Today I was able to complete my run through of Chapter 9. Chapter 9 of the book is a pretty mundane affair overall. Our giant protagonist carts his four acquaintances to a museum, and finds the entrance to a thought lost ancient city beneath it. Added some bits to spice up the characters, and deleted a lot of superfluous material.
The chapters that come next have always been challenging for a number of reasons. Firstly, this is the chapter where the characters meet the villain, who up to this point has gone unnamed and unseen. Their presence is hinted at through clues and conversations, but the big reveal is coming up in either chapter 10 or 11. Still deciding on when during these revisions, but the way things are looking, it will probably be chapter 10.
Who is the villain? In this book, they are a dragon. A dragon a bit more burly then our hero.
Being that the hero is quite large, in order for their to be tension or suspense in his ordeal, it follows that his foes should be as large if not larger. This is where the influence of Godzilla comes into play. As it stands now, at the end of each book, Zhyx finds himself in a death match with a very big and very nasty monster, while his compatriots, River, Major Celice, Professor Blondie and Hunter the Wizard, deal with everyone else. It is some of the most fun material to write.
So what is the issue with these next few chapters? They are essentially one long action sequence. The sequence is set up at the end of chapter 10 with the reveal of the villain, Heavy, and from there everything spirals out of control for the heroes as they get separated and have an entire city dropped on their heads.
Of course there comes the issue of how to you separate them without it seeming stupid. The cover more ground gimmick is something no sane person would do in either life or literature. Granted, Major Celice and Hunter the Wizard hatched an idea to blackmail a Smaug sized wyrm into helping them out, so they have their own special touches of crazy. But there is a difference between crazy and stupid. Fortunately, an interesting idea came today that I will try out. It might be pretty fun. Often times, the most interesting ideas come out of necessity, a la the barrels in Jaws, which were created just because the mechanical shark wasn’t working.
There is also the issue of not having these chapters get tedious. With several major hurdles thrown at the hero in rapid succession, it is entirely possible some may find the sequence too much and put the book down. Keeping their interest during the ride will be critical.
But these chapters are among the most necessary in the book for one reason. This is the first time in the story that Zhyx is really harmed. How could he have been harmed up to now? His size alone protects him from weapons that would shred most to pieces, with the only effective attacks against him being magic, certain poisons, and well places slashes over his arteries and veins. But the enemies he has faced to this point have been nothing compared to Heavy, someone who has the power to be his better.
During the first half of the story, Zhyx is still challenged. He is challenged emotionally with his pride wounded by the Major and the Wizard, and his odd interest in the young drifter River becoming increasingly prevalent in his thoughts. These challenged are in the end the most important challenges that any character can go through, and a story doesn’t have a point without them.
But there comes a time to show a character as mortal, even a character as impressive as Zhyx. In these chapters, he takes a beating that doesn’t end until he is too exhausted to fly.
It has been one of the big hurdles in every draft, but it will be better once finished. The prospect of polishing it up is something I look forward to, but my characters will have to dodge falling debris and outrun the ocean. I can’t help but dread it just a little, because I get just as exhausted as they do.