Writing Log #4: Returning to a Fic After a Long Hiatus

This week has been…’not bad’ for me in terms of writing. Not as prolific as I might have liked, or as it could have been but, I’ve gotten enough done to satisfy me. Specifically, I’m pretty much done with The Last Red Shoulder! I just need to put a few polishing touches on the unpublished chapters and then they’ll be released. I ought to be done with that early next week. So, for all intents and purposes, I’m putting TLRS in the “done” category. For this update, though, I won’t do the “post-mortem” on TLRS–that’ll come when I’ve released all the chapters. Now that TLRS is pretty much done, I’ve started easing myself back down into my main fic–Wayward Son! I haven’t even looked at it in a month, as all my energy was dedicated towards finishing up The Last Red Shoulder. Here are some thoughts on getting back to it after that much time.

I find that while it’s possible to just jump “straight back in” a very long story you haven’t touched in a while, it’s not the best of ideas. I haven’t started writing the next chapter of Wayward Son, and I don’t think I will for some time. Rather, what I’m starting off with are preparations. First, I’m filling out the Wayward Son Database – a repository of statistics, a chronology, and various other piece of “side data” that are useful to both me and my readers. To my readers, because most of them (though not all!) are Fire Emblem fans who find it interesting to see how the characters in my story would measure up to those in the games on statistical grounds (Strength, Speed, Magic Resistance, etc.). For me, because it makes it easier to catch any errors in the internal chronology of the story. For instance, putting notes of when each chapter begins and ends within the (in-story) calendar makes it easier for me to find and correct timeline conflicts, for instance when something in a later chapter is described as happening before an earlier calendar date in an earlier chapter. I check my own database a lot, to make sure that doesn’t happen 🙂 So I thought completing it would be a good idea before jumping back in to writing the actual story.

Equally important, of course, is to re-familiarize myself with the actual story, as I mentioned here in section 4. I’ll need to re-gain my grasp of both how the story played out and the history of the world and the characters as well as how each character spoke and behaved. And, of course, I also have to re-familiarize myself with Fire Emblem 7, though that shouldn’t take as long since the entire script of the game (nearly all of it, anyways) is up on Serenes Forest.

C, however, is most interesting for me. I’m already doing some personal reading, mainly languages (trying to pick up Japanese XD) and various entertainment books, namely Alan Dean Foster’s Alien trilogy novelizations, along with the Alien comics. Before I go to bed, though, I’ve taken to reading Augustine’s Confessions, the 1961 translation by R.S. Pine-coffin. I intentionally put some references to Augustine’s life in Wayward Son (a large city is named Thagaste, which was Augustine’s birthplace, for instance), so it’s only fitting I read the saint’s autobiography. I might do a more in-depth post on the connections between the Confessions and my fanfiction. At some point I also ought to go through the Bible again, though I don’t think I’ll wait that long to start writing more Wayward Son.

The most important thing I gotta do, though, would be to plot out the course of the story from here on out. I think I’ve mentioned before that I want to do this, but I ought to go into a bit more detail about it. As that post mentions, the next few chapters of Wayward Son are going to be a bit more sedate and “slice of life” than they were previously. Now that Renault is no longer on a quest to either defeat an enemy or revive a friend, the story’s going to concentrate mostly on him just sort of chilling out and slowly letting go of his hatred and anger, placing him on the path to becoming a bishop as he is in FE7. I think, at this point, a drop in readership is inevitable, since nearly all of Wayward Son before this focused on intense battles with a side order of political/religious machinations.

Even so, I wonder if some sort of larger plot might help the fic. After all, it’s a standard piece of writing advice that any good story revolves around conflict. Perhaps having Renault get involved in some sort of religious conflict or political conspiracy–that he has to resolve through means other than violence–would be a good idea. On the other hand, conflict between a protagonist and antagonist isn’t the only type of engine that exists in storytelling. Protagonist vs. the forces of nature (i.e struggling to survive) can also be very interesting. In reference to Wayward Son, I think an internal (rather than external) conflict could suit the needs of the story just fine. Specifically, conflict between the aggressive, thoughtless, and bloodthirsty personality Renault has built up over the years against his newly-found desire to reform himself and live a more peaceful life, along with his need to figure out his place in the world. A story about Renault overcoming his “personal demons” might be interesting enough on its own without adding external demons, so to speak. I think I may be leaning towards the latter, because it would be hard for me, at this point in my life, to add external antagonists in a story that no longer revolves around fighting as much. I’m good at battle scenes, but I don’t have as much experience with other genres, like detective stories or political thrillers. A mystery or political incident would probably be the most convenient way of adding in external conflict to Wayward Son at this point in its progress, so if I’m not so good with those things, perhaps I should stick with a more self-enclosed type of conflict. We’ll see…I still got some time before I start writing again 🙂

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