The Story That Almost Was, And Still Could Be

It’s been a long road.

Next month, this blog turns 6 years old!  And like any proverbial rollercoaster, there’s been ups and downs.

But there’s one thing that’s always nagged at my mind.  One story that almost was.  A story that still could be.

In June 2014, I had an idea for a new trilogy of modern-day fantasies, a trilogy that eventually became called Chronicles of the Sentinels, and that story swept me away!  At the time, it had been ages since a new idea made me feel so much excitement, so much anticipation to write it and try to pitch it to agents or publishers.  In fact, I knew that the idea was unique enough and exciting enough, I was sure to get it published!

A modern fantasy steeped in Babylonian mythology.  Much like other sci-fi or fantasy stories, it took the myths, legends, and history of ancient times, and wove them into a tale of mystery and intrigue that took place today, right now, and brought magic back to our crazy modern world.

Back then, I decided to treat writing like a full-time 2nd job, and I worked on this story every single day.  3 months later, I had developed the overarching concepts for the trilogy, come up with the outline for the first novel, and written the first draft.  In just 3 months!

Then came the hard part – pitching to an agent.

Colorado Gold Conference

Image Source – RMFW.org

Back in 2014, I attended my first ever writer’s conference, called the Colorado Gold Conference hosted by the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers.  One of the perks of participating in this conference was getting the opportunity to meet one-on-one with a few agents and pitch a story to them.

I nearly struck gold ;)  I pitched to an agent who, after just one minute, told me how excited she was and that she wanted to see the first thirty pages of my manuscript.  I was ecstatic!  And it bolstered my feelings that the story idea was enticing and interesting.

Alas, as you might know, Chronicles of the Sentinels has not been published yet.

The agent sent a response within a short amount of time telling me that while the story idea had definite merit, the protagonist was not at all interesting, and I needed to do some considerable work on the story to fix it.

As she pointed out the exact reasons, I realized just how correct she was.  I’d managed to make an interesting story, but not an interesting character.  I knew I’d have to work on it.

Editing vs Rewriting

Back then, I felt my only recourse was to do a thorough and complete edit.  It would take considerable time.  And I’d given myself a deadline of ‘making a living off of writing in 2 years.’  Even though I knew back then that it was not an achievable goal, I also knew that by setting such a goal, it would push me forward, and break a decades-long ‘I’ll eventually get to it’ mentality.

Photo by Beck Wasik

As a result of that self-imposed deadline, I decided to instead self-publish another finished story, The Sword of Dragons, the very fantasy-adventure series that I’m still writing books for today!  I do not at all regret this decision, even though it meant that I wasn’t able to work on Chronicles again until 2019.

Book 1 of the Lotus War Trilogy by Jay Kristoff

I especially don’t regret it because of where I’m taking Chronicles now!  I started looking at it again last year, and it occurred to me that the story could benefit from a total re-write, in a completely new writing style.  I’d been re-reading the Lotus War Trilogy by Jay Kristoff, and realized what it was about his style that I liked.  It was personal, it was fluid, the language wasn’t ‘matter of fact’ all the time.  More than that, the characters, especially the protagonist, was interesting and human, with flaws and personality quirks that I was able to connect to, even though I’m not actually like her.

And I wanted to try my own version of that writing style.  Not copy, no way I could do that, but write in a style that was far more engaging and personal.

So I started fresh, re-developing the primary protagonist as I went, and wrote two new chapters for Chronicles.  I sent it to some beta readers, who absolutely loved it!  But I set it down after that because my life became consumed with other issues, such as my hip injury and subsequent surgery.

A couple of weeks ago, I re-read those two chapters, and just like I did back in 2014, I felt the familiar bubbling of immeasurable excitement!

Christopher Tatsu (Image Source – http://cdn.stylisheve.com)

I feel like I’m onto something big again, and I feel like I’m finally doing this story justice!  The protagonist, Christopher Tatsu, is far more interesting, and from the very beginning of chapter 1, the reader goes on a journey with him, seeing hints of magic, but wondering if they’re real or what it means…it’s exactly what the story needed!  More than that, I’ve created a far more personable, human character, and given him a history and traits that make him easier to connect to.

So, when I’ve grown bleary-eyed while editing and proofreading book 3 of the Sword of Dragons (don’t worry, I’m still very much on schedule,) I have been turning to writing more of Chronicles.

It was the story that almost was picked up by an agent.  And it still could be, becoming my first professionally-published novel :)

Thanks for reading!  I plan to go into more depth on what I’m doing differently in this version, but that, my friends, is a story for another time.

-Jon Wasik

2 thoughts on “The Story That Almost Was, And Still Could Be”

  1. Your story reminded me a little of my own – though you’ve had more success by far haha. My blog’s 5 years old and I also came up with a trilogy in 2015 (and a 2-year deadline to start making money from writing) that I thought might be promising. I pitched it to some editors at a publishing event – but they didn’t even want to read it!! hahaha. So I decided to self-publish instead – but sadly haven’t gotten around to self-publishing the trilogy, or any of my other books. Just kinda lack any confidence now.

    Excited to hear about your progress and see where it all goes! Good luck :)

    1. Heya, thanks for your comment! The best advice I could possibly give is to just give it a go, self-publish, and see where you land. You might only make a dozen sales, or hundreds, but you’ll never know if you don’t try. It is definitely a learning experience, and every time I turn around, there’s something new I need to learn about this whole self-publishing business O_o

      I follow your blog, so if you ever do decide to self-publish, you can count on me to share links to your books! (As limited as my audience is right now, lol.)

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