The Fell Gard Codices


I’ve mentioned that the process of creating the dungeon by random roll feels like an extended collaboration, but the truth it is goes deeper than that. Actually writing the chapters — sending the characters through the areas and encounters I roll up — makes things take different turns than I’d expected, and produces a different shape for the story as a whole. I think this is a good sign. It’s more or less what I want, anyway; to tell myself (and others) a story I can’t predict.

Which brings me around to Part 2, Chapter 12. It’s an example of something I couldn’t have predicted, and for a lot of reasons. In fact, I started writing it with the idea that it’d have multiple points-of-view, like Part 2, Chapter 4, “Fruits of the Garden.” Then I found a character mentioning that the sylph was narrating events to Ulric, and realised I had to at least try writing the whole chapter from that perspective. So I did, and was really quite happy with what came out. I think the tone’s distinctive, and I think the partial-second-person is a nice variant on the third-person POVs we’ve had so far.

But even working out a plot for the chapter was something of a surprise; which is to say that structurally, this whole part of the story was a surprise. I’d originally thought that the discovery of the forest chamber would make for a nice climax to Part Two; but somehow, as I sat down to fit the plot together, it didn’t feel like a climax, and I couldn’t figure out why. So I rolled up more of the dungeon, and found out more about the nearby areas. Which gave me more story. At the same time, because of the way I work on the dungeon — I skip back and forth from area to area, as instinct leads me — I’d also added more to the eastern area, where Amanos and the rest were waiting. That gave me more of their story, as well, and the whole thing suggested other climactic points. The result will play out over the next few chapters.

I’m working ahead, so I’ve actually written all this out by now, at least in draft form. And I think it works. It’s also, by necessity led to some other changes in what I’d thought the story was going to be, which led to more dice rolls, which led to more changes — it’s all gloriously unpredictable, but I can see story shapes in all the material I end up with. Which means to me it’s working. I hope it’s panning out for readers as well.

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