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.
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.