Yesterday, I finally finished up the last chapter of Judgment of Honor, wrapping it up at about 103k words. If I consider it as a whole with Choices of Honor (which, in a sense, I should), it’s been a long, hard slog since March when I started work on Choices. As it were, I started the actual writing of Judgment in August, once I’d finished production on Choices.
I hadn’t intended for it to take this long. Unlike Choices, which threw me the middle finger about a quarter through the outline, Judgment has been rather well-behaved as far as the plot is concerned. The biggest challenge was the move from a quasi-Pacific Northwest Plateau setting to an entirely new setting on the other side of an ocean. Three of the viewpoint characters end up in this environment while the fourth is in a new part of the old location. Even more so, the climate varies from tropical island to temperate mainland and–surprisingly difficult–visualizing an east-facing coastline. You wouldn’t think it would be that difficult to conceptualize where the ocean lies in proximity to north, but it was, indeed, much harder than I had thought. I guess that reveals me to be a hard core Westerner.
And setting is important because for at least the Empire, control of the land’s magic becomes an issue. The land itself becomes a secondary character (I had started that exploration in Choices, and am playing with it a bit more in Judgment). I know that’s going to be a huge factor in rewrites.
The process for this draft has been slower than usual, though, probably due to the multiple viewpoints. This is only the second time I’ve used this many POVs (four). The last time, in Netwalking Space, things were made easier by having a heavy suspense-laden plot where things could happen a lot faster with fewer issues caused by the environment. This time around, not only was I limited to fantasy structures, but I had a LOT more travel time to account for. Plus meddling Gods, Gods gone bad, and a megalomaniac sorcerous Emperor ripe for overthrow by distant relatives.
But the setting, oh Gods, the setting. I spent a lot of time thinking about how to show it, especially the huge differences in the new land’s culture for two of the characters. I have this distinct feeling that the rewrite is going to reveal that now I need to go back and work on characters. Or not. I won’t know for a while, especially since I’m going to let the book sit for a month while I start development on the next book.
For the most part, I was able to stick to a discipline of 2000 words a day. I just didn’t always write every day, and toward the end, sometimes I only got a few hundred words in. Some of this was due to just plain Life. We traveled to Glacier National Park for a week in September. After returning from Glacier, we focused on wrapping up woodcutting for the winter. Helped move the son’s girlfriend in with him. Did some pleasure drives in the woods (also known as scouting for next year’s woodcutting). All the same, October writing turned into a slog. I was getting tired of the characters. Tired of this world. At one point I was honestly starting to wonder just how the heck people manage to write multiple books in a series before releasing any of them, because I was certainly sick of this otherwise well-loved world I’d built. Flip side, I was wondering how someone manages to take longer than this to actually write a single book for longer than four months because I was definitely Sick. To. Death. of this world, more so than my usual end-of-book ennui.
I guess that speaks to my typical process. Or perhaps the reality that these two books have eaten up most of my writing production this year (we shall not speak of the Problematic Climate Change Novel that ate the end of 2018/first part of 2019. It has many many issues, and if the foundation novella of it hadn’t sold well for the small press that I have nothing but nasty thoughts about, I’d have gotten the rights back and dropped the damn thing. But it has some good stuff at its core–it’s just not working as I set it up. And I won’t release the version the press had because oh God, it’s horrible).
For the first part of the book, I kept up a handwritten journal where I explored thoughts and ideas related to the story (and noted new ideas). But after I got into the last 30k words, that discipline faded off. Maybe that failure of discipline had to do with my book exhaustion. In past books, I’ve been able to juggle other stuff going on. Age? Story? I have no idea. Each book is its own creature.
At least it is done and ready to rest. The next book is going to be science fiction, and a drastic departure from this world. I have research to do, most of which is local. I’m also going to be worldbuilding on the rather complex world for the book after this, which is going to be Weird Western/multiverse/time travel.
And with this completion, I can safely say that the Goddess’s Honor series is finished. Will there be other stories in this world? Yes. There’s room for at least two more series. Goddess’s Honor ends with the death of one Goddess and the rise of a new Goddess to replace her. But for now, those stories have to ferment and age before they’re ready to be written–and I have other stories that have been patiently waiting their turn to be told. It’s their time as well.
Meanwhile, I have things to sew for the three weeks of holiday bazaars starting next weekend. A book-to-quilt piece to conceptualize and create. Two quilting challenges to meet for the local guild. And Miss Mocha is making it clear that she is very, very happy to be returning to a veneer of quasi-show horse training as part of her riding routines. Snow and ice appears to be holding off for a while, so I’m taking advantage of that to get riding time in.
I’m definitely not lacking for things to do.