I’ve been keeping my head (mostly) down on how things are going with The Dragon House. I didn’t want to jinx the progress I’ve been making by crowing out loud. As the old hands among you may remember, it took me years to admit to another human being that yes, I was writing a book, so this tracks, as they say.
A few things have fallen into place with TDH lately. Some of them have been to do with plot, and some have been to do with process, and quite a lot were just to do with me being in a better headspace.
I’d been struggling to achieve what I wanted within the constraints of what my Editor!Brain thought I “should” be doing. According to Editor!Brain I had far too many PoV characters. I was confusing matters with sub-plots. This is the final book in the series, E!B reminded me constantly. I should be bringing it all together by now, dammit! These anxieties were setting my brain hamster-wheeling into the wee small hours.
some of my disquiet was rooted in knowing that these supplementary viewpoints needed to be given voice
It’s never good when I start obsessing over craft instead of, y’know, crafting. The quality and quantity of my output always suffers (ah, overwriting, my old friend). But in the end, I remembered who was supposed to be in charge around here, and told Editor!Brain to take a hike. This was indeed the last book in the series, it was already doing a shit-ton of heavy lifting and therefore the only rule that should apply was the Rule of Cool.
I gave myself permission to add another PoV (justifying it to E!B by re-using bit part characters from the previous book) and you know what? It was freeing. It unlocked something in the narrative and allowed me to play more with a subtle theme that’s been threading through the Wild Hunt Quartet from the start: stories. Specifically, the stories we tell ourselves, and the fuzzy bit at the intersection of history and legend, truth and what we want to be true. I don’t know if I’ll be able to do it justice but I’m having fun with it nonetheless.
So much fun, in fact, that I brought back a second minor character as a new PoV. That unlocked a sub-plot that had been left to wither for a book and a half, instantly giving TDH more depth and heft. It feels marvellous. I think some of my disquiet was rooted in knowing that these supplementary viewpoints needed to be given voice in order to add texture and dimension to the whole, and I was struggling to go forward creatively because Story!Brain knew I was missing a step.
It’s never good when I start obsessing over craft instead of, y’know, crafting.
In the process of writing this up I discovered I had accidentally created a trans-dimensional teahouse. Characters went in its front door in Zhiman-dar and later, other characters sneaked through its back yard in El Maqqam, 160 miles away. Whilst this is actually a continuity error in the book that I need to fix, there is a part of me that really wishes I could have made it work in-world, because the wandering shop trope will never not give me hearteyes.
Anyway. All this has brought the wordcount rocking up to
Now before anyone gets too excited, this does not mean I’m done. 173k is not even close to where I expect the final wordcount to be (somewhere north of 200k, most likely). But I am getting there. There’s still some fat to trim, and the final part needs the most work.
Oh, yeah, I didn’t tell you that, did I? It’s structured in parts now. It felt like the best way to handle multiple locations, lots of point of view characters, and all the normal/slow/extra-slow time shenanigans, by treating each group/location as a separate arc. Regular readers of this blog will know I tried that arrangement once before and it didn’t work; this time round I think I have sufficient narrative glue to hold it together. We shall see.
After all, there’s a reason these things are called a work in progress.