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The Magic Arts (& Crafts) - Volume 1

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There of course will be SPOILERS if you haven't read the Volume yet. There will also be some repetition if you've read the chapter commentaries.

What worked?

  • I finished for one thing. And I accomplished all the major goals in my outline. I introduced many of the major characters, the place, the world, and Melfina had to fight her way through her rent problem. For such a boring sounding problem, I think I made it interesting enough.

  • The structure of alternating chapters worked well. It's not something I thought of until the first point of view switch in chapter three, and then I tried matching it up to my outline, and adding Stark's point of view to those chapters solved some story issues that I was having.

  • The length of the chapters also worked well. I've read novels on a computer screen. I can make your back ache, give you eye problems and all that. The chapters need to be long enough to flesh out each event/point that I want to say in each chapter, but not too long to give the reader problems.

    The dream sequence. It worked so well to transition from the first day (which took five chapters to talk about), to the rest of the story. It worked great as a summary of what happened, and provided material to work off of for the chapters afterwards.

  • Besides structure, the characters seem to be coming out decently. It's going to be more and more of a challenge as the cast gets bigger and bigger. But for this volume by itself, they came out believable enough, with interesting enough backstories, if not all the unique compared to all so many other fantasy stories out there. But you know, a never before seen character is impossible. It's all about the characters together and how they interact, and how they work within the limitations of the world they're placed in.

  • The calligraphy turned out much better than I expected. I bought a calligraphy book for the sole purpose of learning it to accompany the chapters. I can't draw, and this is story, which is going to revolve around a scribe and her books. Calligraphy fits perfectly with that. And this is a website, and not just a story, so visual presentation is also important, and I think it adds a lot to the look as a whole.

What didn't?

  • I don't think it came off well at all that the reason Stark is constantly praying is because of the guilt he feels off of the death of his "brother". Sometimes things just need to be spelled out instead of trying to create a double meaning in a scene. Speech patterns are hard to really write individually for each character. The only character that's easy to write differently than the others is Gamblor... and Tom.

  • As I said in the chapter commentary for Chapter XIII, my original vision of the final chapter was much more ambitious for the story as a whole. I was going to have a long, drawn out conversation with Stark and Melfina. Then in the final chapter of the final volume, I was going to use the exact same dialogue but it would come off completely different because of the context. Much too complex to plan out for a story that really writes itself as I'm doing it after putting the framework in place.

  • West Luna is too close to Luna. I originally saw myself following the actual Ultima Online maps for the size of the world, including how many houses can be placed in an area. My story is going to be bigger than that. You can have a city with a handful of houses. This will be changed eventually. Good thing the physical size of West Luna is pretty much only mentioned in the first chapter.

What almost?

  • The schedule. Everything but the last chapter was pretty much on track. We'll see if I can write ahead for Volume 2 so that problem won't turn up again.

What surprises?

  • The ending is where I wanted the story to be, but a lot of new developments came along the way. The characters that developed the most from what I originally intended for them were Tom and Reba and Nightshade. Nightshade didn't even have a name until moment before I typed it up. He was going to just be a nameless thief.

  • Other things that were completely unplanned or came at opportune moments: The teleport tiles and their involvement in the solution to the whole volume, the dream sequence, Tom's second appearance, and the energy vortex.

What else?

  • I'm so glad that I didn't write Stark as the stupid/comic relief paladin, as I originally saw it when I first came up with the idea. That changed quickly, and it was the right decision.

  • I think there is sufficient foreshadowing throughout Volume 1 to encompass the entire story should I ever complete it all. Not too much major foreshadowing, so you wouldn't notice if I never write about some of it, but the seeds are there for multiple story points if everything works the way I envision it.

  • Overall, I think it all came out pretty well. I'm probably going to go through it all and do one more revision of the whole thing. A few word and sentence tweaks here and there to tune the whole volume up better.

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