Tag Archives: denouement

Yo ho ho, it’s a trilogy.

No real interruptions today. I made sure to follow my routine, and wound up making changes to existing material. I discovered that I’d gone over Mule and Yoshiko’s ending twice. Both were good material, but one seemed to fall in a better location. It’s odd for me to make a mistake like this, but I had to delete one section.

I also had to go back and add in a bit about Mal, the witch doctor. It wasn’t much, but he has fans and they will want to know how he wound up. He’s doing things on his terms, and I kind of like it that way.

I don’t mind telling you that I teared up at a few points. I know my characters are outrageous, but I designed them that way. Giving them a suitable ending was hard, but they all make sense. Readers will be left with a vision of the future for not only the characters, but the government in general.

Not everyone lived through this adventure. When there is a war, 100% survival seems unrealistic. That part was written months ago, but I worry about how it will be received.

Another concern is that a big part of this final adventure happens on land. I saw it as facing James’s weaknesses. He has to work where he is least comfortable to pull this off.

This yarn came in about 10,000 words shorter than the others. I am not worried about that. As the end of a trilogy, there is a bigger denouement, but I don’t want to drag it out either. In a classical sense, this is the one where you party with Ewoks.

The trilogy will end with plenty of cannonades, martial arts, a few con games, a haunted knife, and yes there are root monsters. I’m going to leave it in the fermenter for a month before I look at it again.

I don’t want to drop any spoilers, at least until I’m closer to publication. I’ve been sitting on the cover art for months, and thought perhaps you’d enjoy a sneak peek. It’s kind of a spoiler itself, but it’s too good not to share.

In other news, I spent last night creating a set of throwing bones that will make an appearance in the next Hat story. I may turn my attention to that storyboard, or I may download a book and read. Right now, I’m just letting it all soak in and will decide later.

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Of daughters and pirates

I intended to work on my book today, but didn’t intend to hit it hard. I allowed myself to wake up whenever Otto decided he was hungry. It was still 6:30, but it’s two hours later than my alarm goes off.

I took my time. Read some blogs, dealt with email, and enjoyed my coffee. Even managed to pay the bills.

I started by backing up two chapters and made a few more adjustments than I usually do. I’m on the downhill slide here, and the denouement is writing itself pretty well. Since this is a trilogy, I have a lot of characters to cover.

I no sooner started than the phone rang. My daughter wanted to chat. Her premise was her sore feet. The backstory is that she rolled her ankle a couple of times in the last few years. She works on her feet and they get sore.

When she was here a few weeks ago, I showed her my rolley thing that you put on the ground and roll around with your foot. It’s like a short rolling pin, but is lathe turned so it has grooves. After about five minutes her feet felt great. She called to tell me she ordered one from Amazon.

“Okay. Good job. Thanks for calling…”

Nope.

Ninety minutes later we were still on the phone. Budgets, shoes, work, Covid, etc. Mostly nothing special, but it was her. I can’t cut her off, and actually enjoy chatting with her.

Once we finally disconnected it was lunchtime. I decided to make myself a hoagie sandwich and used the stout beer mustard Old What’s Her Face bought me. It was really good.

Then I started writing, but knew I wasn’t going to finish. I brought things up to the point of Serang’s denouement, and on the cusp of the root monsters. I just never made it that far.

I have all weekend and am certain to finish the draft. I’m finding it kind of sad to bring this full circle. I’ve sailed a few seas with these characters, but it’s time to give them their happy endings. If my daughter claimed some of that time it’s fine by me.

My sincerest hope is that everyone’s ending is suitable for my readers. What I have in mind is realistic, and feels like it makes sense for the various characters.

I’ll get another chance tomorrow, and that will be fine by me.

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Another 4000

Something strange happened at the office on Thursday. As our workday wound down, we all got an email that everything would be closed for a new federal holiday on Friday. The feeling around the office was uplifting. I didn’t know what to do with myself on Friday, so Old What’s Her Face and I just hung out together.

She volunteered for a shift at work today, so I had the house to myself. I planned it for a writing day, and we’ll be together again tomorrow.

I started early and left doors open while it was still cool. I started like I always do, by rereading what came before, and making some small modifications.

As Lanternfish winds down, I have a lot of small sections to create. This leads to a lot of page breaks, but I like what I’m seeing. Everyone is starting to display a degree of independence, and it feels natural now that warfare and piracy are over for most of them. I planned this part out so the words are flowing pretty fast.

Everyone needs to move on, and they aren’t going to do that as a crew. I have a lot of characters to deal with, and I’m taking them in tiers just like I’ve always done. Lesser characters will get a paragraph or two. More major characters will get a deeper dive into their futures.

I’m keeping in mind that a lot of readers had favorites, and want to bring everyone a bit of closure, even if it’s only a line or two.

The country is healing now, and things are looking positive. I should mention there are still root monster antics going on. Some of you became pretty attached to them, and I have something good in mind for them later.

I’m stopping a few words short of 4000 today. I might even finish the draft in another strong writing day, but we’ll see. It will be a little shorter than the first books in the trilogy, but still fit into a fantasy length.

I love it once the middle slog ends and the words just flow. I enjoyed myself today, and I think readers will like it, too.

Did any of you gain a Juneteenth holiday? Did you get some writing time in? Are you doing something fun?

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One for the books

Family time managed to cut into the four days I had available. I’ve already posted about graduation. About all there is to do there is attend for the graduate.

We went to a party at my son’s house to celebrate her accomplishment, and it was anything but small and intimate.

When Sunday came around, my wife had to work. That left my daughter and I to have a long visit. I called my parents while she went for her fancy coffee, then we had several hours to ourselves.

I really enjoyed spending quality father-daughter time. The topics don’t matter very much, it was just the time hanging out that mattered.

This morning, I had the house to myself. I fed the dogs, then started off with a small walk to clear the cobwebs. I’d been suffering for time to work on Lanternfish, and then it only moved ahead by small increments.

That wasn’t what happened today. When I stopped last time, the end of the war was upon us. I started today with the formal surrender.

After that it was time to reoccupy the city, and start reconstruction of several countries. Some of this doesn’t lend itself to fantasy, but I managed to show the cooks with pieces of something I called the river dog. It has huge calamari type tentacles.

I also discovered the bag moth larva on Pinterest. These things cover themselves with twigs and sand, much like a caddis fly, only they are land born. By making mine much larger, I added an interesting scene where one had a pistol woven into its home. It makes a little statement about the litter of war and shows life going on. I called mine the bag weevil.

I could write another novel about the reconstruction and all the political gyrations between allies and enemies, but this is supposed to be the denouement for Lanternfish. I have a lot of characters to get to, and while the main ones will get more attention, some of the minor ones were somebody’s favorites and I need to address them, too.

A lot of planning went into this phase and you can see the value in the 5800 words I wrote today. I could have kept going, but didn’t want to rush things.

Next weekend isn’t looking too favorable, but I might get a few hours. I only had a goal of 2021 for this book. I think I can publish it in the fall and not feel rushed to get it out. That gives me plenty of time in the fermenter, and some decent hours for polishing it up.

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Serang has arrived

I didn’t get a lot of opportunity to write this weekend, but accomplished something I’ve been working toward for a long time.

This final Lanternfish book is going to require a big denouement. I have a lot of characters to account for, and a lot to do once the war ends. The story stands at 74,000 words right now.

These books have all been over 100K. Since they are epic fantasy, that’s an acceptable amount. In this story, they’ve been on different continents, then different parts of the same continent. James and his group have been split into smaller groups based upon the winds of war.

Today, James and his advisors are with the Prelonian army on the outskirts of Airstony. This is the Prelonian capital, but it’s held by the Hollish. It’s been a brutal road getting here, and he’s lost track of his son along the way. Many of his long term crew are deployed elsewhere.

Serang’s path hasn’t been much easier, but she’s marched from victory to victory. So far they haven’t seen each other since the middle of the last book.

The Prelonians are outmatched by the Hollish in this battle. Their supply lines are precarious overland routes, while the Hollish can be supplied by sea.

I’m going to stop here for the weekend. Serang is here, and she’s bringing the secret to everything with her. I want a few commutes to dwell on my next words. The war is about to wind down, and the reconstruction is about to begin.

My co-main characters will occupy the same pages for the first time this year. I’m kind of excited about it.

Lisa Burton, Serang
Lisa Burton, Serang

Serang has arrived.

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Back to normal???

Otto woke me up before six a.m. this morning. I took my time feeding them, fiddled around with social media, then headed for the writing cabin.

I was very close to the big boss battle and wanted to get into that.

This one is called The Viral Blues and was intended to be the second story for Lizzie and the hat. It kind of spun out of control and became a lot more than that.

I had all these characters wasting away, trying to draw unemployment, so I decided to put them back to work. This means there are a team of main characters.

My first obstacle involved section breaks for point of view changes. I’m not a fan of this, but imagine two cars full of heroes chasing one car full of bad guy. They’re all doing heroic things, and I need to change POV from car to car. I worked on this for a long time, but had to add a couple of section breaks to pull it off.

One of the things to keep in mind here is that everyone was someone’s favorite. If they come into this book, they deserve a starring moment for their favorite character. Honestly, this was a fun challenge and I think I met it.

Things are rough around the edges, but I finished the story today. I need to do some serious work on it before I send it to critique members, and it may be a couple of weeks before I can do that.

An interesting new challenge presented itself today. I’m on record (probably over at Story Empire) saying I like brief endings. I’ve used terms like “drop the mike and walk offstage,” and “happy for now,” to describe my opinions. This book wouldn’t let me do that.

With that many lead characters, the denouement took longer than I planned. Everyone needed to get something out of the deal now that their adventure is over. Some could be dealt with quickly, but some needed more attention. Then Lizzie and the hat had a bit of drama over their payment, but I like how it worked out.

Then it occurred to me that I was at one of those pivotal points. I have a marketing idea that is either pure genius, or about as idiotic as anything I’ve ever tried. I’m adding my back of the book material, but instead of blurbs I’m noting which stories the various characters appeared in.

My hope is that if someone just met Clovis, for example, they might want to check out The Playground.

Then… I decided to do something I never do. There is going to be an epilogue. There is one loose end that I really don’t have to tie up, but decided to do it anyway. I have a solid idea for it, and I promise it will be fun. I’m selling it to myself like it’s one of those ending scenes after one of the Marvel movies.

I just started writing the epilogue, when I got interrupted.

Lisa Burton

“Hey! I’m home.”

“Back here. How was your adventure?”

“Honestly, it was rugged. Why do you insist upon breaking me in all my stories?”

“That’s what heroes go through. As powerful as you are, you have your own Kryptonite. Readers need to know that about you.”

“I survived, despite your best effort.”

“I’m so happy. I have some great ideas for your posters, but I didn’t expect you home so soon.”

She hugged me, then sat on the edge of the desk. “Well, someone decided not to write me into the epilogue, so I got an early start.”

“You had plenty of moments, and they couldn’t have accomplished this without you. I decided maybe it was up to someone else to clean up the loose ends.”

“It is good to be home. How’s Bunny doing?”

“He’s huge and fat as ever. I’m sure he missed you, but it’s hard to tell with rodents.”

“I’m going upstairs to see him.”

“I don’t blame you. I think I’m done for the day anyway. I’ll have to finish the epilogue later.”

***

That is the saga of my day. Summer is going to be a period of editing, getting artwork together, preparing blog tour posts, and loose ends. (Hopefully reading) For those keeping score, I never tracked word count today, but it feels like about 4500 words.

Back to the grindstone tomorrow.

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It’s a book!

Voyage of the Lanternfish is a book. Okay, officially it’s a draft, but spot me some of the emotion of finishing the damned thing for a day.

I could have easily finished yesterday. I was on a roll, but my wife got home from work, and with two more days off I wasn’t worried.

Some of you like to keep score, so it’s at 105, 503 words. This will likely go down in my editing phase. That makes for about 1500 words before I called my parents this morning.

My cool new monster did his job, and the pirates freed him to terrorize a small village somewhere. I think his abilities are pretty cool, and hope my readers will too.

In typical fantasy fashion, the girl is rescued, the enemy is smited smitten, and the ship is sailing over the horizon.

I also managed to shave the girl’s head because of lice, and embarrassed the captain a bit in front of his men.

Now it needs to rest. It goes in the fermenter for at least two weeks while I regroup and work on other things. Then I can start those editing passes. I’m sure the Raven of Doubt is already circling over the writing cabin in anticipation.

I dropped a couple of scenes, because I believe in short denouements. One involved the discovery of a sea battle gone wrong, and another involved a chipped tooth from blowing a conch shell horn. That was a minor character, and he hasn’t earned the page time.

I assembled an upcoming Lisa Burton Radio interview, then got it scheduled. I followed that up by writing a shtick for another one and got it sent to the author. Lisa still needs guests, so if you’re interested drop me a line. I’m working into September right now.

I think I’m done today. I’m up tomorrow at Story Empire, and may write a companion piece to that post over here tomorrow night. If I do, I’ll link to SE from here.

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It’s a conundrum, or two

I’m back in my room now. There was another junior thunderstorm, but it was right overhead. Some of you asked for photos, and I couldn’t get them. It shook the windows, but didn’t have the staying power of yesterday’s storm.

I also bought some ski-lodge quality slippers for my wife and daughter. Today is Old What’s Her Face’s birthday, and we exchanged texts and spoke on the phone. Seems to happen every year that work sends me out of town on her birthday. She already bought her own present, and the slippers are just for fun.

I had to attend a midday event, and wound up with some time to myself this afternoon. I have to go to a banquet this evening, but a couple of hours in between were well spent time.

The Hat is a finished draft. It came in at 25,500 words. My intent was to publish it as a novella, but my personal idea of a novella is 30K. Word count numbers seem to be pretty fluid. Am I worrying about something that doesn’t really matter?

There is a lot going on in this story. I demonstrated Lizzie’s symbiosis with the hat by having them play the upright bass together. He has all of the skills, but none of the arms and fingers. This is how they fight evil, by working together.

I’m a bit worried about the denouement part of the book. I have a lot of loose ends to tie up, and currently, I’ve done it using my bass clef section breaks. I have the aftermath of the big fight, the replacement (and upgrading) of musical instruments, the demonstration that complex characters will go forward together. That last part means as musicians and as fighters of evil.

I don’t like long denouements. I once beta read for an author who spent a quarter of the book defining a happy-ever-after for her characters. This included naming grandchildren that hadn’t been born to children that hadn’t been conceived in the main story.

I know I’m not that bad, but I still worry. If I eliminate some things that are dear to me, I could probably turn this into a dynamite short story. I want a novella and those parts are important to me.

If I turn each necessary bit of closure into an entire chapter, that will help with word count, but it will also push me toward the long denouement I’m trying to avoid.

Any suggestions?

I’m fairly sure either my critique group, or a couple of decent beta readers can help me out, but I’m not ready for betas yet. I have several passes to make before I can share it with betas.

Okay, I know someone is going to ask. Here are the slippers. I think those dingle balls are going to be Frankie bait though. They should be cozy on our new floor.

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Sometimes I get lucky

My wife’s new schedule sucks, but it plays into my plans on occasion. I also call my parents every Sunday, but they’re on vacation right now. I started my day, like always. Dogs got fed, social media got surfed, other apps that drive news to me got browsed.

Then I read the last two chapters I wrote on The Hat. I’m at the phase where plants and payoffs have to get installed and not just the loose storyboarding I do. This led to deleting nearly a thousand words. Some of this has to do with the fact that Lizzie’s Mini Cooper doesn’t have a trunk, it has a tailgate. Oops.

The dogs were in sleep mode for some reason. They’re crazy right now, but I’ve learned to strike when the iron is hot. I replaced everything I deleted with better words, then added more. Days like this make me wish I kept a better count, but it looks like I wrote about 5000 new words total. The story is a handful of words under 20K right now.

Lizzie came away from the disaster with a partial victory. Any subsequent attempts won’t go so easily. She had a crisis of faith during the disaster event, and there was a bit of soul searching. We also learned about some new abilities the hat has, and they’re kind of scary.

I need to go back again and make specific parts of the aftermath more personal for Lizzie. It involves little things, but will make some of it more real. My next move will be to go back through and flesh a lot of things out. In fact I may start from the first page and do this. I like to move forward with confidence, and doing these things helps me move forward. It may sound like one step forward and two steps back, but I’m about ten thousand words ahead of where I thought I’d be right now.

Lizzie did a bit of shopping therapy after moving where the bad guys went. In a way, it’s revealing the confidence she will need to get through the next phase. She’s looking like a more legitimate superhero now. She also has a new fatalistic attitude that could be just what’s needed… or actually fatal if things don’t work out.

I engaged in an extensive text thread with my daughter, and fashion consultant. I needed to make sure Lizzie’s new outfit made sense. She read what I had and said it sounds great.

I’m setting myself up for something odd too. This story will require a longer denouement than others I’ve written. After the main story ends, I want about three things to happen to sew up loose ends. I’ve always believed that was a bad thing. I’m worried about it, but maybe I’ll gain clarity by the time I get there. This has to do with it being a buddy story. They each need their bit of something, but they need something together too.

I want to try something fun in this book, but I’ll be damned if I can figure it out. When I do a story break, I center three asterisks (***) and jump the story ahead. Easy peasy right? This time, I would like to do three bass clefs. I can’t find a keystroke to include a bass clef to save my life. I even looked for emoji’s, and can’t find a bass clef. There are some treble clefs, and plenty of musical notes. Why no bass clef? I thought for sure Times New Roman would have one, it has all kinds of symbols.

Do any of you know how to tell a word processor to make a bass clef? Maybe I could use clip art and squeeze down to size.

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Not missing this chance

I went to the writing cabin this morning. The storm broke, but there was mud on the tires of the gyrocopter. When I went through the basement, I made sure to leave my boots in the box Bento left for that purpose.

Lisa* met me at the top of the stairs. She was dressed in a canvas duster, and a white wife-beater tee shirt. “Ready to get some work done today?”

“Absolutely. Looks like you're ready for some Clovis dialog.”

We worked on smart assed remarks, threats, and compromises. Whenever something sounded right, I added it to my Playground manuscript.

Lisa ran to the paranormal office and pulled on a lab coat.

“Gina isn't wearing a lab coat in this scene.”

“I know, but it makes me feel more doctorly. Send me your dialog and let's give it a try.”

I sent her what I had, and we tested it out. I adjusted back and forth. “That looks about right. Try it with that voice thing you do.”

Lisa spoke the words using a female voice, and a male voice. When she finished she looked up. “Well? Is it what you hoped for?”

I leaned back at my desk. “Yeah. It sounds like them, and it fits well. Now all I need is some closure, and they're finished.”

“I'll bring some coffee. Do you want me to change into my Chloe outfit now?”

“No. I can't write Chloe today. It takes a different mindset. I'll finish with Clovis and Gina, and give them some closure.

I typed away, delivered some rewards, (such as they are) and closed out two of my main characters. Their part of this story is finished. Chloe will represent the end of the threat to the victims everywhere, but her story will finish another day. At that point The Playground will be a complete first draft.

It looks like I'm going to come in at about 70K words. I would have preferred 80K, but in today's market that isn't bad at all.

This is a different kind of book. There are three seperate stories that alternate to tell the reader a complete story. Only two of the characters ever meet, but it provides some cool moments.

I'm feeling like I need a treat. It's too early for beer. Maybe a trip to the Boise Co-Op for some shortbread, devon cream, apricot jam, and tea. My characters got some rewards, maybe I deserve one too.

I may tackle Chloe's swan song tomorrow, but it depends on what the family has going on.

Tell me about your endeavors. Do you treat yourself for accomplishments? Do you create false accomplishments so you can have a treat? Is anyone else finishing a manuscript?

* Lisa Burton is the main charater in Wild Concept. She is a robot, and since her story ended she helps me around the writing cabin these days.

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