This is part of my ongoing series where I’m documenting the development of my serial novel, Razor Mountain. Be forewarned, there are spoilers ahead! You can start from the beginning here.
I worked through the chapter summaries for what is now chapters 37, 38, and 39. I finished the expanded second draft outline for the book!
Taking a Moment to Reflect
One of the interesting things about journaling my progress on this project is that I can go back and see how I got to this point. I did that this week, rereading a bunch of my earlier development journals. I wanted to look for any ideas from earlier on that I had forgotten about as the story evolved.
I didn’t find too much lost by the wayside, although there were a couple ideas that stood out to me. Early on, I talked about mirroring between Christopher’s story and God-Speaker’s story. I think this is a subtle way to make these stories feel more connected, event though they don’t actually come together until Act III, when Christopher meets the Razor Mountain cabinet members.
This mirroring could range from similar events, like a blizzard happening in each story around the same time, to turns of phrase or ideas that show up in both places, to places or things revealed in the distant past that we see again in the modern era. I don’t think I’ll plan these things out in too much detail. I’ll just keep on the lookout as I write.
The other idea I came back to is using simplified language for the Act I God-Speaker chapters, to reflect the limited language of the stone-age humans in that tribe. I think this is something worth experimenting with, but it could also go horribly wrong and just be obnoxious to read. I intent to try making it work, but I’ll throw out that idea or heavily limit it if it gets in the way of the story.
Finally, I realized that there is an opportunity when Christopher is being kidnapped by the exile brothers. He has emotional baggage related to his own brother, who died saving his life when they were children. Christopher talks with these brothers, trying to understand why Harold puts up with (and supports) Garrett, whose decision-making seems questionable at best. Harold is the calm, collected, clear-headed one, but he believes that he and his brother are a pair that absolutely need each other. They’re two parts of a whole, and he’s willing to relegate himself to the number two position in service of that.
This is an opportunity to expand on Garrett and Harold’s relationship, and also get at some of Christopher’s back-story, explaining why he’s so risk-averse.
Warming Up the Printing Presses
With a solid outline in hand, I’m digging into all of the miscellaneous tasks that need to get done before I start posting chapters.
I need a halfway decent book cover in a few different sizes and formats. I need to write a back-cover blurb to describe the book. I need to write an author profile. I need to sign up and set up the book on the services where I’m going to release it. I need to work out beta readers/critiquers to help polish the chapters before I post them.
While I’m working on all of that, I’m also reading Clan of the Cave Bear, a book from the ’80s that follows ice-age humans and neanderthals, with the fantasy conceit that humans are more naturally adaptable, but neanderthals possess a racial memory that allows them to access the experiences of their ancestors.
This book hit my radar because of the time period it’s set in, which is obviously similar to what I’m looking at for God-Speaker’s Act I chapters. I was curious how it handles the characters and their interactions. The speculative fiction elements were something I wasn’t aware of when I started reading, but the ancestral memory angle is in the same ballpark as God-Speaker’s mind-jumping memory and the memories stored in the artifacts within Razor Mountain. Coincidences abound.
This week was mostly reading and planning, as I figure out some of the busy-work around serial publishing. By next time, I’m hoping to have a lot of that stuff done. I may also start drafting chapters. I want to build a backlog so I have time for critique and can still maintain a steady posting schedule. We’ll see what I’m actually able to get done by next week.