April 4th, 2023
I wish I could tell you that this blog’s delay was an April Fool’s joke. I did consider doing an April Fool’s style post, but the truth is that my vacation did not leave me a ton of time with which to write this last week. Which is funny because, the week prior, I actually got quite a bit of writing done during a lull in the action.
I did get much more written this month than I expected, given said vacation, and there are some things in that vein to talk about. I will warn you lot that this is one of the more rambly blogs I have written and it is quite long-winded, but I have realized over the months I have been writing these that a shocking amount of you enjoy the ramble, so if you’re a part of that crowd, rejoice.
The month started on quite a low note for me. It had been my intention to get a few more chapters of PoP finished, plus some Road to Hell written prior to my vacation, but I fell quite ill early in the month and that knocked me out for five or so days leading up to my departure. There were times when I worried whether that illness might jeopardize my trip, but it had mostly cleared up by the time my plane took off and I have enjoyed my time away immensely.
I won’t give too many details for the sake of personal privacy, but I met up with Regress — one of my betas, moderators, and dearest friends — and spent some time with him to kick off the trip. We had a blast and saw some breathtaking sights before I entered the second leg of my trip and came to see Athena.
We too have had great fun together. There has been a very relaxed air about the trip, which was necessary after the brutality of February — see my last Monthly Forecast for more details — but we have also managed to fit quite a bit of adventuring in along the way.
The best part, for you readers, is that I slotted in quite a bit of writing time. There was a lull in my plans the week before last, and being removed from any distractions I might have faced back home, I managed to write six chapters of The Road to Hell. Many of those are the story’s best entries so far, I think, so I’m excited for you all to read them when the time is right.
This is also a pretty quiet week for me, so I hope to get more done between now and Friday. My primary focus will remain on Road to Hell for reasons I will touch on soon, but I also need to get a couple of PoP chapters done since my illness foiled a lot of my pre-writing plans for that story and I have promised four of those chapters for patrons in April.
I guess that’s my cue to discuss Perversion of Purity. There is going to be a lot of repeated information in this section. If you have followed my blogs or the Discord server, some of this might bore you, but I have gotten a lot of questions surrounding PoP in the past month or so and would like to address the bulk of them here so that I have an easy referral post for future inquiries. Not to say all of this will be information I have said already. Patrons, in particular, might want to read through the first part of this section closely.
Let’s talk about the actual writing of this story first, since that’s what the most devoted of you are probably interested in.
I did get two chapters of this story written in March. Those were chapters 86 and 87. I had hoped to reach chapter 90 — or as close as I could get — before this trip, but again, that illness laid my plans to waste.
The good news there is that I really liked both those chapters — chapter 87, in particular, is one of my favourites in book 4 so far — whilst the bad news is that I have nothing backlogged for this story at the minute. That should not concern patrons because it will be changing in the coming days, but it means I have to interrupt the rhythm I have found writing The Road to Hell in order to get some necessary work done on PoP. Which is okay because I really enjoy writing PoP and book 4 has been a blast so far; it can just be tricky jumping back and forth between such different stories.
Jumping back and forth… words that have haunted me these past few months.
This next little bit will contain some very minor spoilers for PoP book 4 if you are not a patron. I won’t be talking about anything specific that has happened or will be happening, but I will be discussing viewpoints and the structure of the story. I know that the astute among you can probably make some educated guesses about other things based on that.
I have said before that book 4 will be the trickiest year I have yet written in any of my stories. This, largely, is because of the POV divide. Harry finds himself at both Durmstrang and Beauxbatons as part of the Triwizard delegation, whilst a number of integral characters are left behind at Hogwarts.
This left me with a few choices:
I could just follow Harry exclusively and try to catch readers up on everything that happened back at Hogwarts when he returned back to Scotland for the third task. I know that a lot of readers — particularly those on FFN who drool over their powerful protagonists and shun anything that is not that — would prefer if I wrote the story this way, but I dismissed this option pretty quickly. I do fancy some unreliable narration and I have a fondness for throwing characters into the thick of things whilst they are uninformed — stay tuned for The Road to Hell for lots of that — but I would be sacrificing a lot of character development I think is integral in order to create that atmosphere.
The next option I had is to continue writing the way I have been — penning chapters primarily from Harry’s POV, but with other viewpoints breaking up his scenes and interweaving through the chapters.
This is the narrative style I chose for Ashes of Chaos back in 2017 and it was just a comfortable way to write, so I have stuck with it ever since. I also think that, as a writer lacking in craftsmanship who is doing their best to learn, it is probably the safest way of telling a story like this. It was the right choice when I began PoP and I don’t regret using it, but it no longer fits my style the way it did whilst it developed and I am much more comfortable as a writer now.
I have chosen to write almost every chapter from a single viewpoint. The vast majority of these chapters are Harry, but there will be entire chapters written through the eyes of characters like Ron, Draco, and Astoria. I will use multiple viewpoints in the same chapter at least once in book 4, but that will only happen during the year’s climax and not before.
This is the style I use when writing original fiction, so it has worked out well for me here. Not only do I think it works best for the story going forward, but it also gives me an outlet with which I can hone that style even whilst writing fanfiction. It should be noted, for those interested, that The Road to Hell is also written this way.
So why am I rehashing all of this? I have said this all in past blogs, in the Patreon channels over on Discord, and probably in other places I no longer remember.
Well, that’s because the writing of book 4 just got complicated.
Chapter 87 takes place the night before Hogwarts sends off its delegation, which means I have now reached the viewpoint divide portion of this year.
My original plan was to write these next handful of months chronologically. If the next thing in my timeline happened abroad, it would be from Harry’s POV. If the next thing in my timeline happened at Hogwarts, then it would be from one of the Hogwarts POVs.
I sat down not long ago and started actually crafting the timeline and realized pretty quickly that writing it that way would be a mess. There are a lot of points at which events intersect, and still more often, writing chronologically would have me switching viewpoints whilst in the midst of a major moment for one of the characters.
Going back and forth between multiple viewpoints is something all writers must learn to do, and I would like to think it is something I have gotten quite adept at. That does not mean doing it is always easy and I personally find it easiest to write as many chapters from one character’s viewpoint as I can before switching.
So here’s what I’m going to do — patrons, this is the part you should probably read closely. If it is at all confusing, then don’t worry, I plan on posting a more focused explanation on Patreon.
Chapters 88 and 89 are both chapters from Harry’s POV. They cover his journey from Hogwarts to Durmstrang and some of his settling in there.
I am going to write those two chapters next, and they will be the next two posted on Patreon. Once those are done, I am going to focus on the Hogwarts characters’ story from where it is now — October 1st — until the winter holidays. Once I finish that, I will go back and fill in Harry’s story during that same period of time.
Don’t be alarmed if you’re a patron worrying that it will be such a long gap between Harry chapters. There aren’t going to be a ton of chapters placed at Hogwarts during that ten-week block of time. There are definitely going to be at least a handful, but there will be many more from Harry’s viewpoint during that chunk of time. I’m actually doing the Hogwarts stuff first because it’s the shorter bit of story.
The other interesting thing is that patrons will largely get these chapters in the order they are written. The order of those chapters will be significantly different when they are posted on FFN/AO3. I’m going to have to write them the way I’m going to write them, then play around with things and find the right order when that time comes.
That means I will probably stop using chapter numbers on Patreon after 89 and probably style the chapters in a similar way to how they are depicted in something like A Song of Ice and Fire. So, for example, the next Ron POV will probably be titled Ron IV on Patreon, but that will not be true when it is eventually posted on FFN/AO3.
That went on longer than I thought it would and I still have not addressed the pressing questions I have been buried in, so let’s do that now.
When are Discord members going to see chapter 70? When will regular uploads return for Discord members? How long will the delay be between books 3 and 4 for those who read on FFN/AO3? How long will book 4 be? How long will it take me to write?
I have been pelted with all sorts of questions since book 3 wrapped up on Discord, but most of them can be boiled down to variations of the ones I wrote above.
I appreciate anyone who asked those questions. I will also just take this chance to apologize to anyone who sent a question not unlike these and did not receive an answer. The chances are that it was buried amongst all the others, and I will admit, there came a point where I decided it would be best to hold off on going through them all and just answer them here instead.
Let’s just start with the easiest ones to answer:
Book 4 will begin posting regularly for all Discord members once it has been written and at least partially revised and not any sooner. There was a time when I considered posting chapter 70 the Saturday after next to coincide with book 3’s completion on FFN/AO3 in the hopes of luring more members onto the server, but I have decided against doing that for a variety of reasons. This blog is already dragging on, so I won’t touch on them here, but I can answer them over on the server if anyone is curious enough to ping me there and ask.
Now for the trickier questions.
How long will book 4 be? Significantly longer than book 3, but not horrendously long.
Never ask a writer how long something will be. Most of them, like me, are horrible at answering those sorts of questions and are almost always wrong. I’ll give a wide enough range to give myself a snowball’s chance in hell of predicting rightly and say that I think it will be between 150,000 and 200,000 words. This is a very rough estimate based on little more than intuition, so do not be surprised if it proves to be inaccurate.
How long will that take me to write? That’s another tricky one — especially because facets of my schedule these next six months are a little bit unclear. It will depend how much time I can budget for my novel without sacrificing my fanfiction output.
I certainly think it will go faster now that CoP is finished. My gut tells me I will finish sometime in the fall, but only time will tell. The real answer here is that I don’t know. It will be finished when it’s finished.
And how long will the wait be? Well, I will be finishing the rough draft of book 4 and then revising it before it is posted. I don’t think revisions will take nearly as long here as they did last year for book 3 since my prose style has not gone through an overhaul in the middle of writing, but that sort of revision does take time — especially if this year approaches 200,000 words.
I think that’s everything on the PoP front? That turned into a blog of its own, so I will try my best to be concise from here on out.
The Road to Hell is really the biggest thing to talk about this month in terms of writing. Six chapters were written in March, like I said already. Those were all written in a span of four days, so that should tell you how excited I am about the story. It’s probably the most excited I have been about fanfiction since the early days; I am incredibly eager for you all to read it.
And I don’t think that time is too far away. The first calendar year of the story I want written prior to posting is turning out to be longer than expected. My early projection of twenty-five chapters turned out too conservative. It appears now like it will be somewhere north — but not far north, I don’t think — of 30 chapters, but time will tell.
I am still well ahead of schedule, even taking that into account, and I know how I tend to work when I’m this excited about a project.
CoP’s final chapter and its epilogue will go up for patrons in May. It is my hope that, by then, I at least have Road to Hell’s first calendar year written. This is the goal I have set for myself. It is quite lofty — especially given that I’m still on vacation for a little while — but I really do think it’s doable.
Once that writing is done, there will be a revision process. I’m not entirely sure how long that will take — I plan on involving my team a little bit more than I did during PoP book 3 revisions — but I will be pushing hard to get that done quickly.
I definitely want both the text and audiobook versions of this story posting on a regular weekly schedule by the time summer blooms. So if those plans don’t prove too ambitious, not much longer before you guys can take in this long and bumpy road for yourselves!
I don’t have a ton of other writing updates. I plan on May — and probably June — to be novel-focused. Illness ate into the time I had set aside to work on that early this month.
The only other bit of writing-related news this month is just how frustrating I have found an aspect of it.
I talked a lot in the last blog about how I didn’t want to commit to fanfiction projects I won’t have time to finish before the hopeful publication of my first novel in a couple of years. I just don’t think it’s fair to start something I have no intention of finishing, but that has been really tough this month.
I went down quite the rabbit hole and planned quite the story inside my head. It’s PJO — it actually uses similar characters to those in FoF, but not quite the same — and is just so… refreshingly different from any other fanfiction I have ever seen written.
The problem? This would be another long project I don’t really have time for. It would be at least as ambitious as The Road to Hell — probably more so — and I’m almost certain I wouldn’t have time to finish it. Which just means I can’t really justify writing it; particularly in a fandom so unpopulated compared to Harry Potter.
If I wrote it, part of my motivation would be to write something I hope is good for a fandom so sorely lacking in quality. I can’t exactly follow that goal if I know there won’t be time to finish, and that is endlessly frustrating.
The idea is original enough that I might just catalogue it for a future novel/series of novels. It would take some adaptation to distance it from PJO or anything too akin to it, but it could be done. It is just really frustrating, as a writer, when you have an idea that excites you so much but have no outlet with which to see it through. It is utterly maddening.
That was all the writing-related things in March. I do still get questions about things like the podcast, the Weekly Writing Updates, and the server events. This blog was originally going to focus more on all of this, but there turned out to be more writing-related stuff than I expected, so I will make this section brief:
There has been some talk about bringing back the Weekly Writing Updates once I’m home. That is something I will probably at least try to do, but it will depend on some scheduling things and some logistical snags that I hope can be unravelled. Those updates are a very easy thing for me to do. I am just technologically incompetent, so I need some support on that side of it and Athena’s schedule has been much crazier than mine these past eight or so months.
Server events will definitely be making a return soon. I’m not sure if there will be one in April, but I absolutely plan for there to be one in May. Once Road to Hell is posting weekly, I also plan on popping into voice chat for a lot of those chapters so that I can discuss them with anyone who is interested.
Podcasts are a lot trickier. They are really demanding and both Athena and I have a lot going on right now. I do hope that they will eventually return, but I would say that them doing so in the next month or two is unlikely. We shall see though; I often find myself surprised by how much that gets done.
I think that’s everything? It’s crazy that I went into this worried it would be too short or that I didn’t have much to talk about. It has somehow turned into one of my longest blog posts. Can you guys tell I am eager to write things? Vacations always do that to me; they’re such great energy boosts and leave me so refreshed.
I’ll sign off here before I burn too much of that recharged battery penning a blog that is much less interesting than the chapters you’re all here for 🙂
Happy Spring, everyone! I hope you’re all enjoying some more pleasant weather and looking forward to the end of school this year for those of you who study.
Take care, everyone, thank you all so much for being around all this lovely nonsense. The lot of you mean the world to me.