Other than indulging my penchant for expounding on space-related topics, and perhaps providing you with some insight into rocketry, I bring this discussion up because it informs a way I have been slowly coming to approach writing. I, probably like a lot of new writers, was approaching the writing of my stories like a single-stage-to-orbit. When I sat down to write, I had an expectation in my head that I would sit down and craft all of the components of a story in a single pass, and that revisions were mostly just for changing around wording and cleaning up typos. Which, it turns out, is really challenging to do, because stories are complicated.
This is my main solution when I'm struggling with a story and not sure where it's going to go next or what to write for a new scene. Usually, by the time that I return from a ten mile run, I've not only determined how I will solve whatever problem I was originally struggling with; I've also determined what will fill the several chapters or sequences, and it's often better than what I would have come up with just by sitting down at the keyboard and stewing over the text. Nor is this necessarily restricted to stories and writing, as I've used the same technique to help me develop solutions to all kinds of problems and stresses and challenges in my life: intellectual, personal, and practical. But that's beyond the scope of this post.
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.
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.
I am very excited to present to you the first episode of a brand new season of Blood Magic, the short story series that I've been publishing for over a year now on IGC Publishing to minimal fanfare. If you're not already familiar with it, I encourage you to go over to the main Blood Magic page or any of my myriad posts on the subject to learn more. Better yet, I encourage you to start at the beginning, and read the first episode. We even have a newly revised edition here on the site, newly re-released for 2021.
In any book, the author must introduce the characters, the situation, and the basic elements of the setting, but in fantasy and science fiction you might have a viewpoint character in the first chapter who isn't even human, living on a planet that isn't even in this universe. The very laws of physics might be different, never mind the differences in culture, history, civilization, and everything that goes along with that: systems of measurement, idioms, naming conventions, philosophical principles, mathematics, science...speculative fiction strives to introduce and immerse a reader in a world that might be completely different from that with which we are familiar.
I've noticed something about my writing recently, a struggle that I've been having but have not fully acknowledged. The problem is this: I'm too focused on the form of the words on the page.
As much as I intend this site to be a publishing apparatus, a means by which to present my own works, and eventually those of others, to a broader audience, this site is also about the writing itself, what goes into writing stories and making characters come alive for a reader. By no means can I, or do I, claim to be any manner of expert in how these things are done, and certainly I cannot assert how they ought to be done. There is a void, though, at least to my mind, and it is a void which I believe that perhaps in some small way I can help to fill. You see, there are so many books out there, and so many people who would love to be able to tell stories like that, and yet the process by which authors arrive at their magnum opuses is shrouded in mystery.
There are a lot of last days of the month falling on a Tuesday or Thursday this year, or at least it seems that way, and while I haven't use all of them to talk about Blood Magic (which as you know releases a new episode on the last day of every month), I did want to do so this time, for a couple of reasons. For one thing, it's been awhile since I posted about the series, and for another, this is the halfway point of the first season. Six episodes are now live, with six more to go to round out the first full season. So it seems worthwhile, at this point, to pause for a moment and take stock of where we're at in the series, both within the Blood Magic world, and in our own.