Asaric Tales e-book update #2

books by congerdesign

photo by congerdesign on pixabay

Six weeks ago, I announced my intention of publishing the story posted on WP as Feast Fables as an e-book. First of a lengthy list of preparatory tasks was the rewrite. I’m pleased to say I’ve now ticked that one off the list.

Asaric Tales (Feast Fables) rewrite

I wasn’t happy with the protagonist’s age at opening. But to change it wasn’t a simple matter of changing the opening chapters. It required a trawl through to around the mid-point to catch every reference. In the process I noticed certain scenes needed reworking, particularly with description of either setting or character. As an example, and the most glaring, the protagonist is due to meet a character towards the end of Book Two (to become Book Three, but more of that below) who bears striking resemblance to a character she has met in Book One. But apart from said character’s star-spangled robe and his manner of speaking, I completely omitted any description. I’ve now amended that. I then found, post midpoint, a series of scenes that I’d stripped down so tight when uploading to blog that now even I couldn’t understand them. Consequence is … it has taken 6 weeks to rewrite Book One.

Restructuring the Asaric Tales (Feast Fables) Trilogy

I had already decided to move a chunk from end of Book One to beginning of Book Two. Now I’ve decided that chunk (90k words) is best left as a book on its own. Which means the previous Book Two now becomes Book Three. Which in turns makes what was a trilogy into quadrilogy[?]. At which point I took another look at the overall structure.

Most writers will structure their plot to fit the 3 Act structure.

  • Act One: ordinary world, call to adventure, crossing the threshold.
  • Act Two: test, friends and foes, crisis/ordeal, reward.
  • Act Three: regrouping, incorporation of reward/lessons learned, final attack/climax, success, denouement.

I’ve taken this from Christopher Vogler’s book The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Storytellers and Screenwriters. At the time of publication Vogler was Director of Development at Fox 2000. His ‘structure and elements’ theory is based on Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces. As he proves with many examples, this is the most commonly used structure, at least the movie-business, today.

This is the structure I’ve been using since forever (sorry, I don’t remember when).

However, courtesy of John Yorke’s Into the Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them (Penguin Books, 2013) I have now discovered the 5 Act structure. Wow! To those who’ve not yet read it, I strongly recommend it.

Yorke, whose credits are in UK TV (e.g. The White Queen, Wolf Hall, the BBC series Casualty and Holby City and many more), repeatedly asks the question Why? Why we tell stories. And why those stories invariably fall into a classic act structure. Yet it’s not the 3 Act structure. It’s a 5 Act structure. As he shows, even those plots that seem to fall into three acts, are in fact structured on five. Yes, even Shakespeare. And even writers who claim not to structure in acts, use this same 5 Act structure. It appears to be innate.

Put exceeding brief:

  • Act 1: no knowledge, growing knowledge, awakening
  • Act 2: doubt, overcoming reluctance, acceptance
  • Act 3: experimenting with knowledge, MP (breakthrough), experimenting post knowledge
  • Act 4: doubt, growing reluctance, regression
  • Act 5: re-awakening, re-acceptance, total mastery

Taken from Into the Woods, John Yorke, 2013

Applying this to Asaric Tales (Feast Fables) in its entirety, it fits snugger than the cliched glove. Applying it to the individual books, I discovered Book One to work best without that chunk I’d already decided to take off. Book Two (that chunk) to work best stood on its own. Book Three, as was and still is, nicely conforms. And, the surprise, what was Book Three only works if I divide it to Books Four and Five.

Upshot. The original trilogy has become a quint: a story told over five books. Structurally, it’s sound. As a side benefit, to divide into 5 instead of 3 means the books aren’t so word heavy. Nice.

To publish a fantasy quint

Over recent years the trilogy (or more) has become the norm for fantasy fiction. Yet the reading public shows a major resistance to buying the first book until all are available. So, I reckon why waste resources, financial or otherwise, pushing a single book, an exercise much resembling a goat pushing a wall, when with a little patience, I can push the full quint and receive a much better response for my efforts. Thus and therefore, and other posh-sounding words, Feast Fables e-book will not go to Kindle until all five parts are ready.

Asaric Tales, the new name for Feast Fables

Yep, along with the new structure, I’ve renamed the former trilogy.

The former trilogy, now the quint, has become The Asaric Tales (which is a phrase I have used, often, on this site to refer to the complete set of tales, from Feast  Fables and Neve, to more recently Can of Worms ). Each of the books will feature the name, Asaric, e.g. Asaric Bones, or whatever.

Beta Readers

How close am I now to recruiting these readers? I’d say a month or so away. The rewrite (book one) done, I’m leaving it a week, to flush the memory of it from my mind. I then will read it straight through. A 2-3-day job, depending on interruptions. While I might at this stage highlight where I need more work, I will not lose the thread by making amendments. My aim is to check that it all holds together while, hopefully, culling rogue words (those I repeatedly use than are so annoying for the reader).

Thereafter, the edits.

While doing the rewrite my eye has been keen for show/not tell, unnecessary use of ‘he said/she said’, unrequired adverbs and adjectives, weak verbs, passive verbs etc. But I’ve no doubt there are still sufficient of those, plus other no-no’s, to build a bonfire ready for Guy Fawkes (sorry folks, that’s specifically English). So, that’s what’s next. Then … my volunteers get a bite at it.

Watch out for the next update (mid-February) when, if you’re interested in being a beta reader and getting a sneak preview of the improved Asaric Tales, I could be putting the call out to you.

About crispina kemp

Spinner of Asaric and Mythic tales
This entry was posted in On Writing, The Spinner's Game and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Asaric Tales e-book update #2

  1. Brian Bixby says:

    Oh, no, a restructuring! The equivalent of a root canal for writers. Glad you found a new one that works better.
    Self-centered person that I am, I immediately tried to map a 3- or 5-act structure onto my current story. It works with 5, but they are NOT all the same length. And I can think of a good reason inherent to the story why that is.
    I like the use of the one term throughout the series . . . although my immediate next thought was “The Asaric Can of Worms.” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • crimsonprose says:

      No, but Can of Worms was part of the Asaric Tales. The other thing I’m having to think, to keep the entirety themed as one, is cover design. Now, despite some of my absolutely crappy designs used on WP, I was heading towards Book Cover design when the written word wooed me away. It is something I’ve paid much attention to since my love affair with Michael Moorcock (do not take literally), through to today’s covers. So I do have some ideas here.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Brian Bixby says:

        Yes, though keep in mind contemporary rule #1: all book covers must look good as a thumbnail on amazon.

        Liked by 1 person

      • crimsonprose says:

        Of course. And aren’t computers so much better than paper when working like this. Zoom in, zoom out, zoom in, zoom out.
        But there’s also a problem in that the given advice is to keep the cover in line with others of the genre. Fine, if the story falls in with others of the genre. I’ve been looking a lot, recently. And almost all I see is either YA *yes, it does have its own style in covers) or dark high fantasy (always there’s a raven or crow!). But FF (now Asaric Tales) isn’t ‘dark’. Sorry, but tat nasty hissing little demon does not make fir a dark tale. The treatment I give it is rather light-handed. you will agree. But, apart from the occasional passage, it’s not comedic. Also, it’s mythic. But all the mythic fantasies I’ve so far found are either Greek or Egyptian based, or fallen angels who have set up an enclave in New York. Humph. The covers that fit those books would given entirely the wrong first impression for Asaric Tales. What to do? Go with it anyway cos at least you get the first nibble, But then have discontented reader cos I’m not delivering what the cover implies? Or go for something that comes a lost closer to what they’re going to find inside the cover, but then lose potential sales cos the cover doesn’t conform? Answers on a postcard please. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Brian Bixby says:

        OK, my omniscient wisdom advises you to devise a common cover design that resembles two related genres, yet nevertheless stands out as distinctive.

        Do I know how to do that? Hell, no!

        A useful idea? Your deities/angels are based on the four elements. Create a design that you can repeat across all the volumes, but create a different thematic interpretation for each cover. Book 5 then should show all four elements engaged in whatever is pictured.

        I know, it sounds more alchemical than quantum. But I hope it will stimulate you to devise a better idea.

        Liked by 1 person

      • crimsonprose says:

        Strangely, or not, that is what I’m working on. It’s looking pretty abstract at the moment, but early days yet.
        And you say of the need to stand out as a thumbnail, but pre-computer days that’s how designers worked. We produced a sheet of umpteen thumbnails, broad designs, absent fine details. Colours, Main areas. Balance, contrast etc. Only once happy with the thumbnail did we start to fill in the details. But I still say it’s a whole lot easier to be able to zoom in and out at will. But it’s the initial thumbnail that dictates what happens next.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Joy Pixley says:

    I am impressed that it only took you six weeks to rewrite book one. Revisions for me are always slow as molasses. It sounds like you’re making fabulous progress with the restructuring of the other books/the series as well: good on you! I love the new title for the series, and how all the book titles will tie in. I think you’re absolutely right about publishing all five of them at once instead of putting the first one out by itself. It will take a little longer, but I’m one of those people who never starts a series unless it’s already done, so I would say it’s worth it. Plus if you are revising something in book five and suddenly realize that to make it fit, you need to slightly change something back in book one, you still can!

    I recently bought “Into the Woods” and it’s on my to-read shelf, so I’m happy to hear such a great recommendation of it.

    I just finished my most recent beta read and I’ll do my best not to pick up another before yours (they do tempt me, though). I could use the time in between to -gasp- do my own writing and rewriting. If I could just get a weekend or two free, for a change!

    Liked by 1 person

    • crimsonprose says:

      Today I started on what’s supposed to be a straight read through the re-written version. Oops. Well, I allowed myself to highlight words or passages I’d later return to. But reaching Chapter 7, which is a real sweat and a page-turner, I realised those earlier chapters still needed more work. So I’m attending to them before galloping on.
      On subject of beta-readers, is it okay if, nearer the time, I tap into your experience of how to organise it. I don’t mean keeping records but format for sending out (I assume pdf), and format for returning responses (I’m thinking google-forms though I’ve never used them. Hell, so many new things. Makes me feel all young again, like I’m back at college!

      Liked by 1 person

    • crimsonprose says:

      Oh, forgot to say. Having applied theory of Mr Yorke to Feast Fables, I then realised that what it was about, wasn’t. That it was about something different. Which moved some of the plot points as the action breaking was different. It also moves the genre slightly, of which I am pleased. I don’t want to say too much cos I’ll probably talk about it in a later update. (Yes, it is still fantasy, the change isn’t that dramatic)

      Liked by 1 person

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