Following Oracular #4: Excerpts!

OracularthingyI don’t think this post requires much of an intro, but… excerpts!  All taken from the first three chapters of Oracular, because, heh, that’s all that’s been written.  There’s some with Meriela and some with Tiri.  No wait, there is one excerpt from chapter four with Kalvias, so yay for Kalvias.


Meriela took a defiant bite of the naan and ran.


And finally, there, an open door into—she didn’t know what.  A man had just pulled the door drape aside and stood in the opening, talking to someone still inside.  Meriela ducked inside of it.  He stepped back, making a surprised sound.  “Wha—what are you doing?”

The building was a shop—a clothing shop, no less.  The man she’d barreled past stood in the doorway, staring at her with his dark eyes wide.  Meriela pressed herself against the wall, biting her lip, knowing that even if the guards hadn’t seen her, this man would point her out.

When footsteps clattered past the door, though, the man shifted his gaze to them, and there was something on his face.

Meriela remembered her naan and took another bite of it.  If they were going to arrest her for stealing, then she at least wasn’t going to let them see any of the evidence.  She licked cinnamon off her fingers.

Then, to her surprise, the man stepped back inside the shop and towards her.

“Those were Guardians,” he said.

Meriela’s face paled.  She’d had Guardians chasing her?  Not simple guards, but…

“What do they want you for?” the man asked.  He was quite a lot taller than her, like all Keilorians were.  Judging from the embroidery on the collar of his kameez, and the bright, vivid blue and gold coloring, he was one of the nobles.  What one, she had no idea, nor any interest in knowing.

Meriela took the last bite of her stolen naan instead of answering.

His eyes narrowed, gaze dropping to the bread before going back to her. He appraised her.  “You’re a thief?

“Are you going to turn me in?” she demanded.

There was something in his face—in those dark, unreadable Keilorian eyes.  The man was—well, not pale, but lighter-skinned than the average Keilorian.  Compared to her own freckled complexion, though, he really was golden.  A deep golden brown, like the sunset, even in this pink morning light.

“What do the Guardians want with a petty Akelyan thief?”

Meriela shrugged. “Maybe they’re mad about me being Akelyan and they’ve come to kick me out.” Which was a possibility.  Maybe the city had decided the insults, the dark looks, the distrust, the jabs and mocking, hadn’t been enough.  Time to remove the “other”.

It made her feel sick, but she wasn’t going to show the Keilorian that.

She couldn’t read his face, either. She didn’t want to wait to find out what that dark expression meant, so she moved around him to peek out the doorway.  It had been several moments since they had heard the Guardians pass, and she did not see any of them lingering. Time to go.

She didn’t say anything to the Keilorian or even glance at him again, but left him behind standing in the posh clothing shop.  He didn’t call after her, and she didn’t hear anyone chasing her.


Tiri was about ready to shove some clay in her ears so that she wouldn’t have to keep listening to the incessant chatter around her.


She just blinked slowly at him. “Are you here to brag about how well-liked you are?”


“Tiri?” Elaez said.  “You’re glaring at the wall instead of at me.”

“You want me to glare at you?”

“If you’re glaring at me, then I at least know I have your attention.  The wall, last I checked, wasn’t trying to convince you to marry it.”

“I wouldn’t accept the wall’s proposal any sooner than yours.”


In her dreams, the Guardians chased her and yelled insults. Ielae’haeci Akelyan.

When she inevitably fell, consumed with weakness and illness, they grabbed her up with their Shadows and held her over their heads, shouting, “We got her! We got her!” as if she were a prize.  Around her, people yelled and screamed, almost as if in celebration, as if she were something special.

Nobody seemed to notice the way the Shadows were scratching at her skin and making her bleed.  Nobody seemed to notice when they lit her feet on fire.  Nobody seemed to notice when they carved her open to see what was inside.


Kalvias was beginning to seriously consider the possibility of running away.  It would be very simple, his imagination reasoned.  Getting out of his parents’ home would be complicated, because as of the past two weeks they seemed to be scrutinizing his every move as if they were actually important, but getting out of the palace would be easy.  He would simply announce he was heading into the city to shop, and then the palace officials would all give him approving, “very good, ka’hir Ahlise” responses and then he’d go, ditch whatever palace guards tried to follow him, and then he’d be off.

Or…maybe not.

There was also the complicated matter of Cimizelle.

And also that ditching palace guards took effort.


So, whatcha all think?

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Following Oracular #3: Outlines! Yay Outlines!

Outlines!  Exciting, terrific, amazing outlines!Oracularthingy

…they were awful.

”It was mostly Tiri’s fault,” Cimizelle says.

“No, Kalvias was problematic, too.”

Kalvias looks sheepish.

I think it was everyone’s fault.

I wrote at least four outlines before I got something good out of it.

The first one all happened on note cards which I spread across my bedroom floor.  I would share pictures, but I can’t seem to find any.

After I finished that, then I realized the story was way too short and I needed to expand on it.  So I added more notecards.

And then—it was perfect! Beautiful!

I started typing it into Scrivener’s corkboard.  Going very well, very well, and then… something wasn’t right.

I mean, it was an okay outline. But it wasn’t quite the story that I wanted to tell. Things were off.

Okay, so, take three.  I started again.  Almost immediately, things were wrong again, although I don’t quote remember why.

Eventually, I got frustrated and gave up.  (I wrote other stuff. I started writing an old novel in poetry form. Very…interesting.)

So then one day, I thought, I need to just get this done and over with.

So I sat down and I just started writing the sloppiest, most not-working outline possible. Took me…eh, a few hours? Mostly one sitting.

Yay! Got one finished!

No. Not yay.

Turns out, I had a bunch of characters… uh, well.  For example, Kalvias travelled from one location to another in two days, when it should have taken him two weeks.

”I secretly had a train,” Kalvias says.

Ereinne looks puzzled. “Trains don’t exist in our world yet, though.”

“That’s the point.”

Meriela also fell in love with a guy two days after meeting him. Despite that he’s a very three-dimensional guy and after two days, he was really not a great person and not someone to fall in love with.

Meriela looks sheepish. “I’m just hopeless. We all know that.”

“Yup,” Tiri agrees. “You’re definitely hopeless.”

Raethl looks like he might be blushing, but he says nothing.

There were other problems, too, though.  But basically everything was on too tiny of a timeline and it was all happening at super speed.

So then I had to figure out how to slow it down. Especially when I have a character who spends quite a while just sitting there doing nothing.

Everyone looks accusingly at Tiri.

Tiri shrugs. “Not my fault. The Guardians gave me meaningless tasks.”

So then was… we’ll call it Attempt #17 because I’ve honestly lost track.  I sat down with my white board and started going through one character’s storyline at a time, trying to make it longer, but also figure out exactly how much time passed with each action, so I could create not just an outline but a timeline.

It was.

The.

Most.

Tedious.

Thing.

In.

Imagination.

Yeah, I made it through a handful of Meriela’s chapters, like three of Tiri’s, and gave up.

Now onto attempt #43!  (Well, after an extended break created from frustration and a totally-healthy dose of discouragement.)

I decided to stop figuring out their storylines and character arcs individually, but just figure it out beginning to end, like one would reading the story.  That way, I didn’t have characters in two places or some such thing when I wove the whole thing together.  I wrote it on my whiteboard in blue marker (and this time I have pictures! With spoilers removed, obviously), and when the whiteboard got full, I transferred it to a Scrivener file, and kept going until I hit The End.

You’re expecting this to keep going, aren’t you? Well, fortunately, the story ends here.  (Ha, get it? Get it?)

Cimizelle facepalms.  Someone else groans.

Ahem. I mean, yeah, so far that’s the most recent outline.  It’s not perfect, and in fact, in a lot of places, it’s very vague.  Chapter seven or something is just “Kalvias and Cim escape” and that’s all.

Very helpful notes, past-self. Thanks.

But it’s something that I can actually use to start writing.

The story is much larger. Draft two, which was roughly 110k, had just over 40 chapters.  This final (?) outline for draft three has about 70 chapters instead.

A larger story? Maybe.

The amazing thing about draft three is—it has a plot!

”Yeah,” Ereinne says. “Morgan has a lot of fun doing horrible things to us.”

Tiri snorts. “You have, what, one horrible thing?”

“I can think of at least half a dozen,” Ereinne says. “What horrible things happen to you? You’re Chosen!”

“Both of you, this isn’t a who-has-it-worse competition,” Raethl interrupts. “I would win it anyway.”

Tiri laughs. “No, you do it all to yourself. Morgan just laughs evilly and lets you do it.”

…no response, guys. No response.

Anyway, so how about you all?  Any horrific outlining experiences?  Or any tips for organizing/using your outlines once you have them?

Following Oracular #2: The Concept & Meeting the Cast

Hi, I’m Meriela.

So I guess I’m going to be telling you what the story is about, in a nutshell, and introducing you to my fellow characters.

So what Morgan calls her “elevator pitch” goes something like this:

An Oracle grows bored giving prophecies about other people being heroes, and she decides that this time, she’s going to be the heroine.

”That’s me,” Ereinne cheerfully says, waving.  “In case you didn’t guess.”

“Nope, definitely didn’t guess.”

“Tiri, stop being snarky.”

Obviously, that pitch doesn’t mention any of the rest of us, and Ereinne, hate to say it, isn’t the most important character.

The story of Oracular came out from two different concepts.  The first was the above pitch, about an oracle character deciding she didn’t really care for being an oracle.  The second idea was to play with the idea of prophecies and “Chosen One” characters, particularly ones who didn’t blindly follow their destiny just because that’s what they were supposed to do.  The two ideas obviously fit well into the same world, and so—

“Ugh,” Tiri interrupts.  “You make it sound so neat and peachy-keen.  This is what Oracular is about.

“If your eyes are blue, you’re an Oracle.  This means the Guardians, who are supposed to be knight-like warriors but really aren’t knights at all, take you away from your home and lock you in a tower, where you then spend the next several centuries giving mumbo-jumbo prophecies that don’t even make sense.  The Guardians then interpret your nonsense, and tell everybody else what they have to do because the prophecy says they have to do it.”

Well, there’s that.

The weird part is that the Guardians—er, the prophecies—talk about two Chosen Ones.  The first one is the one you’re all thinking of—you know, the great legendary hero character who saves the world and all that.  The second Chosen One character is…not so great.  He or she is the one who causes all the problems that the other has to save everyone from.  Basically, the bad guy.


So there’s the concept, to an extent.  Now, all of us characters and who we are.  We’ll go in alphabetical order.

Cimizelle

Funny that I’m first, because I’m not that major of a character in the first book.  I’m an Oracle and also a princess.  My parents faked my death when I turned into an Oracle at the age of three, and I’ve spent most of my life locked in a tower.

Ereinne

I am the one the elevator pitch talks about, as you knew!  I am over 300 years old, and I’ve spent all of that in the Oracle’s castle, kind of similar to Cimi’s situation, only I have been able to interact with other people on a regular basis.  It’s been my dream to be like the heroes I’ve met (once) and heard stories about, and so when I finally see my opportunity, of course, I take it.

Iaelie

I’m the Guardian assigned to Ereinne, which means it’s my job to keep her safe and, well, contained inside the castle.  When she sneaks out from under me and escapes the castle on her foolhardy “I want to be a hero” quest, I have to follow after her and try to get her back safely.  If I don’t get her back in one piece and quickly enough, I’ll lose any and all respect I’ve worked so hard to gain as a Guardian.

Kalvias

Ugh, my turn.  Okay, Cim (Cimizelle) is the real princess, but because she’s technically dead as far as the kingdom is concerned, the king doesn’t have an heir.  Enter me, the son of two of his advisors, and the king suddenly decides I’d make a great heir.  Never mind I have zero interest in being a future king.  To make matters worse, the gods seem to have endorsed this idea, and countless times over, Cim has prophecies and visions about me one day sitting on the throne.

Meriela

Every other character in this story has been born and grown up in Keilanor, where the story is set, but I’m a foreigner and an immigrant.  I don’t have a family, nobody trusts me with my green eyes (brown eyes are very important to the Keilorians) and pale skin, and so I spend most of my time on the streets, until one day, after nearly getting arrested, some Guardians inform me that I’m a Chosen One.

But I’m not the good guy.  Despite that I’ve never hurt anybody and my biggest desire in life has been to own a herbary and to fall in love, my destiny is to ruin the world.

Raethl

First, my littlest sister’s eyes turned blue when she was two.  The law says that we had to give her up to the Guardians, but if we did, we’d never see her again, so my parents hid her.  That did not last, and the Guardians eventually took her away.  Then my mother disappeared, and I think the Guardians murdered her in punishment.

I want revenge on them, and I want my sister back.

Saelas

I’m one of Iaelie’s brothers.

”Really?” Tiri demands.  “Everybody else gave a decent description of themselves, and here you are, saying nothing.”

Saelas shrugs.

I had a bad childhood.  I leave home with Iaelie, get separated from her, and end up following Tiri because I have nothing better to do.  That’s about all.

Tiri sighs.  “Whatever.”

Tiri

After my father died, I figured I would spend my life taking over his profession—that of making pottery—and I was okay with that.  The gods had other ideas, though, and then the Guardians showed up at my house, declared I was a Chosen One and I would save the world, and dragged me away from my home and everything I knew.  It didn’t seem to matter to anybody that Meriela—the one I was supposedly saving the world from—was right when she told the world that the Guardians were manipulating us and it needed to end.


So that’s the cast.  Some of us are more important than others.  (Saelas really does not do much of anything in the first book, as far as I’m aware, so why he’s even here, I have no idea.)

If you have any questions about the concept or about us, feel free to share them in the comments!

Following Oracular #1: An Introduction

Hey, all!  Ereinne here!  I bet you all missed me so much.  Come here so I can give you all a hug!

Tiri groans.  “Nobody wants to hug you, Ereinne.”

Shush, you.  Nobody wants to hug you when you talk so rudely to them.


My story is Oracular.  Some of you know this.  Some of you also know that this was the novel that Morgan wrote for NaNoWriMo 2014, and then spent most of 2015 editing.

As Morgan so nicely put it recently, our story sucks and is completely and utterly broken.  (Her words, not mine.  I vehemently disagree, of course, and am of the mind that the story is brilliant.)

“Right,” Kalvias says.  “Because you think everything is brilliant.”

“Either that, or she likes disagreeing with Morgan,” Cimizelle says, rolling her eyes.

You both are as bad as Tiri.

Anyhow, the point is, the story is being built back up from the very bottom, so that soon, Morgan can properly edit it and make it so shiny perfect that…that…

“Don’t bother making metaphors,” Tiri says.  “You’re no good at them.”

Ereinne glares at her.

Nobody here is cooperating with me very well, and this post is not easy to write.  I’ll just try to get through it quickly and hope if I talk fast enough, Tiri won’t be able to interrupt me.

Tiri rolls her eyes.

We’re staring a series of blog posts following the re-development of Oracular.  Mostly, it’ll be about us characters and about the world we live in, and somewhat, it’ll be about the plot.  Occasionally, there might be a post or two complaining about how Morgan procrastinates too much, but otherwise, that’s what we’ve got.  So ta-da!

So this is a short post, but we just wanted to let y’all know about this!  For our next post, we’ll introduce you to the concept of the story, and a little about us, the characters, and what roles we play.