Progress on Of the North

Graduation went off all right, being unusually short. I only had to actually talk once, which was funny, but another story, and we got home safely with our Doctor. I got some sewing done in the car, too.

I’ve got four documents for Of the North now. I’ve got the story itself, in its current in-between stage, still somewhere around fifty thousand words. I’ve got a document full of notes for it, not really organized, about 3300 words at the moment. I have a very organized (for me) document with outlines of each chapter and a chart of the plot structure. And I have a document with new scenes, about 7500 words as of this writing.

I wrote the first draft of the story for my first NaNo, the year before last (already), and it was the first story of mine that I’d done anything like a plot for beforehand. It started with a writing prompt:


which inspired this little piece of something, which hinted, even at the time, at something much larger and more complete:

   “You!” she gasped, her face turning as white as her headrail. She staggered and leaned against the doorpost, clinging to it as she stared at the visitor. “You!” The word came out as a groan.
   By all appearances the man who had knocked at her door was nothing to elicit such surprise and fear. He (description once i [sic] find out who he is).
   “Thank God I’ve found you!” he said, not noticing her reaction, or, if he did, not understanding it. “It may not be too late. I’ve found the door. Tomorrow’s Midsummer’s Day and if we leave now we can get there in time to go through before it closes.”
   “No,” she answered, shaking her head. “Oh, no, please, no.”
   “What’s the matter?” For the first time he looked at her and saw her pale face and the pain written on her countenance. “Can’t you come?”
   “No,” she said, shaking her head, as tears began to well up in her eyes. “I — I’m betrothed.”

which I then left and didn’t do anything with for a while.

I’m not certain about the dates. It might have been the summer of 2015, or earlier. Anyway, the concept (and general quality of writing) changed quite a bit by the time I started writing the story. I finished it, was pleased with it, got some beta-readers, passed it on to an interested professor after that, and then let it sit for a while. Somewhere in that time I’d found out how much needed changing. Then I started Wind Age (2016, now) and learned so much about writing through it that my judgement of Of the North‘s quality went sharply down.

So, of course, I decided it needed complete rewriting. The plot would stay just the same, I thought, but I’d see it come out with better writing quality.


Though the bones of the story are good, and the biggest problem was that I didn’t do it justice, I found that it needed more than that. The main antagonist was causing problems that directly affected the plot. I was a bit stumped. Fortunately, during finals week, Jenny and I spent an evening together, talking (among many other things) of writing. She came up with a good idea of how to fix things, and I’m trying it out. So far it’s working well.

I’ve written five entirely new scenes, and, getting overwhelmed at how much I had to do, decided to go through and make notes of what needs to be fixed for each chapter. That takes up a little less than a page. The other five pages in that document are all notes of new things to add, or stream-of-consciousness trains of thought as I try to work through a sticky spot in writing (which really does help).

Characters have also developed in some surprising ways, which adds a lot more depth to the story (something it was seriously lacking), especially when the main character is starting to make more sense. I can’t say she’s changed, because as I find things out, they’re things that were always there (these are often lightbulb moments, as the saying goes), but I’m getting to know her better, with the result (hopefully) that she comes more alive to my readers. Other characters are the same way, I hope.

I’ve done more research since the first draft, also, which means some things are going to change. One of the things that’s come up is the state of the church at the time, which affects more than you’d think it would.

Next week I start an online class which goes till the end of July. I’m hoping either it doesn’t take much time of each day, or it’s the kind of thing where you don’t have to go at a set speed so I can finish it early. Either way I’d like to work on Of the North for Camp NaNo, or maybe a story for the Rooglewood contest if that works out.

Actual writing progress, as in scene revision or new scenes, hasn’t been much yet. This story is an unusual one for me, as I’ve sat down and planned things out before working on it, both when doing the first draft, and when preparing to revise, so I have got a lot of notes of things to do. I would not be surprised if it ended at much nearer 75,000 words than 50,000. Or even more than that.

It will probably need a second round of beta-reading.


About Nolie Alcarturiel

Creative Writing major and Philosophy minor, contemplating a Master's degree in Medieval History. I enjoy practically anything to do with medieval history, including the domestic arts, with an especial emphasis on the Anglo-Saxon Era. In my spare time I read endlessly, do medieval living-history, hold philosophical debates at the drop of a hat, and write books on even slighter provocation.
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