Tag Archives: The Shadow War

The Shadow War – Now Available for Pre-Order

If you enjoyed reading Magic’s Stealing, then good news! The pre-order for the next book in the series, The Shadow War, is now avilable for pre-order!

The book is still in progress (The Shadow War has been through three beta readers, and now Isaac is reading it), but I expect to have it completed by February 2017. Actually, I’m hoping to have it done sooner, but being realistic, I’m trying to give myself a bit more time to complete the project. Once it’s finished, The Shadow War will probably be about 47,000 words long, though the final word count may vary.

Since I was running the promotion for “Stone and String” on Kindle (a short story set in the world of The Wishing Blade), I wanted to make sure I had the second book of The Wishing Blade series available to pre-order. The series starts with Magic’s Stealing, and continues in The Shadow War.

Now, for the book cover!

The Wishing Blade - Section Break - Magic Swirl

The Shadow War

Young Adult / Middle Grade Fantasy

The Wishing Blade - Section Break - Magic Swirl

The Shadow War - Book Cover

The Wishing Blade - Section Break - Magic Swirl

 

The kingdom of Cirena is under attack from an army of shadows—beings who can only be hurt by magic or fire. But magic has been stolen, and as the shadows spread, infecting all they touch, the last two ribbon mages race to the nearest port city to warn them of the impending invasion. One of those mages, Toranih, is among the few who can see the Trickster-cursed army, and she’s determined to get magic back—no matter how much she distrusts it. But when she is captured by shadows and a secret is revealed about her future, her only chance of survival may be to fight the shadows from within.

Available for Pre-Order:

Amazon US ~ Amazon UKBN.com ~ iTunes ~ KoboSmashwords

Add to Goodreads

The Wishing Blade - Section Break - Magic Swirl

Enjoy! 😀

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Thoughts on Writing – A Blurb for The Shadow War

I’m preparing to create the pre-order page for The Shadow War, the second book of The Wishing Blade series. I’m still in the editing phases, and it’s going to be a little while before it releases (I’m planning to set the release date for February, though I’m hoping to release it sooner). But I want to have the page up before I do the Stone and String freebie days from Kindle Select.

Before I can create the page, however, I want to have a blurb ready (those dreaded, tricky things that entice readers to buy the book). The Shadow War is a YA/Middle Grade fantasy novella (47,000 words), the second of The Wishing Blade series. (You can read the blurb for the first book by clicking here).

So I’ve been thinking about a blurb, and this is what I’ve come up with:

The kingdom of Cirena is under attack from an army of shadows—beings who can only be hurt by magic or fire. But magic has been stolen, and as the shadows spread, infecting all they touch, the last two ribbon mages race to the nearest port city to warn them of the impending invasion. One of those mages, Toranih, is among the few who can even see the Trickster-cursed army, and she’s determined to get magic back—no matter how much she distrusts it. But when she gets captured by the shadows and a secret is revealed about her future, her only chance of survival may be to fight the shadows from within.

While this may be what I use for my initial post of the pre-order page, I want to make sue it works in the long run. So my questions for you are these:

  1. Is the blurb intriguing?
  2. Does it reveal too much? Too little?
  3. Does it show clear goals and motivations?
  4. If you’ve read Magic’s Stealing, does it interest you in reading The Shadow War?
  5. If you haven’t read Magic’s Stealing, does it interest you in learning more or looking inside either of the books?

Thanks for your input! I appreciate it! 😀

I hope you find this post helpful for your own writings. What pitfalls have you run into when writing a blurb?

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Thoughts on Writing – How A Deleted Scene Turned into A Short Story Idea

Hello, again! I realize I’ve been silent for awhile, and I thought I’d give a quick update. See, I’m sort of between projects. Distant Horizon is being read by a proofreader, and I’ve gotten notes back for The Shadow War… and I apparently have a few plot holes that need to be addressed before  I can make much progress. That, and I finally finished the beta-reading project I’ve been long overdue on!

But that left me in writing-limbo. It’s not like I don’t have a bunch of projects to work on. (Trust me, I’ve got plenty of rough drafts begging to be polished). But I didn’t want to start anything big until my two main projects were finished.

And, well, I’ve been reading a lot about short stories and the concept of short stories and then I kind of decided… why not write a short story while I’m waiting?

It started with edits to The Shadow War. One concern had to do with the numerous point of view shifts. There are two characters in particular who had scenes, but, upon second look, I realized might not add much to the story itself (Never mind that I thoroughly enjoyed them).

My first thought was to take one of those scenes (since I rarely delete anything, I copied them into a separate document before removing them from the book) and flesh it into a short story from the point of view of one of the antagonists or semi-antagonists.

Problem with that was two-fold. First… spoilers. All the spoilers. There would be no way around it with the scenes I wanted to write. Second… background details that I wasn’t ready to explore. There’s a highly-detailed world behind The Wishing Blade, and not all the details have been worked out. The ones pertaining to the main plot are mostly in place, but some of the ‘how did this character get here‘ have not.

So I pushed those ideas out for now (Someday I want to write a novel or novella that looks at the antagonists of the series. I could have so much fun with their stories).

Instead, I started looking at areas in the world which interest me, but have nothing to do with the main story. Or, well… are only vaguely related. In this case, the Cantingen Islands. Remember that word magic conlang I’ve been working on? It features heavily in the rough draft of the third book, but from an outsider’s perspective. But I’ve wanted to do more with it, and actually take a look at their mythology and culture.

Enter the short story idea for Stone and String (tentative title). My goal was to write a short story between 5,000 to 10,000 words, with a cohesive beginning, middle, and end. And that goal has been achieved, completing the story at 8,000 words!

The story takes place in the Cantingen Islands, around the time of Magic’s Stealing but not tied to any of the main characters. It explores word magic to a degree, but focuses heavily on their afterlife, as the main character is a young girl who trades her death magic for a chance to see her little sister after an accident kills her.

The story is off to beta-readers now, but I’m hoping that edits go smoothly and I can publish it here in the next couple months. Hopefully it will tide readers over until I can finish The Shadow War.

If people enjoy it, I may write more short stories following the particular character. If not… well, it’s a stand-alone, so it won’t leave anyone on a cliffhanger.

Now, the caveat is that I plan on releasing the short story through Kindle Select so that it can be placed in Kindle Unlimited. Which means, at least for a few months, it won’t be available outside of Amazon. I’m curious to see if it might bring new readers to the series.

But the main books will continue to be available through multiple channels, as I prefer not to have all my eggs in one basket.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this post! Have you tried using Kindle Select, or had luck writing stand-alone short stories? 🙂

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Thoughts on Publishing – Infinitas Publishing Status Report

Wow, hard to believe it’s time for another status report. Time sure does fly. Anyway, here’s what we’re up to with Infinitas Publishing. 🙂

The Shadow War: So… I’ve got a lot of plotting done for this (actually, I’m more-or-less working on the first set of edits), and a lot of plotting for the next two novellas after this (including a character that I am really looking forward to introducing), but not a lot of editing or writing. I’m hoping that I can make headway on this project in April. I’m tempted to try Camp NaNoWriMo to see if I can get the rough draft of the next book ready, but I know I’ve got a bunch of stuff I need to complete first.

As a side note, I’m testing marketing Magic’s Stealing as an upper middle-grade, lower young adult novella. We’ll see how that goes, and if it makes a difference than marketing it strictly as YA.

The Multiverse Chronicles: Trials of Blood and Steel: We’re currently on episode 9 and moving forward. We’ll need to make polishing edits on more episodes soon so that our beta reader has a chance to look them over. We’re debating doing one season a year, rather than trying to do one season every six-eight months. That way we have a little more time to prepare the second season and have the Battle Decks equivalent ready at the same time.

Phalanx: Isaac’s hard at work getting ready for the release of our latest game, Phalanx. It’s a board game that combines ideas from Tetris, chess, and the luck of the draw of various card games. You move your pieces across the board with the intent of capturing your opponent’s city-state. There are three versions of the game: the board game, which we will sell on our shop page on The Game Crafter site; wooden boards, which are carved by Aaron at Snyder’s Garden, a local woodcrafter; and game bags that Isaac sewed together, both of which we’ll sell at local events.

Speaking of which…

Old Drum Days Festival!  We got our Missouri sales tax licence and our Paypal Here this week (so we can accept credit cards) and we’re going to be selling Phalanx and Magic’s Stealing while we’re there. As a bonus, any of the Phalanx games we sell there will come with a set of “Friendly Game” cards, a special promo card for Battle Decks that are exclusive to the Phalanx games.

Old Drum Days Festival is on April 9th, at the old court house in Warrensburg, Missouri.

Battle Decks: Trials of Blood and Steel: We’re currently testing out possible card options for the deck building expansions, and having fun deciding which ones to include first.

SBibb’s Photographic Illustration: Still working on book covers. Still working on formatting. Yep. It’s a never-ending cycle.

Beta-Reading: We’ve gotten the latest draft of the book I’m beta-reading from the author, and we need to get started making notes.

Distant Horizon: Isaac and I have found a proofreader, and once we get notes back, we’ll make our edits and move forward with preparing to release this novel soon (which means a cover is coming soon, too!).

Video Blogging: I recently uploaded Chapter 16 of my reading for Magic’s Stealing, and I’ve been showing a lot of sneak peeks of the upcoming Phalanx game in the previous couple blog posts.

That’s it for now. I hope you enjoyed this post. 🙂

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Thoughts on Publishing – Infinitas Publishing Status Report

Normally I’d have posted this last week, but since I was doing a cover reveal on the designated post day, I decided to do the report today, instead. 🙂

The Shadow War: Not much progress in regards to actually writing this one, however, Isaac and I have discussed the idea of splitting The Shadow War into two books. Seeing as how it’s already at 45,000 words, (with the series meant to be a set of novellas) and it’s only going to get longer, I’m inclined to agree.

So I’ve been doing a lot of plotting for what’s going to be the new book three, and I like where it’s going. As such, there’s a good chance that there will be four books in The Wishing Blade series instead of three. The Shadow War looks to be around 35,000 to 40,000 words, and by splitting it where I think it would have a decent beginning/middle/end, I can effectively say that I’m actually working on the second draft, rather than the first draft (since I had to go back reread what I wrote to continue writing the story).

While I still have a little ways to go before I release this one (as I’m not finished polishing it for beta-readers yet), it’s a whole lot closer than I thought it was.

The Multiverse Chronicles: Trials of Blood and Steel: There are currently six episodes out so far (Read them here), and more on the way. Missed last week’s episode due to lack of time to properly edit said episode (and due to a character’s dialect being difficult that may or may not sound Scottish), but if all goes well, the seventh episode will be released this Friday.

The season as a whole is a work in progress, and it’s entirely possible that we’ll make small edits to the season once it’s complete and before we release the ebook and print editions. So let us know what you think as you read the episodes. 🙂

Phalanx: If you’ve been following our Facebook page, or if you watched my latest video blog post, you may have seen us talking about our upcoming Phalanx game. This is a project Isaac’s been working on (I’ve mostly just helped with touch-ups). We still need to proofread the rules and have someone do a blind test from the rules (rather than us showing them how to play), but we’ve got the beta version of the game on order. This should be available by early April, since we’re hoping to have it available for sale at a local event during that time. More info coming soon!

Battle Decks: Trials of Blood and Steel: The starter game is available now, and Isaac has been working on creating rules and card ideas for a deck-building expansion. We’ve been meeting with our group of beta-testers to see how the new cards play and which ones we’re going to want to release in the first expansion. We’re still in the early stages of the deck-building part of the game, however.

SBibb’s Photographic Illustration: Majority of the book covers I’ve been working on are now complete. In the meantime, I’m working through several formatting projects. Or, I will be as soon as I finish writing this post…

Beta-Reading: Put on hold temporarily so author could make changes. We should be getting the new chapters to beta-read shortly.

Distant Horizon:  Finally finished working on changes to a scene later in the story. I need to proofread and polish that scene, check it with Isaac to make sure he likes the finished version, and then I’m ready to hand this off to a proofreader. I’ve also got to do a few more things for the basic ebook formatting, but the majority of this is already complete.

Video Blogging: I just released the audio reading of Magic’s Stealing: Chapter Fourteen on Monday, and I plan to continue reading Magic’s Stealing, one chapter a week, until the story is complete.

In other news, we just finished our partnership tax forms! All we have to do is give them one more look-over and then mail them in. Woot! 😀

That’s it for now. I hope you enjoyed this post. 🙂

 

 

 

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Thoughts on Publishing – Infinitas Publishing Status Report

Beginning of the month status report time! 😀

Magic’s Stealing: This book is finished, however, I’ve been working on promotion. I recently did a Goodreads Giveaway and sent out one book, and I did a book signing at a local book store. I’ve got plans to set up another signing soon, as well as to place a few more books in nearby stores.

The Shadow War: Progress made! I’m still editing what I’ve already written, but I’m really excited about the direction it’s taking. Plus, I’ve got a good idea as to how this book will end, and several of the major plot points of the third book. It’s still a ways off from being released, but it’s nice to be back on track.

The Multiverse Chronicles: Trials of Blood and Steel: The first three episodes are slated to be released this Friday! 😀 Check out the blog on Friday for a link to the new blog site, which will be the home of The Multiverse Chronicles. Isaac and I are still doing a few final touches, but I’m really happy with how it’s coming out thus far.

Battle Decks: Trials of Blood and Steel: Isaac and I just finished smoothing out the deluxe edition of the player guide today, and now all we have left is to make adjustments to the trial and basic editions, and to do a few minor tweaks to the box artwork. Then we’ll be uploading the rest of the adjusted artwork to The Game Crafter and be ready to release in time for Stealth Con. Speaking of which, we’re debuting our game there and giving out trial versions of the cards. Isaac’s been working on a play-through video that we created with a group of people who have been play-testing the game with us, so we’ve got a lot of things in store for this. With that in mind, we plan to upload a PDF with the trial edition of the game, and release the full edition game for sale, sometime next week! 😀

SBibb’s Photographic Illustration: Per usual, I’m working on book cover design and formatting. I’ve started keeping a handy little planner so I can keep track of when everything is due. At the moment I’ve got some print edition formatting to work on tomorrow (I did some research at the bookstore yesterday regarding the particular genre), and I have a few book cover proofs to work on for this weekend.

Beta-reading: This is going slower than I intended, mostly because I’m trying to pick times to work on it when my mind isn’t distracted by everything else. I’m hoping to put this project into focus after Stealth Con, that way I can give this more attention and so the author can make the edits she’s been waiting for. Luckily, Isaac has also been helping out with beta-reading, and he’s gotten farther than I have. He just has to watch that he doesn’t give me too many spoilers…

Distant Horizon: This is another project I’m hoping to work on after Stealth Con. It’s ready to be formatted (I’ve got to adjust how the telepathic portions are formatted) and then be proofread for typos and grammar issues.

Video Blogging: I’m taking a short break from reading Magic’s Stealing while Isaac and I do the final touches on Battle Decks and The Multiverse Chronicles, but I expect to continue doing short video blog updates until I start back with the readings at the end of the month.

That’s it for now. We’ve got a lot of stuff coming up, and I’m excited to see what you guys think. 😀

 

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Thoughts on Publishing – Infinitas Publishing Status Report

First day of the new year, and time for a status report. 🙂

Magic’s Stealing: I’m currently working on promoting Magic’s Stealing. Primarily, I’ve been looking to get this book into local bookstores (Three nearby stores currently carry copies of the book. Woot!) The next step is holding book signings to raise awareness of the book’s existence. I’m also planning to hold a Goodreads give-away, so look for that to come soon. Isaac and I intend to get a P.O. Box so we don’t have to use our personal address when sending out copies. We may also start a newsletter once we get the P.O. Box address (since newsletters require a mailing address be included).

The Shadow War: While I haven’t made much progress writing the second book of The Wishing Blade series, I have gotten quite a bit plotted for both the second and third books. My hope is to finish editing what I already have written, then write both the end of book two, and the parts I already know of book three (or at least create a detailed outline).

The Multiverse Chronicles: Trials of Blood and Steel: Our beta-reader has given us comments on the first six episodes, so I’m ready to make the polishing edits to those episodes. I’m almost finished editing episode seven. Once we release Battle Decks, we’ll also start releasing this series. In the meantime, I’m trying to get ahead with writing these episodes. Isaac and I have discussed releasing each episodes on Friday (on their own separate blog page), thus taking place of these Friday blog posts. The goal is to give me more time to get an episode edited each week.

Battle Decks: Trials of Blood and Steel: Isaac and I recently reviewed our proof copies of the basic and deluxe editions. We’ve sent a few questions to The Game Crafter regarding printing, and in the meantime, we’ve got a few ideas about improving the rules document for clarity. We also decided to go ahead and make the rules document a booklet after shuffling through six separate pages, which was proving to be a real pain. It may still be a while before we release the game for sale, but we want this game to be polished as possible. Also, if all goes well, we’re hoping to demo this game at a new, local convention in February. More on that later, once we’ve solidified the details. 😉

SBibb’s Photographic Illustration: I’m plugging away on covers as usual, and I’m going to start writing the due dates in a planner to keep track of when I need to start each proof to get them completed by the preferred time.

Beta-reading: I have a book I’m beta-reading for a friend in the writing group I attend, and this is going much slower than I expected (partially due to all the recent holiday activity). On the bright side, I’m taking a few vacation days in January, so that should give me more time to read and make notes, and I plan to include reading time in my planner as well.

Distant Horizon: At this point, Isaac and I feel that the basic story is complete. It’s been through many different beta-readers, and we’ve let it sit while working on other projects. I’ve recently started working on basic formatting for this particular story, with the intent of looking for typos and minor grammatical issues. We don’t expect to release Distant Horizon just yet, and we don’t currently have a projected release date. However I want to start working on proofing, since I know that takes awhile. Depending on how well that goes, the release date may be sooner or later. The front cover is complete, however, with only a few minor changes expected.

Video Blogging: Back in October, Isaac and I started doing video blogs with readings from my stories. If you haven’t already, check out the Infinitas Publishing Youtube channel to listen to chapters of Magic’s Stealing and various short stories.

That’s it for now. I hope you enjoyed this post. 🙂

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Thoughts on Writing – Combining Characters Part 2

In my previous post, I talked about a couple characters of whom I decided not to combine in Distant Horizon, and why. Today I’m going to talk about a couple characters who I very well might combine into a single, hopefully stronger character, in The Shadow War.

I’ve been plotting for The Shadow War (book two after Magic’s Stealing) for a little while now, and when I was telling Isaac about some of my ideas last week, he suggested that I consider combining two of my characters who will be introduced in the second book. Let’s take a look at the characters in question: Nihestan and Shalant.

Both characters are secondary. They’re important to the plot, but they’re not main characters. Each serves to aid the character of Daernan (Toranih and Daernan each have their own point of view in this story), but in different ways.

Nihestan Nivasha is Cirenan-born, a weapon’s mage, and has dealt directly with Shevanlagiy and Lord Menchtoteale (the bad guys from the first book). Nihestan also works closely with Madiya, the goddess of the dead (who features more prominently in the Cantingen patheon than Cirenan) and he leans toward the immortal spectrum thanks to a run-in with unicorns. (Unicorns aren’t exactly the friendliest creatures in the Cirenan universe).

In the current draft, Nihestan plays the role of a cynic, always watching the world and being wary of the future… mostly because he got a glimpse of the potential damage that the Wishing Blade could do (his weapon’s magic allows him to see potential and past acts of violence within an object). He’s actively trying to thwart Isahna, the trickster god, and has been undercover for many years to protect his family.

He also knows a bit about how glass-stone works (though he’s still trying to figure out the finer points of the confounded stuff), which is one of the reasons that Daernan gets involved with him.

Then there’s Shalant. He’s Cantingen-born, a word mage, and something of a seer. Daernan first runs into him when he goes to the temple in Ashan, where he finds Shalant using his word magic to help the high priestess after the stealing. Shalant acts as an enthusiastic (if slightly wary) mentor. His knowledge of the gods and (word) magic often comes in handy, and his ability to use word magic is crucial in fighting the shadows. As a seer, he knows a bit more than he should (especially regarding Shevanlagiy), and he’s spent some time working with Nihestan on the mage’s glass-stone project.

Now, the problem I was having is that many of the scenes I plotted in my head could work well for both Nihestan and Shalant. Other than their cynical versus enthusiastic personalities, and their ribbon versus word magic capabilities, they play similar roles.

There’s a particular scene I’ve been planning that involves a confrontation with Shevanlagiy, one which works similarly well with both characters.

If Nihestan confronts her, he uses his knowledge of glass-stone and weapon’s magic against her. But now that I’ve been thinking about it, I need to decide whether or not he’ll still have that magic. He has been working with the gods, and he knew the stealing was coming, so there’s a chance he could have prevented his magic from being lost.

If Shalant does the confrontation, he doesn’t have any personal stakes (other than potential foreshadowing for a future series idea that I have in mind), but his scrying would have given him insights that Shevanlagiy would prefer he doesn’t know… including a weakness that she herself doesn’t fully understand. The problem is that I’m afraid his character would open up the story to a new plot line that I’m not ready to delve into. I like the idea of bringing this guy’s character in, but I’m not sure it’s necessary for this particular story.

The two characters were getting lost in the crowd.With so many characters, I wasn’t sure what each one was doing at any particular moment.

So, when Isaac suggested that I try combining Nihestan and Shalant, I began picturing the resulting character and liked the result.

First off, Nihestan’s last name, Nivasha, sounds more Cantingen in origin than Cirenan, and vice versa for Shalant. I’d been toying with the idea that Nihestan had converted to the Cantingen pantheon at some point in his past, and the idea of combining these characters solidified that. He could have originally been Nihestan Shalant, and later taken the last name of Nivasha after his dealing with Madiya (or one of her agents). Thus, we would still get some insights into the Cantingen culture without pulling the main story too far off track (again, I’ve got that sequel series brewing in my head–though it will probably be a while before you see that–and it will likely deal heavily in Cantingen mythology).

Second, their combined knowledge would allow Nihestan to play a mentor figure… even if the person he’s mentoring is skeptical of his motives. It also stands to reason why he knows so much about Shevanlagiy, since he’s worked with her before, and his vast knowledge of things he technically shouldn’t know about would come from his time spent working with the gods.

Third, Nihestan as both a ribbon and word mage… whew!

He’s going to be a tough cookie in a fight. Seriously. Even if he’s without his ribbon magic, he would have word magic at his disposal… and perhaps be able to achieve a few plot points that I don’t want to spoil here.  The first book has a few lines of foreshadowing that could easily reference his character. Not only that, but he might actually be able to keep some of his ribbon magic through the use of word magic, since he already expected the stealing to come.

This allows the confrontation scene with Shevanlagiy to work smoothly. This version of Nihestan has personal stakes in the matter, and the ability to be a threat.

Fourth, I don’t have to keep track of who is doing what. The tough part comes if these two characters are doing completely separate actions, but I don’t think there will be too many problems there.

The other problem, however, is that where Shalant is playful, Nihestan is cynical.

Merging the personalities might prove tricky. Most likely, I’ll keep some of my original ideas of a younger Nihestan (who has a more carefree attitude), while giving him the wary outlook that comes with what he’s seen and knows.

As for Shalant, he may appear again in a different form with a different name… as he was apt to do in my plotting. (Seriously, in my super rough draft from many years ago, Shalant was an arrogant god who mentored Daernan mostly because he needed someone to represent the immortals… and had fun watching Daernan fumble. Very different character. I’m considering making a darker version of that character into a small-time antagonist for Toranih. Maybe. Not sure yet. We’ll see if it serves the plot).

I haven’t decided if this is the route I want to take, but I’m giving it serious consideration. Overall, I think the story will be stronger for the merge.

I hope you enjoyed this post. 🙂 Have you ever combined any of your characters?

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Thoughts on Writing – Multiple Character Motivations in One Scene

Though I’ve primarily been focusing on getting the paperback edition ready for Magic’s Stealing (I ordered the proof copy today!) and making edits to The Multiverse Chronicles, I’ve still been thinking about the plot for The Shadow War. My goal is to iron out as many inconsistencies as possible before I get into the heavy writing/editing phase.

Today I’m going to look to look at a scene from The Shadow War and focus on how knowing the multiple character motivations in that scene can help improve the logic of what’s going on.

Warning: There are spoilers in this post regarding events in Magic’s Stealing, along with certain character motivations and the first major event of The Shadow War.

In other words, if you don’t want spoilers, you might want to pick up a copy of Magic’s Stealing before reading this post, then come back to read this post. If you don’t mind spoilers, then by all means, please continue reading. 🙂

Toward the beginning of The Shadow War (the second book) there is a scene in which it is very important that the main character, Toranih, is captured by the shadows. In the current draft of this scene, a city guard requests her presence for legitimate reasons, but once she’s separated from her friends, a pair of shadows ambush her and the guard, then drag her through a portal to where Shevanlagiy (the antagonist from the previous book) is waiting to kill her. Shevanlagiy makes the attempt, but Toranih takes her by surprise and knocks her aside, leaving Lord Menchtoteale (the leader of the Shadows) to try. He attempts to strike her once, but since Toranih knows that shadows can’t be killed by mortal weapons, she grabs the nearest shadow’s knife and strikes her own hand. She falls into the shadow realm, and Menchtoteale again attempts to kill her, this time making what should be a devastating blow with the Wishing Blade, but Isahna (the trickster god behind the shadows, the god Menchoteale answers to) heals Toranih, orders Shevanlagiy to leave Toranih alone, and orders Menchtoteale to train her.

At this point in time, though, I’m a bit concerned that all of that is going to seem rather… confusing.

Why does Isahna prevent Menchtoteale from killing Toranih, and more importantly, why can’t these big bad guys successfully kill an almost defenseless teenager?

(Though I do have to say that Toranih has been working on her magic, and she is good at physical combat. But still… shouldn’t a well-trained sword fighter with a magic sword, or a super-powerful sorceress, manage one partially-trained kid?)

Since I want these scenes to make logical sense, I did my usual day-dreaming to work out the problems with this scene. As a result, I considered the character motivation for each character involved.

Toranih: She wants to get out of this alive. Being caught by shadows? Not exactly conducive to her plans of warning the port city of the upcoming attack. Now, she’s been in the shadow realm before (in a slightly alternate timeline that got erased because of her actions–read Magic’s Stealing if you want to know how that went), so she has a bit of an idea of how shadow magic works. She also knows that–at least according to her memory–she’s resistant to Menchtoteale’s attempts at magic’s lure (basically, a mind control power).

Shevanlagiy: Thanks to events in Magic’s Stealing, Toranih has part of Shevanlagiy’s magic… specifically her resistance to magic’s lure. Before that event, Shevanlagiy could ignore Isahna’s commands (so long as ignoring his commands don’t alert him to her own secret plans). Now that Shevanlagiy has lost part of her magic, she’s not sure how much it will take for Isahna to give her orders that she must follow, which isn’t good when she plans on stealing the Wishing Blade from him later. At this point, she needs to kill Toranih as soon as possible. However, it’s important that she be the one to kill Toranih, otherwise she won’t get her magic back.

Menchtoteale: He’s in charge of wielding the Wishing Blade, and his job is to collect as much power into the sword as possible. He needs an army of shadows (to overrun the Immortal Realm so that he can kill the gods and force their powers into Wishing Blade). Toranih was one of the few mages who didn’t lose her powers when he wished the magic of Cirena into the Wishing Blade, largely because she had the support of a lower-tier goddess behind her. For Menchtoteale, killing Toranih with the sword means finishing that part of the job. Alternatively, striking her with a shadow blade means he should be able to command her. But he knows that someone who looked like Toranih was particularly resistant to his ability to command the shadows. As such, killing her is the more practical option, even though having a shadow mage on his side could be good for the army.

Isahna: His intent is to have Menchtoteale get as much power in the Wishing Blade as possible so that he can eventually take that sword, confront the high gods, then take their place. (It’s a bit of a vendetta after he lost the bid for power to a different god). He’s gotten surprisingly useful information from Shevanlagiy, but he’s certain that she’s playing him for a fool. Unfortunately, he’s not all-knowing, so he’s not sure what her end-game is. He does have an idea that her resistance to his powers may have dropped recently, and has something to do with Toranih. Thus, keeping Toranih around might give him a few insights into what Shevanlagiy has planned… especially since the kid has strong powers (if she can be coaxed into using them) and an interest in military operations (unlike Menchtoteale, who Isahna chose as his general mainly because the guy could forge the Wishing Blade).

There are other motivations behind these guys, as well, but I’m trying not to give away all the twists of this scene. 😉

Anyway, looking at those motivations, let’s take a look at the scene again and at what could happen instead.

First, Toranih must be captured early on in the story (or at least, she needs to be in a position where she becomes a shadow). This is critical to the plot, as she needs to be working against the shadow army from the inside. The problem with this is that, in theory, Shevanlagiy really should just sneak up on Toranih and stab her in the back.

Problem solved (And we have one very happy Shevanlagiy).

But we know from Magic’s Stealing that Shevanlagiy is hesitant to do that so long as Toranih’s other two friends are around. They have an artifact which can effectively wipe out shadows (and is a large detriment to her own powers). Not only that, but one of those people is Toranih’s sister–who has proven to have particularly good aim with a throwing knife and nearly killed Shevanlagiy once before (Shevanlagiy doesn’t die, per se, but she can get thrown into another realm and thus lose all her progress in this realm). The other person is Daernan–someone Shevanlagiy has been working very hard at making sure he stays alive. Putting him in danger isn’t a good idea for her–not yet.

Even if Shevanlagiy simply stabbed Toranih with a shadow knife and commanded her to hold still while she delivered the finishing blow, the possibility that Toranih might get destroyed by the artifact her friends have–thus permanently losing her “stolen” magic–is not a good risk.

So that’s an area I’m still running into issues with. Shevanlagiy needs Toranih dead, so the question is how does she make that attempt?

For now, let’s say that Shevanlagiy still orders a pair of shadows to kidnap Toranih and bring the girl to her. Now she’s putting the shadows–but not herself–at risk. Shevanlagiy’s first goal is still to kill Toranih… just on her own terms. She’s ready to strike when Toranih arrives, and makes an immediate attempt on Toranih’s life.

Since we don’t want Toranih dead yet, this is where we can see Toranih’s growth with magic from the previous story. She successfully thwarts Shevanlagiy with telekinesis… even though her chances are looking bleak if she can’t find a way to quickly escape.

Now enter Menchtoteale. He’s in the same location (which makes me consider… why would Shevanlagiy bring her captive to the same place as someone who might kill Toranih before her? Perhaps he comes back to their base unexpectedly early? Or perhaps Isahna gets wind that Shevanlagiy is up to something, so he sends his puppet along to check things out). Either way, Menchtoteale arrives unexpectedly, realizes Toranih is the same person he saw earlier, and he knows he won’t be able to control her easily. Forget making her a shadow, then. While Shevanlagiy is still dazed from her earlier attack, he attempts to kill Toranih and be done with it… except that Toranih, in her desperation, snags the knife from one of the nearby shadows and prevents her death by turning herself into a shadow. The catch here is that if he uses the Wishing Blade, that would kill her (but she might not be thinking about that)… unless he stops mid-strike because he’s bewildered that anyone would willingly make themselves a shadow.

He’s not the only one. Toranih isn’t sure what to make of her decision, either.

In the meantime, Shevanlagiy has had enough time to get back into the game. Now it’s more important than ever that she kill Toranih. She prepares to make the kill, but is stopped when Isahna shows up and orders them to stop. She can technically disobey his orders at the moment, but deliberately breaking his rules now would make it clear that she has her own agenda, which would jeopardize her later plans. She holds back, though she’s still trying to figure out how to take out her enemy.

Now, this next section needs some work, but this is what I have in mind so far:

Isahna orders them not to harm Toranih. Both Menchtoteale and Shevanlagiy protest, and Isahna makes the case that Toranih might be useful to have around. He orders Menchtoteale to train her, and orders Shevanlagiy not to kill her. When Shevanlagiy expresses her displeasure with the idea, he begins to question her why. Shevanlagiy tries making excuses, to which Isahna starts giving her minor orders with magic’s lure, ones which he knows she will deny if his suspicions about her are correct. Each time she refuses, her ability to resist magic’s lure dwindles, until he finally gives the order not to kill Toranih. This time, he successfully uses his power against her. Not only can he now keep Shevanlagiy away from his new military interest, but he has also discovered exactly where her resistance to his powers ends.

This is important for multiple reasons.

1st – This sets up a rule of magic that we will see throughout the rest of the series, one which Menchtoteale tells Toranih (paraphrased): “Better to accept the little things that Isahna orders of you, and thus be able to resist the commands that matter to you, rather than resist the insignificant things and be forced to do something terrible.”

2nd – We now see exactly why Shevanlagiy is afraid of Isahna… and why she is more desperate than before to push her plans along and find some way to strike Toranih and get her powers back… especially now that she physically can’t unless she takes care of Isahna first. Not only that, but this puts her in a position to ignore Toranih for the time being and focus her attention on Daernan, which gets into the sub-plot regarding glass-stone and protecting the kingdom from the shadows. Shevanlagiy is playing both sides, which makes her, to some extent, unpredictable.

3rd  – Toranih has now seen firsthand how magic’s lure works from Isahna, which affects her decisions through the rest of the series. This is especially important when Isahna offers her a legitimately useful deal later (Though it comes with it’s costs,of course. I rather enjoy stories with villains who can offer a hard-to-resist deal. Probably one of the reasons that I enjoyed Rumpelstiltskin’s character in Once Upon A Time). Along the same token, we’ll also see Isahna offering Menchtoteale a deal regarding Menchtoteale’s own freedom if he can get Toranih interested in trading places with him… and that gets into a whole nother set of character motivations. Needless to say, Isahna is going to try covering all the angles.

In the long run, taking a close look at what motivates each primary character to act, especially early on in your manuscript, can really help to work out the kinks not only in a specific scene, but also in the full length of the plot. Not only that, but you’ll also have more believable antagonists and stronger protagonists, because we can understand what they’re up against.

Now I just have to figure out how much to actually show in the story. On the bright side I’ve already shown multiple points of view in the first book, so it won’t be as odd if we see the occasional point of view from the antagonists.

I hope this post has been helpful. 🙂 Have you ever explored a character’s motivations to solve problematic scenes?

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