Another blog regarding The Solune Prince
It was unfortunately only six months ago that I wrote a piece like this, addressing the issues I was having in the writing process of The Solune Prince. This blog post has a different goal than that one, though I will give context for anyone who is unfamiliar with The Solune Prince novel, and I hope even if you have not read parts of it, this piece will be interesting for other reasons.
Namely, this is an account of someone in the process of writing a novel. There is a lot of advice, articles, and books about writing, but very few take in headfirst into the actual process. Though I’m sure it would be nicer to hear about the process from someone more famous, and with a more popular novel, hopefully this argument is a draw for anyone to continue reading.
As I was saying, this will be a similar blog to a previous essay titled “On The Solune Prince.” Actually, that blog was a little more victorious in content than this one. It went into far greater detail into the process and difficulties this novel has come up against in the past, as well as some sources of inspiration.
Most importantly, the previous blog post was a transition between a time when I had stopped writing into a time when I was starting again. I had laid out the issues I was having with the state of the novel, and then some solutions, and then I started writing again.
This blog will be similar, but reverse. In fact, you could think of it as a closing bracket to the previous one. Where in that blog I had returned to writing The Solune Prince, here I am stopping. Or rather, halting for the moment. Below I will explain exactly what is happening, do some projections into the future, and even explain the solution I have for filling the gap.
What is The Solune Prince
The Solune Prince is a serial novel that I have been publishing, chapter by chapter, on my blog for over two years. The current version has been in process since June 7, 2018, while a version I had restarted from has been in place since August 7, 2017. (And there was an older, shorter lived version before that.) But I don’t think dates make for an interesting blog, unless they’re in a timeline.
The Solune Prince refers to Chloe Rhye, Fifth Prince of the Solune. I don’t think it’s come up in the novel quite yet, but for the Solune, Prince is a gender neutral title (as is King). The general premise of the novel is that there is political turmoil in a distant city—a city from which Chloe’s long lost ancestry originate—and that city calls upon its ancient kin to help. Chloe, and a small group, go over to aid and also to learn. (Here’s a link to Chapter 1 in case that was interesting to anyone.)
More importantly to this essay is my process. As you can tell above, I’ve started this novel a few times. Three, actually. It should be noted that this isn’t necessarily the norm for me, in fact I completed the first version of my first novel, Alice and Finch, in one go, over the course of only three months. It was almost as if that novel wanted to be written…and almost as if The Solune Prince does not. I’ll get to exactly how I, the author of the work, takes that sentiment further down.
The Solune Prince was started (draft 1), stopped, restarted (draft 2), stopped, and restarted again (draft 3), and then stopped again! This is explained further in “On The Solune Prince.” In that essay, I try to figure out what to do next. There are a lot of things about The Solune Prince that I want to fix, change, and iron out, so restarting again was very appealing. But I didn’t. I figured, with that mentality, I would never actually finish the novel—I’d just have a really pristine first act!
So in that essay I theorized all sorts of points of entries, and different ways to solve the novel’s more major problems, without restarting. It was such a brilliant laying out of problems and solutions, and should have set the novel straight for chapters and chapters to come…
Why Are We Stopping Again? (And Everything in Between)
So, did I solve the problem? Well, here are a few quotes from “On The Solune Prince” will help answer that:
“What did I do, you may be wondering? Well, I just sort of…started writing again.”
“The first couple of chapters were really rough. I did a lot of jamming and reworking, but I did it.”
“I did run into a lot of issues with the sheer volume of details and characters I had inadvertently ended up including, and what to do with it all . . . In a fit of excitement, I decided to keep nearly everything. All the past, all the plans. The plans, being quite loose and shaky, will end up changing, but the philosophy for this round is maximalism. Then, when I edit, I can shear it down to size.”
As you can see, instead of really solving anything, I simply forged ahead without addressing anything. I am still a fan of “literary maximalism” in theory, but perhaps maybe not quite like this.
So, from that point I continued the same draft. I went from chapter 19 to chapter 31. And then 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, and…oh no. At around the chapter 30 mark, the plot began to disintegrate, and after that I was just running on fumes. I went back and typed as far up as I could before things became unbearable, and then I was at a wall. I needed to go back. I needed to fix, plan, and rewrite. The problem is, I was approaching exam season.
Why We Have Always Stopped
Exam season…. Alright. Based off of this new timeline, you might have noticed something. My schedule as a university student really affects when I start and stop writing. I tend to start somewhere near the beginning of summer, and stop around the dead of winter. Then, I don’t write until the next spring/summer. In academic terms, I start during the summer break, and somewhere during first semester, I peter out, with winter exams being a proper dead end.
That, I believe, is the primary reason why my writing for this novel is so consistently broken up. It also seems that I fall into narrative issues. If you line up the rough date indicators on the graphs with the dates of chapters, you’ll see that Chapter 16-18 “Jagged Assembly I-III” and “Chapter 32: Unnamed” both line up to the stopping points.
Unfortunately, things are just a little worse. I can’t quite remember last time, but this time, for certain, most of what was published during Term 1 I had actually written over the summer. I had stopped writing new chapters mid-summer, and had scheduled far ahead. This enabled me to be lazy—or perhaps this enabled me to focus on my studies. Likely both. Anyway, only three or so chapters were typed during the term, but these were all already handwritten, you guessed, over the summer.
The big dream was to take advantage of the couple weeks of during the winter break and just write a bunch of new chapters, then use that as a launching point to continue writing early in the term. After, I would hopefully have enough backlog to get through winter/spring exams into summer.
Well, it turns out I can’t really get back into novel writing mode that suddenly. You may remember that above I stated I had written up to chapter 37…but it sucked. Chapter 32 is the last functioning one. Starting again wouldn’t be so simple.
This is the other issue, that I tend to write into a hole of sorts and then stop, making staring again more difficult. I had to not only get the gears in my head working, and grind out the rust, but I also had to go back, find what was salvageable, and rewrite from a point where the narrative wasn’t stupid. There is also a third reason, regarding mental health, but I think we’ll save that exciting topic for another time.
So over the winter break, I ended up getting half a chapter out. Half of Chapter 33 is ready. But I don’t have enough planned to do too much more.
Alright. So what now?
Two Stones, One Bird
Sadly, The Solune Prince is going on hold (Hiatus? Eh, hold will do) once again. But, I actually have a plan that will benefit me in two separate ways. Kill two stones with one bird, as it were. (It’s more animal friendly.)
First, there is something I haven’t told you. While yes, I am a university student, next year is my final year. Coming up is the last creative writing course I need to get a Creative Writing Honours (something like that anyway). Why is this relevant? Well, in order to get into a creative writing course at my university (at least these ones) I need to submit a portfolio. I managed the last two years, but this year I sort of have nothing.
And that is due May 22, which gives me barely a month after the end of exams. Meaning? I should be writing for that during term. And what’s a better place to do that than here on the blog? Okay, that’s stone one.
Second. I need to really flesh-out and live-in the world of the Underside. My first novel went so quickly in part because I already knew the setting. I’ve written a few short stories in The Solune Kingdom, and I’ve been developing it since late 2013 (in part as a D&D setting).
So what I can do in this time, is keep writing short stories on the setting of The Solune Prince. There are a lot characters doing stuff down there apart from Chloe Rhye and her companions, so there should be a lot to write about…some of which can then also go into the portfolio. It may also alleviate my desire to include everyone and everything in The Solune Prince!
The Next Step, and What to Expect
Apart from the first few months after the blogs conception, danieltriumph.com has always released weekly. With one exception, when I was late by a couple of days, I have not missed a single post. So, despite the pause on The Solune Prince, I will continue to make every attempt to release weekly.
Though, I’m not sure I will be able to generate fiction every single week. Maybe I’ll do some blogging. Or some rewriting in preparation for that course. Oh, and about the chapter I half wrote, I do hope to get it finished and out soon. Maybe next week, or maybe the week after. If not, I may hold onto it until the summer when I inevitably start again.
If you got this far, well, thank you!
This took quite a while, and I’m not sure if may people will read it, but it stands as the official explanation for the pause right now.
If anyone is interested in more, here are some links. You can even use this time to catch up on The Solune Prince if you want.