So many ideas that have been floating around in the back of my mind for over a year have finally crystalized into concrete form!
The work on Thursday night was very productive. I tied down the magic system and mythology in a rare moment of utmost clarity and was able to work in my mind without notes and run through the entire plot line of THE REFLECTING STONE and consider all the major scenes where magic is wondered about, hinted at, revealed, learned about, and finally used. There were seven key scenes that mattered significantly, and I was able to jot down notes for each describing how things *really* should work. I was able to review the entire novel in detail and in depth in just a couple of hours, and the insights were tremendous. Finally all those loose ends which I had wrestled with in the editing, which ultimately stalled the editing, were brought together.
I feel like I now have the keys to the castle! I built this huge thing, and now I am the master of it! I'm talking about the story, of course, and how things work in the world of the story.
Finally, after so much work and bewilderment, I realized questions that I needed to ask, questions which I had not realized existed. I found answers to everything except a few minor details, which I can work out, but 99% of it was answered clearly, including every major issue.
I now know the limits of magic, which are very few, the cost of magic, which is nothing in a direct sense, and only one thing in an indirect sense, making this a little unusual for a fantasy novel, but it works and makes perfect sense and fits the story. I won't give it away, but there is an effect of working the magic, having the magic, that changes the attitude and culture of those who possess the magic over time, without their realizing it. Otherwise, their magic seems to have no cost whatsoever and virtually no limit. It fits this story in which those who possess magic are connected to the gods, though are not gods themselves.
I can also see a few alternate interpretations of the mythology, other ways I can work with it in future novels in the series, changing the tone of things, shedding new light on things, twists along the way that will transform the Reader's understanding while not undoing or negating what has already taken place in the first novel. This is good, since it gives me room to work with, a chance to let the story grow over time.
And, of course, all this not only makes it possible to resume the editing work on THE REFLECTING STONE, but also provides a solid foundation to expand on the mythology as I continue work on THE ISLE. As I noted in my last posting, these two novels appear totally separate, unrelated, as if in different worlds, stand-alone novels, yet in some way they are related, and that becomes clear to the Reader over time in the second one. However, like a lot of people I don't like "sequels" that are written so obviously as part of an ongoing story and that leave you hanging at the end -- I like stories that have stand-alone impact, yet also fit into a running story line. There is more satisfaction if you feel your effort in reading one story was rewarded within the context of that one story as it would be for a stand-alone novel. It's great if that story also contributes on a higher level toward a larger, developing plot line as well.
It never ceases to amaze me how I can put so much effort into planning, developing and writing a story, only to find that I still have so much to "learn" about the story months and months down the road! At least I have allowed myself to stand back and let the story grow as it needs to, since it wasn't "done" yet even though I thought it was. I think it is now but, again, we'll see.
It turns out my "one page" of notes that I intended to write after my last posting was many pages long and nearly 8,000 words, but with those notes I am now ready to push on with a much clearer sense of just what it is I'm doing! I love it when my work is that productive. Wish it were that way all the time.
Long live the Tentacle-Fighters! (Nod again to Debra for that image.)
Will get back to the prose now and update later this weekend.