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Making of a Novel, Part 10


This is a continuing series of posts about the writing of my novel, Starveyors. You can start at the beginning and catch up at your own pace, or just read on and try to figure it all out on your own. There’s a link list for these posts on the blog’s sidebar to your right.

Chapter One, Scene One, Draft One

I thought I’d put some of this together for you so you can see what a first draft of mine looks like. Remember, this is an unedited, first pass at the novel. It’s not pretty and it’s not finished.

I’ll let you read the first scene and then talk about what I was trying to accomplish with it.

Chapter One

 “No! We will not stand here and be insulted,” the Votainion ambassador shouted. His wrinkled brow heavily shadowed from the harsh key lighting. Dark black eyes were open wide, nostrils flaring like a wild lerra.

The junior attendant to the ambassador’s immediate right squeezed the hilt of his falchion until his blue fingers were nearly white. His face was flushed and contorted in repressed anger. They faced two Alliance diplomats in a circle of honor aboard the flag ship of the Emperor’s Homeland Defense Forces.

The Alliance diplomats, unarmed and wearing civilian clothes, looked blankly at one another. Their confused faces seemed to further annoy their hosts. The lead Votainion ambassador jammed a blue finger at the humans who completely missed the insult.

“You come to this circle with weak platitudes and double-talk and you expect us to capitulate? We’re a proud and noble race and we will not submit so easily to the hand of our sworn enemy.”

The lead Alliance diplomat bowed slightly in a sign of acquiescence. “Please accept our apologies, Ambassador Krone. We know not how we have offended you.”

The younger Votainion exploded with an anguished howl that startled even his master. He pulled his falchion free and lunged with it into the breast of the senior Alliance diplomat. The human fell backwards to the deck with the young warrior on his chest. Blood spilled onto the metal deck under his torso. His hapless aide stepped backwards in utter shock and dismay as the Votainion screamed again, this time in celebration of his killing.

Two armed Votainion guards moved in and pulled the young man off the human. Both guards drew their blades and stabbed the murderous Votainion diplomat in his chest simultaneously. They dragged the aide away unceremoniously, a look of shock upon his dying face.

The remaining Alliance diplomat looked from his dead partner to Ambassador Krone. Krone’s gray bearded face was nearly white from dishonor. He locked eyes with the human and lowered his head out of respect for the dead.

“Please excuse the rash behavior of my young aide. He has dishonored his Kastra and the Empire. These talks are suspended until further notice.”

Krone turned away from the remaining human diplomat and walked swiftly out of the Circle of Honor.

Breaking it Down

This is the first page of the novel and so it can’t be boring. I decided to start with the moment when the first round of peace negotiations falls apart. This scene sets up the story for the reader by putting him right in the thick of things. It has some action and some tension.

We are introduced to Krone, who is the lead ambassador for the Votainions. We see that he’s upset with how the Alliance diplomats are behaving, but we also see that he has compassion when his aide kills the senior diplomat.There is more going on here than just a mindless bad guy. This gives the reader some hope that maybe the heroes will be able to work with this man. It also demonstrates that the Votainions have some degree of honor and respect for the Alliance.

The failure of the Alliance diplomats to respond in a fashion that the Votainions respect will be an important first step for our heroes to overcome. This particular diplomat didn’t get it and paid a stiff price.

We learn that negotiations happen on board the Votainion’s starship and in a Circle of Honor. This is all important stuff that the reader will see again. I’m passing the reader information without making it boring.

There is violence, which helps set the tension that will come later. The reader’s not entirely sure that the Votainions won’t kill the heroes once they get into this same situation.

The purpose of a first draft is to get your ideas down in a somewhat readable fashion. This scene can be improved and will be in the second draft. But for now, I have something to work with.

Next time I’ll show you scene two, in which we meet one of the principle good guys.


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