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Time for a new weekly writer’s roundup of my works-in-progress and those ready to read!

Steady progress was made on Vivian’s Last Cigarette this weekend. I edited the new chapter four that I finished last Sunday, and expanded it by almost a thousand words to add and improve a few things. These were focused on the chapter’s second half, particularly on the introduction of the first non-orc changeling to appear in the book, and an encounter with one of Gronk’s former friends that gets ugly.

The introduction of the new character needed refinement, mostly to get her voice consistently right. I also expanded the conversation she has with Viv and Gronk. Their dialogue now foreshadows some things that are important points later in the book, and the additional verbiage allowed me to pad everyone’s speech and give it a more natural sounding flow without packing it with filler-fluff.

The original version of the conversation did what it needed to do plot-wise, but was too short and pointed. Now it sounds like a brief, friendly encounter that drops a lot of background and upcoming story tidbits for the reader… without glowing neon signs pointing them out.

It was also fun to write a conversation that included talk about Chevrolet Camaros and Jackalopes in almost the same breath. ;-)

The new changeling, Cricket, is a pleasure to write because of her casual, new-age, and laid-back nature combined with a humorous side. She’s a four-foot, hippie – granola gnome girl. The teen plays a bigger role (no pun intended) as an ally in an upcoming chapter: When a chain of events has a couple of orcs seeking refuge in the Magic Moo-Shroom Metaphysical Shop (and petting zoo) that is her family’s business.

I’m looking forward to writing that bit. :-) And to writing her dad, Neil: He’s a mellow, former 60s hippie and Grateful Dead roadie. Obviously, his daughter is an apple that didn’t fall far from the tree! However, he is also a changeling, having gone dwarf from “The Change” around the same time Cricket did. Yet Neil is groovy with it… things are just pretty far-out these days, ya know, man?

Getting back to chapter four, my efforts on the last quarter of it were devoted to making Gronk’s former friend, Mike, more of a character and less of a cardboard cutout. In the first version, he’s just a flat jerk. After the revision I did Saturday, he’s a more rounded character. He’s still being rotten, but is doing so because of his fears and external pressures that eventually get shown to the reader in an ugly way.

He’s definitely being spineless and not doing the right thing, but now I think there’s a little sympathy for him. It leads to a downer moment of no winners that makes the whole scene sting a lot more than the original version as it closes.

On Sunday I got chapter four edited into a second draft thanks to Kim’s feedback. Then I edited an unrelated new short story of mine (I hope to share it here soon) before cranking-up some 80s punk and starting the new chapter five.

I was a thousand words deep before the day was over, and the opening pages of this latest chapter were pleasant writing. Viv and Gronk are goofing off, bantering and playing the Gauntlet arcade game while waiting for a pizza. Its funny stuff, and a healing change of mood compared to the downbeat end of chapter four. But because of the way that chapter ended, the reader knows that the clock is ticking unbeknownst to our intrepid orcs. Trouble is on its way, and if Viv knew of the danger she wouldn’t be playing games.

It’s subtly tense. And I was able to write right-up to where a different –and competing– sort of trouble walks in the door. ;-)

And that’s where the novel is sitting at as of today. I don’t think the rest of chapter five will take too long to write, given that what I still want to happen in it consists of about two and a half more scenes. This makes me hopeful that I might get it finished next weekend, and then I’ll be on to the last of the new chapters being added to the book’s opening!

Alright, time for me to stop blogging and get back to writing some more fiction! Take care!

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