Gallery of What Could Have Been

Shorter filler today, but hopefully still interesting! If people like this, I hope to do one for every chapter. Basically, I’m going to post a short list of things that I considered putting into the story, or that were actually written into a previous draft, but which didn’t make the final cut. None of these things are actually part of the story, or will ever end up in the story, but I thought it might be interesting to share what decisions could have been made, or the stages that the draft went through to get to where it ended up.

The first season has remained pretty much the same as it was in the first drafts of the story, so this list will be quite short. I expanded on it rather than cutting things out, so most of what was originally in there stayed in. But here we go:

 

  • Originally, the lighthouse keeper was a much smaller character – in only about two scenes. He never helped Wilom with his decisions, and he was never a second mentor figure the way he turned out to be.
  • In original drafts, we never got to meet Wilom’s friends – he never ran away and we never got to see his home town.
  • One of the things I had a lot of trouble reconciling was the time skip. At first, I completely overlooked it – everyone spoke the same. This was especially true back when the time skip was supposed to be much shorter – only thirty years or so, rather than the eighty it ended up being. Once I realised that Wilom really should talk like everybody’s grandfather, I tried a few drafts where he spoke a little more archaically, but I found that I was having trouble reconciling ‘angry teenager’ with ‘speaks like Gandalf’, so I ended up with the style that I have now. I made Vanda a little more colloquial so that her comments about him ‘talking like her grandfather’ still make sense, and Wilom has a few phrases and sayings that other people consider out of fashion, but the difference did end up much more subtle.
  • We also never saw any of what the lighthouse keeper does on the River; Shades were mentioned and discussed, and they showed up in the scene where Wilom and Vanda run away, but they were never taken into any more detail and the lighthouse keeper’s job was only to find lost people, never to interact with shades.
  • Finally and most drastically, this was originally conceived as a standalone novel, rather than a series, so this entire section was essentially a twenty- or thirty-page prologue to the main story. Part of the reason I chose this story to be serialised was because it gave me the opportunity to expand this section and give it the attention it deserved (and needed), rather than having it short and rushed.

 

So there it is – the way things might have been.

2 thoughts on “Gallery of What Could Have Been

  1. Ooh! Little tidbits from the woman behind the curtain pulling the strings. This *is* interesting. I think it’d also be interesting to hear about anything tangential to the story as well ( i.e. anything particularly relevant or interesting about the story writing process – I’d definitely like to hear more about how the change from novel to serial has influenced the narrative ( were there any challenges in the pacing caused by this change? ( Did you find yourself writing a story that had gotten too slow at any point? ) ) ), but that might just be me as a fellow indie writer-person.

    Do you have an intended ending you’re building towards? ( not necessarily anything that can’t change if need-be, but do you have some greater intended conclusion already thought out – and is it related to the conclusion you intended for the novel version? )

    How many drafts did this season go through? ( I’m curious, as someone who is a heavy planner – the writing comes last, for me, because then I find that it becomes a very clear process of joining together scenes with a very clear direction for characters and themes. Of course, I also believe in taking risks and letting a narrative go wild, so I understand if my stories are also alienating – which is me pre-emptively acknowledging that just because I do something in a certain way, doesn’t necessarily make it the right way and nor do I look down on anyone who does it different )

    I’m genuinely curious what the story is building to – and I think I understand why your audience, me included, are pleasantly surprised by an inability to tell where the story is going; you have familiar tropes ( the robed, deep-voiced, ancient figure of Death ) but then you don’t do what most of the works that popularised that trope do ( he’s a man of few and careful words – when most other stories would give him such a strange or powerful character that he steals every scene he’s in ) and it works ( he becomes a mentor that never overpowers the main character in the story – which would be very easy to do with a boundless character like Death ). I look forward to the next season.

    • I’m glad! I’ll write down a few of those questions to get answered next season (I’m thinking that next season’s filler will include an FAQ section, provided I get enough questions). I’ll definitely be talking about some of the changes I made from novel to serial then (in fact, I might make a whole blog post about it sometime, it was definitely an Undertaking). I’ll say that the story got a lot longer, and I ended up adding a lot more plot (and giving a couple of side characters their own major plot points) in order to get the sheer number of chapters I needed for the story to work in the four parts I have planned, though.

      In answer to the rest of your questions, this season was the easiest to draft – I think it went through one major revision, and then just some scene additions when I switched to serial, and then polishing. This part of the story barely changed at all in terms of content. Not like next season, which is currently in its seventh complete overhaul.

      The whole story is currently written, ending included, it just needs polishing and a bit of stretching to fit the serial format. The ending will be the same as I intended for the novel, although it did take me three drafts of the novel to get the ending to work the way I wanted it to.

      This novel, for context, I started writing about … probably four years ago now, and it’s not only the product of whatever planning I did, it’s also the product of probably the four most fruitful years of writing practice and experience I’ve had so far, in which I’ve probably developed more as a writer than in any given four years before that. The core of the story itself hasn’t changed a whole lot, but everything around it has changed dramatically.

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