I told myself I'd finish the first draft of Witchbreaker by the end of February. And, as of now, I'm done with the first draft. I'm still a few chapters shy of the real end of the book, but I don't see any real bonus to pushing forward. The fact is, the first draft of this book had problems that go way back to the first two or three chapters. I started at the wrong place, with the wrong focus, and took almost eight chapters before I made any attempt at getting a spark of interest going between my male and female leads. Then, for the rest of the book, while I had some neat fight scenes and cool plot twists, my two lead characters struggled to find anything to say to one another. Complete character misfire. Sometimes, this is cool. I'll have an idea in mind of what I want the characters to do, but then the characters will push back and I wind up taking the story in a different direction. But in this draft, my male lead character never really told me where he'd like to go. He was just a dud.
So, I'm back to the drawing board for the second draft. With a few possible exceptions, I'm probably tossing all that I've written so far and working each new chapter from scratch. I had a very good conversation the other night with an old friend of mine named James Rice where I was describing the female lead, Sorrow, and was telling him the key elements of her personality, and I suddenly had a revelation about how her most traumatic childhood experience would inform her opinions on what sort of man she could feel attraction to. Somehow, I'd written over 17 chapters without glomming onto this vital aspect of her psyche. Now that I've gotten this handle on her, I'm busy re-imagining the male lead, Slate, to turn him into exactly the sort of man she thinks she should hate. Plot wise, I've had a "duh" moment of when to introduce Slate to make him an actual co-driver of the story, instead of just a hanger on who suddenly starts making demands in the second half of the book.
I take comfort in one of my "rules" of writing: To write a good book, you must first write a bad book. The bad version of Witchbreaker is behind me. Onward to the good version!
Meanwhile, the first book in the Dragon Apocalypse series, Greatshadow, continues to pile up enthusiastic reviews.
First, from Sina at Cry Baby Reviews: From the very first page, this was a joy to read. There were enough typical fantasy elements to satisfy me, and lots of original new ideas and creatures. I LOVED the world building. James Maxey did a brilliant job at creating a whole new world that was vivid in my mind and really fleshed out. He tells you more about the world and characters gradually throughout the book. No page long info dumps that made me want to fall asleep here!
Then, from Superior Realities: “Greatshadow” is a thoroughly unusual book, and while it may not be perfect, it’s still one of the most unique and entertaining reads I’ve had in recent memory. Overall rating: 9.2/10 Do yourself a favour and read it.
Jared at the awesomely named site Pornokitsch writes: This isn't your bog-standard intro quest: Greatshadow is a skip-to-the-back-of-the-book epic-level adventure. That's the large part of Greatshadow's fun. Infidel and her squabbling comrades are essential superheroes, ones that have gone largely unchallenged. Mr. Maxey not only comes up with ways of vincing the invincible and overpowering the omnipotent, he does so in a well-composed, organic way.
From Falcata Times: It had all the elements I wanted, solid fight sequences, heroes of epic proportions and of course a plotline that doesn’t let up from the start to the end. All that and more was present within and when you add solid prose alongside characters you care about, its really a tale that’s hard to put down.
Lastly, at the Ebon Shores blog, David McDonald writes: Greatshadow is a very ambitious book that aims high and, for the most part, gets there.
So far, so good! Reviews like these are a large part of the reason I'm tossing aside so much of Witchbreaker, v1. Honestly, the first draft wasn't all that bad. But after Greatshadow and Hush, I can't turn in a manuscript that's merely good. As the last review said, I've got to aim high if I want to get there.
Welcome to my worlds!
I'm James Maxey, author of fantasy and science fiction. My novels include the science fantasy Bitterwood Saga (4 books) the Dragon Apocalypse Saga (4 books), numerous superhero novels including Nobody Gets the Girl and the Lawless series, the steampunk Oz sequel Bad Wizard, and my short story collections, There is No Wheel and Jagged Gate. This website is focused exclusively on writing. At my second blog, Jawbone of an Ass, I ramble through any random topic that springs to mind, occasionally touching on religion and politics and other subjects polite people are sensible enough not to discuss in public. If you'd like to get monthly updates on new releases, as well as preview chapters and free short stories, join my newsletter!