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!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Greatshadow Draft One Basically Done

My word count is now roughly 80k, but it's a mostly meaningless number since some of my last chapters aren't so much written as outlined. For instance, I have a scene in chapter eighteen where I have a character who is more or less a wizard cast a big spell to open a gate to the spirit world. In the final book, this scene will be a big production, lots of mumbo jumbo; I'll think of a little rhyme to chant or some weird dance and fill it with symbolic value. But, for now, in that chapter, I hit that scene, didn't want to get hung up on making up the specifics of the spell, and so wrote "Deceiver casts his spell." I then just moved on and wrote about the things that happened after that. I know know that the book is 22 chapters long; the final draft will clock in around 110,000 words. But, the chapters I've written for 19 to 22 are mostly outline, as I hammered out the big picture choreography of how all the subplots have to tie up in a series that makes sense and keeps the tension building up through the end of chapter 21.

This is how I finished up both Dragonseed and Dragonforge. Now that I've got the big choreography mapped out, I'll spend the next couple of months figuring out the fine details. The important thing is, I now know who my characters have to be at the end of the story in order to do the things that need to be done. This is the main information I need to go back to the beginning and start my rewrites. The first draft is about exploring who these characters are... every action they take deepens my understanding of them. My first draft starts with me writing about skeletons of characters, stick-men on a bare stage. As the chapters unfold, the characters gain substance and flesh and their personality emerges. They world they move around in slowly reveals itself as well. My second draft, I'm writing about fully fleshed out characters in a world where I know what people eat; I know about smells and temperatures and shades or light. Second drafts are where the story starts to resemble an actual published book.

I'll post here once I start rewrites. At some point this week, I'll also post an update on Capclave. I've got my schedule for it now. I know I get to talk about comic books on one panel, and Darwin on another. Woohoo!


Cindy said...

I'm excited to see how this turns out :). One hurdle jumped over!

James Maxey said...

I can't wait to see how it turns out either! I'm at the tough but neccessary stage of thinking back on what I've just written and obsessing about all the places that it just sucks. I know that one of the pivotal characters, for instance, never came alive for me. He's a supporting cast member; in some ways it's not a big deal if I don't get to the heart of what makes him tick. But, it's useful to discover that I don't actually know this character. It gives me something to focus my imagination on when I plunge back into the next draft. If I ever finished a first draft and felt that everything had clicked, then I'd get worried.

Darkond said...

Didn't you say that you were going to post a little bit of each chapter of Dragonseed? Whatever happened to that? I can't get anything else in English until father's next trip overseas. All I can read is over the internet.

James Maxey said...

I don't think I ever made that promise, Drakonis. I did, back in June, start posting chapters of Dragonseed until the book saw print. You can find the three chapters I posted at:


I do plan on posting some chapters of Greatshadow here very soon. I probably would have already had them up, but my father had a heart attack two weeks ago and I've been driving back and forth to High Point (an hour away) ever day to visit him in the hospital, which has eaten into my writing time. Dad's back home now, so I'll be turning my energies back to Greatshadow after Capclave this weekend. Stay tuned!