Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

Writing Update #19

A weekly progress report as I work through the editing of my current fantasy novel.

This was not the best writing week for me (I could bore you with tales of Christmas parties, shopping for mountain bikes, and other stuff, but I won't). Still, I pulled off 12 pages, so not awful. Just not that good. I certainly did not meet my minimum goal of 20 pages or 5%. I think, however, that this week will be better.

It's good to report progress regardless of the progress itself, at least for me. It shows me where I'm at, and where I need to improve. Best of all, it's an excellent indicator of whether or not I'm staying on target. This past week I got a little off target, so I'll need to double my efforts and make sure I make my goal for this upcoming week.

Overall, I'm on page 85 out of 368.

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I'm 23.1% complete, up about 3% from last week.

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Word count stands at 107,872, down from last week's 108,415. You can really see a smoothing of the graph in recent weeks. This is not to say that it won't have another dramatic drop (or rise), but lately the word count has hit a plateau of sorts. It will be interesting to continue watching this as I get further along.

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Legacy by Lois McMaster Bujold

Last month, I received all four of Bujold's Sharing Knife books from EOS. Their original call for advanced readers was for book four in the series, Horizon, due out January 27, 2009. But they sweetened the offer by throwing in books one through three. I jumped on it, promising to review not just Horizon, but all four books. As promised, here is the second of those reviews.

Legacy is the second book in Bujold's Sharing Knife series. To say it is the continuation of the story begun in book one, Beguilement, is an understatement, for Legacy picks up exactly where Beguilement left off. One might imagine the author having written both books at the same time as one giant volume, then chopping them in two when it came time for publication.

That being said, Legacy is, in fact, a semi-conclusion to events set in motion in book one. Dag and Fawn, married now, set out to return to Dag's Lakewalker camp where they hope to settle into the typical life of a Lakewalker married couple. The reader is given the feeling through Dag that things aren't going to be that simple. In Lakewalker eyes, farmers are not exactly inferior, but certainly not equals. Precedent as well as tradition dictate the two peoples remain separate, for it is believed that long ago Lakewalker sorcerers ruled common folk as lords. But bad things happened, and the modern day scourge of malice was the result. Now, Lakewalkers spend their days searching for malice uprisings, all the while recognizing that it was their doing that created them in the first place.

Dag and Fawn are not greeted with open arms. Just when things seem at their worst for our duo, the camp is presented with the distraction of a particularly bad malice uprising very nearly under a farmer village (a malice feeds best from children, so 'coming up' in such a place presents a bounty for the malice to feed from and grow in power). Dag is selected to lead the war party, and domestic disaster is averted, or is it? I will leave it up to you to find out for yourself.

In many ways Legacy is very much like Beguilement. The writing flows identically; you can tell Bujold wrote them both in one sitting (figuratively speaking, of course). The dilemmas as well, for while Dag and Fawn had to contest Fawn's family and their own traditions, so must they face similar challenges with Dag's Lakewalker brethren. The story also moves along at a fairly even pace. Don't expect a lot of grab you by the seat of your pants action or suspense. There are some gripping moments as the Lakewalker hunting party closes in on the malice and then has to deal with the subsequent fallout, but those moments are short. Mostly, Legacy is a romance about the veteran Lakewalker, Dag, and his farmer bride, Fawn, and the challenges such a union must overcome.

Personally, I'm enjoying the series. The writing is excellent and has a certain 'folksy' mannerism about it that just works. Dag is an interesting character, especially as he begins to discover a whole new side to his sorcery, and one can't but help feel for Fawn as she attempts to make nice with her unappreciative mother-in-law.

Legacy is a fine demonstration of impressive writing, world-building, and characters. In other words, it’s a must-read.

Writing Update #18

A weekly progress report as I work through the editing of my current fantasy novel.

This past week was a good one: plenty of turkey, time-off, and writing.

Total page difference from last week was 21, made up of 19 pages edited and 2 taken off the total (through word reduction). That puts me at a current page of 75 out of 370 total pages.

Bottom line: I made my weekly total of 20+ pages.

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Percent complete is at 20.27%, up from last week's 15.05%.

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Total word count went down again, this time to 108,415 from last week's 109,520. A fairly gradual reduction this week, but a reduction nevertheless. I fully expect the total word count to continue to decline up to some point. I know, however, that I need to add some more content, so ultimately I still think it will even out in the end.

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That's it for this time. Good luck with your own writing.

Lord Darcy by Randall Garrett

I picked up a copy of Lord Darcy by Randall Garrett a while back as part of my research into a potential future project that would blend the genres of fantasy and mystery. Lord Darcy is just that: alternate historical fiction blended with mystery. It's a world where Richard the Lion-Hearted did not die on the battlefield, but instead went on to build the foundation of the greatest empire the world has ever seen.

Lord Darcy is Chief Special Investigator for the Duke of Normandy and, as such, he's called in to solve particular crimes perpetrated against members of the aristocracy. Much like Holmes had his Watson, Darcy has his O'Lochlainn: Master Sorcerer Sean O'Lochlainn, to be precise. Magic works in a sort of alchemy meets science manner. There are Laws of Magic and symposiums, all regulated by the government to the point where sorcerers must be licensed to practice else face severe penalties. There is also Black Magic, outlawed and dangerous as one might expect. Rest assured Darcy and O'Lochlainn have a tangle or two with practitioners of the dark form of sorcery.

Lord Darcy is a collection of short stories. While some are clever, others are so brief it's hard to immerse oneself in them. There is the novella Too Many Magicians which I found kind of droll--much of it is told through dialog and it quickly wore me down and I really found it confusing at times.

Lord Darcy (the character this time) and others come across as flat, and I think this is the biggest flaw with the entire collection. The characters have histories--Darcy himself is in his 40's (I'm guessing)--but we're never given much of a glimpse into his past or anything about his personal life. It's all about the crimes and the ease at which he sees what no one else can. This unfortunately is the fatal flaw in this book for me. I never cared a whole lot whether the crime was solved or not, the murderer discovered, or the conspirators brought to justice. Sorry, but that's just not good.

Writing Update #17

By my count, this is my 17th consecutive weekly writing progress update. How's that for some consistency?

Here's what I've accomplished this past week:

Pages edited went up 18 from last week's 38 to a current number of 56. Total page count went down by 5 from 377 to 372. That gives me 23 pages for the week (remember this is editing, so a reduction in total page count works, too. ;-) ). Not as good as last week's 25, but I'll take it. If I'm remembering correctly, I wanted to hit at least 20 pages/week, so I made it (this time).

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Percentage complete went up to 15.05% from last week's 10.08%.

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Total word count is interesting. When I started this second edit, it was at 112,737. It now stands at 109,520. That's good because I think I may wind up adding back in about 2-3,000 words of new material. I therefore like the downward trend, and I think it (hopefully) shows that I'm trimming the fat.

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That's it for this week.

Happy writing everyone.