Episode 9 – Boy am I tired but I got the best reward this week


Intro

[00:00:00]

Welcome to the In All Jest podcast.

I'm Darryl, your host, and each week I take you on a hero's journey.

I leave my safe, normal world and face many obstacles on my quest to publish not just one but six epic fantasy novels. .

I hope you'll come along for the ride.

You can find out more information at kingdarryl.com/podcast.

Episode nine August the 28th, 2020. I'm tired, man. Am I tired? But holding the first print copy proof in my hands this week is just the motivation I needed to get to the finish line.

Since Last Time

[00:00:48]

A big improvement this week. I had a really good weekend, last weekend. Really kicked on with the editing work and made a big dent in what was needed to get to this end point. There's only two weeks to go. I shuffled the dates just slightly to make it Friday to Friday. I record this podcast on a Friday, do the stats on a Friday, but I did have the original end date being the Wednesday.

So there's two weeks to go. I got through 16 chapters this week and deleted three. So I guess that was a win. The total number of chapters is now down to 105. I did 32,396 words of editing and writing. And there was fair chunks of writing in that and I felt pretty happy with how all of that went, really

I mean, it was pretty hard. Sunday last weekend was a big, big day, I think I got through eight chapters on that day. Some of which were much easier than some of the ones on other days. Leaves me ,17 and a half per week to get done two and a half chapters a day to reach those 35 done. Having said that there's a bunch of chapters I marked to have a run through again, because they were a substantial amount of fresh content or modified content. So I will need to run my eyes back over those and make some small edits, no doubt. But two weeks, it's going to be a busy two weeks.  Very, very happy with the way that week went. The last couple of days as is typical for the weeks, I have a lot on, a lot of early morning calls and things and struggle , Wednesdays and some Fridays to get as much done, which is why it's really important the weekends ,and Monday, Tuesday, I really make a big chunk of it.

Later today I'll dive back in again too. What did I cover in the material this week? I think Lani, my protagonist,  had some pretty significant changes to what was happening in the capital city that she's been in , that city's called Nedor. There was a lot going on there. We're right in the main part of act two, which means that we've been sort of escalating some of the challenges and obstacles that she's been facing.

She's now heading her way into one of the biggest ones in act two and just pulling the levers tweaking the dials, making the adjustments to ensure that, that level is right. And there were lots of little changes happening. And then lots of little things I'm picking up that no longer  make sense  contextually.

Originally in the book, there was a crystal necklace, that was part of the things that Lani had. And some other characters had, which we removed and there's a few scenes still where that had a place in them that needed to be taken out. Just adjusting things around that, which was all reasonably straightforward, just  having to get through it.

I think that where the second act is sitting right now is much stronger than it was. I'm much happier with it. I'm happier with the way other characters are  interacting with her and how she's interacting with them. There's filler, that's come out. Lots of filler, lots of, you know, internal thinking and some dialogue that didn't need to be in the chapters. So that's been really good. Another part of this week's work, , was around a character, tillandra, who's a significant second character , in the story.

There was some really lengthy chapters at a significant point in a journey she had made. And there were several chapters, two many. I think of the three I deleted probably one and a half or two of them were relating to her and brought that story in better, really shortened up parts of it. It did involve a whole new chapter and a whole new sequence of events that needed to go in. And I was pretty happy with the way that they turned out and the way it fits into the story.  I think it completes one of the key things that was a note that my editor and I had discussed needed to be resolved.  . I'm really happy with the way that played out, the way that story played out.

It's certainly made her journey much more interesting and much more engaging than it was. Albeit that I thought it was engaging and interesting originally when I wrote it, that whole point of coming back, looking at it objectively, having that feedback, sort of asking those questions that say this happened, this happened, did it really move the plot forward?

And then there would just be like a question Mark at the end of the comment. And I'd read that chapter and look at it and go, you know, he's right. Or no, no, there's there's reasons for this here, so obviously they're too weak or something needs to happen because we're not, we're not creating a, a turning point within the chapter.

I should read through some of the comments that are on the manuscript as they're. They were so well put to me, it was only a couple of them where i went grrr.  Don't like those, but most of them were just so well laid out for me. And they challenged me to really look at , the scene or the sequence or chapter and make sure not only did I fully understand what I wanted it to do, but was it on page?

Could the reader understand it? . More importantly this week, though, what turned up was the first print copy of the book. So I had the book, , express printed, express couriered to me, turned up on Monday and what an emotional moment that was for me. Not for you cause you can't see it and probably you don't have the emotions tied up, but in the four and a half years of putting this novel together, to finally have it sitting there and it's looking at me right now, sitting on my desk, in all its infinite beauty, to me, but the beautiful design that's been done by Jane, who did the design, the printings great, choice of paper.

Everything about the book has really come together. A couple of decisions we made about the chapter titles. , They have worked out , really well. So the illustration that goes on, them I'm stoked that we were able to do it within the publishing software that we're using. And so for first proof , I am just so happy with how it came out.

Things have to change about it. There's not even a blurb on the back cover and a couple of print errors happened because of a few parameters that we set, but that's the whole point of doing proof copies. At the end of the day, though, what dawned on me was I have wanted to write this book for at least 35 to 40 years.

At least that long. That was what I chose to do. I didn't choose to do it. That's what I thought I wanted to do when I was in my early to mid teens. And then now it's done. And within another short period of time, it will actually be out in the world as a published book. And that was probably a moment of celebration and excitement this week, that was more significant than possibly anything else that's happened. It was a major milestone to see it, to feel it all week. I've been able to look at it. I said at the beginning of the podcast this week, that I'm really tired. And I am, I have been working on this for a month or two now nonstop every weekend. Up early every morning and just doing the numbers, getting through it  and to have a reward for that effort is cool. I'm really happy I chose to do it now. This was the right week for it to happen. So I'm stoked to have it. All In all, I week of good progress, exciting revelations to have a book right there in front of me.

Lots of chapters written. I have a copy of the book in my hand. I feel like I'm almost at the finish line, which I am, and I am really excited about it.

Some Back Story

[00:10:11]

The backstory this week is going to be on a bit of research. But given the context of me receiving a copy of my book this week, I thought I would talk a little bit about the books that I've read, some of them anyway, that have been part of the research. And I actually pulled them out and, I have a heap of them sitting in front of me right now.

they range across some fairly obvious ones, I would think if you yourself were to think, what would I do to research the sort of book that's been written, an Epic fantasy with a medieval tone to it. And you'd be right to think, , there's a book here. , , life in a medieval village.

The middle-aged is unlocked. There's Chaucer's people, early medieval architecture, which is interesting. Why look at architecture? Part of the world-building to me was making sure I'm thinking about the things the way they would have been in the sort of world mine is and to look at a book on architecture and to understand the types of buildings that existed and why, that's kind of important.

It's a way for me to get visibility, to get a window into the period of time that I'm looking to do.  , , the funniest book I think I got was called the English housewife. And she says on there containing the inward and outward virtues, which ought to be in a complete woman. And for those of you, whose the hairs on your spine just went up when I said that, it is literally a book like that, , in 1615 Englishman

Gervas Markham published a handbook for Housewives that contains all the virtuous, knowledges and actions, both of the mind and body, which ought to be in any complete housewife. And before your outrage reaches me down the interwebs, the interesting thing about this was why I ended up getting it was relating to some of the things that it has in there around recipes or cooking, which I haven't used in book one, but there was some fascinating backstory for lack of a better word, but a history on things like gathering seeds and the homemaking of clothing and dying of clothing, which ended up making it's way into the larger story in micro ways, but there were some really interesting things there. And of course you can kind of get a mindset for the period that it was. Funny because of just some of the things in there that are written about, or just completely different, really, really engaging to me, or really informative to me because of the level of depth that goes into and the preparation of things that you just don't see. We're so used to a recipe being, you know, grab this and that and this and that out of the cupboard and bang make a meal. And the recipes here include, , hunting the foul and what to do with them for the next two hours and skinning them, and all of that, part of the hyper preparation needed to prepare, prepare something really good. And making clothing, , all the way back to, , if you've just got a cotton, , how do you make a finished product? So really, really interesting stuff in there.  Clearly I read about jesters and some of the topics, but there were other things that I got , really interested in.

There's a book here by Tony Mount called medieval medicine, which. I got , really interested in, and then Arabian drugs and early Medieval Mediterranean medicine. And there was just some neat understandings of things in there about how medicine or the concept of medicine grew up through the ages, which I found fantastic.

I then. , have done things like mythology books, of course. And I wouldn't say that I've drawn on heaps of mythology in what I've done. But even some classical books, there's one that was a scan book from old libraries called Scenes and Characters of the middle ages.

And it's, , like you can probably hear it creaking there as I open it. But the pages in here are, scanned from something and some of them are damaged. It's one of . The books that you can buy , that have been done by the libraries and things or Google. And they've been produced, , from scanning old material that just isn't in print anymore.

And some fascinating things and poems and just images that help to put pictures in my mind about, , what I want my world to be like.  I wish I could have read every word on all of them. I haven't yet, over time, I will. The books that I did read early on The Fool and his Sceptre and Fools are everywhere, and falls everywhere is by Beatrice, Otto and it's about the court jester around the world, was fantastic.

And The Fool and his Sceptre by William Williford. It was an older book and turned up, actually had an old library card in it, which is really, really cool. And I have an idea for a future story set in the modern world around that concept of a book with a library card, but that's not for today.  those two books, huge, , in the preparation for me to get the, the jester story clear in my head. , another one which transformed the opening of the book for me was some scenes in a book, called the English Medieval Minstrel, by John's Southern Southworth. And it talked just about minstrels and the concept of a minstrel and the entertainers over the time.

But I got a few little things out of it, which just helped. And I can recall the scene in my head that was stimulated by reading that book. And it's in the early chapters of the book book, , where Lani is passing through the city square and there's entertainers performing. And that scene, when you come to read it, actually was inspired by the information in that book.

the complete works of Francois. Rabolet who, , wrote plays and stories that had Jester type characters in them. And that one's a monstrosity, which I pick him through and get through. Bruster's dictionary of phrase and fabel, which is another monster one, but picking out elements from that, then help influence what I've done has been , really important.

Another one, which really has heavily been part of the society that I've built is called the medieval traveller by Norbert Ollah. I hope I did his name justice and the final groupings of books actually come down to me trying to get a better understanding of disability and particularly disability in the era of the , middle ages, medieval disability. And that, if you can kind of think about it then to now, you know, imagine, I guess in, , the, , Vikings TV series. There's a character  whose legs don't work. On one of the sons. And at some point they create, , mechanisms for him to get around.

And that was almost revolutionary at that time, which of course it would have been. Whereas now that person would have automatically potentially use a wheelchair and those sorts of devices, which didn't exist. , the characters that make up the world and the society that the jesters live in, a lot of them are outcasts.

And for a lot of them, that would be because of disabilities, misfortune. Some of them might be just mental illness. Some of them could be physical disabilities. Some of them could be,  only minor deformities or things that make them stand out as different. I had to draw the line. My understanding of it isn't as great as it could be.

And I didn't want the whole story to completely be on that topic alone. But I did want that to be , in the story and,  , books like other middle ages. Witnesses at the margins of medieval society. And that included people with disability, people in levels of poverty that were extreme.  Fools and idiots, intellectual disability in the middle ages, by Irenena Metzler another great  book and a couple of books, dwarfism in the lives of dwarves , that I read,  to understand better how that might make up the characters in my novel and the society, that I've been writing in. There's a lot more, I've gone on and on about a lot of books. I hope you found that a little bit interesting, but that's probably, what are there 30, 35 books in front of me right now that doesn't include all the electronic books and all the other ones I've got around mythology and weaponry and those sorts of things. Just probably 70, 80 books that have gone into the research to make up the backstory to this novel.

Outro

[00:20:07]

Thanks for listening to this chapter of the In All Jest podcast. For the show notes and more about this podcast, visit kingdarryl.com/podcast. You can contact me through that site and find me on Twitter @ireckon. If you enjoy the show please tell others, share my posts and review it on your favorite podcast platform. Till next time.

 

Episode 8

Episode 8 – When setting expectations sets you up to fail


Intro

[00:00:00]

Welcome to the In All Jest podcast.

I'm Darryl, your host, and each week I take you on a hero's journey.

I leave my safe, normal world and face many obstacles on my quest to publish not just one but six epic fantasy novels. .

I hope you'll come along for the ride.

You can find out more information at kingdarryl.com/podcast.

Episode eight August the 21st, 2020. I should have known that setting expectations would lead to disappointment. A week of setbacks and struggles.

Since Last Time

[00:00:44]

Hell no, I hear you cry. What went wrong? What happened? It didn't start so well, my weekend I had planned, as I mentioned in last week's episode - to go all in, to power through a heap of chapters and try and get ahead on my timelines, did not work out well at all. I. Salvage something from it. But Saturday felt like a complete loss.

Looking back on the numbers, I did get three or four chapters sort of knocked over, but the weekend all up, I ended up with seven, which was not the start I wanted. And a lot of that was finishing off late on Sunday. I spent the whole weekend buried in it. I didn't do anything else. And while I did get those seven chapters done to start the week off, I gave up everything to get there and it was hard, hard work.

So what did it end up like? Well, for the week, 19,557 words, give or take a couple of bad typos. 10 and a half chapters, including six that I deleted. So that was good. I think there's two less chapters overall. So that was a net win I brought my count down just by two. I kind of liked that.

When I did the numbers in preparation for the podcast today, this was exactly the reason for doing the podcast in the first place. Because to me, the week felt like a complete abject disaster, but the reality is it was only one and a half chapters, less than the week before. So from a consistency standpoint, I was still getting through chapters and I did make some really critical progress.

And I'll talk a little bit about why I think I had the setback, in a minute. But overall, that wasn't too bad. So doing the numbers is really helpful because I've carried a lot of baggage in my brain all week, had a conversation this morning with Pam, , a colleague and someone listening to the podcast who kind of reminded me, you know, I was feeling a bit like I was having a pity party last weekend. And part of that was because I damaged my back in the gym and that was right at the beginning of Saturday,  , everything seemed to cascade from there. The truth of it was it wasn't that bad.

It was actually kind of okay. . So I'm pleased that there was good from doing the podcast and helping me cut through the noise in my head and the judgments and all of that. With the adjusted figures there's 2.7 weeks to my deadline day to have the book finished, ready to go to the proofreader, 54 and a half chapters to go 2.8 chapters a day, which has climbed a little bit. 20 and a half chapters per week.

So we're up three chapters a week overall from last time. Not ideal, but who knows? Will this weekend be just as difficult or will I make progress? I'm not setting any expectations out there. I'm just going to go and try and make progress. So what was the cause of my problems? It wasn't that I got blocked.

It wasn't that I wasn't sitting in front of the manuscript and going through it. I think the key thing was I was right there in the middle build, Act 2, where the decisions I made previously were going to have the biggest impact. I've spoken about how the changes have a domino effect. I think I did that in last week's episode.

I talked about a lot of them can be little, but some of them are not little. One of the big decisions I made with my editor, right at the beginning of this final edit, was to remove a character from the book, completely. The characters name was Sinder, and I took all of the chapters of Sinder out of the book. Sinder will probably be back later, but he wasn't necessary in the book, and he was one I'd kept in there. He was one of my darlings and I needed to kill my darling.

I hit a couple of sequences here where he was dead center in delivering some information, dead center in chapters and events that happened, which I had to remove. And I did. But the consequence of that is I had to have an answer to how I was going to deal with some of these things.

And I had made notes around the fringes. I had critical stuff decided what I found was I had little things that I just wasn't across. And it's a lesson that I'll use this week, next week, the week after, and in book two.  what ended up solving the week for me was that when I sat down to address these chapters, instead of just trying to go writing and fix it, I made sure that all of the notes I had in my spreadsheet of all the fixes were written down alongside the chapter notes.

I've got them printed out. I've got the manuscript printed out with the edits on it. And just listed them and brought my brain right back into that moment. What had I decided? And it helped highlight, Oh, you haven't done this or you need an answer to that. Or what about this? And so I was just circling a few things, let that creativity stew in my head for five, 10 minutes while I was going through everything, and the answers just popped up for me. And at that point, then I was able to just sit down and write it. It took me all of Saturday and most of Sunday to get that flow happening and to recognize what was holding me back. Some of it was quite tricky to do, some of it was a significant shift in the pacing of that chapter or scene, in the way that the characters were interacting or in some information delivery.

And I had to interrogate some of my prior thinking. And as I recollect now on Saturday, one of the biggest stumbling blocks  was an element to do with the magic system in the world. There was a thread of cotton hanging off the side that needed to be pulled and cut, and I needed to unravel that and answer what exactly was happening with it and how.

There was a whole summary of what was going to be done, but it just didn't quite resonate with me. It felt wrong. It felt too soft. And that was one of the things that needed to change. We felt that some of the magic system had just, you drifted into an area of being far too soft and it was a bit convenient, the way that I was using it.

And I needed to tighten that down to make it what I actually wanted to happen. I got some help. My wife and daughter helped me brainstorm what was concerning me, a couple of great little solutions bubbled up and it just allowed me to move past it. But I think I lost half of Saturday struggling in my brain, on that because it affected a couple of chapters in how I was trying to resolve them.

So we moved past that, and that was really cool.

I'm looking at , what exactly did I do?  , I had to add , a complication for Lani, my protagonist. I ended up with a double-barrelled complication for her that I really enjoyed. I then took it too far. I had to bring it back and just find the balance in it.

And that conflict that she faced was. Very good, because what it did do was help me introduce an extension of one of the  plot threads. One of the key plot threads in book one, that needed to be a little enhanced, potentially. It wasn't critical that it did, but this just allowed me to  polish that a little bit.

And the next level of it, will be better for it  through the rest of the story. So I'm very happy about that. I effectively removed one character from part of the journey, which meant a critical piece of information delivery had to change. I resolved how that was all going to change, and that was simplified by the decision made with the magic system.

Taking some things out meant it had to be done in a different way, which was great. And it all flowed on from there.  Didn't feel great saturday, sunday, monday. I really was in my pity party Pam. There you go. Three P's. I was deep in my pity party until about Tuesday. And then I think I had a good writing session, cleared everything out, understood what had happened and where I'd got hung up and moved forward from there.

It's going to be interesting now, the next chapters, particularly this weekend coming up, I can see there's probably another three or four in my immediate view. At least two of those are going to get deleted, I can see that. . I can see how I added them originally, how I thought they made the story better, but really they didn't add anything. And in a journey,  like this. I think one thing I'm learning is, and I think I thought I had it clear in my head, and that is that you don't have to explain the whole journey. I think the reader can quite clearly make leaps along the path, down the road.

They don't need to sit there with you in the car, looking at every blade of grass that you go by. Not that theres car's in this book. I think you'd get what I mean. Understanding too little and too much is very hard, as a first time author, I thought I'd pulled lots of things out and I hadn't over explained it.

But as I reflect back on these at a more macro level, how they're helping the story, I can see some of them just aren't necessary, which is great. If I can get rid of a couple without thinking too much about it, it's gonna make my targets easier. Not that that's the motivation to do it, but making that story tighter, making it a better story, making more engaging.

That's the goal of what I'm trying to do. I started poorly, ended okay. Let's see what happens next.

Some Back Story

[00:11:44]

This week's backstory is probably more backstory to my thinking, the process, than it is to the book. Why set a deadline in the first place? Why am I putting myself under the stress to get the book out the door, when I could just pace it and just, you know, just get it done when it's done. There's a lot of background to why I set my particular day, but there isn't element of understanding the concept of shipping it.

It's a very tech industry term.  Seth Godin has a book called just ship it. And the principle is, , get the software out the door, get your product out the door, refine it as you go. And particularly with software, you can alter it, you can tweak it, you can get feedback, just get it out there and then adapt it on the feedback.

I'm not sure that that concept would be great as a story. Obviously, using beta readers and people like that is kind of similar to that. But putting it out in the marketplace as an unpolished work, isn't great, unless maybe you were doing it as a blog, getting feedback. And the finished product , was a published book.

I could see that working, but the principle is important and I've been to a few conferences and seminars and training courses and read and listened to people. And I see lots of people that don't have a finished product published, and I can understand that. And I think there's many people on the spectrum.

There are some people that write because they love to write and they don't really want to publish. So they'd write the large part of their manuscript and then they put it away and it's for them to read and maybe some close friends, but they don't worry about the full completion of it. They do it because of their love of writing.

There are other people that just don't seem to be able to get there for whatever reasons. Or they don't have the mechanics to be able to get it there because I decided to self publish when I chose how I was going to go about these books, I think I kind of circumvented part of the process, in that I knew I had to get it and learn things with the book because otherwise I'd never get to the end.

If you're trying to do as good a work as you can, and then send it off through the traditional publishing cycle, there's an element that you're still going to go through editors and other people anyway. And they'll dictate terms to you. For me, there is no one else. I am the publisher and I am the author.

And I went through a lot of education and learning to understand how I could edit the manuscript better, how I could get it to a certain point. Then I engaged a developmental editor/structural editor to get that all right. And the next stages of going through, getting the copy edits, and then the proofreading done is an all important part of it, but it could go on for forever.

I could not do the developmental stage or not do the next stage at my own timeframe. And that could push out to another year and that doesn't meet my overall goals. My overall goals are to get multiple books in the series published, hopefully one a year over the next five years. So that goal requires me to get book one out the door.

There's an element of, , conflict in that. And I kind of see this a little bit, like the principle of GMC, when you're looking at your book and your chapters and your scenes, , for the characters, what's the goal, motivation, what conflicts or challenges happen in that scene that stopped them getting towards their goal, help them get to their goal.

For me, as I explained, I want to complete and publish the novel, but I also want the novel to be one worth reading. Not for me, but for someone else and not someone in my immediate family or friend group, someone random that might pick up the book and go, I really enjoyed that story. I want to read more.

That's the goal for this book? I know that this book will never be as good as maybe book three or four or five. That just can't happen. The level of skill I have at the moment and the amount of practice I've done is just not high enough. And even with the feedback and the improvements that are happening right now, I still have so far to go.

It doesn't mean it's not a book worth reading, but the perfectionist part or the part of you that wants it to be really good, the criticizing part, the judgmental part goes, well, we should just do a bit more, we should just do a bit more and I've been struggling with it over the last week or so. Oh, am I rushing through these changes?

Do they need another run through with the editors? You know, just to make sure, sure. The story is absolutely correct. That could go on indefinitely. And I don't want it to go on indefinitely, becoming stuck in an endless cycle of editing to me, won't help me reach my goal. It won't help get more books out.

There is a point where I have to say, I've done the best I can at this level of writing and this level of investment. That needs to go out in the world. And from that I can move forward into the next book. And with book two already half written, there is an element of me that wants to get to that. I want to get there.

I don't want to short cut getting book one done well, but I am keen to get past it. So drawing that line in the sand was important. Publishing publicly a date when the book will be available was really important to help drive that. And many, many, many months ago I described it like this. If there's A, B and C level authors and as far as skill and delivery of their manuscript and,  , with A being the top, uh, famous publicly well known people, that craft wonderful, wonderful stories that just make us ecstatic to read.

Of course there's many levels of A, and there's many levels of B there's many levels of C defining C to me would be writing, publishing it without much time invested, putting the book out little bit of, you know, maybe proof-read and put the story out, but not making it that next level I wanted to make sure book one was in the B level somewhere.

It could be right at the bottom of the B's. I just wanted to make sure that I did invest in more than enough time and effort to make it a better story. And that's what my goal has been. I think if I try to be a B plus, or even just a straight B, there'll be three or four more years. And I don't know that that really suits what I'm doing the motivation to write was that I love story. I want to put my stories out in the world. The goal is to get one published, to do it well. I have a beautiful cover. I think the story is, is a really good starting point for the series. I'm happy with where it's ended up. And I think at the end of this editing sequence, I'll be, I'll be comfortably happy that I've reached that level that I wanted.

And I'll look forward to upping my game, each novel that I produce.  that's why I set the date. That's why October the 16th, 2020 is the date I'm going to publish the book. That's why I'm stressing. It's why I'm putting myself in this level of stress and conflict. Partly because when we have these levels of deadline and we have this conflict, I feel like it helps us lift our game as well.

It would be easy to say, Oh yeah, maybe you rushed through it, but I think you lift yourself to the level that you demand of yourself. I know when I was a competitive athlete,  you could do all these training events and there's a level that you get to. As soon as you put yourself against the competition into a race day environment, you just compete at a higher level.

It just happens not consistently every time. It's always better than training normally, but you might not always be able to maintain that same level, but the stress of the competition, the stress of the deadline, the need to achieve something within a set period, with certain expectations does drive you. Yes. It drives you mad as well, but it drives you.

And that's why I have a date.

Outro

[00:20:56]

Thanks for listening to this chapter of the In All Jest podcast. For the show notes and more about this podcast, visit kingdarryl.com/podcast. You can contact me through that site and find me on Twitter @ireckon. If you enjoy the show please tell others, share my posts and review it on your favorite podcast platform. Till next time.

 

Episode 7 – Am I making any progress at all?


Intro

[00:00:00]

Welcome to the In All Jest podcast.

I'm Darryl, your host, and each week I take you on a hero's journey.

I leave my safe, normal world and face many obstacles on my quest to publish not just one but six epic fantasy novels. .

I hope you'll come along for the ride.

You can find out more information at kingdarryl.com/podcast.

Episode seven August the 14th, 2020. Am I making any progress at all?

Since Last Time

[00:00:39]

Right, how did the week go? Well, 21,000 words, which is really good, that got edited and or written . I deleted three chapter s, and in total 12 chapters have been either edited or completely written and made new. So that's possibly 15 chapters. I could count, I almost made 16. Not quite though.

And in the big scheme of things with 3.7 weeks to go to my deadline, I've still got 65 chapters to go, to get 109 chapters done. That averages out to two and a half chapters a day or 17 and a half chapters a week. So it's getting a little bit bigger. It's going to be a mad rush to get there.

Maybe I'll slip behind. I hope not. I really need to go hard this weekend and try and get ahead of the week.  Typically crazy week, long days, lots of other work factors.  I'm involved in a not for profit board that takes some time, just numerous things that make it a little bit more hard to fit in extra time, but we're getting there. Still making headway.

I would like to think I was over the halfway point -- not quite there, but I should go over that point this week. Did make good progress with the story, and that's the important thing. , killing off three chapters was important, there were a couple of things there that weren't working; needed to get rid of them.

Some of the new writing that was done and just the tweaking of the chapters that I had, I'm really, really happy with, they're coming along really nicely. It's a hard grind. It is very much the work of it. I've spoken about that in previous episodes. This is the really hard grind part. Not to say that it's hard as an I don't enjoy it.

It's just, you have to sit down the work is already there, you have to work through it. When you have a blank page, you can either write to it or you have might have blocks, but when the work's there and it needs to be read and it needs to be edited and the notes and suggestions and all the comments alongside it have to be addressed.

Plus any planning that I did, all of that just has to be moved through. I can't rush through it, even though I said I , it's a big rush. I've got to read it. I have to understand it. And the thing I'm really having to stay focused on at the moment is the domino effects of the changes I've been making.

So in the 40, where did we get to 44, 45 chapters that I've done already -- I have made changes and in there little things I have to watch for, as we go along. One of the changes I made was reasonably significant to a device that my court jesters wore. We completely removed it from the story. There's little mentions or uses of that device throughout the story that I have to remember, Oh, hang on, they're not meant to be there. And because when the manuscript was edited, my editor assumed they were still in there, so they wrote editing notes around that content. But in our, , summary letter and in our meetings afterwards said, look, these are some of the approaches. I then  came up with a plan of how I would change the story to remove that device. And, uh, and I'm happy I did that. I'm really happy with the suggestion, but I have to remember when I'm editing, not to just edit the copy in the manuscript that I was given back, but to actually remember  that's something that I've scratched. And also there's so many little things where I might've changed a little description for an item, that only pops up randomly throughout the story.

But yeah, keeping that consistency is really important. And anyone that's writing a novel has to remember,  is that character left handed or right handed what color is there hair? Or what color are their eyes? So if they're referenced in any form of dialogue or description that you don't mix that up. We all are familiar with the bloopers or little elements of movies or TV series where things get missed or modern items turn up in an older story. I it's very difficult to do in a 200,000 word book. There's a lot of chances to get that wrong.

I have a Wiki, a private Wiki that I store a lot of details in. I don't have it fully up to date . And one of the things when book one is finished is to go through and completely get that up to date with book one, before I restart on book two, so I can stay on top of all these things.

Each realm has 10 to 12 cities or towns that I've defined. I'm adding characteristics about those places when they occur in this story.  when I go back through the edit, I might adjust that again. So at some point I have to get the important parts of that updated in the Wiki. I've added a couple of characters only minor secondary characters, but I keep a record of all characters names, so I can look at the character names I'm using and keep consistency. So there's lots of little things like that. I  really have to watch out for.

Of the new chapters I added this week, I think, they were all a little bit harder to write than one of the ones I did last week, which really I just hammered out and it was really great to write. The ones I did this time there was a complexity to them that I hadn't fully answered until I really got into the chapter. So the one last week I knew  exactly what needed to happen, I could see it in my mind, very clearly. For the chapters this week, I was creating additional obstacles for two different characters at two different times.

And it was an important part of this middle build section of my novel. The middle build  being half of the novel in size,  the way the novel's broken up is the,  introduction or act one, what I call the inciting incident is about a quarter of the book. Then the middle build is a half and then the climax and resolution is a quarter of the book, .

That's roughly how they work out.  The middle build is that part of the story where it's easy to lose the story, get a bit tedious, lose momentum. My editor and I are very happy with the act one pacing .

As it's transitioned into the middle build, it started to lose some of its pacing. And I got a little bit soft on my protagonist in the challenges that she needed to face. Another character needed some obstacles in her pathway as well. So I needed to include those. And yes, two of my very significant characters in my novel are female.

Both of these characters needed some obstacles. And I had an idea about the obstacle, the challenges that they might face and making sure they are realistic and truthful to the theme of the story was important.

One of them was  really fun to write, and in the end, I am really stoked with the way it panned out. And another element of the story was getting more Jesters on stage. And what I mean by that is the principles behind this story are about the world of Jesters  and how they would be perceived as just not a side character.

And I'm going to talk a little bit more about the Jesters in the next segment, but I need to get more on stage, you know, when they're actually behaving like a jester and the way it worked out, brought a lot of  characterization to a character that I had, you know, there, but wasn't in theory too important at that point, but will be further down. This jester interacting in their character role as the Jester, as the fool .

It was fun to actually bring it on there. I had been worried about the times I needed to get that right. Didn't want to overplay it, didn't want to underplay it, didn't want every one of my, Jester characters to be a cliche. And this particular one I liked, I liked the way that they fell into the story.  No pun intended when you read that chapter.

The most recent one was a lot of hard work. And the next day I ended up doing a really heavy edit on it, because I didn't feel it was my best writing, but now I'm very happy with it. So that's really been the bulk of the work this week. I feel like I made significant headway, some staggered results in there.

Like they, they took a bit longer than I'd hoped for, which did slow me down. But importantly, the story was maintained.

Some Back Story

[00:10.09]

The Jester. Why the jester? I've talked a little bit about my interest in the Jesters. This series is very much about the concept of the jester. mostly the court jester as a character. One of the things I've seen in most of the books in a fantasy genre that have a jester in them, the fool, is that they're sometimes important.  Robin Hobb has the fool as  strong character throughout  her series, but a lot of times they are secondary or tertiary characters. They play a bit part. Sometimes more significant, but they are the fool and that's what you see of them.

When I came up with the idea for the series, one of the key thoughts behind it was , who is a Jester when they're not a Jester? So if they on stage in the king's court are the fool, the witty fool or whatever fool type they might be. What happens when they aren't on stage when they're in their own room, when they might be out of their clothing and their particular costumes.

And they might be walking around town, just behaving more normal. Is there a line there where they are in a role and then they are not performing in that role and they're different. Are there those that they are that character, 24/7. How does that play out? How do you know who's a fool in that case or a Jester? If they're just someone in the street.

That was one of the ideas that really connected with me.  I wanted to make sure that they were a big part of the story. And the In All Jest series is very much about a society of Jesters. So not singular people, but a group or a guild, if you'd like to use that sort of terminology.  I call them a society or an organization and plucked elements of a history, and what occurred through ancient time. A lot of referencing on the type of medieval jester, but there is a much broader history  to Jesters throughout history. They've existed in ancient Egypt, China, Africa. A lot of african mythology talks about the trickster.

There's the court jester that we all recognize very clearly, but that there's a wide array of them and male and female as well. It's not exclusively that singular character. And also in famous literature, there's some Jesters that have been,  highlighted and this characterization has been made, but they are more widespread than that.

Typically though, the jester does aim their humorous barbs or arrows at similar targets; religion, and the religious representatives or self-important scholars, venal officials, nobles, rulers, particularly corrupt or lazy rulers and anything that was in theory, sacrosanct is where the jester showed up, pinpointing it and making barbs about it. And that's the area that fascinated me. And the more I researched, I found that there was actually several types of Jesters. There was that witty gesture that we were exposed to a lot in, the literature we see, the movies and pictures that we might recognize over time.

. That was easy to associate with and look at. But the other side to it is the mentally disabled or people that were considered crazy in those times who were considered fools literally. They were the fool, and the town fool, the village idiot, but also they might be employed to be the fool, because they had no filters or they just did the craziest of things and they helped provide some form of entertainment or provide a bouncing board for the person that was engaged with them . Mostly the witty or cynical Jester is the one that we see a lot of.

And particularly in the way, my story evolves, they're the types of people that you see, but we've really looked at where they form as a group, how they get created. what's the difference between a straight entertainer, progressing to someone that's acting as a Jester. Whether they're, part of a troupe, Troubadour, what about bards and other forms of storytelling?

where does it merge? Where does one become one or the other? And clearly there's some elements that provide visual recognition, particularly through the medieval time, the way that the jesters looked, the way they behaved, the type of role they had as a, court Jester, but they're a lot,  broader than that.

And a lot of Nobles would have a fool or a Jester employed that might not be as fully, cliched as that particular character.  what's the difference between a clown and a jester, how do we see them throughout, the bigger population?

That really influences the story a lot for me. I touch on elements of,  people that do have mental disabilities. People that might be rejected by society. ,And there is elements of truth that, some people that were physically or mentally disabled, in medieval periods were abandoned or considered outcasts.

But there was plenty of historical stories where that's not true and they were taken in and cared for. No, they didn't all necessarily live long, wonderful lives. But yeah, there's a real mix of things there. we have a concept in the book of the fool's cart and the fool's cart is something that travels around the realms and appears to the outside world to take people with, difficulties and, Lock them up and take them away, never to be seen or heard of again. And that's not actually true and I'm not going to provide spoilers, but the fools card has a role in the story. And in book one only a small role, but it will show up over time. It's part of the world background.

Then we have this whole society that forms around the concept of a Jester. And I really liked that because they were clever, they were witty. They might've had physical challenges. They might have been different. There are some famous Jester characters in,  old literature, and poetry, that were hunchbacks or physically afflicted like that.

So there's lots of things to consider in bringing this group together, but they also were the hidden person, which is interesting, when you think of them being in the face of their patrons and guests and being rude and belligerent, but there's this element that they could then have other things going on that they're influencing that people just don't look at them as being that person.

And I'm going to leave that portion of it alone now, because I don't want to ruin the story, but it is a really fun background piece to the series, the involvement of the jesters. And I did talk about in the first segment that I had fun writing one of these characters on stage fully in their role that I hadn't extrapolated in the early versions.

And I really had a lot of fun with it. I really enjoyed how it came out. I do not doubt that I will talk more about the jesters through this podcast because they are central to the whole story. Nothing more so than the tagline that I have promoting the book, which is it's all fun and games until someone kills the jester.

Outro

[00:18:49]

Thanks for listening to this chapter of the In All Jest podcast. For the show notes and more about this podcast, visit kingdarryl.com/podcast. You can contact me through that site and find me on Twitter @ireckon. If you enjoy the show please tell others, share my posts and review it on your favorite podcast platform. Till next time.