Writing Grimoire – Part 4

Writing Style

So far I’ve talked a bit concerning Grimoire. Mostly in vague what-ifs in an attempt to avoid spoilers. Meow that the first three chapters are out, (Check it out) and I’m toying with getting chapter four out within another week (I know!) I feel far more confident it ‘up the stakes as it were’.

I want to preface a bit because – for blog posts especially – I’m a pants style writer when I’m writing in a casual setting. It is a far different beast than when I actual write. Because try as I may, I cannot seem to write fiction by the seat of my pants. No matter what it always comes into some kind of outlined form. Even in my short stories, I’ll quickly put the rest in at the bottom separated by an extreme amount of paragraph breaks in my word document. 

It’s a trick, if I read what I original wrote first and then I can test the water. And try without referring to those notes and outline fragments. Better ideas today? Sweet! But if not I have a little something to cling to in case I can’t get the whole though out in one go. Sometimes it even works.

Live writing (in which is more just a glorified scene supported by a copious amount of dialogue) and blog writing are my two outlets in which I can freely write without too much rhythm or reason. This post is a bit different, I kinda held myself to some topics on my last post (Another Night, Another Campfire). So in a sense I’ve actually outlined this a bit so we’ll see how it goes. 

Story Origins

It all begins with an idea, or several. You often hear of author being struck by creative lightning as their genius simply realizes itself onto paper. I’m sure that how King does it. Of course it’s not like that, but often times a Creative can tell you the specific origin of their work. I can’t exactly pinpoint the seed of my story in that way  since Grimoire wasn’t even called that at first.

Originally it was ‘Legend of Andoir’, aren’t I such a great title creator? Yeah, it’s rough. But I loved the story. Or at least the genre. I love fantasy, sci-fi and horror. Specifically paranormal and supernatural. I wanted to tell a fantasy story with demons, vampires, werewolves etc. Andoir was the world I created to fit the task.

Now when I say created I mean just that. Tolkien style, his world building always captivated me as a kid. I used to pour over the books of Middle-Earth or more correctly Arda. I cannot claim a Tolkien-nerd level on par with Star Wars, but suffice to say, I know my stuff; not just New Line Cinema extended version. But the way I first encountered the world of the Hobbit, and the wonder of Middle-Earth occurred when I was in the fourth or fifth grade.

I thought hobbits were real, and sometimes envisioned myself climbing the Alaskan Mountain ranges with a party of Dwarves as we quested to take back what was lost. Ironically I grew to be 6’8”. Far more troll or giant than hobbit. 

But in the time between childhood-fantasy and adult-creativity came a world of my own. Fully realized like Tolkien, I even drew characters and equipment. Very much in the style of Japanese manga and comic books. Same with crafting languages, and lettering. Maps, lore, species, religions, origins of the cosmos – everything.

Then I had an idea for a ‘demon’ named Dimitri. I used the term loosely to better explain his range of abilities, rather than his alignment in the sense or morality. 

I would love to cover the journey of the other side of what the Legend of Andoir became. But I can tell you this – half of it became Grimoire.

Dimitri’s journey is better suited for Andoir – more specifically what it became. Which will come in all due time. A lot of its DNA is shared with Grimoire. My close circle of friends who have read or talked about Andoir/Edren/Midland with me will be happy to recognize many elements. With more should I be able to cover the other side of this whole crazy thing.

Andoir didn’t have a way of working. It was too much to manage and handle. First as a comic book, for which as a staff of one was a workload I could not handle while working full-time to barely make ends meet. It went through endless forms; tabletop RPG, book, D&D Campaign, book, video game, book, etc. and on and on it went. Really because there was simply too much content I was trying to tell. Too many ideas.

At some-point I intend to release my notes on those WiP out for people to see. And maybe if the timing is right finish. Who knows. 

But what was important is that I needed to slow down. I was building a world bigger than I could tell, mostly because I was doing it wrong.

Yep.

So I broke it apart, separated the world of fantasy from the world of occult and horror. Choosing to turn the later into another type of story that I felt better suited to tell. Andoir would be there, waiting patiently. It had already endured my tinkering for years – it needed the break.

What was taken out and given a life of its very own was Grimoire.

I wanted to tell the story of a young man, Richter, who after graduating from high school finds himself in the world of the paranormal. He is enlisted in the fight against monsters and other creatures of darkness after having been accidentally turned into a vampire. His mentor M, an ancient vampire who was captured in WWII begrudgingly teaches him the ropes.

I had a narrative, but not in a way that truly came alive. I had a great library of content, notes timelines, one shots, and almost 50,000 words into a first draft – what most would call a book. But there was no story. Gotta have that. There were events to be sure, but no story. It was a plot only. Know the difference? Well maybe I’ll do a post on it. But I think of it as this: the plot is simply the chronicle of events, the story is why they matter.

Because if the story doesn’t matter to you, the plot is not your problem.

The story makes it your problem. It’s your investment in the characters or the situation. Its the backbone of your story because your readers are engaged by it. It could be identifying with a shared insecurity in a character. Stopping the world from ending is great, but no one sets out to do that. Even Superman and Batman have reasons. Because story.

Either way you want to read what happens because something in the main character or at the very least their journey is compelling enough for you to turn the page.

At the time Grimoire just didn’t feel genuine enough. Not in a way that really resonated with me either, because the narrative story was too weak. There was no real direction or purpose behind my character’s actions. So it got the Shelf. Hiatus, a permanent one was my intention. 

But fate had other plans.

Character Origins: Aurora and Matthias

Concept art for Aurora and Matthias.

As I said in my last blog entry (*Another Night, Another Campfire) I started writing again far more often after meeting my girlfriend. She asked for stories via text while she worked and I had nothing else better to do but scroll through Reddit giving my insight on what the possibilities of the next Star Wars movie could be.

She then asked about some other characters, new characters. Not having anything really ready I used Matthias – originally known as ‘M’ in the rough draft of Grimoire. I thought what the Hell, it not like he’s doing any good there.

But I needed something else, I needed a new character that I could have Matthias get into trouble with – and then she came along.

Her hair the silver of moonlight, with eyes of brilliant violet. She was a spitfire. Someone who could go toe-to-toe with Matthias. A Devil.

Her name was Aurora.

I would not say it was an ‘aha’ or even a ‘Eureka’ moment. More like a deluge burst. The pieces were far from in place (still aren’t’) but ideas came rapid fire.

Now maybe it was a perfect storm; the fantasy nerd in me could not be contained. I had assembled a group of players to play a campaign for D&D set in the 18xx timeframe. They would be monster hunters. Vampire-slayers, you get the idea.

Well it fell through. As these things tend to, but I had built characters, NPCs,  situations etc. I had an idea for a group of monster hunters traipsing around Europe slaying baddies.

It doesn’t take much to see how it all happened:

I was writing again, and on one hand brought out a character from retirement and created a new partner in crime for him. On the other the fragments of a failed campaign ready to be lived in.

Victorian London, that’s where our story takes place. At least at first, but you’ll have to read on for that stuff. Instead I’ll attempt to stay on topic. Aurora became my new Richter, a person foreign to Matthias, the ‘real’ world and life. 

I don’t’ want to necessarily go into theme and arc of the series too much as one it could give it away,  and two, I don’t think you really want to hear it right know, but something else to be explored. 

Suffice to say that Matthias has gone through as much evolution as Andoir, and that currently he is the closest realization of the character I mentioned earlier (Dimitri). His arc however is (or perhaps was) relatively flat. While absolutely a major character and player within the world of Grimoire, (You’ll have to read to know exactly how much!) he could never be the main protagonist. Because his arc is mostly flat, and honestly he’s too much of an asshole.

But Aurora had in her a character who’s story I wanted to tell. Someone who can be affected by crossing paths with Matthias. So she came to life in a way that Matthias did for me, and with those two the rest very quickly started coming into focus.

There’s more to tell here. That relationship is a dynamic one. Their story is complex. I hope you’re as excited to read it as I am to write it.

Specific Chapter Spoilers

As said above this post has major spoilers for what has been published for Grimoire. So this is your second warning as I wanted to talk a bit about what has already been put out there. I invite you to comment or ask me questions as I love talking about the worlds I create. There will be a shameless plus for you to roll your eyes at at the bottom of this post.

Chapter one was something I included as a tease for the story in a hope to draw in readers. It wasn’t super successful, but I’m glad I did it. The scene has long been in my head as the character of Matthias is unique for me. I felt his origin was necessary. So if you wanted to know, yes, he is who it was on that balcony in 1474.

That event triggered a chain. What the fallout is, you will have to read. But the consequences of Matthias’ actions is something that comes up often, so stay tuned!

Chapter 2 has probably been tinkered with the least but for those that question how much to take out or add – Francisco’s part in the story have been greatly expanded, him being all but nameless initially. Aurora’s introduction was even more tediously drawn out, with only Matthias that points out she was not human. It didn’t work, it was far too Roland from Dark Tower, so I retooled that. 

New bits of Aurora’s world came into view. I restructured her meeting Charlotte. Conversations needed fine tuning, etc..  Many, many, many changes. 

But the party has always served as the meeting place for Matthias and Aurora. It went through many changes over the last few months. In hindsight, maybe I spent a tad too long. Sometimes you have to tinker. Take apart put back together. Putting the work into those initial character help set the rest of the novel up for success.

Chapter 3 was very, very different too, it had Matthias and Aurora fighting some street muggers. But that also was an earlier version mostly written as a one shot. Now that those first three chapters are revised an mostly final (no professional editing yet, yikes!) the first book can be told. 

Chapter 3 serves as my call to action. Aurora finds herself at odds with a few characters. She thinks this threat is from Matthias, but in actuality it is from an Exorcist that is pursuing her, sent by Francisco’s Family. See? I told you his part expanded. 

The Exorcist’s death also set into motion a series of events as you will read in the forthcoming chapters. 

What I’ve learned about writing so far

So what have I learned so far since I began this journey of attempting to realize the dream of being a storyteller? A lot actually. Now there are a lot of blogs out there that have a way better presentation for this kind of stuff. But I’ll keep it to some easy to read bullet points for folks starting out.

  • You need to write a lot. More than you thought you needed to. Most author crank out books so fast because they have been practicing, get your word count up. As a new author I’ve been told that you should be shooting for the equivalent of a novel/book every six months. 
  • Editing is not only vital but where most of your book comes into shape. Just like a film you start with rough footage, then you cut it, then you add effects (fancy words?). The point is editing is a process that is something that I don’t think many people put as much stock into as they need to. I edit and edit and re-edit. Admittedly I have posted my first few chapters without them being professionally edited, and you can tell.
  • To piggyback on editing for a moment. Think about word effectiveness. Example: Rough draft is 100,000 words. 10,000 are gone just as a best practice. But even so eventually, ideally you’ll shrink that to 70k for example. Why? Word effectiveness. Think about your manuscript like Twitter. Give yourself a character limit in a sense. If you can say something in 10 words, why use 12, 14, or 28 unless you have to? Or to put it simply; instead of saying ‘very crowded’ you say, ‘bustling’. Congratulations, we just cut a word form the book.
  • Your prose needs to be super clear. Readers need to know who exactly are doing what and they only know the details you give them. Conversely, too much information is no good. A reader can fill in your purposefully vagueness with their own imagination when done correctly.

I’ll do some more posts concerning marketing, apps and tech recommendations, and if there’s interest. Give some tips for social media, since I’ve had a couple people reach out to me for such advice. Leave comments below to let me know what you want me to cover next!

Outlining, Updates and goals.

I’ve been outlining the first book of Grimoire for about two weeks now in a attempt to get ahead of my writers block, by sorting out some of my narrative issues before I run head first in to them. It’s going well, with the storyline pretty much drawn (Story Curve) and approximately the first 26 chapters having synopsis, character appearance, and any subplot elements and notes. Another week and I should be good and can focus on writing. Speaking of that. I have rough drafts of four, five and most of six. Seven is now the next hurdle. So I’ll make updates and hopefully get new chapters available soon. 

I may be switching over to Scrivner to help keep everything organized. I’ve made some breakthroughs in the overall series, and how my plan for each book will roughly go. 

Additionally I’ve taken on a few other projects that could see a slight delay in some of Grimoire, but will be lots of stuff for you to read, see and follow along. So here’s a brief rundown.

I started a historical fiction novella set during the Klondike Gold Rush that is gaining attention. I have a rather large video project potentially on the horizon as well. 

I’ve also been working on a new short that is not in my normal genre. Its almost done, maybe a day or two of actual writing left before edits. However for a variety of reasons I may release that under a pen name. I’ll let everyone know as decisions are made. 

 Grimoire is my priority so that is where most of my focus will be (outside of the possible Pen Name short story). The first twelve chapters or so of book one will be FREE for the next few months as I write the rest of it and get ready to publish. I have been playing with the idea of a Patreon page to host a free epub of these chapters with options for bonus art and more. Really depends on how quickly I can get book one churned out. So by November first I intend to have the free chapters fully written and edited. 

I also am working on getting some new cover art done in this time too, so lots happening!

Please comment and subscribe below, you can also follow me on Twitter or Facebook. 

Until next time,

Excelsior!

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