Authoring Annals 4 – Tweaking the Outline – Mantivore Warrior – Book 3 of The Arcadian Chronicles #AuthoringAnnals #Brainfluffwritingblog #MantivoreWarrior #AmWriting


I’m on the final lap of editing Mantivore Prey, the second book in The Arcadian Chronicles, which will be released on 30th November, barring any major catastrophes. This is the cover for Mantivore Prey, which as ever was designed by the marvellous Mhairi Simpson and I’m really pleased with it.

I made a strong start on Mantivore Warrior while in Bexhill on a wonderful writing retreat with my sister-in-law last month, but once I hit Chapter Three, it all slowed down a bit. Chapter Three provides the first major plotpoint which changes everything up. I’ve flung everything, including the kitchen sink into this pivotal scene, which is ambitious as there hasn’t been all that much time for readers to bond or care about the characters. Initially, I had one of the antagonists killing a relation in the outline, which worked well enough. But when I actually came to write the scene, it turned into something a lot more visceral and violent – and I began to feel uncomfortable about writing the death. Granted, we hadn’t known the character all that well beforehand, so there wasn’t going to be a major shock to the reader. But it seemed a rather bleak beginning to have a character that the protagonist really cares about felled at a time when he’s hoping to turn everything around. What had seemed reasonable in the outline, suddenly was far more of a big deal, given the emotional heft I’d added in the writing of it.

I’ve tweaked events, so said elderly relative is now in a coma and fighting for her life. I’m leaning towards sparing her life, as things stand. But I do reserve the right to have her die after all, if I think it will better serve the story. I’ve rewritten the outline so that both outcomes can serve the story, though it will affect the overall tone if young Jessob is mourning the loss of this character and vowing vengeance. It was what I’d originally intended.

But once I finished Chapter Three, that plotline felt less effective than the alternative, where he’s fighting to help her recover. So I’m looking forward to getting further along so that I can discover which plotline will be the one that prevails…

14 responses »

    • Thank you, Tammy. It occurred to me that as I’m now writing quite a bit, I rarely mention the actual process. Obviously, I don’t want to bore folks, but I thought I’d start writing about it some of the issues that crop up and see what the response is. Thank you for the encouragement:).

    • Thank you, Suzanne – as I mentioned above, it struck me that I haven’t mentioned all that much about how I write and given the fact that I’m worked really intensively at the moment, I wanted to share that aspect. Especially as people now are reading the final product.

  1. ooooh what a neat post SJ!! I feel like my own outline is in flux as I write. Many times a scene can totally open up the story as my imagination runs away with me. I do really love the idea of a coma and think its a great way to develop our sympathy and understanding of why the loss of this person is so important. Much more effective for me than a sudden early death of a character I didn’t care about in the beginning. Thank you so much for sharing!! I hope it develops to your satisfaction. ❤️

    • Thank you, Dani. Yes… I am trying to be a lot more disciplined about writing to an outline – the last book, in particular, was a nightmare. Because although I already knew how it was going to start and finish, the boggy mid-book bit in the middle did just that – bogged me right down. This time around, I very much wanted to avoid that, so have done a lot more planning and outlining. How much do you do?

  2. This was really interesting, I for one would like to read more about your process and thoughts along the way. You should come up with some sort of regular update along those lines 😀 – although I could just be adding to your workload with that suggestion.
    Lynn 😀

    • Thank you! I’m heartened at the reaction I’ve had – a number of folks have said similar things and as I am writing intensively at the moment, it makes sense that I talk about the issues that arise as I do so:)

  3. Coming a year later, when Mantivore Warrior is already out in the world, I can’t help wondering which storyline you ended deciding on… I can very much relate to such situations too when you think you have everything planned and then you realize something doesn’t make sense or won’t work out for some other reason. It always makes me think of trying to fix one card in a huge house of cards: if you manage, the house will become more stable. If you don’t… it all collapses.

    • Yes… it’s fascinating reading this one now – because there were a couple of other stages where I needed to go back to the plan and make major changes to it, as I took other decisions. I am a fan of planning and I’m not going to stop putting in the time and effort before I start writing. But I will reserve the right to make changes along the way, when characters or the plot suddenly takes a left turn. Whether I like it or not, that is part of my writing process. More importantly, it also makes absolute sense when I go back and reread and edit what I’ve written.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.