I love speculative fiction. I love writing it, and I love reading it, especially when it’s high on fantasy and mixes in elements of other genres. Worldbuilding is an important aspect for plenty of speculative fiction writers but there are varying ways to approach this. My approach is to have rich worldbuilding, but a density which supports the story. Sometimes this means it’s low on worldbuilding (where I then struggle especially with underwriting) and sometimes it’s dense as fuck. (I wrote a bit on this in my blog post on exposition)
The Blood Maiden’s Covenant is the latter. I didn’t choose to make it dense because I lack any restraint (though that is debatable I guess xD). This story has multiple strands woven together in a world that I’d developed before I started this, and those strands bring along a lot of worldbuilding. There’s blood magic, elementals, mage oppression, multiple factions with their own alignments, goals and ideals, and more. There’s history, culture, and a magic system; so yeah, it’s a lot.
It’ll probably take multiple rounds of editing to get this story right, but I think it’ll be worth it. I’m enjoying writing these characters being messy as they try to attain immense goals.
Speaking of messy characters and immense goals, feels a bit like I’m talking about myself, lmao. Last month I got side-tracked by other projects and life sort of kicked my ass. It was a pretty one sided brawl… But! I got back into the ring this month and am working on Blood Maiden again.
Drafting by part
I divided this WIP into parts (separate from the 3 acts structure). The opening where I make a mess of juggling all the introductions during a complex magic battle scene between 3 groups is part 1. Part 2 builds onto what I started in part 1 in terms of exposition and establishes the character relationships.
I’d already finished part 2 but each time I read it I felt unsure about its last couple chapters. There was some silliness and some explicit steaminess which I kept on rewriting, so I decided to change it up entirely. The heat got dialled down and I thing it fits the moment better. The new scenes will need to be edited again, but otherwise they should be done.
Part 3 already had a couple of chapters before I went back to fussing over part 2, but those needed to be tweaked as well. I didn’t like some of the choices I’d made (or rather, which Sagani had made, you bad bad weirdo) and so brainstorming commenced. This part has another massive tactical magic battle as Sagani and Mael need to escape from an antagonist.
Aside from drafting part 3 I’ll be looking ahead again on where this story is supposed to go so I can lay the groundwork to get there.
Micro-plotting a massive battle
I’m working on a blog post on what I mean by micro-plotting, so that’ll come in the near future. I do want to talk about it here too though. Keeping it short and simple, what I mean with micro-plotting is just a deeper level of outlining than I usually do.
My working memory’s pretty bad and it makes it hard for me to keep multiple things in mind at the same time. This means complex battle scenes where you need to keep track of all participants very hard. Their positions, their goals, their powers, how powers interact, character personalities and fighting styles, terrain all need to fit in a specific timeframe.
It’s a big challenge for me and at times I hate myself for demanding these scenes come from my mind, but I do love throwing in all my creativity to make something cool. I know originality is sort of like a cryptid, everyone’s heard of it, some claim to have seen it, but lots of people think it’s a hoax. Regardless of that, I do try to make something which feels fresh even if I’m working with existing sometimes even clichéd elements.
One way I tackle big tasks is breaking it up into smaller steps. This can be done with scenes as well, and which is what I’ll be doing with the fight as well.
For this battle I’ve got a fire and shadow elemental and a warrior priestess who also uses fire (since the former absorbs fire it’ll be more than just throwing around fireballs). They’re one fight within the bigger battle.
The second fight are Sagani and Mael who have to fight time (recharging energy since Sagani is depleted at the start of the fight and blood magic takes time to cast) and several underlings from the warrior priestess. While the first fight is mostly magic, here it’s a combination of blood magic, alchemic weapons (flash bombs, bullets with magical effects, etc.), spears (underlings) and daggers (Sagani).
The third part of the battle is Sagani, Mael and Ashe (the elemental) need to get outside to reach Sagani’s familiars, bolster said familiars and trap their enemies inside long enough to escape.
I’ve still got to work on figuring out Ashe and the priestess’ skillsets as well as the alchemic weapons, but it’ll be fun creating them. To fit everything together will take making some flow diagrams and maybe some help from my CPs.
More changes to come
The characters developing and changing relationships are important to this story. As I said, they’re messy and have to make difficult choices to get to where they want to be (Sagani wants to lift her curse and Mael wants to get his family safely out his home country). Because after the battle they fear Araceli (the teen Sagani has been taking care of) will be in danger, the three of them flee together.
There’s plenty of tension between the three of them. There’s distrust, there’s one manipulating the other, there’s guilt, frustration, but they have to depend on each other. The more time they spend together, the more of a bond develops between them and a complex web of emotions ties them together.
As it’s looking now, I’m going to see if I can make this a found family situation, but it’ll of course be… a messy family xD
So, probably found family, but I’ll also be keeping it on brand with some romance. I’m gradually adding in character attraction and return to them bickering (like in an older version of this story) while they grow closer because they both want to take care of Araceli. They both feel responsible for her and feel guilty for dragging her along in their situation. We’ll have to see what kind of heat level this’ll get once they do start acknowledging their feelings for each other.
Wordcounts and structure
Things are progressing nicely. Though I’ve written way more than will eventually be used, it’ll still become a pretty long book (long as in, it’s gone from a short story or novelette to a novel series).
- Part 1: 13.000
- Part 2: 18.500
- Part 3: 6.000
Total wordcount for this draft so far is 37.500. In these 3 parts I’ve covered character, setting and plot introductions. The story is carefully built up, foundations laid, and all structural elements for the first ACT will be covered by the end of this part (inciting event, key event and first plot point).
Like the sound of my Blood Maiden WIP? I’ve made a Pinterest board for visual inspiration for this book. You can find it here. I also share lines from my WIPs and sometimes offer link to short stories in my newsletter so be sure to sign up if you like my work.