was more than happy to string him along and boss him about. She showered her little brother with love, placing her favourite sentinels in his arms, saving the best part of her food for him and giving him her shawl when he was cold. She commanded her sentinels to guard him as they guarded her, and they would have a fine time playing in the center square of Orona Root, the town where they lived at the time. Skirmantas did his best to disassociate himself from his younger siblings, pouting and turning his back, but often found himself pulled into their games and made some sort of tyrant that they could fight. The bond between the three children was stronger than Romanti steel. Skirmantas refused to go to school until the other two were old enough to go, and spent his time watching over them, playing with them, taking them down to the Orona Root docks to see fisherman and their enormous fish-sentinels. Hannaway could only watch his children with awe and wondered why it seemed so many other families did nothing but quarrel.
   Jana’s joy turned to apprehension when it became clear that as Karalan grew, the sentinels matched her size. On Karalan’s fifth birthday, he heard Jana open the door and scream. ‘Nuor Priests’ was the first thing to flash through his mind as he dropped everything in his hands and dashed to the door, his three children close on his heels and breathing hard with fear.
   Standing outside of the home was a peaceful, chalk-blue animal with two humps on its back, that reached the top of Karalan’s head, swinging its tail patiently. Small Karalan screamed long and loud with elation before she threw herself at the creature, and it nipped lovingly at her cheeks and shoulders.
   “What is it?” Jana cried, amidst the sound of Hannaway’s powerful laughter.
   “It’s a camel-sentinel, love. I can barely believe there’s one here. I’ve only seen a camel once, in the deserts of Verberne.” He took Jana’s hand and gently led her forward. “Nothing to be afraid of, Jana. Look at it.”
   She took a good look. It had a soft mouth and sleepy eyes, it’s two gentle humps made it look like it carried hills of dull turquoise grass on its back. It's blue fur was as soft as a kitten’s. When it looked at her, Hannaway could see its eyes invoked a deep sense of peace within her. When she reached out and stroked its muzzle with a sigh of awe, he remembered, in that exact moment, why he had fallen in love with her.
   “This is the happiest day of my liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiife!” five year-old Karalan shouted, trying to jump up onto the camel-sentinel's back. Jana murmured the word, ‘camel’, and smiled. Hannaway beamed at her and kissed her cheek with gusto.
However, without warning, Karalan began to change in ways that Hannaway did not immediately see. She didn’t blossom into a young woman like the other young girls of the village so much as burst into it; her heart-warming beams and rapturous laughter abruptly ended. By the time she was thirteen, she had a selection of glares and scowls to her disposal. She had never looked like her mother, but as a child she would carry the same twinkle in her eyes when she giggled and behaved mischievously. Now her ever-radiant expression became stern, a constant mix of sullenness and fierceness, and her compassion was lost forever. Karalan’s height didn’t shoot up as fast as her brothers but took its slow time, until at seventeen she at last matched their impressive height. He’d watch them march across the village, a little stunned that these three towering titans came from him. They all looked exactly like him.
   Karalan in particular grew more like him with every passing day, so much so that Hannaway didn't know whether that thrilled him or dismayed him that his only daughter had inherited the fiercest aspects of his personality. She was smarter than her brothers but when considering the safety of his children Karalan was always his first thought – he insistently told himself it was because she was his only daughter and not because she was his favourite child.
Even though it's kinda sad, I just love it. I got shivers. =D In a way, I'm afraid I won't be able to write something that emotional again!

(Image below: Battle Mage)
6. What aspect of your book needs the most work?
Oh hell, everything. I have a bad habit of leaving the most difficult scenes to the very very end. Now I have to make myself write them. The plot still has some major holes that need filling asap.

7. What aspect of your book is your favourite?
The fantasy elements, and being able to include stuff I've loved as a kid like the hero's adventure (The Legend Of Zelda); to Chinese philosophies, the Wu Xing, and martial arts (Jade Empire); to the adorable romances that blossom sloooowly and wild across-the-city chases (Immortal Rain); to the darker blood guts and gore of The Demonata book series.

8. How are your characters? Well-rounded, or do they still need to be fleshed-out?
The main characters I think are okay. the side characters need to be fleshed out... a lot.

Lady Maple, head of the Divine Court, (Image: Female by dashinvaine) comes across as a bit of a villain who is seeking to manipulate power into her hands and pull a blindfold over everybody's eyes. But I haven't yet looked at the other side of her, the side that wants to determinedly protect her hometown and refuse outsiders like Karalan waltzing in leaving a trail of blood.

The Duke of Spirihil (Image: Richard II by momori68) suffers from severe paranoia, but only in episodes. It becomes hard to tell when to be natural and when to tread carefully. You could say a  joke one day and he'll laugh, say the same joke next day and he'll execute you. He comes across as... well pretty crazy, right now. And also kinda funny, he does do some bizarre things. But it's really important to emphasise where those underlying fears come from and his own distress at his condition - his feeling that the world is unsafe is crazy to others but logical to him. The portrayal of mental health in this book is really not something I want to mess up.

9. If you had to do it over again, what would you change about the whole process?
I would force myself to get it done in three months and spend the next nine months editing. Instead it's taken me over a year... I don't wanna spend the next three years editing e_e

(Image below: Sketch XXIII by Charlie Bowater)
10. Did anything happen in your book that completely surprised you? Have any scenes or characters turned out differently to what you planned? Good or bad?
There was a question like this in one of the other Beautiful Books... long story short, characters I thought would have more of an appearance like the Skull Princess, the Eternal Mother, the Disir - actually had a brief appearance. Then the character who was meant to have the briefest appearance of all (Prince of Pearls) basically became the second main character.

11. What was the theme and message? Do you think it came across? If not, is there anything you could do to bring it out more?
One focus of this novel is about time: how it seems to stretch out so endlessly before us, and yet a point in time rushes at us all of a sudden and it's in the past quicker than you can comprehend; how people change over time, and therefore the thoughts, beliefs and ideals of a population change over time; how time can erase the little details and leave only the core - and does that matter?; finally about how time can distort the truth.

The opening chapter is Karalan waking up after being dead for seven years, so I want the end to have another chapter about a jump in time. I have no idea if I brought out the message. Probably not. We'll see after editing.

12. Do you like writing with a deadline (like NaNoWriMo) or do you prefer to write-as-it-comes?
I prefer writing with a deadline, otherwise I'll take God knows how long to finish anything. Since I started this novel I've had six brand new novel ideas. I only haven't stopped to write them because I am determined to get a novel finished for once.

13. Comparative title time! What published books, movies, or TV shows are like your book? (Ex: Inkheart meets X-Men, etc.)
This is a bit hard to say, I don't know of any novels like my book. No doubt you guys could probably think of some! Actually the first thing that comes to mind is Avatar: The Legend of Aang, and I don't know why because OOTD/KL is grown-up and much darker.

14. How do you celebrate a finished novel?!
Pass out.

15. When people are done reading your book, what feeling do you want them to come away with?
I'm not sure. I'm very scared about that actually. I haven't done the last chapter because it will set the final tone of the book. The original ending would leave readers depressed, and the cliffhanger ending is curious but infuriating, and the most recent ending was happier but ten times more feeble. So I've left it open ended. I'll write it later.

I suppose I'd want people to feel that there will always be good and bad things in the world, and it's their response to it will shape them and their lives. They can choose what to focus on - the positive or the negative. If they choose the positive, they can start seeing things with an optimistic lens and it becomes easy to find things in the world to appreciate. :3

Image credit: unknown... Kagaya? (comment if you know!)

Thank you again for all of those who took the time to read. I hope you've enjoyed the BB meme as much as I have (thank you Cait and Sky). There's a brand new Pinterest folder where I'll add images for this novel. Also, I've got some really exciting posts lined up for Christmas, including:
  • fantasy calendars for 2015
  • Destiny Blue, one of my FAVOURITE artists!
  • awesome geeky cutsey cosplay pinafores
  • my literary personality doppelgangers (I'm a INFJ!)
  • Jamie's A-Z book survey which I finally did
  • AAAND who illustrated A World Of Ice And Fire, the very well timed Game Of Thrones book released for Christmas!
So I do come back and have a look! I'm sure you'll find something you'll like. Now if you excuse me, I'm going to set about ordering a birthday dinner, then I need to apply for some jobs and find a studio flat to live in. O_O Thank you again for reading, it really means a lot!

Beautiful Books is a 3-part link-up series. Click for;

- Beautiful Books #1: Let's Talk Books,
- Beautiful Books #2: How's The Writing Going

Ashana Lian .


  1. Oh my gosh when I saw your word count I couldn't help but chuckle. I'm baffled also at how you went from innocent 7,000 to 37,000. What happened?
    And that extract was so beautiful (have you published anything before? Because you sure as heck need to publish this one!). I can see why the fantasy genre is so beautiful, creating whole new worlds and new cultures yet retaining how people act around each other here and how it is slightly different in the book's world is Breath-taking.

    1. Hi Mawa! You are as baffled as I am. Chapter 15 is the chapter when Karalan meets the Prince of Pearls so it makes sense that I had a lot to write because a lot goes on. But I can't believe I wrote THAT much. The worst part is, a lot of that is probably waffle that'll have to be cut.

      THANK GOD SOMEBODY LIKES IT. =D (1 Person Likes This = life quota fulfilled) Thank you veeery much! I'm actually considering now that it was a bit waffle-y. I could condense a bit more. But I'm still in the writing phase, not the editing phase, so I'll get to that later. Yesss yes you understand! This is why I lubs The Fan genre. :3 I'm still mastering how to describe a beautiful setting, I seem to run out of words and then use the same ones! I think in a subtle way, peering into new worlds help us appreciate the real world. (I'd still rather live in Aura Earth though.) c: Thanks again for your comment and your relentless support! :)

  2. Wow, your chapter lengths are awesome. I have a habit of writing really, really short chapters though a chapter of 30K or more is pretty epic. How did you ever manage that? Ooh, I love that excerpt. You have a real knack for description especially.

    1. Oh no, I just got WAY too carried away. XD I guess I became engrossed in all the aspects of Prince and Karalan's bond. They fight a lot, but they can also get on very well; they have the same spiritual beliefs, and they help each other let go of their baggage; they go on mini-adventures and debate ferociously about whether a book was good or bad. It was so fun to write. So I got REALLY carried away with Chapter 15. Half of it will go into Chapter 16, probably. Thanks very much, Imogen!

  3. Hello, Ashana!!
    WOW!! The lengths of your chapters are amazing. I have 21 chapters. The first one has got 1.6k. My shortest chapter contains 1.1k words. And the longest is of 5.8k words. It's fantastic you can write so much in just a chapter.
    One way or another, Ashana, keep going! I'm sure that when you'll be done with your work, it's going to be fantastic!! :))

    (btw, I searched The Creative Penn. It's a good and useful site. Thank you for telling me about it!)

    1. Hi again!! So many people have said that now, it's just making me crack up laughing. I wasn't paying attention at how lengthy it was getting. I should've just started a new damn chapter! Thanks for the encouragement, I sure need it! My writing is going so slowly e_e

      And you're very welcome - my sister told me about it 2 weeks ago and I thought it was useful too.

  4. Your characters are super interesting! (And I can totally sympathize with writing long chapters. I have that exact same problem.)

    Good luck with writing! *hands cake*

    1. I'm glad you think so! I think after a while, I get so used to my characters that it's difficult to know for sure if they'll appeal to others. I know right?! It's easy to get carried away. I guess I'm glad I DID get carried away instead of just stared at a blank document.

      OMG THANK YOU *gobbles cake*
      (The irony is, I really AM eating some birthday cake. Heh)

  5. Oh my gosh, that's a long chapter! My advice, if you feel the book is too long but you can't really cut anything, is to either just relent and make it a very long book or try and cut it in half...and make it two books?

    I try to write short chapters(as that's what I like to read) but I can totally relate to them coming out way longer than you intend!

    Good luck with your writing and hopeful revisions! =)

    1. I know =/ It'll be cut down to at least half that word count. I got so carried away! XD

      That's an idea. I'd really want it to be one book though, and I'm sure cutting it down will make it better as I have the tendency to ramble. ^_^ Thank you, I hope you had a great new year!


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