Reflections on Remnas #3: Flower in the Gale

This is a revised essay on Tales of Remnas Book 2 that I thought for a book event:

Flower in the Gale is book two of the Tales of Remnas. In this one, we follow Rekki and Arshé as they return from their mission to Rekki’s ogre clan. Now that he has recovered the legendary armor of the long dead ogre king, his reputation soars but not everyone is prepared to give him a hero’s welcome. There are many that fear Rekki because they stand to lose their established power if he consolidates the clans of the Wildlands. Chief among them is Ragnar, the reigning chieftain of the clan who views Rekki as a threat to keeping leadership confined to his family line.

With tensions rising, Arshé struggles to establish herself among the ogres. She is determined to protect her mate from his external enemies but the greatest threat might be to their own relationship. Passion brought them together but can their bond survive adversity as Rekki rises to power?

Flower in the Gale was written differently than the rest of the Remnas books. In Flower Among the Ashes I discovered very quickly that I needed a chapter by chapter outline to keep the story on track as it takes place over the course of several years and goes through several distinct arcs. I knew that I needed a way to keep the story from getting too big and starting to ramble all over the place. I even had a draft where I started the story earlier in the time line but I junked it after a few chapters and started over. My idea for Ashes was keep each act within a certain word count and, since each act could have been a whole novel by itself, it was key that I couldn’t have any scenes that would constitute ‘fat.’

For Flower in the Gale, I prepared an outline but instead of, detailing it chapter by chapter, I broke the book into three acts and very briefly described what would happen in each. This actually made Gale very hard to write as I had to make up more as I went along than I normally do. Surprisingly, I don’t think you can tell that everything wasn’t meticulously planned from the beginning and I had a lot of doubts about how it would be received. I thought readers might feel it was sloppy and lacked focus. Luckily, it got the thumbs up from my beta readers. I didn’t get any of the criticisms I thought I might.

The process taught me two things. First, it is much easier to write when you have a detailed chapter by chapter outline. You are forced to focus and plan before you ever set the first word to paper and that helps keep you from writing yourself into a corner. My outlines know run about twenty-five to thirty-five pages. Second, I have to put away a draft for at least six months before I feel like I can honestly access it. There are times you are going to feel like you are writing the worst thing ever because some scenes are just more a struggle to get out than others. Because you know where the warts are, that will make you more critical of your own stuff. If you tuck it away for a bit and come back to it, you might be able to say “Oh, this scene is actually pretty good” instead of saying, “Blah! This was such a bear to write. It took me three days to write more than a thousand words.”

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