For this monthly News from Ashlora issue, I’ll provide an overview of Revision 4 and how White Destiny project is being crafted.
Let’s talk about revisions. Revisions happen when a significant portion of the plot changes. Below is an overview of the timeline for each revision so far.
For White Destiny, the first revision adapted the events from the original assassin games into story format. It still included a number of game elements such as Truth Serum, the Illuminati and the Vatican factions. The key conflict was between the witch plus Illuminati and the church. The “call to adventure” was the summoning of the horsemen of apocalypse and the unsealing of the seven Obelisks. The story in first revision started after angel summoning event and the early stages of Azeth’s rebellion.
The second revision expanded the universe, the character baron and priestess made their first debut in this revision. The city of Ironheart was introduced (previously, the entire scope was set within Azeth only). The main conflict and call to adventure remained the same from the first revision. The story here started from before the bishop’s death event which set the stage for the princess and the witch’s encounter in God’s mercy (rev 2).
The third revision shifted the focus from the witch to the princess, with an attempt to exclude angel, demon and the likes from the plot. The main conflict revolves around the war for territory or “magic domain” between the witch and the archbishop, and the princess’s attempt to thwart the inventor’s Azeth-Ironheart war scheme. The story started a short while after the witch and the princess’s meeting and it was intended to last longer than the final battle between the witch and the archbishop.
Finally, the latest revision culled all cheese angel-demon-holy-war elements from the original game. Unlike all previous revisions, revision 4 is set on an entirely different timeline, starting with the dragon’s attack on the witch’s hut as the call to adventure all the way to the end of war and beyond. The focus of this revision is the inventor, his war scheme and the results of the princess’s meddling as established in rev 3.
I hope this recap clarifies the convoluted and confusing story excerpts I’ve been posting so far.
This section explains the goals and purposes of each draft in my writing process. I intend to share this process as guidance for interested writer-to-be out there; by informing them the kind of serious business they’re signing up for. Who ever said editing a manuscript is only about proofreading and spellchecking? Plot doctoring and story crafting are serious business.
In the first draft, I’ll perform a number of revisions in order to determine a logical timeline for all events in the story, as well as a rough outline of the scenes. A viable example of a first draft scene can be as simple as…
“The inventor wakes up in Steve’s forge. The place is unbelievably hot“.
First draft is guarantee to be flawed in one way or another. Plot holes can occur. Unexplained information can happen. While I write, I often move passages and change the way I introduce a given piece of information and then completely forget to put that piece of information back in before it’s needed. The prime example of this, I’ve only noticed recently, is the information on the three factions in Silverflow Council. I originally had a passage in scene #2 to explain how the votes in Silverflow Council were distributed among three factions:
“Born a woman of the prestige Silverflow family, she were given four permanent seats in the council—half of those given to the Ruby Garden—the moment her gender was determined. Within the Silverflow family, only female could succeed the crown.
In her twenties, she studied clergy under the Archbishop’s guidance and earned a priestess title in the Church of the Saint. When she returned to Ironheart, her clergy privileges were transferred to the local Church of the Spirit and this earned her two seats from to the church. Later on, she became more active in Silverflow Academy and had recently snatched the rank of master in Alchemy from Leo. She also claimed her eighth vote in the council in Wizardry in the same year. Not from Leo, of course, but from the old court wizard of Solaris Observatory who had gone missing recently”
The above passage did not make it to blog release. Without this explanation, some of the vote counting and name (title) calling in scene #3 can be hard to understand. I obviously know the purpose and reason behind all the interactions as I’m the author, but the readers won’t.
This is why in the second draft, I aim to address this information discrepancy and make appropriate changes so that readers can understand what they’re supposed to understand. This is also when I place foreshadows, hints and bread crumbs so that readers don’t feel I’m pulling a fast one on them. This step usually involves alpha readers who are willing to go in dry, focusing more on the character, world building and plot holes than on the presentation, storytelling and whatnot.
Third draft makes the second draft manuscript more pleasing to the eye. That means lots of purple prose, scenery porn and audio-visual. The sample line I mentioned in first draft would look a bit like the following after third draft
“Sometime after the council meeting, Leo found himself occupying the carpentry table at Steve’s.
In the air was the sizzling of blue steel in white water, the crackles of red flame on dark charcoals, and the rumble of hammer hoisted above the chestnut hair on black anvil. The building was crazy hot. Wood splinters dug themselves into his back. Yet, when he was dead-exhausted, they were surprisingly pleasant.”
And yes, the scenes I published in this WordPress blog do contain some third draft’s quality elements but the quality is not uniform across the board. Many elements are still at bare bone first draft’s quality, only a few easy ones I can come up with right away have third draft’s quality. The official third draft brings the quality of every element in the story up to a uniform degree, unlike the unevenness we have in blog releases.
Finally, I’ll go over the manuscript another time with a surgical knife to make the cut. The idea here is to trim the excesses so that the writing is more “show than tell”. Some of the explanations added in second drafts will also be changed or removed if I deem the implications are sufficient and the readers are smart enough to connect the dots themselves. In the third-draft passage above, my fourth draft’s cut is the line
“The building was crazy hot“
as all the audio-visual cues are already pointing to that idea, it’s excessive to repeat the point outright here.
Geez, I hope I didn’t scare any greenhorns…
We’ll have another News from Ashlora issue in the next two weeks (so soon!), in which I’ll stop being so meta and finally talk about what exactly is going on in Ashlora nowadays.