On Finishing P+FD (Spoiler Free!)

After six months of planning and scribbling, of trekking back and forth between coffee shops, libraries, and my apartment, of late nights—like this one—at the computer, I can say that the first full draft for The Princess and the Fox Demon is done.

Let's enjoy some random first draft manuscript stats:

Word Count: 107,300
Page Count: 294

Thirty-three chapters, including the epilogue.

Each chapter was about 3,000 words (eight or nine pages).

The longest chapter was Chapter Twenty-nine with 5,000 words, but Twenty-eight came close.

The timing works out rather well seeing as how I just received a pile of edits from my thesis committee. I couldn't have imagined putting off writing this ending amidst thesis revision. I am going to put the P+FD files in a folder on my desktop, and I'm not going to look at them for a week or two. I'm going to do some nonfiction.

(Note, whenever I try and stay away and promise to work on nonfiction, I write stuff like Chirikai running off to find his mom. So, my promises are worthless, lurkers.)

In all seriousness, I need to focus on my thesis. The most I'll allow is therapeutic daydreaming about The Hiwau and the Moon Consort. 

I had hoped I would start this post with something thoughtful about finishing novels. This will be my fifth completed novel now, and it is easily the one I am proudest of. As I grind to the end of this story, a story which has dominated my headspace through the ups and downs of half a year, I think I've just found a couple useful grains of sand.

The biggest one, is that I will never underestimate the power of parents in a novel. P+FD wouldn't have existed as it does without addressing relationships that characters have with their parents. Digging into Chirikai's grief over his mother's departure, his father's affair defined him in so many ways, and even if you come from an intact household, I think you can understand two people who might have loved each other walking away and never returning. Having that hanging over the novel—and Chirikai's head—gave this story a depth I never would have guessed when I was outlining.

In the same vein, Asuka's relationship with her father was just as decisive, although Lord Shinrusu would go on to play a larger role in the novel than many people guessed at first. Asuka is defined by being the daughter of a great man, but his memory never leaves her. Even when Chirikai asks her to leave civilization behind, its Asuka dedication to her father and her family that gives her the strength to turn him down.

Addressing family is not one of the first things that one thinks about while writing a Fantasy Romance story, but maybe it should be. This might be the first book I've ever written where the life characters had before the story starts is so crucial. Family or lack of a family, is a lifetime story that leaves an imprint. I don't think I'll be able to write another tale without thinking about characters in this messy web of emotions and events.

In some way, even a broken family of demons is relatable simply because it's a family. Even a family of nobles in a distant capital makes sense. 

The second grain I learned while writing these pages is more abstract. In P+FD, fantasy-wise, I pushed more boundaries than I've ever tried. I've never introduced so many places and creatures from the ground up. What I learned is that as long as you follow your own set rules—and set rules—you can build a pretty big world. I had to determine what would defeat a Sun Goddess. I had to figure out what could kill Chirikai, and I had to show it early.

Show and establish. Plant and plant a thousand times. Plant when you don't know when you can harvest. Then show again. That's how you makes your rules and internal coherency, so when the moment for something really crazy comes, the reader isn't jarred. Hopefully they're just left with, That's cool, that's crazy, I'm completely on board you crazy lady because you totally nodded at this twenty pages ago. 

That is all that comes to mind at the moment.

I'm a little tired and it's a little late, so I'm to go to bed and pray the final chapter works.

Maybe it will all be clearer tomorrow.

Maybe I say that every night.

Good night.