Last year around this time, I was having doubts about whether I should do a second season of Blood Magic, much less a third. The response to the first season had been lackluster to say the least, many of the episodes had been a struggle to write, and there was a significant opportunity cost to continuing to work on something that seemed to be a dud, instead of turning my focus to something that might be better received, like Fo’Fonas. This year, I am pleased to say that I did not have any hesitations or reservations about continuing with the third (and final) season of Blood Magic.
Some of the episodes I've written for Blood Magic have been memorable to me, for one reason or another: the first two because I wrote them and revised them so many times before they became part of this series, the season one finale, Borivat's story in Cracks in the Ice, or even the recent Contaminant. In some cases it might be because of the amount of time I spent on the writing, or how difficult the writing was, or, less commonly, how much I personally enjoy a given episode. Should I admit that I remembered very little about Unbalanced before I did my pre-revision re-read?
Aside from cleaning up continuity, I also made some minor technical changes to things like sentence structures, and word choice. Changes or no changes, I really enjoy this episode, and I am pleased to present it to you.
Unlike episode four, which when I went to do revisions I liked almost nothing about, there were a lot of things that I liked about Far From Home as I did my customary re-read in preparation to do my revisions. I thought the original did a good job of capturing Kiluron's attitude, and the interactions with the foreign visitors was better than I expected to find it. I also liked the conflict I had set up, though I realized that I would need to build it out in a little more detail for the revisions, and that I needed to either change, or do without, the contrived fight scene with Vere. Maybe that's why I found it oddly difficult to work on the revisions for this episode.
Either I forgot, or I thoroughly repressed just how bad episode four was. At least, I hope it was one of those two, because I would hate to think that as either an author or a reader I ever looked at this episode and thought it was good. When I went to start revisions on this episode, I floundered around, looking for some way to start, because I thought that it was so bad that no amount of revision could help. I was very nearly tempted to throw out the entire original text and start over again, and the only thing that restrained me was that I'm still nominally calling these revisions, and have promised to be somewhat true to the original episodes. That meant, unfortunately, that I was stuck with the silly plot involving some thieves, some poison, and some gold.
As I was writing the first two episodes of Blood Magic's second season, and working on revisions for the first season's episodes, I realized that I didn't have an adequate vision of how Merolate's government was actually structured. I knew the broad outlines - the Prime is in charge, he or she has an advisor, the Sub-Prime is the successor, the provinces are run by Governors who are subject to the Prime - but that's not really a full government.
Going back and re-reading these early episodes has really made me recognize just how much my writing has improved (in my opinion, anyway) in the less-than-a-year since I started releasing Blood Magic here on the site. The beginning of this episode, much like episode two, was told in a weird, semi-omniscient viewpoint, before reverting to the third person limited that is characteristic of most of the series. I think this was probably me trying to do a sort of "establishing shot," like would be done in a television show, but that technique really doesn't work for writing. It makes me wonder if I even recognized how jarring the viewpoint switches would be, or if I even knew I was doing it.
I hope that you've been following along with Blood Magic this year, because it's already been pretty exciting. I'm very pleased with how the revised editions of the first season episodes are coming together (revised versions of the first two episodes of season one should now be live here on the site), and the first two episodes of the second season have been pretty strong, as well. At least, I think so, which is mostly based on how the writing process went for them. Usually, that's a decent guide.
Hopefully you remember from last month that one of my projects for this year involves revising and re-releasing the previously published episodes of Blood Magic's first season. When I first thought about undertaking this initiative, I mostly imagined it as an editing pass, finding grammatical and typographical errors and cleaning them up, maybe tightening up the narrative a bit. However, when I went back and actually began revising, I found that I had a lot more to change than I had expected.
This post is loosely inspired by Brandon Sanderson's habit of posting complete annotations for many of his novels and stories, detailing how the story changed and evolved throughout his planning and revision processes, as well as what thoughts went into certain key decisions. I've found those annotations incredibly helpful as I've been working to improve my own writing, especially the copy of Sixth of the Dusk in which he includes complete drafts from various stages of the writing process. My goal is to offer something in a similar vein here, aimed both at fellow writers, and those of you interested in learning more about what goes into bringing Blood Magic to life.