I haven’t been writing lately. I know, I know, that’s so horrible and I should feel bad…well I do, actually. I’ve been working on Kahlima’s Secret in my mind for the past few months and realized my first draft had a huge flaw, one that will require an almost full rewrite of the story: Kahlima is reacting rather than acting. This is an issue that plagues many stories in their first draft, but I didn’t realize it until I was already on my third. A beta reader helped me realize it when he said there’s just “something missing. Something that isn’t quite right about the character.”
At first, I thought he was crazy because my work is perfect (sarcasm), but then I sat down and decided I needed to give the book a good, full read over and by the time I reached chapter 4, I already saw it.
Have you ever played a Mario game where the screen scrolls and Mario is reacting to what’s coming since it won’t stop even if he did? That’s how I felt reading this story. Kahlima was Mario in this case, and she was almost standing still while the events came at her.
There wasn’t an easy fix for this, but it is something I know how to go about fixing, so it’s really not the worst thing in the world.
As I continued to read, there was something else wrong with the story, something that just didn’t fit right with me. The planet the first 5 books takes place on is based on the fire element. During my first draft, I decided to go with a desert theme, and while that works, it wasn’t enough. I didn’t actually have any fire in the book! But this wasn’t a problem I saw as daunting, instead, it was one that I was excited to find out, because that meant I could add some truly interesting things to the story, such as Fire Elementals and a cute little Fire Sprite that I’m sure everyone will love.
But there was also a third thing as I kept chugging through what turned out to be a very mediocre book (Don’t get me wrong, the story as a whole is fantastic, and I love the characters, but the way it was written left a lot to be desired, as you can tell), the setting needed help.
The setting was something I had not thought too much about going in. The planet was a desert, so it should have rolling hills of sand, sand storms, and basically no matter what you did, you’d have sand. Sounds good enough, right? But what kind of civilization could thrive under such conditions? And, even more important, what type of PLANET has nothing but rolling hills of sand with almost no change in elevation? None!
This is when I started doing some research on deserts and on the different types and came to the realization that my planet should have two, very distinct parts to it: one that is full of dry, cracked earth, something that may resemble a dried up lakebed (only on a much larger scale), and the other with those rolling hills of sand. What better way to explain the separation between the two groups of people on this planet than that?
So these three things together really have changed the way I look at Kahlima’s Secret and how I’ll proceed moving forward. It’s going to be a lot of work, but I’m so excited to jump back into it that I truly feel like it was almost a blessing in disguise that I took so much time away, and was able to see the flaws.
A lot of exciting things coming for this universe, that’s for sure, and it’s going to be my immediate focus. Drop a comment if you have any questions or comments!