You trying to thicken your plot over there?
Well, I sure hope so, because that is exactly what we are going to talk about today!
Welcome back, everybody to another episode of Write On In!
We’ve covered a few things over the last ten videos, but the last three in particular have had us developing a novel that we’re all going to write for National Novel Writing Month in November 2020.
You’re going to write your own, novel, that is.
We’re not going to collectively write one together,
Although I would totally be down for that type of “pass the sentence” type of story to see what happens…
Real talk, now that I’ve said that out loud, let me know if there’s anyone else out there willing to participate in something like that. You know, like when you write a sentence and pass it on, another sentence is written and the first sentence is folded, so all you have is the sentence before it and then at the end it reads as some crazy random story?
That’s not what we’re talking about today, but I’m seriously so into that idea.
As it is, we are going to talk about how you can develop your novel, so without further ado, let’s get Write On In.
If you’ve stuck with me for the last couple of episodes, you’ve seen me discuss where ideas come from, choosing my genre and creating my characters with some upfront personality traits, and discussing the idea of tropes and cliches and the like in more detail.
I’m busting out a beer for this episode, but I’m not going to be the way I was at the end of that wine video.
Some writers have some drinks when they do their plot and character developments and such.
Anybody ever read Stephen King?
Today, I’ll cover some of the tropes within the Dark Fantasy category in more detail — specifically the tropes I’m intending on using.
Since we just touched on the topic the other day, I’m going to over a little more about utilizing research of your genre and its accompanying tropes to help you build your story.
We’re also going to develop more of our characters — specifically if you, like me, haven’t done any of the questionnaires for them yet — through the development of our plot, and we’re at least going to get introduced to our setting today before we develop it in more detail.
Using the tropes and characters we’re already familiar with, we’re going to discuss plot arcs and character arcs.
By the end of this post, you’ll have a back-of-the-book description of your official work in progress.
If you’re starting to feel the itch to get write on in to the novel writing process, I actually encourage you to let that feeling of excitement grow, and grow, because if it starts to become almost unbearable, that just means by the time November 1st hits, you’re not going to have any problem spilling out those 50,000 words.
What I meant to say in the character development post was that name generators should be used as a basis to choose a type of name you like. Then, you can fiddle around with a few letters to tweak them to be your own.
I have also ordered a cool eight dark fantasy books to read while I’m developing and writing this book so I can be really within the genre while I’m doing this.
Like I mentioned in the genre video, I just went through the top sellers on the Amazon Kindle, and out of the top fifteen books, I chose five that appealed to me most.
One of those just happened to be a bundle set of four books for $0.99, but what I wanted to note the most here was actually that the top selling books in the Dark Fantasy genre were largely self-published. I actually only bought one “traditionally published” book out of the bunch, but it was a pre-order that I don’t yet have at the time of this recording.
The books for it are:
The Queen’s Executioner, Book One of The Magelands Epic by Christopher Mitchell. Check out my review.
Pilgrim by Harmon Cooper.
Pyresouls Apocalypse by James T Callum. Check out my review.
Monster Whisperer by JB Trepagnier. Check out my review.
Piranesi by Susana Clarke, which is also the traditionally published book. Check out my review.
To repeat something I said in the genre post, it’s really important to read, and read widely throughout your genre of choice.
It’s not for the purpose of “copying” anybody, at all, but there is influence and inspiration and, again, it’s all about developing your own voice and your own take. You can’t know about that voice without researching how it already fits into the mold, especially if that’s a mold you’re trying to break.
I’m utilizing the information that I learn here to both look for these themes within the books I’m reading to see how dark fantasy themes are done. Then, I assess how I feel about the way they’re executed. Finally, I consider how I’m going to take these similar tropes and mold my own story around them.
Remember, as well, that your book can fit into multiple genres, so you can look up common tropes in your parent category as well, instead of just focusing on one particular sub-genre.
I’m still just sticking with dark fantasy for now.
This now gives me some ideas, mixed with the characters I’ve already dabbled with, about the type of plot I’m going for.
Back in 2016, the Atlantic published an in-depth piece about the six common archetypes found within plot structures as determined by Artificial Intelligence, which is also linked in the description box.
It’s based on a lecture from Kurt Vonnegut back in the 80s, of which the YouTube version is still available.
Long story short without getting too detailed into the sciences and experiments and all that, it is common thought that basically any story falls into one of six plot arcs:
1. Rags to Riches,
in which the main character goes from a nobody to a somebody. Think “Matilda.”
2. Riches to Rags,
which is when the main character falls from their seat of grace. Think “Picture of Dorian Gray.” Or Donald Trump.
3. “Man in a Hole,”
in which the character falls down only to rise again. Think “Alice in Wonderland,” although your character doesn’t technically have to actually fall into a hole.
4. “Icarus/Freytag’s Pyramid,”
which is when the character rises up, only to fall again. Think “Hunger Games”
one of the more common arcs, in which the character rises, then falls, then rises again. Think of… basically any Disney movie.
6. And “Oedipus,”
in which the character falls, then rises, then falls once again. Think “Frankenstein.”
There’s so many things about so many things about so many things that I can go over here, but like with the other tutorials and videos for this month, and for the first draft of your story, I just want to remind you not to get too freaked out.
I’m personally going to go for the “Icarus” storyline, since I feel like that fits into the dark fantasy category kind of the best.
If you read this from “The Write Practice”, you can see some more in-depth detail about all of this.
In a couple of weeks we’re also going to talk about one of my articles on there 😉
But that article also reinforces the commonly held belief that the Icarus, Oedipus, and Man in a Hole arcs tend to be the most successful.
Okay, with the plot archetype decided, before I get into the plot of the story itself, I’m going to remember that the majority of overall stories follow a relatively similar sequence of events:
1. The Exposition,
when essentially everything is introduced.
2. The Rising Action,
which is what happens as we build toward
3. The Climax,
when we are at the breaking point, the pivotal moment of the book, what we’ve been waiting for and everything that’s built up to here.
4. It is followed by the Falling Action
as we start to bring down the intensity before we move into
5. The Resolution,
which is thus, whatever happens as a result of everything else.
You’ll notice today, if you do actually look in the description box or follow any of the hyperlinks of my website, that there are a lot of additional articles for your reading pleasure today, should you decide to look into these ideas in more detail.
For me, however, I’m going to jump cut through my process as I finally piece together my own plot by essentially answering “what is going to happen” in each of those five elements of a story, and at the end, I’m actually going to read it aloud.
Sounds weird, but I’m actually terrified to do that, so we’ll see how this goes.
Okay, so now we are all done with that!
As always, everything I’m doing in these tutorials for myself, although speed-edited, is available for your reading pleasure on my website, should you want to use it as an example of these exercises I am giving you.
I said at the beginning of this video that we were at least going to meet our setting today, and that could become any of a varying number of outcomes.
You may already have a city or a country chosen, especially if you aren’t writing something in the fantasy genre.
As for me, I still have a few decisions to make, but we’re going to go over setting development next week one way or the other. After having the plot and the characters, though, I think you should at least have a few things decided about the “where” of the story taking place.
But since I’ve already done my character outlines — and hopefully yours is a little more thorough than what mine already is, but to be fair, I’m recording these videos in early September, and I have until November to actually get these done, and whatever’s posted on the website will be more than what’s on the screen *laughs.*
I’m honestly just taking my spare time now to finish up some of the other works in progress I have. That way, I can devote my attention to this more in October and do it “with you.”
Anyway, now that we have that plot arcs and storyline methods all figured out, we’re going to go back to at least our main character, or at least any of the characters we want to have point of view chapters, and we’re going to decide what type of specific arc they have.
The character arc obviously focuses on the growth of the main character, and decides who they are at the start, and who they are as a result based on what they’ve been through.
Types of arcs usually include:
1. The Change Arc,
which is kind of most often referred to as “the hero’s journey,” and I’m just going to drop both Frodo Baggins and Harry Potter as characters for this. They’re called out of their normal lives, some crazy shenanigans goes on, they’re a hero at the end.
2. The Growth Arc,
which is essentially when the character… is basically the same person at the end, but has also seen a tremendous amount of growth at the same time. Keeping Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings references here, you could say Samwise Gamgee and Hermione Granger. Both characters went through so much, but at they end, they were still good ol’ Sam and good ol’ Hermione, but we love them for that nonetheless.
3. The Fall Arc,
which, Sauron. Voldemort. Donald Trump. You get the gist. That’s with more straight-up “villains,” but especially for me and writing Dark Fantasy right now, the Fall Arc is also really good for some main characters, especially if you consider a film example like Anakin Skywalker before his descent into Darth Vader.
It’s also important to remember that not every character really have to go through some sort of dramatic change.
Personally, these types of stories read to me as more plot-based than character. It doesn’t always work as well, because I really love character-driven stories.
Think Sherlock Holmes, here, which I think is a big one for a character that remains a good character throughout, but it’s more about the mystery’s he solves and his intelligence rather than any crazy inner turmoil, apart from perhaps his little cocaine problem.
That story is also told through the eyes of Watson, which gives it a sort of unique perspective in that it’s a first person story that isn’t about the person telling the story.
That’s also part of what makes it okay for Sherlock Holmes himself to maintain that sort of linear character arc, because everything about him is literally told from the perspective of somebody else, who acts as the narrator, but isn’t.
If Sherlock Holmes were written in a style that would fit into like a Harry Potter where the narrator is written through the point of view of the character, it might not have been as easy to remain what they call a “flat” character, but it’s also just important to remember that even though these terms and definitions “exist,” they’re kind of like the pirate’s code — you know, just more of a guideline.
So now, for either just your main character or everybody in between, decide what type of arc they’ll have.
You can get more into the details of how that arc is going to interlace with the plot of the story, which is something I’d also recommend doing now, because it’s going to help you start to picture the setting of the story better, so hopefully you’ll be ready when that video comes into play next week.
If you are writing a fantasy, or any book that has more than one point of view, I do recommend making this decision for everyone who is going to narrate the story.
And, just in case there’s anybody out there who doesn’t know what a point of view is, it’s just whoever’s telling the story.
First person is when they use “I.”
“I did this, I did that, we went here,” that type of thing.
Second person is “you.”
So it’s when whatever you’re reading (like if you’re reading this on my blog as opposed to just watching it on the video) is talking directly to “you,” the reader.
Think about choose your own adventure type novels, or read “You” by Caroline Kepnes for an example when second person doesn’t actually talk directly to “you.”
But “you” is the pronoun for second person narratives.
Third person limited is the most commonly used,
and it is when they move into the he/she pronouns and is the most commonly used method of storytelling.
Third person omniscient,
just in that some type of “third person” is usually chosen, but in omniscience the narrator knows a wider group of characters and sees into multiple heads.
Since you have your characters, plot line, plot arcs and character arcs all sorted out, you might as well decide which “type” of point of view you’re going to write this book in.
If you’ve ever read The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, you’ll also see a great example of using both third and first person to tell a story, and then we get kind of back into that whole “genre bending” type of thing.
Mix it up.
Do something different.
It may be good, it may not be, but breakouts happen from people successfully changing the molds.
They’d never happen if the boundaries of the mold weren’t constantly shifted.
We’re also only a couple of weeks away from starting up the official draft of this novel, so if you’re finding that you are, indeed, more of a plotter than a pantser, I have one final exercise for you to do if you really want to comb through everything in the plot:
First, write a beginning, middle, and end paragraph for each the first, second, and third acts.
Nine total paragraphs, there, five sentences minimum in each.
Even if you’re a pantser, I recommend doing at least this, but feel free to also experiment with “plantsing” because I do increasingly thing that’s my favorite form of novel writing.
After you have the breakdowns of the beginning middle and end of each act, write a two sentence summary for each chapter you plan on having.
After you have those two sentences, go back and write a beginning, middle, and end paragraph for each chapter that’s expanded from on that two sentence summary.
Yes, that is a lot of work, and it is one of the primary reasons that people who “pants” their books think that “plotters” spend too much time in pre production.
All I’ll say to that is, while I agree that it can be too time consuming if you let it, if you ever do want to try and sell this book, you’re actually going to basically have to do this anyway.
After the initial sample you send in with your query, if it’s accepted, oftentimes you’ll first have to provide a detailed summary — like what you would have if you do the exercise I just gave — that includes everything that happens.
They don’t care about spoilers, they want them.
They want to know everything they’re about to read before they actually commit to the entire novel.
This isn’t always true, and not everybody does this, and sometimes you do just get the straight request for a full manuscript.
But remember that agents and editors and publishers and everybody out there in between are constantly being bombarded which hundreds and thousands of other options, and while that sounds intimidating, if you work on your summary now, then you’ll be able to go back and just give it a little revision based on whatever actually happens in your book.
Allow your story to change and don’t force yourself to stay in this initial outline, but utilize it as an opportunity to really think out the entire story, if for nothing more than to start figuring out the pacing.
This is another reason I, personally, like to spend October getting ready for National Novel Writing Month, whenever I consciously decide I’d like to participate, because even just a week or two of development before the “race” starts can help you get a lot farther than if you do just try and pants out your first book.
But the choice is yours.
Tuesday we’re going to talk about ways of connecting with your inner voice, so that we can start talking about ways to take all of these tropes and genres and cliche’s and plot arcs and everything we’ve talked about so far and figuring out some ways to say it in your own voice.
If you’re enjoying these tutorials, please like, comment, share, and subscribe!
I hope your novel writing journey is coming along, and since I am recording all of these tutorials before any of them see the light of day, if anyone has been commenting and sharing their work and progress so far, whether here on YouTube or over on my blog, then thank you so much!
The Andrew in the future who has already published this video will probably have already thanked you as well.
If you haven’t shared your work yet, please do!
And if you have shared your work and heard nothing back from me, then wow, I’m… fired.
Gives this video a thumbs up if you loved it and a thumbs down if you hated it, because even if you think it’s weird that I encourage a thumbs down, engagement’s engagement and you still had to make it this far to know I encourage that thumbs down, so —
Did you really hate it that bad?
See you on Tuesday!
The Chase to Find the Future (Working Title) Summary:
Vaeda Moltenbrook didn’t know much, but he knew he didn’t belong. The world that surrounded him was one of darkness and despair, but something within him encourages him to search for a deeper meaning.
Hidden beneath a city with four other captives, Vaeda finds himself on a quest for truth, on a journey for knowledge, and an escape designed to set himself and the others free.
They, like him, have something different about them, something that the others in the city of Raelevarre fear. The more he searches within himself, the more he discovers that whatever is feared is stronger than even he knows.
The light within Vaeda grows alongside the desperation to find freedom, but it doesn’t take long for the members of the royal court to catch word of Vaeda’s blasphemy. By the time his intents are discovered, he’s already managed to lead the other captives with him further into the depths of the caves that imprison them, but also finds himself getting lost the further he goes in.
Time is running out. The power he feels within him dwindles the longer it stays dormant, but he cannot use whatever power he feels within him while he’s trapped inside this cave. The others experience the same feelings of a growing yet dormant power, and as the journey plays out, Vaeda starts to wonder if the idea of keeping them all imprisoned wasn’t such a bad one to begin with…
Vaeda wakes up in the darkness, and immediately knows he doesn’t belong here. Something’s off. Someone tells him he’s been here for years, but his mind tells him mere seconds have passed before his entrapment. Seeing is almost impossible, but he can hear everything going on around him — the drips of the water down the cave walls, the breathing of the others trapped with him. Their faces are hidden from him, but their energies shine bright. Something within him reminds him that it is his purpose to save them.
He finds that task anything but easy, as none of them trust him at first.
They’re all captured because there’s something about them — something none of them are aware of — that scares the people of Raelevarre. Vaeda himself isn’t sure what spawned any of this fear, but he knows he has to get out. There’s a warmth within him that grows every day, and it teases the power he’s told he has without ever giving him any further details. To find what he seeks, he knows he must first gain the trust of the others.
The others, however, sit within their own fear. They do not believe in the idea of freedom, for even though none of them know or remember why they were captured in the first place, they all believe they deserved it. None of them know how to react to Vaeda’s desire to get out of the pit they’re in, but none of them seem willing to offer him up any extra help. Their lack of desire, however, only fuels him to find a way to free them, for he does not want the royalty of Raelevarre to win.
The king in Raelevarre receives word of Vaeda’s attempt to free the “slaves,” and it doesn’t take long for all of that to seep down into the caves where Vaeda and his companions are trapped. The king’s rage at Vaeda’s plots only further separate him from the people he’s trying to save, because they think this reaction proof that they don’t deserve a free life. Fortunately, for Vaeda, he finds companionship and solace within Go’Ranashu, the only other person from Vaeda’s homeland of Hardmoure, and the only person Vaeda thinks he can truly trust. Go’Ranashu agrees to help Vaeda with the plot to free themselves, which only turns everyone else more against them. Vaeda, however, trusts that they’ll all come around when they see the relationship between he and Go’Ranashu flourish.
His assumptions prove correct, as one day, Runavan, another slave trapped with them, discovers the power that’s held him in exile — the power to read minds.
He looks into Vaeda’s mind and discovers the true intent behind his desire to help them, and as Runavan himself begins to accept the power within him, he further agrees to help Vaeda in the plan to get them out of there. The others, again influenced by the growing relationship Vaeda has with them, slowly start to come forward to think of a way to overthrow the king. They slowly understand what Vaeda means by saying they don’t belong down here.
Vaeda, however, finds himself in something of a predicament as his companions start to trust him. The more they trust him, the less he trusts them, especially as the rest of their powers start to unfold. Vaeda himself isn’t sure about whatever light or warmth he feels inside of him, but the only person he trusts is Go’Ranashu. One of the women, Yaga, proves to have an ability to alter memories and perceptions, and the more her power in particular unfolds, the more Vaeda realizes he may have made a mistake in trying to lead everybody else out. But still, he can’t determine what it is that makes him feel so different and disconnected in the first place.
Go’Ranashu comes to Vaeda and warns him of the malcontent seen within the others. By now, they are so deep within the caves that the king and all of his men cannot find them. Unfortunately, the deeper they go, the more lost they get, and Vaeda rapidly discovers this might not have been the best idea, after all. Where he had an intent to save and a desire to help, he finds instead that he’s putting himself in more danger by the day as all of the other powers — all but his — start to unfold. Cochava is able to call upon light to lead them through the darkness, and Surid is able to bend and move stone to help them dig their way through the tunnel.
But it is Yaga they all fear, and when Runavan comes to Vaeda with a warning of a plot he saw within Yaga’s head, Vaeda starts to understand why they were all cast away in the first place.
Apart from Yaga, everyone presented a threat to the king in some way — although Vaeda is still uncertain about his role in all of this. Yaga, they discover, actually used to work for the king, but warranted her imprisonment when she started to use her powers against the king himself. She catches on to everyone’s suspicions on here, and disappears into the cave. Vaeda, however, knows better than to think she’s gone forever, and waits for her to come and exact her revenge.
She does, but by the time she comes back, Vaeda has managed to lead everybody to the edge of the cave and on the precipice of a different world — one known by myth and legend as Earth. It is at the end of this journey that Vaeda discovers the ability to heal lies within him, and he realizes that was his intent in these caves all along. He was surrounded by broken souls who thought they had nothing more to live for, and he found a way to save them and have them think otherwise. The final scenes see him fighting off Yaga — who has been reinstated with the king upon his discovery of Vaeda leading them to their freedom — and ends with the other four main characters “moving on” to Earth and away from their imprisonment.
Vaeda Moltenbrook wakes up in a cave, and everything is dark. He finds, however, that when he closes his eyes, he sees, but what he sees isn’t what’s around him.
When Vaeda Moltenbrook opened his eyes, he wasn’t expecting to be surrounded in darkness. Everywhere around him is a blank void, but all of his other senses have heightened in the darkness. His memory is clouded, and thoughts seem to come in spurring little wisps instead of anything tangible. At first, even his name is lost on him. Even after his identity comes back to him, he still struggles to remember anything that’s happened before.
He wanders the cave, feeling around all of the different rock formations and trying to learn his way around.
Every time he blinks, there’s a flash of light, but he can’t determine why. He feels like he’s trapped with hundreds, perhaps thousands, of other souls, but even when he calls out, he gets nothing in return. A loneliness unlike anything he’d ever felt before overtakes him, and the feeling of isolation starts to scare him. The more he wracks his brain, the less he remembers, and he worries that he’s dead.
When he finally calms himself down and settles down to relax, the strangest thing occurs: Eyes closed, he can see perfectly. Eyes open is only darkness. Worse still, whatever he can see when he closes his eyes isn’t in front of him in the least. He sees fields, flowers, sunlight, buildings, civilization. Even without being able to see anything, he knows that couldn’t be farther away from the setting he’s actually in.
Vaeda encounters Go’Ranashu and Runavan, who inform him he is trapped in the Laniswell Hollow underneath the city of Raelevarre. They tell him he’s been here for years, the same as them, but he knows, somewhere deeper within him, that isn’t completely true.
After more attempts at calling out for help, Vaeda finally gets a response. The voice that talks to him is deep, gruff, and oddly familiar to him. The man — or, beast, Vaeda discovers — is named Go’Ranashu, and he’s from the Noverten clan from Vaeda’s homeland of Hardmoure. This homeland, or the memory of it, returns to Vaeda as he learns about Go’Ranashu’s heritage and his race being a mixture of a ram and a bull. Go’Ranashu, too, suffers from strange memories, but together, they are able to weed out some of the incorrect thoughts.
Not long after they meet, Go’Ranashu brings Vaeda back to his little section of the cave.
Go’Ranashu has been there for a while and knows his way around, but the only other person he’s met up until this point is Runavan, whom Vaeda meets upon getting to Go’Ranashu’s clearing. Runavan then informs Vaeda they are trapped in the Laniswell Hollow, which is a name that strikes Vaeda to his core. Upon further interrogation, he discovers that the cave is under the city of Raelevarre, which is the capital city of their country. That name strikes a chord in Vaeda, and he already knows things are worse than he expected.
Runavan only adds to Vaeda’s confusion when he informs him that Vaeda, like them, has been trapped in the caves for years. He explains that the castaways are dropped underneath the city for crimes against the king, but none of them can remember what crimes these were. Vaeda, however, has a feeling that it hasn’t, in fact, been years. He’s certain that waking up here was only recent, not something he’s been experiencing for an extended amount of time. His concerns only prompt Runavan and Go’Ranashu to join him in a conversation about the validity of their memories.
Without fully understanding why, Vaeda knows he has to help out everyone he meets in the cave, and this chapter introduces Cochava, Yaga, and Surid. When Vaeda closes his eyes, he can see the path before them, but the path he sees does not exist within the cave itself, and he doesn’t know how to handle that.
The discussion of messed up memories prompts Vaeda to start thinking about ways to get himself, Runavan, and Go’Ranashu out of these caves. He accepts that they, perhaps, might have been there for years, but he knows, somewhere deep within him, the same is not true for him. His frustrations only increase, however, when his memory continues to be meddled. A white fog covers his brain anytime he tries to think of the “before.” Something tells him that there’s a bigger reason for these memory losses than any of them know, but he can’t place his finger on the reason why.
As Runavan, Go’Ranashu, and Vaeda walk around the caves and discuss possibilities, they come across voices that they follow to discover Cochava, Yaga, and Surid.
All of them are in similar positions, but seem to have a firmer grip on the reality around them. Yaga, in particular, seems somewhat comfortable with what’s going on, which Vaeda marks as weird from the start. However, anytime he has any strange or ill thoughts about anyone he’s met, they seem to receive the same white fog over his mind to prevent him from dwelling on them. Subconsciously, he knows this is wrong, but his conscious mind is unable to make sense of why it’s happening.
Further still, as soon as Vaeda’s met Cochava, Yaga, and Surid, Vaeda finds the visions getting stronger when he closes his eyes. Every time he does, the path he sees in his mind gets more clear, but it is not a path that is within these caves. As much as he wants to discuss this with his new companions, a deeper voice warns him to keep this to himself, for now. There’s a general taste of distrust flowing through the group, and Vaeda knows it’s there for a reason. He decides he’ll at least make valid attempts at honing in on this power himself before he starts to bring in the opinions of others.
It doesn’t take long for Vaeda to learn that none of them trust each other, and they’ve all been imprisoned for something none of them can pinpoint. Vaeda expresses a desire to find freedom, only to have his ideas shot down by the others, who think it safer to sit within their own fear.
Vaeda retreats further into his mind to try and hone in on whatever power he feels, as well as trying to figure out why he sees things when he closes his eyes, but not when they’re open. Whatever world he sees when his eyes are closed seems so much better than where he is now, but he still can’t remember much. Visions of his homeland start to return, especially as he spends more time with Go’Ranashu, but he can’t seem to picture anywhere else apart from this fantasy land in his head. He still doesn’t tell Go’Ranashu about that, but he starts to feel more comfortable around him. His instincts tell him not everyone can be distrusted, but he still has to determine who’s valuable and who’s not.
After a day or two of everyone being together and moving through the caves, Vaeda discovers that none of them trust each other.
It isn’t anything outright or obvious, but there’s a general tension in the group that prevents any of them from really talking openly. They all know they’ve been imprisoned for something, but none of them really know why. The fact they’re all prisoners, however, only adds to everyone’s distrust of each other, because they assume the imprisonment is worth it. Vaeda, however, isn’t completely sure of that — especially since he’s certain that he didn’t do anything wrong.
He’s shocked when he raises the idea of finding freedom, only to have the notion shot down by the others. Yaga, especially, seems to think that, although none of them know why they’re there, they all did something to deserve it. The caves of the Laniswell Hollow were reserved for the most vile of criminals, according to legend, and anyone thrown in them never saw the light of day again. This thought scares Vaeda, but he can’t figure out why nobody else seems to think this isn’t right. He wonders if they do, perhaps, know more about why they’re there than they’ve led him to believe, but that does nothing for his own questions as to why he, himself, is there.
The resistance Vaeda finds from the others only fuels his desire to help save them. Memories that seem stained and tarnished float sporadically through his mind, and the truth seems questionable to him, from the vileness of the royalty in Raelevarre to the reasons everyone was captured in the first place.
Vaeda retreats from the others as he searches for ways to change their minds. He cannot understand why they’d think they had to stay in this oppression, and he couldn’t fathom the thought that anybody deserved this. In his solitude, he turns his focus inward and tries to assess why his vision is so clear with his eyes shut. The world he sees — one full of love and life — hardly seems possible when he’s surrounded in all of this hatred. Despite its impossibility, he tries his hardest to believe it actually exists.
But, again, in his solitude, he is able to look more clearly into his memories.
As he searches them, he becomes more aware of the fact they’re altered, somehow. This makes him question the very idea of truth and what it was. How was he to know if his memories served him correctly? What if everything he saw in his mind’s eye was skewed, to his own fault, to make it fit more clearly into what he wanted to depict as good?
He hardly even knew what “good” was anymore, but he knew he wouldn’t find its answer within the Laniswell Hollow. The royalty in Raelevarre needed to be stopped; there had to be a better way to deal with repercussions. Then again, Vaeda hardly knew what any of them were captured for in the first place, including himself, so the idea of truth keeps kept him back once more. He knew he wasn’t alone in his hesitancy to trust anybody else. What if he was wrong about the injustice of their imprisonment, and they really were all a danger to the world?
The word of Vaeda’s betrayal of the king reaches his ears and a hunt begins to find the slaves inside the caves. Vaeda learns this through his “closed eyes” power, but he finds resistance from the others because they think this further proof they deserve their imprisonment.
Vaeda has his first vision of something that can and does happen in the cave. He sees an attack coming from the court of Raelevarre, and it doesn’t take long before that attack comes. He hasn’t the slightest idea how, but he knew it was truth before it came. When he sounded the alarm, only Go’Ranashu listened, but the sounds of the soldiers gets everybody’s attention fast. None of them have any weapons to protect themselves with, but Vaeda leads them away from danger by simply following the voice that warned him of the attack in the first place.
Once they’re safe, Yaga raises questions about how Vaeda knew what was happening.
He’s honest about what happens when he closes his eyes and when he opens them, and he’s once again shocked to find himself faced with some retaliation. She poses the thought that Vaeda knew about this attack, that he was secretly working for the king, and that he was using them. Vaeda’s shocked, especially when he finds that the others, outside of Go’Ranashu, at least express the idea that it’s a possibility. Go’Ranashu comes to Vaeda’s defense, and things get heated.
Fortunately, only Yaga seems to hold onto the thought that it’s actual truth. She walks away for a moment, and Cochava tells Vaeda that everything is in a mess. There’s a bonding moment between everybody, outside of Yaga, and Vaeda feels like perhaps it is Yaga that may raise questions. He knows there’s no reason to voice that thought, just yet, but he starts to believe that things may work out in his favor. He keeps his guard up, however, and certainly has an eye open to anybody who thinks he’s possible of betrayal.
The relationship between Vaeda and Go’Ranashu strengthens due to their sharing of their homeland of Hardmoure. As the trust between them grows, Go’Ranashu aids Vaeda in his plans to help free everybody.
Go’Ranashu takes Vaeda aside and wants to talk about Hardmoure. He, too, struggles with his memories, and Vaeda finds that he shares in similar thoughts and memories. They reminisce about how things were and juggle thoughts about if it could ever happen again. Vaeda remembers things he’d heard about Go’Ranashu’s species, that mixture between the bull and the ram, but he finds that things were different than he’d heard. He’d always been taught to fear them, but he found that the “beast” was actually quite gentle.
As their bond strengthens, Vaeda feels like he can start to trust Go’Ranashu more.
Although Go’Ranashu doesn’t share Vaeda’s exact power, he knows there’s enough of a similarity that Go’Ranashu does not question him the way the others do. He believes that Vaeda has something unique about him as unseen by the others, and Vaeda again brings up the idea of getting everybody out of here. Go’Ranashu agrees that the imprisonment doesn’t seem right, but shares the skepticism that none of them know why anybody is here. He raises the thought of Yaga not being all she says, which is what solidifies Vaeda’s trust in him.
Go’Ranashu encourages Vaeda to continue to look within himself for the path out of the caves, and believes that Vaeda will find it. They both agree that other things must come to light first — like why they are all here. Go’Ranashu wants to question Yaga on his own, and Vaeda expresses hesitation. He does not want to cause more of a rift, but Go’Ranashu promises discretion. Vaeda struggles with the feeling that he’s not quite sure he actually wants to hear the truth.
Runavan discovers his ability to read minds and approaches Vaeda after he realizes Vaeda’s true intent to help everybody. As he comes to terms with his own powers, he agrees to help Vaeda and Go’Ranashu with their plans to overthrow the king.
Runavan approaches Vaeda after he overhears a thought in Surid’s head. He tests the idea again with Cochava, and finds himself fuzzy with Yaga. He’s able to read both Go’Ranashu and Vaeda, and when he reads Vaeda, he sees the true intent to help him. He admits that others struggle with things that are happening, and confusion seems the most common trait amongst all of them. None of them can see a thing, they aren’t sure if there’s anybody else but them, and they’ve encountered a few dead bodies — some in skeletal form, some a little more fresh.
Vaeda agrees that certain things about the caves seem to be more dangerous.
They encounter another beast that lives within the cave, although this one isn’t sent by the king himself. The escape is a little more narrow this time, but the beast breathes a fire that at least lights up some of their surroundings. It is in this moment, however, that Vaeda discovers he truly cannot see when his eyes are open. He is the only one who does not see what lights up around him, and he encourages them to go down a different path than the other saw.
Yaga again raises the question of Vaeda leading them all astray, but both Go’Ranashu and Runavan come to his defense. This leaves Surid and Cochava in a bit of a mess, as well, but they ultimately decide to follow Vaeda. Yaga, of course, begrudgingly follows, but the others start to wonder about her, as well. This creates some tension in the group, as it becomes clear that Yaga is not really one of them. Then again, Vaeda doesn’t know what “one of them” even meant.
Cochava, Yaga, and Surid all start to come to similar terms as Runavan as their powers start to come forward as well. Vaeda, however, finds himself in the strangest of predicaments as he find that, the more everybody else trusts him, the less he trusts them.
Cochava discovers she has the power of creating solar energy. This is not something that can be seen, but something that can be felt and harnessed by the others around them. It is an odd energy, a vibration Vaeda and the others can feel within their skin. It makes things seem somehow more manageable and less dreary. The electricity that comes from her is strong — so strong it’s almost scary, like it made sense as to why the king feared it.
Surid then discovers he has the ability to shift and mold stone, rock, and the ground all around them.
This is integral to them making their way through the caves, especially when it comes to the idea of throwing the king off their trail. He’s sent a few more people after them, but Vaeda has been able to help everyone avoid an actual attack. Surid, however, proves quite useful in quick escapes, and Vaeda things he’s discovered a goldmine in helping them get out. He only hopes none of them turn against him, which Runavan warns is still a back thought in their minds.
It is Yaga, however, that they all fear. Runavan slips into her mind just enough to learn that hers is the power to alter perceptions and memories. Some things start to make sense, but some things start to become more confusing. Runavan does not think he, Vaeda, or Go’Ranashu should tell Cochava or Surid of this power. He thinks the longer Yaga thinks she’s in control of what’s going on, the more likely it will be to expose her.
Vaeda starts to question and wonder about his own power, his own truth, and his role in everything going on around him. Something within him urges him to focus on Yaga’s ability to alter perceptions and memories, but every time he starts to focus on the thought, another one comes and takes its place.
Almost immediately, things in Vaeda’s mind start to shift. He questions if Runavan is telling him the truth about Yaga’s powers, and wonders if she’s more trustworthy than he’d thought. He starts to question himself, as well, and wonders if Surid is following the path he’s laying out as he pretends to. Again, he finds himself lost in the idea of truth, and this time not even Go’Ranashu seems able to talk him out of it. Still, through all the confusion, Vaeda knows Go’Ranashu is the one person he can trust.
Go’Ranashu, however, seems unfazed by some of the things going on.
He urges Vaeda to put focus onto Yaga’s abilities, and not to question Runavan. He, too, expresses worry about Surid and Cochava, but neither of them seem to be a threat. They seem to have something of their own thing going on, perhaps a plot to run off on their own, but they don’t seem harmful. It is Yaga that seems the problem, and Go’Ranashu does all he can to drive that point home.
Vaeda, however, finds himself in the midst of another struggle. Every time he has a harmful thought against Yaga, it is replaced by one that is good. He sees that she is working for the king, but it is immediately changed to thinking it is himself and Runavan. The inner struggle starts to take hold, and he wonders if he’s actually sane enough to lead everybody to freedom. Surid and Cochava raise a similar question, and Vaeda thinks it might be best if he steps down.
After a battle with some of the king’s soldiers, Go’Ranashu approaches Vaeda and warns him of malcontent seen within the others. Vaeda, however, slowly starts to realize that the further in the caves they get, the more lost he feels.
Vaeda knows Yaga is behind the attacks that come, but he again questions everything he’s seen. He knows she’s communicating with the king, that he’s using her to make him think he’s going the right direction. He knows she’s making Surid and Cochava think they, too, are heading on the right path, when he knows they are not. She’s making them all think the wrong things, but he can’t focus on the thought long enough to make it be real. Even Runavan struggles, and his ability to see into all the minds except for Yaga’s starts to make him question himself, as well.
It is only Go’Ranashu who seems unfazed by whatever Yaga is doing, and her growing frustration in that results in an assassination attempt.
Vaeda is able to stop her, but nobody is able to focus on her betrayal outside of him. Runavan says that Surid and Cochava are on the brink of leaving them, and Vaeda makes another plea to keep them. Go’Ranashu continues to preach unity amongst them all, even with Yaga. She, however, is good at playing the victim, the martyr, and convincing everybody it is they that are in the wrong.
This leads Vaeda into wondering about the process of right and wrong. He wasn’t sure if it was the same as truth and falsity. He didn’t know if Yaga’s actions, grotesque sometimes as they may be, were actually in vain. What if she was just trying to protect them all for themselves? What if, again, they all deserved their imprisonment?
The danger continues to unfold as Vaeda starts to learn more about the other’s powers, particularly in regard to Yaga. When Runavan comes to Vaeda with a warning of Yaga’s plot to betray them, Vaeda’s inner turmoil comes to a head.
Truth, whatever the definition may mean, comes to light in the answer of the imprisonment. Every single one of them made an assassination attempt against the king. All of them, in their displays of power that were above the levels of humanity, used their powers to try and kill him. Everybody shares their story as to how and why they did this attempt, and Vaeda again finds himself in the struggle of determining what is right and wrong. It is clear that the king isn’t considered kind and isn’t very popular — but did it mean he deserved to die?
Vaeda finds himself facing that question on his own as he reflects on his attempt to kill the king.
Everybody did what they thought was best for the people, but what did any of that mean? Where did any of them draw the line? Could any of them simply meet each other halfway? He doesn’t know what to think, how to react, or how to respond.
Everybody gets lost in their own reflections, even Yaga, as the discussion as to why occurs. There seems to be a level of understanding with everybody, but after Yaga dismisses herself from the conversation, Runavan pulls Vaeda and Go’Ranashu aside. It is the first time he remembers some of the things Yaga is doing, and it seems that when she is gone, clarity of the mind becomes easier. Since he can read into her mind, he always sees her thoughts, even when she blocks them out. Now that he fully remembers everything, he warns that she had an intent to kill them all.
It is revealed that Yaga is secretly working for the king — or, at least, she was before she betrayed him and got herself thrown into the caves. Once everybody catches onto her, she disappears into the caves, and as Vaeda’s mind starts to clear, he knows it won’t be the last time they see her.
Runavan comes forward and confronts Yaga about her plot. Something about him saying it aloud makes people remember things more clearly. He reveals that there were some lies within her story about why she was imprisoned. While she admitted that she had worked for the king and betrayed him, she didn’t reveal that she was working for him again. They all knew it, in their hearts, but with his confrontation of it, Go’Ranashu is no longer the only one who remembers everything she’s done.
The civil war amongst them comes to a head as Cochava and Surid grow angry with Yaga.
Vaeda encourages everybody to keep a level head, but tempers are high as Yaga’s powers begin to lose their effect and she can no longer make them all think the way she wants to. There’s an altercation, but Yaga is able to escape. Vaeda knows she’s wounded, but isn’t sure if it’s fatal or not. Again, in her absence, clarity of mind becomes easier.
The longer she’s gone, the further away she becomes, the more Vaeda can see with his inner vision. He connects with his inner truth, the open eyes within him that saw all he needed to know. Questions of who he was and how he was meant to exist start to desist, and he starts to see a few things more clearly. One, Yaga will return, in full force, with the king and his army. Two, the only reason they’re trying to stop him is because they know he will actually succeed.
When Yaga returns, Vaeda has managed to lead everybody to the edge of the caves and on the precipice of a different world — one known as Earth. When he gets there, he realizes his own ability of healing broken souls around him.
Cochava, Surid, Runavan, Go’Ranashu, and Vaeda form their final alliance against what is coming. There’s many differences amongst them, and many questions as to the “good” and the “bad” within them all. Some view them as criminals, some as a beacon of home. They all think they deserve to get out of the depressing caves that withhold them, and they all agree that the unity between them needs to continue after they escape. With all of their powers combined, they know they can do something to bridge the gap that exists amongst the people — even if it’s from a different world.
Vaeda tells them all about Earth, the planet he’s envisioned the entire time.
He talks of the cities, like New York, and Paris, and Tokyo. The countrysides, like within the Great Plains and the Sahara Desert. He knows they’d be viewed as aliens, the same as they are in the world they’re trapped in, but something tells him it’s a better place. Something tells him they will be accepted there, that it is where they must go when they pass through the veil where they are trapped.
It is then that Vaeda realizes his purpose is to bring healing. To find the light, to bring the joy, from within his well of inner truth. He knew that they didn’t deserve the treatment they’d gotten, and he knew that, if it came to a fight to the death, he’d justify their completion of killing the king. He hates that he knows that’s what it’s coming to, but he embraces it all the same. It doesn’t, however, help with how he feels about the outcome.
The final scenes see Vaeda fighting off Yaga and the king, with the help of his newfound friends and their powers. After the battle concludes, Vaeda and his four new closest companions move forward into Earth and away from their imprisonment.
The final battle comes, and the king and Yaga come in full force. The powers between everybody magnify, and somehow, Vaeda’s army grows. Everybody in the caves, everybody they wondered about, all show up with their own powers to help Vaeda fight off the king and his army. He knew, somewhere within his heart, that they weren’t alone, but he hadn’t the slightest idea how not alone he really was. His own army far outlays that of the king’s, and the battle is gruesome.
When it is over, Vaeda feels guilt over all of the death.
He loses Go’Ranashu in the process, and Cochava doesn’t make it either. Surid and Runavan share in his grief. Others have lost people who mattered, and the “win” feels oddly bittersweet. Vaeda wonders about the necessity of all of the death.
After all is said and done, Vaeda can finally see with his eyes open. He is successful in his goal of leading people forward onto Earth. His soul uplifts itself when he gazes onto a skyscraper. He feels more alive than ever when he stares out into the wide open fields. He feels small next to mountains, but powerful enough to move them, and he knows everything he’s done, was done in his own truth.