Razor Mountain Development Journal — Chapter 7

This is part of an ongoing series where I’m documenting the development of my serial novel, Razor Mountain.

You can find my spoiler-free journals for each chapter, my spoiler-heavy pre-production journals, and the book itself over at the Razor Mountain landing page.

A Big One

This was a long chapter, clocking in at 5,100 words. It was also  split into several short scenes, which is not something I typically do very often. A side-effect of this is that I have more convenient places to split the chapter into blog posts, and this results in a bunch of smaller posts rather than a couple large posts. I don’t have a ton of metrics, but I suspect people will generally prefer bite-sized pieces when reading online.

I’m still using Simple Writer as a guide to make these God-Speaker chapters feel different in tone and style to Christopher’s chapters, although I can’t bring myself to cut all of the “less simple” words. One of the interesting side-effects of using this tool is that it tends to highlight adjectives and adverbs as naturally less common words. I end up cutting words that I probably ought to consider cutting anyway, even if I weren’t trying to simplify the language.

Wildlife Research

I continue to research wildlife from thousands of years ago, and bits of it creep into almost every chapter. Did you know that there were ice age giant beavers? Yeah, there were ice age giant beavers. Six to seven feet long. Mammoths are neat and all, but there are all these other cool kinds of megafauna that nobody really talks about.

Accidental Inventions

It’s interesting to realize that I didn’t really map out any of the interpersonal relationships between God-Speaker and other members of his tribe when I was outlining. They didn’t even have names until the point where I needed to write them. So much for outlining making the writing trivially easy. Even with an outline, you have to invent some aspects of the story on the fly, and they might still surprise you.

I think these chapters would be a lot duller without that interplay between people, even if I did lean more heavily on the people vs. nature conflict that is pretty natural for prehistoric people in a hostile environment. Besides, the people vs. nature conflict is already present in this part of Christopher’s story, and it’s good to have variety.

It also turns out that these relationships and conflicts help develop God-Speaker’s character in useful ways. They make sense of his background as we progress further into the story, and help to explain why he does what he does, and why he is who he is.

A Connection

It’s exciting to note that this is the first of God-Speaker’s chapters where Razor Mountain comes into view, and the mountain is the first thing that links God-Speaker’s story to Christopher’s (since it was also mentioned in passing in Chapter 3). Appropriate for the name of the book.

Thoughts Going Forward

According to the outline, I’m only about halfway through Act I, but it feels like I should probably be a little further along. I’m going to look into trimming from the act so it doesn’t feel overly drawn-out. I often find it easy to cut chunks out of chapters in editing, but I find it harder to make broader cuts that might affect whole chapters. However, it’s been a little while since I finished the outline, so now is probably a fine time to revisit it and see if it still makes sense now that I’m decently far into the book and have a little better idea of what it wants to be.

That’s all for this chapter. See you after chapter 8.

Author: Samuel Johnston

Professional software developer, unprofessional writer, and generally interested in almost everything.

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