Battle Song Q&A — An Introduction to My Current Novel

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Sorry this post has been so late in coming! It’s mostly because I feel like I haven’t really made significant progress on Battle Song. I’m in the middle of scene 10 (out of 64), and I’ve written just over 11,000 words. I love my outline, and I love the story, but I still find it hard to actually sit down and write.

But here I am to talk about my novel! In a nice Q&A format that I made up myself.

So…what’s it about?

Good question. It should be easy to come up with a blurb, with all the planning I’ve done, but I still can’t come up with something I’m satisfied with. I’ll keep trying, but here’s what I have for right now:

Amrya il Osamarii is trapped in tradition. Forced to fight and kill, she longs for something besides the ceaseless battles and bloodshed of the mers. Something more. Something like the humans.

After the pain and conflict become too much, she risks all that she has in order to become human–only, the humans aren’t anything like she dreamed. Forced to fight in a war, she continues to seek for peace.

But how can it be found, when forgiveness is impossible?

Where did you get the idea for Battle Song?

This is actually a long story.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you might have noticed that Battle Song has evolved a lot.

My very first idea was written down at school, I think. I don’t remember where I got it from, but I had the idea that “the little mermaid trades her beauty instead of her voice”. I was tired of love at first sight, and I wanted a story where people fell in love for someone’s personality, not just how they looked.

Then other stuff got added in, such as warrior mermaid clans and fabulous princes. I became especially fascinated with the mentions of religion in the fairy tale, and I decided that religion would be an important part of the story.

(If you haven’t heard, in the original fairy tale, the merfolk don’t have immortal souls, but the humans though. When the little mermaid becomes human, she has to marry the prince, so that their souls can become one and she can live forever.)

Unfortunately, as I continued to develop it more, I found that both of these aspects became less prominent. I still would love to address the religion aspect as it relates to marriage more in Battle Song, but it just doesn’t work. The conflict just doesn’t work.

When I wrote (or, more accurately, started) Battle Song 2.0, I touched on some really great conflict at the beginning. However, I didn’t realize how important that conflict was at first, still thinking that the main issue of the story was marrying the prince, like the original fairy tale.

Then I began the Snowflake Method, and I realized that the real conflict of the story was about war, forgiveness, and hope. So the conflict became much more internalized–and much more complex, which is awesome and what makes it so exciting!

Who are the main characters?

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From left to right, we have Malena, Rhysdan/Rhys, Amrya, and Aeren.

Although I’d say Amrya is the only actual main character, the others do play their roles. (Plus, I drew this before the others became less important, so that’s why they’re all on there.)

Amrya il Osamarii–

In one word, I’d say she’s conflicted. Throughout the entire story, there are so many different things pressuring her. But she’s also determined and loyal, which is why she’s so great.

Prince Aeren li Sannave–

Aeren is just…awesome. Okay, I’ll come up with a better word. He’s tender. But he’s not necessarily weak; he’ll also fight for those he loves.

(And no, the pineapple shall remain mysterious.)

Princess Malena il Althair–

Malena is a princess from the neighboring island of Sannave. She’s perceptive. And she’s surprisingly kind for who she is and how she grew up, which is awesome.

Prince Rhysdan li Sannave–

Yes, Rhys and Aeren are brothers. Rhys is older. Rhys is resolute. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to keep Sannave and his people safe. Even if that means doing something good. Definitely an ends justify the means kind of guy.

There’s also another awesome character, but he doesn’t have a name yet, so I won’t introduce him. (I also don’t know all that much about him, but he is awesome.)

What do you think will be your favorite part to write?

Oooh, I have several. Of course, I can’t tell you about any of them because of spoilers, but…scenes 37-38, 46-47, 54, and 60 will be quite fun. *grins evilly*

What are your thoughts?

What do you think about Battle Song? Do you have any ideas on how the blurb could be improved? What questions would you add to the Q&A? I’ll try to answer them, if they’re not spoilerous. (Just so you know, spoilerous is probably the best writing word ever. It’s just so fun to say! Spoilerous!)

Oh, and do you like fairy tale retellings? If so, which ones are your favorites?


I Won Camp(!) + Discussing Battle Song’s Problems & Positives + Too Much Parenthetical Commentary

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Photo by samsommer on Unsplash–thank you!

Okay, so my Camp NaNoWriMo goal was less than any other NaNo goal I’ve had in the 4.5 years I’ve done it (only 20,000 words). But it’s been over a year since I won a NaNoWriMo event, so just winning felt awesome and like I could do amazing things.

Screenshot 2017-08-01 at 4.16.21 PMLook at my lovely chart…. Clearly, I did not do very well during the first half of the month (partly because I went on vacation for an entire week), but I pulled in by the very last day. (Go procrastination!) Not quite as awesome as the NaNo where I wrote 12K the last day to win, but still pretty great.

Also, this draft (rewrite?) is turning out much better than the first one–and also very different. It’s become more emotional (I hope) and a lot more centered on war and fighting and the results of that/how that affects people. But also still about family and religion and love and all of that fun stuff. (Not sure if I told you this, but there’s an actually semi-decent synopsis/blurb on the Battle Song page! *nudges you to check it out*)

But there’s still some stuff that I have yet to figure out. My biggest problem right now is figuring out what exactly Amrya traded with the sea witch. You see, the whole idea of this novel came about from the idea that the little mermaid traded in her beauty instead of her voice. But then…that didn’t work. It didn’t affect the story at all because it’s not about beauty or about a society that really cares about beauty.

So then I decided that she was going to trade out her fighting skills, but that didn’t work because when I began writing this second draft, Amrya’s personality changed a bit. Rather than liking being a warrior, she hates fighting and killing but feels honor-bound to do it. So giving up her fighting skills was not going to challenge her enough.

When I wrote the scene between her and the sea witch, I had her trade some heartscales, which are like tokens of war + mer currency, which worked but also doesn’t affect her after she becomes human.

Now I’m wondering, should I just have her lose her voice like the original? It would better follow the original fairy tale narrative, and I think I can make it work and still have decent character development, but I still don’t know if it will affect her enough. The story isn’t about not being able to communicate; it’s about not wanting to fight. And though having her lose her voice could work, I’m afraid that it’ll detract from the point I’m trying to get across.

(What is that point? you may ask… Well, probably something along these lines: life has value + war is sometimes necessary + family is important + faith + true love and friendship + something else maybe? But that’s what it seems like it’s heading toward.)

So…what do you think? Do you think that it’s okay to have her not trade anything that really affects her (considering that the part that really affects her is that she has to marry one specific person)? Should I have her lose her voice at the risk of it sounding like it was just put there because of the original fairy tale or would it work because it’s from the original fairy tale? Or maybe she just loses it partly (like only the magic part or only for a certain amount of time)? Or do I need to find something else entirely that would make it hard? I don’t know, but I just really need someone’s opinion besides my own.

Okay, we’ve talked about my issues with Battle Song; what about the good parts? Well, there are actually quite a few.

1. The mer culture decided it wanted to be something different and it was awesome. Like, it’s still the same basic warrior clan idea thing, and there’s still a lot I have to develop more fully, but there’s magic that’s awesome and relates to singing! (Points for reference to the little mermaid’s voice being important.) And I kind of figured out why they’re fighting…which kind of leads to the next point.

2. The big problems with the mers got figured out and incorporated into the plotline! The problems were:

  • Where did the mers come from?
  • Why don’t they have immortal souls while the humans do?
  • Why are they always fighting?
  • And I also figured out why the humans are fighting, so points for that too!

And I can’t tell you the answers (because spoilers) but they’re pretty great and are actually important to the plot.

3. The minor character becomes more important. So in the original, after the little mermaid saves the prince, some girls from a convent/temple find him and he thinks one of them was the one to rescue him (and the little mermaid can’t tell him otherwise because she can’t talk). Of course, he thinks he’ll never see her again (she is in a convent, after all), but–surprise! Turns out she’s a princess from a neighboring kingdom, just put there to learn “every royal virtue.” And then the prince falls in love with her and the little mermaid turns into seafoam and that’s the end.

Anyway, this princess (Malena is her name) made a brief appearance in the first draft of Battle Song, but she becomes much more important in this draft. Not only as the character from the original fairy tale but also as Amrya’s friend and the one who introduces her to the religion of the island (which I just now realize should probably get a name). And I wrote a scene with her yesterday and I learned some deep stuff about her and she’s a great character.

So yes, I have been having fun with it (despite all of the struggles)! Somehow I doubt I will finish this first draft before the end of summer…but I do want to keep writing every day and make this story as awesome as it can be!

let’s talk!

How much do you think I should write this August? 30K? More/less? And please help me and give me some advice for what Amrya should trade! (Or at least commiserate with me and offer me chocolate?) And what did you write for Camp NaNo (if you did)? How did it go? And have you ever read the original little mermaid fairy tale, and what did you think of it and its ending?

Also I hope you enjoyed the rambling because I did and I will probably ramble more about stuff in Battle Song, hehe.