Journey to a Polished Manuscript: January – Premise and Story Focus (RewriteItClub)

RewriteItClub January

This year, #RewriteItClub are doing a year long project to help writers edit/rewrite their novels. I’m joining in, so once a month I’ll be posting about my story and working on their assignments. For more information on the year long project click here.

I was hesitant at first to post this, as my blog is a book blog, but I’ve been wanting to talk more about writing – another huge part of my life – so I hope you don’t mind the monthly segues into the worlds inside my head!

This month is all about story premise. To read the blog post all about premise, and the month’s assignment, please click here.

Because of the way my writing schedule is hopefully going to pan out this year, I will be switching project part way through. At the moment though, I am working on THE LANDS TOUCHED BY THE GRIFFINS’ WINGS (usually referred to as GRIFFINS for ease).

What’s the concept?

For this project, I have real trouble pinning down the book’s concept. Usually, when I write, it comes from a what if question or me wanting to put my own spin on a common, beloved trope.

That didn’t happen for this book.

Part of it is because it’s a really complex plot, with multiple story lines weaving together, and partly because of how this book evolved. It has gone through multiple rewrites that have only retained characters and places, such that the current iteration doesn’t resemble to first draft in any way. I can’t go back to the first inspiration to work out concept.

However, after lots of talking to fellow RewriteItClub members, I have a concept that I’m happy with (thanks guys for letting me babble away at you for an hour!)

How do reluctant rulers respond to political turmoil?

Probably a bit wordier than supposed to be, but that’s the essence of story. Only took three hours to figure out.

Building up to a Premise:

The premise goes a step further than the concept, fleshing out the concept and bringing in the unique feature.

My main challenge here was remaining focused on Adamus. I have five main characters, so I kept wanting to veer into their story lines and desires.

Who is the (main) protagonist? Adamus Aurellio, rightful King of Vialon but, since his home was conquered a decade ago by a neighbouring kingdom, he’s the Duke of Vialon.

What does he want? Adamus want to live up to the expectations his people place on him, their dreams for a free kingdom, their fear of the conquerors. He also wants to protect them from the conqueror’s desire to exploit the land and location at the expense of lives.

What situation or crisis is he facing? A trade war makes grain prohibitively expensive, and Adamus must subsidise grain prices to avoid a famine.

Who or what is working against him? The conqueror’s desire for more power is driving the trade war.

What happens to prevent him reaching his goal? The conqueror orders Adamus to renegotiate the only treaty providing him with income. If he disobeys, his family dies. However, the other kingdoms want to use Adamus as a pawn to gain control over his homeland.

Now to combine into a one-or-two sentence pitch, 35-50 words than can be recited in 30 seconds. No pressure there!

A man-made famine stalks the kingdom and its rightful king, Adamus, is ordered to renegotiate the only treaty preventing starvation. Caught between monarchs seeking to control his home, Adamus struggles to provide for his people without provoking retribution on his loved ones.

It’s certainly not perfect, but it’s a start – and I think it at least hints at the political intrigue in the story. I probably could have included his desire more explicitly, but every attempt added too many words!

Comp Titles:

A general nightmare among my writing group, comp(arative) titles are books similar to yours. I have been using THE TETHERED MAGE x THE CITY OF BRASS. However, recently, I’ve been wondering about adding QUEEN OF COIN AND WHISPERS in.

THE TETHERED MAGE is an incredible political fantasy where magic is a tool and there are many schemes for Amalia to unravel.

THE CITY OF BRASS also has has lots of political intrigue and, crucially, involves plots that spread an expansive world, where actions far from the main locations influence results.

QUEEN OF COIN AND WHISPERS is an incredible debut (out in April, go pre-order!). Not only is it a political fantasy, but it has economic intrigue!

Read the other posts in this series:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s