Sunday, April 4, 2010

Chapter 1 Redux Marathon

For those of you following along at home, you know that we've started on a marathon challenge of re-writing the beginning in a few different ways to see if we can come up with something better. Since we've been getting a lot of good feedback, we thought we'd share with you what we're thinking in rewriting the prologues.

Why not stick with the original prologues?

It was a tough decision to try re-writing. We were very fond of the original four prologues, but after looking at them again, we realized that they set up a few problems. We aren't saying that these are huge problems, but they're what we're thinking about when we try out these alternate openings. These issues are:

1. The prologues start with Fell. This is tricky because, as many people have pointed out, Fell doesn't end up being a central character to the entire plot. If anything, it seems like the story centers more around Averi and Wisteria. Of course Fell is important, but by starting with Fell, we set up a the wrong expectation about whose story it is.

2. The prologues build up a world that we quickly lose sight of. Fell's world is built on the bonded laborer system and local bullies. Averi is from a palace, and Wisteria is from the Ling Monastery. All of these are important, but maybe they aren't the most important parts of the SFA world. Maybe they aren't what we need to immediately lead with.

3. The prologues introduce four different characters. While we do like the idea of showing where everyone comes from, we're worried that it's a lot of people to meet--instead of building up a connection with one character, it feels a little scattered.

What now?

For the next few weeks, we'll be playing around with the introduction and seeing what we can come up with. The original prologues will still have a place in the continuity of the world, even if we end up going with a different opener. We know that rewriting means potentially losing some of the good things we liked about the original prologues, but just maybe we can come up with some new good things that serve SFA a little better. When you read, keep in mind that you're reading a rough draft--something we've written but haven't yet polished. We're doing this to just try out a few different ideas before we start feeling locked into one of them, but the downside is that they'll feel rougher than the original prologues.

Anyway, that's what's going on behind the scenes here at SFA. Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave any comments you have about the new openings.

KL and JLY


  1. Out of curiosity... what caused the sudden desire to edit book one? While I don't disagree with your reasoning, I find it odd that you suddenly stopped work on book two to edit book one again.

    On that note, I think the entire book could be improved by a rewrite focusing on viewpoint, sort of along the lines of what you're saying in your third point. Instead of building up a connection with one or two viewpoint characters, the viewpoint really seems like... wandering third person. It is somewhat scattered and limits attachment to any single character. Each scene should be limited to a single viewpoint character.

    Using two primary viewpoints (Averi and Wisteria) really seems the best route to me. In fact, focusing on writing everything from their viewpoints could really bring out more depth in characters like Fell and Rai, slowly exposing the mystery of their pasts rather than it being obvious.

  2. All hard questions you ask in your blog, but I so wonder most of all whether you're not always going to have down sides. Is there some way to measure if a new one has improved over the others?

    1. To Chris: That is a very good question. It's hard to say without any concrete criteria, but we're trying to do our best.

  3. Wasn't Wysteria's monastery a central point for the plot? I mean didn't an army attack it as a prelude to kidnapping princess Averi (whom they thought was Wysteria) and TRYING TO START A WAR with Seraph?

    As for Fell being a central character? I don't know, but I DO like how the story shows him growing from a bumbling farmer who had to be rescued by a cow to a stout warrior who could take down three thugs that have been harassing him all his life.

  4. To Matt: KL and I had actually been talking about editing book one for awhile, but what really pushed us to rewrite the first book was the feedback and energy we'd received from a writing workshop we'd attended. After getting some comments from agents, editors, and fellow writers, we were inspired to take another stab at the first book and redress some of the initial issues we'd had with it. We do regret having to stop our work on book two, but book one re-writes aside, KL and I also had serious family and academic issues that we needed to deal with at the same time.
    To Chris: I don't think there is a method to be certain a new opening is improved over the others, but KL and I are just trying to feel things out.
    To Anonymous: Wisteria's Ling Monastery is a central point, but it will not be taken out of the main plot, merely restructured.

  5. Hey KL,

    I love the work all of you guys do, it's an excellent story, I just thought I'd provide two little things I noticed.

    Firstly, the "contact us" link at the bottom of some pages (I don't know if it's all of them) takes you to the terms of service. That's why my comments wound up here.

    Secondly, If you're at the main page of the third chapter in book two, it doesn't show the fourth chapter. At all. I had to hunt through the archives to the end of chapter three, then take the jump to chapter four. Just thought I'd try and help you out! :)

  6. just read SFA and i must say as a keen reader i am impressed, i loved the story and yeah it had it's flaws and wasn't perfect but nothing ever is, the point is i couldnt stop reading :). just wondering when Book 2 is expected to be complete? and how many books are you planning to write for SFA? hope you don't give up and keep writing :) it would be a shame to not finish this story ><* the thief action scenes are just pure awesomeness!!!!! always intense, always something new, and always keeps me on my toes ^^ please dont give up on this, i hope there will be a time where you can dedicate your full attention to this ^^ i will definantly buy if it becomes available in the UK!!

    just wanted to note that i do agree about the misguiding order of the prologues, i assumed fell was the main character in all this, partially because he was the first character introduced, but i also think mainly because he is a stereo typical hero, starts off really weak and helpless, but with an ambition, works hard, shows the highest potential for growth. but he does show i would say slightly annoying growth, as in you want him to get strong quick but it's so painstakingly long its annoying (good thing) but one thing i didnt really like is how sometimes he would revert to his useless weak self (beat by that girl with the rapier during rankngs, way in which he struggles in fights against clearly weaker people, this is the guy that challenged rakam.. he should be a lot cooler in terms of fightinh, just how averi is at thief battles. im gonna shut up now hahaha. good luck!!!!!

  7. Where are you. Your book is so hard to find. If I find it, it costs 100$. Your main site is closed.

    1. To Anonymous (2/14/12): We had to take the novel offline while we were querying agents, and that also meant taking down the main website. Sorry it's hard to find. We are currently working to make it available and accessible to everyone.

  8. Hey. I wandered away from this story a few years ago due to life getting busy. Recently it I have been wondering what happened in the world after I left. So I finally cracked down and searched through the web for online fiction. Now it looks like this page has not seen any activity since 2010, and the main page is down.

    This is very sad. I really enjoyed this story. I am not sure what happened to you guys, but I sincerely hope you are doing okay, and that you will find the time and energy to get back to it. Thanks for the good times.


    1. To Anonymous (2/18/12): We're really glad that you enjoyed the story. Life happened to get in the way of our being able to continue the novel, but we're hoping to get it back up and running soon. Thanks for your support!

  9. I have been wondering what happened to the site/comic for a while. Between work and moving and travel, and a computer dying thus losing my links - I was wondering the other day what became of Eastridge Academy and it's students. After searching I found little information and the site no longer available. I loved your story very much and I'm curious to know if it continues at all in any form?

  10. To Anonymous: We've been gone from the site for a while, partially due to life events and partially due to the fact that we were trying to get picked up by a publishing house. We are back now, and hoping to put up the website soon. Thank you for your kind words.