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Writing in the Mirror

I started the week with fond remembrances of cliff-diving without the water. And I started that post with a link back to other stories from my childhood, exploring the far forested acres of my parents’ farm.

I blamed the recent nostalgia on my childhood buddy Josh, for mentioning some of those stories on Facebook, but the fact of the matter is that I’ve been thinking about them recently anyway. I’ve had to, because I’m currently writing a little me.

(Anyone who’s utterly terrified of even the slightest spoilers should probably get out of here right now, because I’m going to talk a little bit about the books in the Dragonprince Trilogy. I won’t be giving away anything that would actually hurt your enjoyment of the story any, but some people can be a little dogmatic about avoiding all hints whatsoever.)

Anyway, Courtney gave her Works-in-Progress update yesterday, so let me give you a little peek into mine:

20-Year-Old Daven in The Dragonswarm

Ever since publishing Taming Fire in June, I’ve been plugging away at the sequel, The Dragonswarm. The Dragonswarm picks up right where Taming Fire left off–or close enough, anyway. Six weeks after the end of the first book, we dive right back into Daven’s point-of-view and pick up his adventure.

No surprise there, because The Dragonswarm was originally written as the second half of (a very different) Taming Fire. Now the new volume finishes his story even as it starts the dragonswarm that’s destined to wipe humanity from the earth.

The original book coasted from Teelevon to Fort Palmagnes on nothing but the raw momentum of Daven’s early experiences, but now that it’s a separate volume it needs some extra material to get it up to speed.

So I’ve been working hard to finish the sequel to Taming Fire, but mostly that has been a matter of writing the first three chapters. Somewhere in chapter four I’ll stitch the old and new together, and then it’s just touch-up all the way to the glorious end.

Most of the work of that new beginning is building the emotion–creating a strong sympathy in the reader for Daven and his plight. That’s most of the touch-up I’ll be doing on the rest of the books, too: managing where and how and which emotions I try to appeal to in readers as I tell Daven’s tale of true love lost.

15-Year-Old Taryn in The Dragonprince

The Dragonswarm wraps up the story of Daven’s rise to power, but it ends with humanity on the brink of destruction. I can’t leave my readers there! (And, for that matter, I can’t leave all that drama untold!)

So the third book in the trilogy wraps up the story of the dragonswarm. The Dragonprince takes place fifteen years after the events of The Dragonswarm, as the last of the dragons are going to sleep.

And now we move on to the next generation. Instead of Daven’s, The Dragonprince is told from the point of view of his son, Taryn, who has grown up in the fortress his father built.

We get to see Daven for the first time through someone else’s eyes. We also get to see Isabelle and the jerk of a king through this kid’s eyes, and we get to explore a shattered version of the decadent, corrupted world Daven had battled his way through.

Boys Being Boys

Those are both really exciting books. I’ve got them plotted, I’ve got them structured, and I love where both stories are headed. I’ve been having so much fun working on them.

But I get to face a special challenge, because I do have to work on them. My goal had been to finish Book Two over the summer, because I was already committed to developing Book Three as my Master’s Project over the course of the fall semester.

I didn’t get it done. I’m close, but I’m not done. And the fall semester started last week. So instead of finishing Daven’s story and then telling Taryn’s, I’m now actively telling both. I’m preparing 25 pages a week of The Dragonprince for my professor to review, and in the meantime I’m still scrambling to finish up The Dragonswarm whenever I can find a free moment.

The fascinating thing about it all is how easy it is to keep the two apart. The stories are vastly different, of course, but every now and then I worried how I would keep Daven (who started out as a 17-year-old in desperate circumstances) recognizably distinct from Taryn (who starts out as a 15-year-old in desperate circumstances).

But so far it’s working like magic. And strangely enough, that’s because both characters are based on me as young man.

Writing in the Mirror

For what it’s worth, all my characters are based on me. Yes, even the girls. Everyone I write is a character I can imagine being, and that means to some extent it’s me in an alternate reality.

It might be me as a sports guy, or me as a buff warrior, or me as a handsome and popular public figure. It’s fiction, after all.

But Daven and Taryn are both modeled more closely off a me who lived on that quiet little hobby farm in northeast Oklahoma. They’re based on very different aspects of him, though.

Daven’s the roamer, the explorer, the outdoor guy who loved spending his time climbing and swimming and building and digging. And Taryn’s the other me. The reader, the dreamer, the spoiled kid from a happy family pretending to live in poverty.

It’s fascinating how different those two people are. It’s enlightening to spend some time remembering them, evaluating them, and seeing what kind of men they could have grown up to be–their relationships, their goals, their motivations and fears. Their destinies.

They’re a lot of fun to write, and I’m having a great time getting to know them. That’s one of the special joys of the writer’s life. And there’s another one, too: When I put the pen down, when I stop imagining these fantasy versions of me, I get a whole new perspective on the real one.

I’ve been a bunch of people in my time. But here and now, I’m awfully happy to be the version of me I am. And I’m grateful to all of you for helping me become him.

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