That word count would be a lot more satisfying if it hadn’t taken me since last Friday to get that far. I’ve switched myself to a schedule of five days a week writing, two days off, because I ultimately feel a lot better if I get a little time away from the words. I revised my schedule for JH slightly today as well. This was a result of cutting 32 scenes from my planned length; my scenes are ending up longer than I expected and it was ballooning my total length unacceptably. I’m still working on filling in all the gaps in my planned scenes, but a lot of that will happen as I write to those points.
I realized belatedly that I had not given any sort of introduction to JH, as I did for Figurehead, so here goes:
Friendly rivals are reunited by war, but when the cruel beast tamer turns its own ultimate weapon against a monster-beset walled city, it is up to the reclusive craftsman and her beast-house to stop him.
I’m not in love with that sentence–apart from some stylistic awkwardness, it fails to mention the various subplots and the critical parts of the cast who are not the hero and villain. But it hits the basic notes of war, double-cross, and built-beasts, the last of which are the whole reason I want to write this. As for the characters:
Hanite was trained as a master craftsman, but never passed her certification test, as she has one little weak point in her skills: she is incapable of building a beast without giving it human speech in the process. So Hanite lives in the Wilds and works for farmers and traders who only care about results, not certificates. But she dreams of settling down with her house in the safety of a city, where walls will protect her and Rivem from the feral beasts with whom she shares the Wilds.
Rivem is the Jackrabbit House. Tall as any building in the city, Rivem is a jackrabbit crafted to huge proportions, modified with plants, animals, and metal to make her more resilient, and outfitted with a small cottage on her back. Rivem owes her life to Hanite, who rescued her and spent months creating the beast-house she is, and Rivem would lay her life down for Hanite. That might just be necessary, because Hanite has just been drafted to serve in a war and where she goes, Rivem is sure to follow.
Oakshiver trained under the same master craftsman as Hanite and at the same time, at least for a while. From opposite ends of their society, Oakshiver aspires to the upper class lifestyle Hanite abandoned and he considers a life of luxury to be no more than his due. They haven’t seen each other in years, but Oakshiver answers the same call Hanite receives. But his circumstances and his skills are both special, so he is given a seemingly impossible task: use those skills to attract and tame one of the feral beasts which menace the trade routes and the walls of the city. He must deliver the ultimate beast of war to save his own life, but Oakshiver has never taken orders from anyone.
Lonet isn’t a craftsman at all, but she’s just been taken on as an apprentice in the history of the craft, her field of study at the University. But Lonet has been keeping secrets from everyone who knows her there: she hails, in truth, from the poorest section of the city and no matter what the official policies are, that kind of background will get her dismissed from school if discovered. But Lonet has something worth lying and stealing for–her grandfather, suffering from an illness ravaging the poor community–and the university is the only place she can hope to discover a cure. But even if she does, she’ll need to find a craftsman willing to break the taboos of their own craft to make use of it.
Ebrit comes from the city across the plains, the underdog in the war for territory. He’s a career soldier, whose wife and in-laws depend on the housing his job earns for them. But Ebrit is sick too and walks a fine line between providing for his family and infecting them with his own death sentence. Their lives are made more precarious when he is reassigned to serve at the new wall, the city’s grab for territory, which puts Ebrit, and his family, at the edge of the Wilds and right in the line of fire.
In other news, it’s October, which means it will soon be November, which means NaNoWriMo is on its way for another sleepless, word-filled month. I am tactfully classified as a NaNo Rebel, as I am starting my novel in October and writing the final 50k words during NaNoWriMo. So the first draft of JH should–no, will, damn it–be completed before December. I bask in my optimism and my foolishness and my blissful amnesia regarding the ease, or lack thereof, with which I finished those fifty thousand words in years past. Nonetheless:
Let’s get our write on.