First drafting progress: Conflict

While I’m slowly making my way through the chapters, creating a logical and coherent first draft I try to keep conflict in mind. Conflict is one of the most important parts when writing a story and my goal is to make the internal and external conflict interesting enough so it pushes the characters forward (and keeps the reader interested). But I find myself struggling with this in the chapters 2 (Need) and 3 (Go) of the Story circle.

These are after all the chapters where the character gets the thrill/invitation to the adventure and where there has to be a Point of No Return for said character. *

Although I am still shaping my world/universe and seeding it with conflict, the conflict between the two main characters is constantly in my head. What is their personal drive, how does this manifest and how can I give it more depth? I assume that this will eventually lead to a better intra-personal and inter-personal conflict where these characters become stronger. I have already been spending a long time thinking about them and I am not yet done with this. So I know it’s there, it just needs to make its way to the paper.


I’ve noticed that my initial word count of these defining chapters 2 and 3 was already lower than some of the other ones that I spend time on, leading to a conclusion that this is just a complicated matter that I eventually will fix, but it apparently needs more time to simmer in my head. Time I will gladly spend on fleshing out the world and continue writing the other chapters until I get the necessary grasp on these chapters to finish a first draft version. That time comes when I know I have made enough additional notes to create coherent chapters and layered enough character elements in the already written scenes so that I can finish a decent first draft. But it doesn’t end there. 

Because in a way this is actually not the first draft of the story, but maybe the second or third draft because it already exists for so long in my head. It just is the first draft written out on paper. I know this because I have lately been thinking on how long I have actually been working on a first draft. My best guess is 2 years. But as mentioned before, pieces of the story have existed much longer in my head. And while I’m not sure how much better it has already become then my first concept ideas, the thought of continuing to layer in more quality while I add quantity to the document excites me. And it keeps me pushing forward in a way that I have never experienced before. It strengthens my resolve to keep on going with this, even though it may sometimes cause conflict in my personal situation. But that is something I will elaborate more on next time.


If you want to keep updated with the process I refer you to my homepage for word count and my WorldAnvil page for worldbuilding. I’m not that big on the socials and also not sure how I want to handle it. But you’re always welcome to follow along.


* Think of Luke Skywalker in Episode 4: A New Hope from the moment he gets the droids untill he decides to go with Obi-Wan and you know what I mean.

First drafting progress: Worldbuilding

As a pastime I have researched a lot of online sources over the last couple of years on worldbuilding. Youtube essays and discussions, articles, you name it. All this is an added bonus when creating my universe now.

When a writer creates a world; (usually) from scratch based on different sources, there have to be some elements familiar to us, the consumer. Because we want to relate to the world and the characters in it on some level. 

As a creator worldbuilding helps me set the rules for my story. What is possible and what is not. All to create a place that is understandable for the reader. Worldbuilding also enables me to tell more stories, because there is this cool or defining moment that I want to show or be more than a mere noteworthy event on a timeline. Like how the War of the Ancients trilogy in the WarCraft Universe build on the (many) Night Elf characters we meet and events we hear of in WarCraft 3: Reign of Chaos. Or all those legendary Elven names from the Lord of the Rings mythos.

Creators intent

Off course it is always up to the creator itself how much of the world is depicted. Which parts are shown and which are not. [have a look at this essay if you want to learn more] This is the tricky part when doing adaptations in another medium. Because comics emphasize other aspects of a story then a book or a film. 

Having said this, I do firmly believe in creators intent: How you are supposed to experience the product. That’s why I like work in its original language, because creators intent is something that can be lost when even just translating a work into another language. This is why anime dubs have big issues here. The creators intent or lens from which the story is told is (partially) lost to fit the perspective of the Western viewer of an Japanese story. There are a couple aspects like the voice talent/actor which can be hugely detrimental because it doesn’t seem to (completely) fit the character on screen.

Insert to explain:

 I think one of the reasons is cultural, another character nuance.

  1. With cultural I want to point out different customs that are so integrated in (a) society that those cannot be carried over. I seriously had my doubts when I heard that hollywood bought the film rights to the smash hit Your Name because you cannot take a definitive Japanese story and setting and translate it 1 one 1 and put western actors in a western setting. My thoughts back then were that it probably could be done via a Native American myth/folk tale; and it seems the creators are taking this route, which stems me mildly positive.
  2. This cultural difference carries over in character nuance. When translating or dubbing a work of fiction you are also dealing with the nuance a character (voice) brings. This can be with just changing the name to not make it resemble something completely different inherent to that country. This is less of an issue with the written word than the spoken word. When you read a book and the main characters name is for example translated from Bilbo Baggins to Bilbo Balings it does not change his voice because that is something the reader creates in his head.

However when it is spoken like in a tv series it can get pretty bad pretty fast. In the Dutch version Avatar: The Last Airbender the character name Aang is sounds like Ong and the character name Toph like Taff. If it are just minor things like this then it wouldn’t be as big of a problem. But usually the voice of the dubbed language is not an accurate portrayal of the character of the original. When talking about the Dutch dubs I think a reason is that our voice talent pool is actually not that big. At least, not with the ones that can provide a matching or better quality to the original.*

But this also is the case for USA dubs. Gundam Seed springs to mind but also Samurai Champloo, which I recently finished. I was surprised that Steve Blum did the voice of Mugen. I personally think Steve’s voice is too low for the character, especially when I see the character in a heated discussion. And Mugen is kind of a hothead, so that’s why I feel this way.**

This may be unintentional but to me definitely hurts worldbuilding. Especially when a viewer (like myself) is there to suspend disbelief. Plus I am a writer, so character voice matters (perhaps even more) to me than the average viewer.

So what about my world

I am not sure how my world will translate. I’m currently writing in English, and am mixing some foreign words into the mix. I don’t know if they will hold until the final draft or in a possible (Dutch) translation. That is a question for later. 

I am slowly creating an expansive storyworld with history and events that have led up to this moment when this story is taking place. 

Currently I am organising all my notes in one place: WoldAnvil. It’s just to try it for now, but I find that it (so far) works better and has more features than other (free local) tools I’ve tried so far.It is still a work in progress, but here is the link to my page if you’re interested. If you feel inclined, artwork and help is always appreciated. 


* Note that this may has changed over the last couple of years  but I usually do not watch dubs, especially Dutch dubs.

** Please go watch the first episodes of the series on Youtube and create your own opinion. They are there both dubbed and with subtitles.

First drafting progress: Structure

I have been working on this first draft of my first book for some time now. And it sometimes is a real pain. Writing your first book is a process of trial and error, no matter from which side you look at it. You can be very knowledgeable or have good instincts on writing and how a good text should look like, but you don’t know what works for you. At least not exactly. There are many aspects to writing that can be done in different ways, be it worldbuilding, character creation and development or today’s subject: structure.

According to the big writing world there are roughly 2 kinds of writers: discovery writers and outliners.

Broadly spoken discovery writers write everything as it comes along. They start with a blank page and they just start writing. It is a process of discovery: what will your characters do next that you did not anticipate; and what cool event can happen next that fits the story.

Outliners on the other hand, well they outline. Or as George RR Martin calls them: Architects. They start from a high concept perspective and end when they’ve outlined the chapter so they only need to fill in the last sentences.

While discovery writing seems like a fun way to shape your book, discovering events and characters as you go, it caused me to get stuck a couple of times over and archiving about 30.000 words because it did not fit the story when I started organising it the first time. So I can safely say that I’m not a discovery writer. But because I want to have that sense of discovery while I’m creating I do not see myself as an outliner too. Where do I fit on this scale?

Tending to the Garden

Luckily author Chris Fox has the exact book which currently covers my need: Plot gardening. The first few chapters that I’ve read immediately changed the way I view my story. It brings a pleasant mix of the outliner and discovery writer archetype that I apparently needed.

Whilst professional authors in many courses or masterclasses may emphasise the word outline, I find the word structure key here. Chris mentions in the book or one of his (accompanying) videos on Youtube that he can work on preparation for a book for 8 months before actually writing it. Yes, eight months

This small notion got me thinking and completely flipped some of my writing goals for this book. If I can prepare the basic story points that make a good and interesting story accompanied with decent characters I can fill the gaps on the way – Plot gardening.

So now what?

My goal is still to finish the book. Where my primary goal was first to finish it as fast as possible in a reasonable state preparation and structure are more important now. 

I want to have a readable version by year’s end. One that can be scrutinised and feedbacked so that I can learn how and on which areas I can improve my craft. And keep writing in between, so I can experience what other aspects of the craft I prefer over others. It’s a learning process, and I hope you’ll be here next time to read about my experience.

Stay safe, stay healthy and keep on creating.