On this, the one year anniversary of the first post of my blog (proof), I’ll be looking into the past and the future in one fell swoop, and all on one topic. This post will contain talk on The Solune prince, followed by a re-release and edited version of the second rough draft of The Solune Prince. (What a sentence…)
Tracing the Origins of The Solune Prince
The Solune Prince is a novel that I’ve been trying, and failing to write since September 6, 2016. That’s the first time I wrote it down in text. The idea underneath The Solune Prince—the idea of Chloe, sixth prince of the Solune going to the Underside to fight some sort of revolution—has been around for far longer. I don’t know when the ideas for The Solune Prince first came into my head, but it was very early into the creation of Däwngale as a world. The oldest concrete date would have to be October 10, 2014, nearly four years ago, when I ran the “Demonic Chaos” Dungeons and Dragons campaign. It’s hard to track the specific date of any idea, but I can say with some confidence that it came after September 30, 2013. Let’s start there. Mind the old drawing quality.
September 30, 2013: Chloe as a Character
The development of Chloe as a distinct character is sort of interesting. I may get into the specifics in a later post, but essentially, above is the oldest picture I have on my computer of the character who would become Chloe. By her expression and dress, the woman on the far left looks of it a lot more like Janna, and there’s good reason for this. Chloe, Janna, and Natasha were all once represented by the a sort of primitive Psuedo-Chloe character, who I will be referring to as “Chloe” with quotes.
Long story short, Chloe started off as something like two and a half characters in one. I have a couple more pictures in storage that illustrate this development quite well, but I only have access to one of them right now, as you can see on the right with the “Height Comparison.” Maybe next time, if anyone is interested, I can get into what used to make each of the three sisters distinct from one another.
You can see that the confident, combative Janna isn’t in the height comparison picture. She would become her own character shortly after, although you could easily argue that she came first—and you would be partially right, but not entirely. That’ll have to be another post.
The “Height Comparison” established some core aspects of young Chloe, and Natasha that remain half a decade later. Natasha remains a very tall (I think 6’6″ or higher, although Solune people are about a foot taller or more than an average human), stoic, and an agent-to-be. (Currently she’s a guard, who appears briefly in Alice and Finch, and has a detective story to call her own.) Here, young Chloe has a sort of waifish, airheaded expression. I say “young Chloe” specifically, because, while she does retain airiness, she grows out of a lot of things. I mean, she has to, especially considering her role in The Solune Prince.
It’s this young Chloe who displayed amazing potential in her Laszor/Laszor-eyes abilities—which is linked to her potential as an individual who is capable of projecting their vision into reality, symbolized literally. The Solune Prince is about the realization, and taking control of that potential.
October 20, 2014: “Zeroith Draft”
My early (and to only a slightly a lesser degree, my later) Dungeons and Dragons campaigns were very scattered, and often included references to the ideas and stories floating inside my head. The second one I ever ran, “Demonic Chaos,” took place in the midst of Chloe’s adventures on the Underside. Why? I don’t really know. It didn’t really help the campaign much, and it sort of fell flat. However, this was the first inkling I had of Chloe as a sort of revolutionary figure. And, it was the first time the Lussa people had appeared, previously known for their striped faces (related to their unusual laszor eyes) and still known for their outlandish everyday fashion.
The idea came out of the fact that the I had recently come up with the Underside, and the Lussa, and the fact that Chloe was on the Underside. And Chloe being on the Underside actually originated from this song:
I don’t really listen to Anarchy Club, but I did enjoy a lot of the music in the first Rock Band game, and this was one of them. I have a drawing from these days that shows Dooll (from the drawing above (also, apparently I did not make creative names in 2014)) teaching Chloe how to use Lussa Laszor Eyes, (also known as flamethrower eyes, despite being purple). In those early days, the Underside was dangerous, dark, and oppressive.
Since then, I’ve found a city, and the flamethrower eyes have faded, but it was essentially still like that in “Demonic Chaos.” Chloe and her army liberated all the Lussa and Chimera (the creature on the far left) people from the work camps that were run by Venus. Venus is still sort of relevant, although I’m pushing him in the back for later. The Chimera are interesting, but I don’t know if I want to include them in this story. It’s fair to say that they still exist though. As for work camps? That’s all but gone. I feel like, what with all that happened in the twentieth century, labour camps might be too blatantly evil, and also imply things that this story isn’t about.
What did stick is Chloe having some sort of army. It’s weird that she has an army even though she’s an outsider, from the other side of the planet—literally—but I guess that’ll be one of the conflicts in the book.
September 6, 2016: The Awful Second Draft
Almost nothing was salvageable about this endeavour. It was written during a particularly hard time in my life, and to be honest, there’s just a lot of problems with it that I won’t bother explaining because they’re embarrassing. What did survive from this draft was the character Rickur, and our good friend Lillith.
Figuring it Out
The events that occurred during “Demonic Chaos” were more similar to what will be found in The Solune Prince than what I wrote afterwards. Let my try to roughly illustrate what I mean. Here’s an exhaustive list in chronological order, including unwritten, non-canon and canon items.
40% relevant: Chloe during Evidence(Canon, but troublesome.)
60% relevant: Chloe during The Legendary Event (Unwritten, canon)
50% relevant: Chloe during “Demonic Chaos” Draft 1 (Not canon)
15% relevant: Chloe during The Solune PrinceDraft 2 (Very Not canon)
70% relevant: Chloe during The Solune Prince Draft 3 (Goodish draft)
There are some issue with Chloe’s development. The two bolded bullets define her character development, whereas the two bullets with links have her as a solid side character. The bolded events might need to happen first for consistency reasons. It’s very frustrating trying to organize all this. Can a Chloe who is overall nervous be a teacher to Finch in Alice and Finch? How the Chloe who is a lawyer in Evidence? That sounds like a career-move, and yet she’s still adolescent-like during The Legendary Event. This might work better.
60% relevant: Chloe during The Legendary Event (Unwritten, canon)
40% relevant: Chloe during Evidence(Canon, but troublesome.)
50% relevant: Chloe during “Demonic Chaos” (Not canon)
15% relevant: Chloe during The Solune PrinceDraft 1 (Very Not canon)
70% relevant: Chloe during The Solune Prince Draft 2 (Goodish draft)
This means that during The Legendary Event, Chloe has already been a teacher. Then, in The Solune Prince, Chloe has already been a teacher, a fighter who has Laszor-exploded (see above) and a poet/lawyer (although only once).
What I mean to say, is that Chloe Rhye is a very difficult character to work with. She’s functionally immortal, due to her father’s gene quirk, she’s been reading for hundred’s of years, has a bit of formal education, and has already had an adventure.
There are also other glaring issues.
I have a couple of antagonists, but I don’t really know their motivations, or how they struggle for control of the city.
I’d also like to explore the subcultures of the Lussa city:
the metal workers
the nightclub life (which dresses even more extremely than standard Lussa clothing.)
I need to actually figure out what the supporting cast is like. Maybe I’m bad at characterization?
How do I manage the creeping power of the state?
How does Chloe actually get to the Underside?
And more! Maybe I can’t handle it as my second full-length novel. I’ve already failed twice. However, I think it’s necessary to see if I am to fail a third time. Especially since the previous attempts got progressively better. So, without further ado,
August 1, 2017 – November 23, 2017: The Second Draft
It all started with a song, and so it continues with a song. A lot of what exists in the planning for the Second, and even Third (present) drafts was “dreamed up” while listening to one song.
The most recent draft, and it was live on this blog for a long time, months really. It ran a whopping twenty-five chapters, that were decent, a microstep above Evidence. but I couldn’t figure out where to take it. Chloe didn’t have motivation, and so I guess neither did I. I didn’t know why she had to do the two things she had to do, and certain ideas I’d imagined out of songs didn’t fit into the reality of the narrative. That’s what I’m trying to avoid with all the planning for the third draft.
I decided that there were issues here and there, and also giant things I would feel uncomfortable with people reading. One of them being the descriptively indulgent first chapter, which I’m including at the end of this post. It has been slightly edited, but I’ve left the absurd amount of description of Chloe Rhye—almost Victorian-era-like.
The Solune Prince (Act I, Scene i)
Second Rough Draft
There was a conference going on in the next room. Chloe could hear the voice of the King, her father, booming through the wall. Apparently they were visitors here, foreigners from the other side of the planet. They were called the Lussa.
Chloe had never heard of Lussa. She had read thousands of books, and despite all the information, the Lussa people still managed to fall outside her ocean of knowledge.
They were strange, the two of them. They had the darkest skin then she had ever seen, darker even than that of an N’Tariel or an Elken. And they were so different from each other, too. One of them was small, the other huge and burly. One had a two-handed sword, the other had some sort of unusual dart launcher.
The King had stopped speaking, and Chloe assumed it was because one of the Lussa had begun. The King, it seemed, was the only person with a voice deep enough to penetrate the masonry. Chloe sighed and sat up from the clinic bed. She had been trying to eavesdrop, but unlike her mother, she wasn’t used to it. She hadn’t figured out how to translate the deep buzz of her father’s words into sentences.
“Well, I guess I could just walk into the throne room and listen like a normal person. I’m a Prince, I’m allowed to these things, I think.”
Chloe’s voice was sweet, and it was accepted generously by the air around her. She had a feeling that this was a vocal quality inherited from her father. Her voice carried and almost always demanded attention, but she never knew what to do with that attention. That was why she avoided talking to people. They always seemed to expect her to say something important or tell them what to do, and she rarely did either of those things.
Chloe decided it was time to go, before she missed anything important. She was her mother’s clinic. It was a long thin room with two beds and a large hardwood desk. After her Gwenhime had retired and the hospital had been built, this little castle medical centre was rarely used.
Chloe hopped off the bed and walked to the door. She wore a white button-up shirt and light-coloured shorts. She crossed the room in four long strides. Chloe’s immense height was mostly due to her legs. When she used to go to the academy she would run or jog, but since her graduation she hadn’t been particularly active.
She could still run, and did occasionally when she went out. Her arms were toned, but this was mostly from moving stacks of books and the occasional combat training her mother, an ex-general, gave her; so she wasn’t particularly strong. She had what could be called a balance. Most of her time was spent in the library or at the Solune Academy.
Because of this, Chloe had a few layers of fat throughout her midsection and thighs. She didn’t mind though, such was fairly common for her class. Otherwise, Chloe was particularly well endowed, like her sister and mother. Unlike them, Chloe was at times frustrated with her breasts. Whenever she tried to do anything dexterous with her arms they got in the way.
The face that sat above her shoulders was that of a young woman who had just exited adolescence. She still had a round chin and open eyes. Her head was covered in knee-length blonde hair that was noticeably yellow. Chloe was convinced that she had gotten it to its maximum length because it had nearly stopped growing. This made her feel excited, did head hair have a specific length it grew to like body hair? Chloe eyed the door with deep brown eyes, and then opened it.
After passing through another doorway and a foyer filled with people, She approached the large double doors of the throne room, and swung it open, entering boisterously. She walked across the room, her legs were a deliberate rhythm of muscle as they did their work to push the rest of Chloe’s body forward.
When she arrived at the second throne, Chloe turned and sat in the seat next to the King. It was usually her mothers, and was less ornate. Even without the royal bands around their necks, it was clear that they were both royalty, both related; both father and daughter had an unquestionable regal air about them.
The tall man continued, “That is correct, Majesty.”
“And why does it have to be a member of the royal family?” The King asked.
“This is a conflict between the Lussa royalty and it’s government. Another member of royalty would look good.” He shrugged, “The Queen is desperate. Our heir is missing.”
The King shifted, silently urging the Lussa man to continue.
“The Lussa Queen, Riley*, has asked specifically for a member of the royal family, that’s all that’s official. I am bound to his word.”
“Do you have proof of his statement?” The King boomed.
The smaller one spoke now, and Chloe realize he wasn’t as short as she thought. Just short in comparison to everyone else in the room. He was probably almost average.
He said, “We have a letter, he signed it and put the royal seal on it. We should be good, right?”
Chloe, still not entirely sure if she should be there, decided to push her luck. She said, “Alright, fine. I believe you even, but what about other heirs?”
The taller man shook his head, “That’s not how it works on the Underside any more. There is only one heir, and she’s missing. Out in the desert somewhere. We sent,” the man paused, “Well, I am not at liberty to discuss it, but she is missing. Neither of the older children, Riley* or Jesssssssssssssssssssper are allowed to rule. They have taken the title of Queen, which I’ve heard even here implies that one is not allowed to take the throne.”
“Riley* and who?” Chloe asked.
“It’s as unusual to spell as it is to say.” The man put a hand in his hair. It was matted into dreadlocks, “Jesper* but with nineteen S’s.”
Chloe’s face scrunched up, “Why?”
“If there is one thing about the Lussa language that is distinct,” The smaller man said in scholarly tones, “It’s the presence of extra and unnecessary extra letters, specifically consonants. In fact, seeing as you can clearly understand me, that may be the only major difference between our languages.”
Chloe thought to herself, letting her father take over again. She had actually heard of the Underside of the planet before. Her father had said that four thousand years ago the Solune came from the Underside, aliens to this side of the planet. That’s why he struggled for so long to claim land and build a kingdom.
The King nodded to the visitors, then said, “You may stay on the second floor. It is specifically for guests.”
They had added a third floor in around half a decade ago and moved all the royal quarters up. The floor was very thick and insulated against sound. Gwenhime, Chloe’s mother, had been complaining that she could hear the citizens through the floor in her room. The castle doubled as a public town square, and so it remained loud most of the time. And so, the castle guard had been called in to build a third floor with more soundproofing. Chloe had realized that soundproofing meant brick-tiled slats of softwood over a cubit thick. And it worked.
Humans are creatures of habit. Not a shocking proposition, for most of human history our lives have been nothing but the same thing over and over. As a ‘sort of’ uncle of mine used to say, we “eat, sleep, shit, and work;” a succinct formula for our lives.
But it’s even more important for those like myself. Low in conscientiousness, and with a mental illness deeply linked to habit. Bipolar disorder is strongly linked to the circadian rhythm. Mess with your sleep? You’re going to feel it worse than others. And we probably all, at some level, already know this. But what you may not have known is that it goes that deep into biology. Another thing liked to the circadian rhythm is eating, so if you want to get next level about it, eat at the same time, and sleep at the same time as much as possible.
Don’t beat yourself up about it though. Use who you are today as a ruler for success. Just setting “better than before” as a goal is an actual, meaningful improvement, because now you’re seriously oriented upwards instead of across. The “ideal” can forgive the mistakes you make along the way to reaching them.1
Habits are powerful tools twofold. First, once you set a habit in place, you essentially start doing it automatically. I did this with fiction writing a year back when I was in my “year off” of University. Since I returned, I post weekly instead of daily. Another, more relevant habit I’ve constructed is… breakfast! I thought, what’s the easiest, and highest in fat/protien (the best morning [and life] nutrients) food that makes a good breakfast? Coffee! No. Coffee and peanut butter! Yes!! Wonderful! Now I have breakfast nearly every day.
The second superpower of habits is that, once one is in place, it’s super easy to build on it. It’s like… well, it’s sort of like building a house. Once you have the framework in, it’s not too difficult to nail down some dry-wall. Maybe add some siding? Pain the inside? Hell, it’s so nice now you might as well buy some imaginary furniture and move in to the damn place. But, there’s no rush. Do it right, do it at your own pace.
Just make sure that you’re oriented upwards, instead of across, and that’s where you’ll end up even if it’s by process of absent-minded strolling.
Further Watching on the topic of Habits:
Jordan Peterson – Daily Structure Keeps You Sane – “So you do the math, so we’ll say five hours a week for the sake of argument just to keep it simple. It’s 20 hours a month. It’s 240 hours a year. That’s six 40-hour work weeks. … Mostly what you want is to have [in life is] a routine. It’s discipline. It’s predictable and bloody well stick to it. You’re going to be way healthier and happier and saner if you do that … the world is too complicated for you to keep it organized all by yourself … So we outsource the problem of sanity.”
Simon Sinek – Do You Love Your Wife? – “It’s about transitions. … If you go to the gym and you workout and you come back, and you look in the mirror, you will see nothing. And if you go to the gym the next day and you come back and you look in the mirror, you will see nothing, right? … Or if you fundamentally believe that this is the right course of action and you stick with it, like in a relationship. I bought her flowers and I wished her happy birthday and she doesn’t love me, clearly I’ll give up. You know? That’s not what happens. … You could screw it up, … you know it allows for that. But if you stick with it consistently, I’m not exactly sure what day, but I know you’ll start getting into shape. … It’s not about intensity it’s about consistency. … It’s the daily practice of all the monotonous, little, boring, things like brushing your teeth that matter the most.”
1 Yes, that is a Jesus reference. Idk what else to say about it.
In this article, I write about Northrop Frye’s theory of myths and archetypes, specifically comedy, using my manuscript of Alice and Finch as a comparison and example. It may contain spoilers, but nothing I thing would ruin the experience of reading the novel.
Nine months ago, I powered through the first chapter of a three-part short story series. (I’m not sure what it isI have with short story series’.) That series is what later became the “Dawn” section of Alice and Finch. It was a very strong trilogy compared to my other work, and it eventually spawned my current best piece of writing, Inck. But then, three months later in late July, I finally finished the first draft of the novel. After that, I started tying up loose ends with a few epilogues, and I also realized major a flaw. As I looked back, I realized that I hadn’t really finished the story properly.
According to Canadian literary theorist Northrop Frye, “The theme of the comic is the integration of society, which usually takes the form of incorporating a central character into it” (Frye). The integration can be broken down into individual, family, and society. I’m not so sure that I succeeded in this regard, but I think I made a good effort. In fact, in my own epilogue for Ilias, I somehow managed to subconsciously notice my own mistakes! Here’s a clipping with a limit on spoilers: Ilias came up with something of “… a solution neither Finch nor Alexandre had thought of …” (Triumph). This is an example of one of the many loose ends that I want to tie up; not in the band-aid epilogues, but in the actual story. Continue reading “Alice and Finch: The Archetypal Recapitulation”→
Starting last Thursday, I’ve finally, after much messing around with schedules decided on trying a new one. Not some complicated mess like last time, but also not the “one post a day” schedule that I maintained for a good two or more months.