Monthly Archives: September 2016

Sep 22

Titles, Characters, and Old Demons

By terranceacrow | Novel Pre-Production

Trilogy’s Title

In my last post, I laid out the titles for the books making up my first planned trilogy. You may recall that they were:

  1. Divinity Falling
  2. Olympia Dreaming
  3. Founders’ Rising

I proudly announced that the trilogy’s title would be The Fall of Caerleon.

My daughter, who is herself a published writer*, read that once, frowned, and asked why the titles were non-parallel. Sigh. She didn’t buy my explanation that Auto Correct was the culprit.

So, I am now re-announcing the trilogy’s title. It’s:

Caerleon Falling.


My favorite part of writing a novel is building the characters and the world. It’s the point at which the fictional universe has the maximum potential. Anything can happen; anyone could be in the story.

Unfortunately, no matter what I do, moving from potential to actual disappoints me, because the finished product never looks like what I thought I could envision. This Facebook post from Writing about Writing is a perfect illustration:

I fully intend for Caerleon Falling, taken as a whole, to be “so amaze” with “much magic.” “Much adventurer,” too.

So far, I’ve sketched the seven critical characters. I may add another one or two, but I’m not good enough yet to handle too many at once. I’m using an idea I got from Sterling & Stone: I’ve associated an actor with each character. That helps me visualize the character’s physical appearance. I’ve pasted the actors’ pictures in my Scrivener documents that describe the characters. Part of me feels like that’s cheating; another part feels like I’m using good advice from a trusted source!

Sometimes my degree in theology manifests itself in unproductive ways.

Old Demons

I can sit down and write code without a second thought. I can write business documents without flinching. I can even write blog posts without undue panic.**

Why is it, then, when I sit down to write Divinity Falling, I feel like all sentients across all times in all universes are peering over my shoulder to point and laugh?

It’s the same thing I fought when I was a young ‘un.

But no matter how I articulate the problem; no matter how clearly I can describe it; no matter how tired I say I am or how overworked I feel; there’s one answer.


Don’t read about writing.

Don’t think about why I’m not writing.

Don’t complain about (insert my “Gripe of the Moment” here).


Then write some more.

Read from time to time.

Then write.

So, I’d better get back to it!

If you’re so inclined, leave a comment to answer: Do you ever get the same kind of feeling? Do you even experience writer’s insecurity? Or — gasp! — am I all alone in this?***


* If you’re interested, you can read her short story in the anthology Triskaidekan. Her story’s called “XIII.” You can buy the book here from Amazon (disclaimer: I’m an Amazon Associate).

** You might not be able to tell it by the dearth of content here. My excuse? My full time job takes a lot of my time. My other blogs, like Crow’s World of Anime and my application developer security site Interstell, Inc. also demand some of my time. Still, that’s no excuse. Must. Write. More.

*** Too many of my writer friends have expressed similar misgivings for me to really think I’m alone. But then, none of us have major or best sellers under our belts! So I’m not sure we’re the best sampling.

Sep 01

Prose Just Got Real: The First Trilogy Has Working Titles!

By terranceacrow | News , Novel Pre-Production

My last post mentioned Larry Brooks’ Story Engineering (you can buy it here — I can’t recommend it enough!). The book’s a wealth of information about all aspects of writing a novel, from the nuances of character creation to plotting. The latter was of particular interest to me, since I had concluded that my writing skills lacked one critical part: I didn’t know how to plot a novel.

Yeah, I’m kinda disappointed with me, too. You’d think by now…

Putting aside my natural tendency to take myself to try myself, convict myself, and give myself a stern talking to, I’ve finished Story Engineering. I’m excited to say that after digesting the chapters about plot, and after applying the architectural principles Mr. Brooks described, I’ve come to a conclusion.

He’s right. There’s a repeatable way to approach plot. And I think I can do it.

That was the last obstacle to me starting my first trilogy. Well, to be completely honest, my first trilogy since high school. That means my excuses are exhausted.* It’s time to get started.

The trilogy’s working title is The Fall of Caerleon. I’m going to grapple with the idea of the purpose of power; of its uses, abuses, and controls; its links to our empirical and mystical aspects. The Conrad family, much like Masayoshi Son, has a long term plan to better humanity. Will that plan survive the enemies arrayed against it? Will it survive the Conrad family?

The first book, Divinity Falling, follows Melchizedek “Dek” Conrad as he struggles to push back the advances of Terran Consolidated Products and its hyper-cash reserves against his company. At the same time, his company is trying to get off world to gain the breathing room it needs to take the family’s plan to the next stage. Which force will be more compelling?

Olympia Dreaming, the second book, follows Jack Conrad’s fight against Aldertraum, one of Earth’s colonies, as it tries to take humanity on a dark but unfortunately familiar path. Can humanity rise above its hard-wired behaviors? Or is it doomed to remain in the cave forever? This takes place a couple of decades in Divinity Falling’s future.

The last book of this trilogy, Founders’ Rising, presents Benjamin Conrad and the maiden voyage of the Resolution. Set just after Olympia Dreaming, the story portrays the conflict between human power and its links to claims of divinity. Can human overcome their ancient tendencies, even in the face of species extinction? Will Aldertraum’s attacks prevail? Are they even the real enemy? Or is our own nature much more deadly?

The problem of human power has always fascinated me. We need power to get things done, to influence groups to come together to accomplish things that individuals can’t achieve. At the same time, our history’s littered with the aftermath of power gone mad. History’s also full of attempts to manage or control power. Most recently, we see the foundation of the United States and the establishment of three branches of government to act as checks on power. We’re witnessing a time when those checks have been attacked and eroded, but that just increases my interest: how can humanity harness its collective will without falling into demagoguery? How can we withstand the corrosive effects of hyper-cash — and should we? If we should, why? What’s the justification? I hope to explore those questions in this trilogy.

How do the titles sound to you? Any thoughts on humans and their exercise of power?

Now, please excuse me. I have some work to do!

* If you’re a writer, you’ll understanding to interpret this not as a statement of fact, but as a desparate plea!