Tag Archives: plot points

Thoughts on Writing – Salvaging Plot Points from a Trunked Story

Every once in a while, I like working out potential plot points in blog posts. This is one of those posts. Be warned, there may be spoilers for the world of The Wishing Blade series ahead. I’m trying to keep it to a minimum, but…

I’ll have a big SPOILERS warning before I get to the plot-heavy part.

Now, onto the post.

With beta-readers looking at the manuscript for The Shadow War (Book Two of The Wishing Blades series) and Camp NaNoWriMo coming up, I’ve been plotting for the third book (currently unnamed). I’ve got the general plotline figured out, and I know where this particular story is going. However, there’s a few particulars I’m still trying to figure out, since those may affect the fourth book, as well as later books set in that world.

One particular I’m working on has to do with Litkanston, the country south of Cirena. In Magic’s Stealing, Litkanston is briefly referenced in a conversation between Aifa (a goddess) and Toranih (the main character).

“You’ve heard of Litkanston?” [Aifa asked.]

Toranih scowled. “Kind of hard to miss the neighboring kingdom.”

“But you’ve heard the tales…” Aifa stepped forward, her doe-eyes wild, fearful, and a tad over-dramatic for Toranih’s liking.

“Vaguely. No one can leave Litkanston if they go past the Division.”

“The Divide,” Aifa corrected.

Nothing else is mentioned about it in the first book. In the second book, though, Litkanston is mentioned again. Without delving too deep into spoiler territory, I can say that something the main characters need to stop the shadows is found near the Divide… and there’s a good chance they’ll be spending time in that region in the third book, trying not to get themselves trapped.

But here’s the thing.

The so-called “Divide” that traps anyone who enters Litkanston happened fairly recently in the history of the world, leading a couple characters to suspect that Shevanlagiy (antagonist of the first book) had a hand in its creation.

Does she?

WARNING: THIS IS WHERE THE POTENTIALLY BIGGER SPOILERS ARE! (I say potentially since this might not be the direction I take the story).

That’s what I’m currently trying to decide. On one hand, she very well could be responsible for the Divide, for all the reason that the characters believe (after all, they know she has a major role in the creation of shadows, and a tendency to destroy worlds). On the other hand, I’m tempted to push it into the hands of a character that no one would suspect–Listhant-Nsasrar, the high-god of Cirena.

The reason is two-fold. One, because I don’t necessarily want Shevanlagiy to be responsible for all the world’s big magical problems, and two, because of a story-arc I wrote a decade ago when I wrote the rough drafts of the original Cirena stories, a plot referencing a lost romance between Nsasrar and a princess of the Cantingen Islands.

With the updated story, it would be fairly easy to explain the Divide based on that plot. Let’s take a closer look.

From what I remember of the original plot, Nsasrar falls in love with the princess of the Cantingen Islands. But fate binds him through magic’s lure, and the princess is killed by a specific sword that isn’t supposed to be able to kill her (thanks to the equivalent of word magic). At least, it appears she is killed. In reality, it seems she has been thrown back in time, and into Litkanston, where a younger version of the god and the princess develop their romance. Alas, she is mortal and he is not, and I assume she eventually dies (because this was a story draft I didn’t complete), and presumably, the god returns to the Immortal Realm to wander. (After writing the draft for this post I skimmed through the original manuscript to see if there’s any tasty story fodder… and now I want to work more on the actual mythology of the world).

Theoretically, the high god could attempt to slow time down in the region with his love interest, thus creating the barrier later known as the Divide.

There’s another story element from the original stories that could play a part, as well.

Originally, the time span of the stories was much, much longer. The main characters in The Wishing Blade series became immortal, and the Shadow War took place over a period of two hundred years (Now I suspect it’s going to be less than a year). In both versions, the shodo’charl eliminated shadows in a brilliant flash of light. But in the original, it took those shadows and sent them some two- to four-hundred years into the future, removing the shadow essence from them in the process (and leading to some very confused former shadows).

I haven’t yet decided what happens to the shadows who are hit by the light of the shodo’charl in the updated series. One possibility is that they’re thrown into the future (but not several hundred years). Another possibility is that the shodo’charl sends the shadows to Litkanston.

If that’s the case, then that gives me story fodder for later, as characters seek to bring their loved ones back to Cirena. (Remember, once they pass into Litkanston, they can’t return–at least not until the curse on the place is lifted and the Divide is broken).

My thought is that perhaps Nsasrar falls in love the princess, and knowing the shodo’charl has time-bending properties, he attempts to set up the divide to slow time to the outside world of Cirena–thus giving him more time to spend with his beloved. (I should probably note that while he is the (Cirenan) god of creation, Madiya is the (Cantingen) goddess of death, and he can’t necessarily stop a person from dying. I mean, he could make them immortal, but I’m not sure how well that would sit with a Cantingen princess. The Cantingen religion sees death as part of an important equilibrium. Then again… immortals can still be killed. That there is a potential plot hole I’d need to examine closer before choosing to go this route.)

However, in his attempt to create the barrier, something goes wrong, and the Divide is stronger than he expects, causing the whole country to be cast under a blanket where regular magic doesn’t work (or if it does, it doesn’t work properly) and strange creatures escape from the Immortal Realm to terrorize the land. And the days are extremely short. And the night brings a fog and werewolf-like creatures that use a form of magic’s lure (which seems to be one of the few powers that still works) to control and army and take power…

Ahem. That particular story could use some tidying.

A lot of tidying.

Still, the original plot could also play into the fact that the realm as whole is getting weaker, a plot point I’m currently tinkering with in the second book.

Now, the fun part is that most of this plotting wouldn’t even be touched on in The Wishing Blade series. It’s all backstory for me to know and use to examine character motivations (and possibly have Shevanlagiy protesting that particular magical mishap was not her fault). That, and political implications. Nsasrar isn’t necessarily going to want to mention to Madiya that he’s the one who got the country of Litkanston separated from their realm. But it does show why he might be sympathetic to Shevanlagiy’s cause. Both have lost someone they loved, someone who they took desperate measures to try to get back.


The point of this (other than letting me clear my thoughts by writing out the idea and reasoning through it) is that even when you have an outlandish rough draft that you may have trunked a long time ago, you might still find snippets of useful information that can breathe life into your story or make a plot work… without taking a really long roundabout way to fix it. (I am prone to daydreaming the roundabout ways to see if there’s anything useful in them).

And this is why I don’t delete anything. I just save it in a new document and move on. I never know when I might want to examine it again. Plus, if you’re writing a fantasy story, it’s kind of like finding a legend that gives you hints about what might have happened…

Okay, just looked at the original manuscript that has that story line. 134,000 words. Oiy. I always did tend to write on the long side.

I hope you enjoyed this post. 🙂 Have you ever salvaged anything for a story from an older story you wrote?


Filed under Writing

Thoughts on Writing – To Time Travel or not to Time Travel

In my current manuscript, The Wishing Blade, I’ve been streamlining the original story while striving to maintain the overall tone. I started the original draft in 2003, and I set it aside for several years before pulling it out again this year to revise it into a workable manuscript. While some plot points have been easy to keep or discard, there’s one point I’ve been going back and forth on… whether or not to keep the time travel incident in the novel or whether to remove it all together.

Now you get to have a first hand look at my thinking process regarding revisions… all while I try to work this out for myself.

First, let’s look at reasons to remove this incident:

1. Potential Confusion: I have a tendency to confuse people once I start talking about time and dimensional travel in my stories, and I’ve seen agents list ‘no time travel’ in what queries they accept. (However, the last point is negated since I intend to self-publish this particular story. And technically, while some agents might not want time travel, others might. So this bullet revolves entirely on whether or not the incident is confusing to readers and pulls them out of the story.)

2. Potential Loss of Tension: One of the main characters must ‘die’ if the time travel incident remains. The other character goes back in time with the aid of the gods, and they prevent the death of the other character. There are complications that arise once the character returns to the present, but those complications are minimal. Worse, by showing readers that there’s an object that does allow time travel in this particular universe, any future sequences threatening the main characters’ lives is moot, because readers may then wonder why the characters don’t just go back in time and fix it?

3. Unnecessary Plot Point: At this point, the time travel device only allows time travel once in the story. It does do other things, but I could pretty easily remove the time travel incident and chalk up its bizarre powers to other magic.

Possible solutions:

1. Streamline the sequence: Make sure what happens is clear to readers (or is as clear to the readers as it is to the main characters…).

2. Consequences: To avoid loss of tension, I could make sure there are consequences to going back in time. (In this case, I need to make sure those consequences are clear to both character and reader). Also, I could make the complications that arise from time travel a little more immediate. This was actually the case in the original draft, but was removed when I didn’t find a reasonable place to reinsert the point. (And this is a good example of where having fresh eyes to look at a manuscript can be useful, because you might remove an important tidbit without noticing the resulting effects).

3. Increase Relevance: Similar to the point about consequences, if I can better tie in the time travel incident to the main plot, along with making the incident crucial with what’s to follow (along with the irony of the incident regarding the antagonist), the incident shouldn’t feel out of place. Linking the antagonist further into this scene could also improve the overall story.

Besides the reasons I might remove the incident, I’m also considering reasons to keep the incident:

1. Character Development and Increased Tension: We get to see the antagonist step forward to protect one of the main characters– and get a hint as to why, and what she’s willing to do if that character dies (and remains dead). The goal? Tension rises as the character she’s trying to protect risks their life time and time again, because if the antagonist loses said character, all bets are off in regards to what she’s willing to do to achieve her larger goal, and what she isn’t.

2. Magical World Building: We have an explanation of why the ‘time travel device’ reacts a certain way to the bad guys later. Cause and effect comes into play, and the world gets a little more exploration. And we get to see more of the various character relationships.

3. Time Travel Is Cool: I like time travel and dimensional world travel. I know, that’s not a good excuse. But really… we’ll get to see the effects of time travel first-hand in the story. We don’t just hear about it from a side character.

4. Paradoxes! Or so the characters think…: The incident sets up tension between the antagonist and protagonist, because the protagonist knows who the antagonist is but doesn’t know how they got there…

This is a case where beta readers will come in handy. They’ll help decide if the time travel plot point should be removed altogether (requiring a light restructuring of the plot), or whether the plot point works. For now, (thanks in part to having a friend enthralled by the backstory of the antagonist), I’m going to keep the incident.

So… onward to editing, and I hope you enjoyed this post. Let me know what you think, and please let me know if there’s any topics you’d like me to cover. 🙂


Filed under Personal Work, Writing