Update: Okay, I think I’m past worrying about jinxing MARAG

You know what, there’s a reason I really love writing the Tuyo-world books. I mean, maybe someday one will be difficult, but I’m happy to say that this is not that day.

Anyway, I’m not finished — quite. I won’t finish MARAG today — quite. But I should be well into the final chapter by tonight, and I should be writing the epilogue tomorrow, or maybe Wednesday. Even if I don’t finish it quite that fast, this will still be the fastest Tuyo-world novel so far. January before classes start is SO EXCELLENT as a time to write, especially a book I’m enjoying. Until Morgan threw a spanner into the works, I was averaging 8000 words a day and I got back to that level yesterday.

I’ve accumulated a couple dozen notes about stuff to do during the first basic revision pass.

–>I started a subplot, so I want to complete that.

–>I want to combine two very minor characters.

–>I may put a character list at the end. (I should probably put a character list at the end.) (Fine, I’ll put a character list at the end.)

–>I want to give a currently unimportant character a more important role in order to increase tension.

–> Connected with the above, I need to think about whether there is enough tension in the relationship part — not too much, not the wrong kind, but enough tension of the right kind. There is plenty of tension in the action plot, and by the way, there is a lot more action than I expected. I thought this would be almost entirely a relationship story, but it is actually an adventure story with a strong relationship component.

And then there are a bunch of very minor tweaks. Plus the tedious business of going through and creating a timeline to see where everyone is when everything happens, so I can make sure that works.

Plus I need to look carefully at all the names. We know only a few familiar characters here — Sinowa, Marag, Garoyo (he’s fourteen here), Koro (he became king fairly recently). I think that’s it. Oh, there’s a reference to Royova inVotaro, but he isn’t going to appear on stage. So obviously there are a lot of new characters and obviously they’re all Ugaro, which means all the names are Ugaro names, and honestly it’s a good thing I have the Tuyo World Companion so I can check and see what names I’ve used before.

I haven’t actually sat down and worked out how many six-letter words you can create by alternating consonants and vowels, always ending with a vowel, never ending with “i” or “e,” never starting with “o” or “i,” never using “j” or “q” or “c” or “x” or “z.” I think those are the constraints for male Ugaro names. Female names are even more constrained, as apparently the only letters that can end female names are “a” and “g.” Anyway: I’m sure the number of possible names is very large, but creating enough names that look okay to me and don’t look too similar to other names is REALLY HARD, and I guess I could have thought ahead a bit before putting those constraints into the language, but who knew I’d be writing literally over a million words in this world? (So far.)

Let me see, what else? Okay, you might like to know that this book is at 94,000 words and should go to about 110,000 words, maybe a little more. I think I’ve (finally) figured out one reason everything goes half again as long as I expect: it takes a stunning number of words to do transitions and movement. I knew that, but I really noticed it this time. Every single time you start a chapter, you have to establish the scene, and that takes a lot more words than seems reasonable, but it just does. I think that adds as many words as suddenly deciding to pick up a secondary character and do a real subplot around that character, which is the other thing that increases word count. If this book goes much past 110K, that will be why.

Chapters strictly alternate in viewpoint, beginning with Sinowa’s pov in a brief prologue type of chapter that takes place a few months before the story really begins. I really like that prologue. You can see what you think. Marag takes the first chapter of the real story, and the last chapter. Sinowa will take the epilogue. Everyone is going to like the epilogue, I’m pretty sure.

By this time next week, I should be about ready to send this book to first readers.

I may or may not take a week off before I begin RIHASI. I’ve been looking forward to that one so long that I may just not want to take a break. You know what I’ve realized? That the experience of writing a book “in flow” is honestly very similar to immersive reading. That sure explains why I am torn between plunging straight into RIHASI versus “taking a break” — it doesn’t feel like taking a break, it feels like tearing myself away.

It’s very, very satisfying to begin the year with a book that’s just about ready to go.

Extra update: I’ll probably be sending out the next newsletter later this week. Sorry, I totally forgot about it even though I’ve finished the story about young Ryo stealing the tiger pelt. That story grew to 20,000 words and therefore there will be three more parts to it. I’m going to arrange to make those stories available before I do the second Tuyo World Companion, so that should happen later this month, probably.

If you have comments about any of the stories that appear in the newsletter, drop those comments in a post here or email me. I’ll want to do a bit of revision before I put them anywhere in final form.

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16 thoughts on “Update: Okay, I think I’m past worrying about jinxing MARAG”

  1. Just quick FYI, “The Hero and the Crown” is on sale at Amazon for $2.99 and “Dragonhaven” for $4.99. I love “The Blue Sword” so much, but I also really dislike “The Hero and the Crown”. I think Luthe is an idiot and treats Aerin so badly I want to strangle him. Am I alone in this thought?

    Also, what the heck, “The Blue Sword” is not available in Kindle? Who makes these decisions?

  2. Rachel, I think your male Ugaro names can loose one constraint – they don’t have to have 6 letters. Eg. “Ryo” and “Tano”. I expect there are more, but these 2 just come to mind :) Or did you mean up to 6 letters? Also, in this culture i expect many common names would be repeated, especially in different tribes. It may add some confusion, but also some realism. But how would these people distinguish between 2 people in the same tribe with the same name? Would they add nicknames, or patrynomics, or maybe matrinomics (is that a word?) since this is a female oriented society. Anyway, fun things for me to think about. I’m really looking forward to this book!

  3. Carol, I also love The Blue Sword, and didn’t like The Hero and the Crown nearly as much. But I never analysed why – I just stopped rereading it, while I keep going back to The Blue Sword. Thankfully I have it in paperback.

    I looked in Kindle Canada, and can confirm it’s not there either. It’s also not in any of my online libraries (I have access to 4). What a waste! There is probably a whole generation missing out on this wonderful book.

  4. It drives me mad to see great books not available as ebooks when it literally takes just a few minutes to load a book as an ebook and hit publish.

    The Blue Sword is hard to beat. It’s my favorite of McKinley’s.

  5. I should have said up to six letters, Melanie. And as Marag’s mother is Marag, that’s a question I will have to address in this book.

    Although names are repeated, which is indeed realistic, they aren’t so tremendously repetitive that you can’t say the young Tyo and the older Tyo, probably.

  6. I am really looking forward to ‘Marag.’ I’m hoping there will be stories set in the future- say, 16-18 years from where Tasmakat left off??

  7. Alison, I never know for sure how things will go until I actually write the books, but right now I think Tano’s main series will begin almost where Tasmakat left off rather than much later as I initially had in mind. That story should carry us forward about three to five years by the end, probably.

    Provided I write Tathimi’s story as I expect, that should open about ten years from where Tasmakat left off; could be a little farther into the future than that. I have no idea how far that story would carry us.

    Other ideas, who knows?

  8. It occurs to me that coming up with lists of potential Ugaro names, given your rules and constraints, might be an actual use-case for generative AI. (You could make an alphabetized list or Excel sheet and just check ‘em off as you use ‘em?) I wonder how well ChatGPT would follow the rules, though.

  9. That could be useful, Mary Beth — it’s a simple problem — except that a good many names would sound silly to English speakers, such as for example, Tatata. Follows all the rules, but ick. It’s true a text generator that followed the rules might give me a long list from which I could choose names. That’s actually kind of tempting! Maybe I’ll try it and report back on how that goes.

  10. The thing about names is waking up the algorithm-generating part of my brain. You really don’t need generative AI for that. You would have to define the rules a little more tightly than you have, because even before you get to a name that sounds silly, we’re all taking for granted that a name won’t be, for example, six vowels or six consonants. With a quick glance at the full list in the Companion book, none of the names seem to have double vowels and Etta is the only one I’m seeing with a double consonant. And looking at names in the Companion, I saw one male 7-letter name, Yavorda inGeiro.

    I’m glad Marag is going well. I look forward to reading it.

  11. OtterB, I did say consonants and vowels alternate, so that zaps any possibility of Aaaaaa names, at least. I’d forgotten there was a seven-letter name. I’d have to check, but I think the only three-letter names are consonant-yo, so that would be an additional limitation there, so far at least.

  12. Ah, missed that consonants and vowels alternate. Yavorda is an exception to that one, too, and it makes sense to me that if there’s a general rule someone will be an exception.

  13. “Iro” is another three-letter name.
    @Otterb, Darra also has a double-consonant; I note she and Etta are both females.

  14. Yes, Etta, Darra; there is also a minor character named Harra in Hokino’s Knife. Double consonants are a thing we’ve seen only in feminine names — I’m pretty sure.

    And yes, you’re right, Iro is a counterexample for three-letter names ending in -yo. Good. I need to come up with more names like that. And also more names like Yavorda.

  15. There is actually an ebook of The Blue Sword. It’s available on Overdrive / Libby and on Hoopla for anyone whose library provides ebooks that way. Which makes the fact that the ebook is unavailable for purchase even more confusing. Probably a rights thing? I don’t get it.

    Anyways, all that to say that hopefully not quite a whole generation is missing out on it!

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