If it doesn’t work…

Hey, everyone. I had this lengthy and elaborate post concerning the YA fantasy I’m working on, but I find this gif sums it up better.

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So now that I have cleared the board, I’m ready to fill it with newer and better things. I’ve spent the past few days writing up its history before transitioning to the outline. And let me tell you, I’ve never been more fucking excited about this idea since its inception back in 2005. Every other iteration is utter garbage. But it’s garbage I had to write in order to get to where I am right now.

I’m also convinced this surge of creativity means I’ll be employed very soon. I’m only ever this inspired when work is involved. So may this be a peek into things to come!

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Who’s on third?

As I mentioned in my last post, I am making every effort to return to my writing. As I sat back and reflected on the draft I’d recently read, I came to a startling conclusion: it was not the first book in this fantasy series. It was the third. What I considered the first was in fact, its sequel. It’s one of those epiphanies that is less EUREKA! and more well, shit.

The good news is I have an older draft on hand, written back in 2009, which will make for an excellent start as I return to this world. The draft’s original purpose was to flesh out important historical events that continue to affect the world in the present day. It only recently occurred to me that I have a whole cast of characters who are ready for their day in the sun, so to speak. Why not tell their story from beginning to end, rather than inserted into the narrative at key moments? This might have worked if they were just names on a page. Yes, I’ve pulled names out of thin air whenever I introduced Important Historical Figure into the mix. Sometimes I think this happens more often than we realize. Or maybe it’s just me being lazy/in a rush to finish a draft. Anyway.

There’s another reason for me to write this story as opposed to the other one I’d labored over for so long. The heart of the plot lies in the forbidden love aspect. Super tripey, sure, but I have a fondness for this stuff. It works better in one version as opposed to the other. I’m also planning on tweaking the world a bit to make it less cliche. Cliches are, as we all know, a veritable death sentence for any piece of writing. Here’s to regaining my focus and my drive. I really enjoy this world I’ve created.

 

Getting the hang of it

Part of me is honestly wondering why I dreaded the synopsis so much. Once you figure out the mechanics of it (as well as what’s strictly Main Plot related), it’s pretty straightforward. I’m even starting to look at queries in a more forgiving light. It’s the whole formatting thing I hate most. Thankfully, I have access to guides to help me understand it better.

I thought I’d share the current version for The Shadow Conflict‘s synopsis. I most likely will tweak it as April 10th nears. It’s a writer’s prerogative to forever feel unsatisfied with what they produce. I also feel that even if it doesn’t net me a spot on the client list for  Writer’s Relief, it’s still been great practice for when I shop the story around. Never forget that every rejection is a learning experience, not a personal attack. Keep writing, everyone!

 

Synopsis
THE SHADOW CONFLICT
By
Serena Gulledge

Three hundred years ago, Shadow tamer Jett plunged the world into war. Since then, the tamers of Light, Earth, Wind, Water and Fire have united to prevent another uprising. Intolerance, prejudice and swift punishment are the order of the day.

 
As Shadow tamer, Braeden never shared the ambitions that his twin brother, Hadrian, and the rest of his family did. Despite this, he infiltrates the Citadel of Light under the guise of a servant to initiate a coup d’état. Braeden does not count on Harmony, heiress of the Light. Harmony bestows kindness and friendship, firsts for him, and in his distraction, causes the coup to fail. Though beaten back, his family leaves Braeden behind to keep up the charade, while Hadrian is chosen as Shadow’s new champion. War breaks out.

 
Seven years pass. Braeden, lost as to what his role is in his family’s plans, finds new purpose in Harmony’s friendship. Love for her has him side with her for elemental unity. However, just as he prepares to confess who he is, he is forced to save Harmony using his Shadow powers. Doing so has an adverse effect on her. Convinced he’d only hurt her, Braeden tells her he’s leaving. Harmony confesses her love, and the two begin a relationship. Braeden knows he must admit his role in the coup, but is too selfish of his happiness.

 
The romance is interrupted when Harmony tells him her fellow tamers are summoned to the Citadel. Harmony wants Braeden to meet them in order to help their cause. Braeden’s uncle, who arrived with the tamers in disguise, discovers Braeden’s betrayal and reveals him. Braeden and Harmony are forced to run, but Harmony’s mother critically wounds and captures Braeden. Before she can tell the truth to the tamers, Harmony is kidnapped by Braeden’s uncle.

 
The tamers spring Braeden from prison and escape the Citadel. Braeden finally confesses his part in the coup. This creates some tension among them. The journey brings them to a city occupied by Braeden’s family. Harmony is rescued, but their escape attempt is thwarted by Hadrian.

 
Hadrian defeats the tamers, and attacks Braeden. Hadrian taunts Braeden for his failure in the coup. Harmony uses her powers to halt their battle, but it’s too late. Braeden disappears, men in service to the elements free the city, take Harmony and the tamers to safety. Those serving Shadow scatter. Meanwhile, Braeden, half dead, reappears outside the city. A young woman finds him on the road, and loads him into her wagon.

 
As everyone recuperates from battle, Harmony begins to second guess her relationship with Braeden. The tamers prepare for a new mission, while Hadrian experiences changes in power and mannerisms that hint at his becoming more like his ancestor. The real war‒ the one for absolute control of the elements‒ is set to begin.

To prologue, or not to prologue?

Take a moment to think of the last fantasy book you read. Chances are the action was preceded by a prologue, or at least a separate section introducing plot-related elements (Thomas Wheeler’s The Arcanum started this way).

Many of the great fantasy epics guide readers in with this method. I also understand that not every story requires one. I opened Lifeline with a prologue. At the time, I was introducing the event that would lure Gabriel to the Main Plot. It wasn’t until later that I realized it wasn’t necessary, so I scrapped it. The events would be referenced in-story, but they weren’t the true conflict. That exists in Gabriel himself. It’s only when he is thrust into a situation when he has to face it head on.

This brings me to The Shadow Conflict. Its prologue sets the stage for what’s to come. The characters introduced here are, while minor, part of my world’s history, and linked to all characters involved in the story. I think it needs the prologue. Otherwise, readers might experience confusion over why those associated with the Shadow element are treated like second-class citizens, or why Harmony’s actions concerning them are considered reckless.

I love prologues. I love getting a taste of the world I’m about to enter. That is the historian in me. I also understand the wariness about them. Some writers use the prologues as convenient info dumps. A lot of the info could be injected into the story itself. But I think, like with everything, there is a time and place. If done right, your prologue offers just enough to prepare you for what’s around the corner. It will also be the difference between the want to turn the page, and the want to put it down. Word your prologues carefully, writers.