Hard drive crashes are not fun. Even if you’ve backed up your work, and maintain the bulk of your information, one lapse (say about six days) can cost you. When my HD choked, it was in the midst of a good run of writing and editing, in which I’d changed around a great deal and put about 10,000 new words on paper. As I mentioned before, this work was wiped from the face of the planet.

When bad things happen like that, friends are quick to reach out and tell you it’s probably for the best, and that what you’ll write next will be even better than before. That sort of advice, while always well intended, often feels like a kick in the gut.

As grumpy as I was to lose so much of Brick’s narrative, my well-meaning friends were, actually, quite right.

I’ve finished editing Brick’s narrative through to the last 1/4 of the book, up until the point where his narrative starts intertwining more heavily with others and I have to wait.

And oddly enough (or not oddly, depending on how you look at it) losing all that work on Brick actually made me examine him more closely, to ask some really difficult questions. I thought I knew Brick, I really did. But after rewriting and tightening things up, I’ve realized there were a great deal of things that even through the first draft I hadn’t realized about him. It’s that extra layer of complexity that not only makes for a better story, but a more believable hero.

Coupled with the timing of Villain Month, this edit also happened to be Sir Gregory Ander’s (or just Ander as he’s referred to mostly) real entrance into the narrative. Now here’s a surprise. Even though I was pretty happy with his profiles (see the posts here) he’s turned out to be very different even than that. I’ve promoted him from minor villain in the first draft to major antagonist in the edit, and wow. He’s really taken on a life of his own.

My rambling point is that I’m very happy with the writing of the last few days. I’ve been putting my head down, as it were, and really concentrating on telling a good story.

I guess the moral of the story is to try and not let things get to you. Not to get all Pollyanna on you, but seriously: bad things happen, to everyone. And sure, a hard drive crash is worse for a writer in some ways than just about any other sort of person. You’re allowed a sulking time, but once it’s over: just get over it.

And just because it’s fun, here are five things I didn’t expect editing Brick’s narrative:

  • The appearance of codes and ciphers
  • The loss of appendages
  • A berserker knight
  • Major confessions and admissions of guilt
  • Strange alliances

A bit of an excerpt after the cut from Chapter Seventeen: The Merry Gentleman. Brick’s been recaptured by the Order of the Oak, and has been stowed away, tied up, in the corner of a stable stall for the better part of two days. Sir Ander finally pays him a visit and tries to make a deal with him.

Ander was rubbing his eyes with a pristine white handkerchief now, and continued, “Well, well, it’s good to see your spirits aren’t quite broken. Jesper is a bit of a brute when it comes to the Asp. He hates them—and especially that menace Gawen—with as much of himself as he can muster. Which is a great deal, I assure you.”

“So why doesn’t he just kill me?” Brick asked, wincing in pain as he tried to shuffle some of his weight.

“Because I won’t let him,” Ander said, as if this were the most obvious fact in the world. “As I said, you’re too valuable.”

“Clearly,” Brick retorted.

“Ah ha!” laughed Ander again. “Clever, clever boy.”

Brick did not like the way he called him “boy.”

“Suffice it to say, I’ve finally convinced Jesper that killing you outright would be a waste. You understand that Jesper is a man of ration and of logic; taking you on among us would be foolish, in light of the fact that you’ve been privy to the Asp’s barbaric initiation.”

Brick couldn’t think of anything to say that wouldn’t end up getting him kicked or smacked, and he honestly didn’t have the strength for much more of either. So he said nothing and let Ander talk, nodding.

The knight grinned and smoothed the front of his weskit, the surface of the buttons perfectly polished gold. His gesture put Brick in the mind of a crow preening itself.

“I’ve arranged for a test for you this afternoon. You’ll be asked to do a few rudimentary exercises on the forge, as it were, and then challenged a little more.”

Brick was about to say something more, regarding the subject of food, but Ander continued speaking: “Of course you’ll be bathed and fed, and allowed a little rest if you’d like—Jesper won’t abide by you in your current state. But you’ll have to go by our rules.”

With the feeling that he navigating into some very suspicious dealings, Brick asked: “Rules?”

“You’ll be shackled of course,” Ander continued. “And I volunteered to keep you under my guard, every moment, to be sure you’ll not betray our trust. If we do decide to keep you, you’ll not be granted knightship, but rather taken on as an indentured servant.”

“A slave?”

Such an ugly word,” Ander said. “Slavery was abolished decades ago. We’d have nothing of it. But, you’d consider your life in our debt, would you not? After all, Jesper would kill you without a moment’s hesitation were it not for me. You should be grateful.”

“Aye,” Brick said, noncommittally as he’d heard Gawen do a hundred times since joining with the Asp.

Ander grinned, his neat teeth gleaming. Brick wondered how much combat this fellow had actually seen to have so many of his teeth still in tact.  Hardly any of the Asp he knew had a full set themselves, Lark included. “So you’ll do it?”

As much as he hated the idea of being shackled and constantly under Sir Ander’s eye, Brick knew that—as things rested at the moment—too much longer in this squalor would kill him long and slow. At least if he made a mess of everything after, it’d mean he’d have a bath, some food, and half a chance to get the hells out of here. Or to find death quickly, as it were.

“Aye,” said Brick, certain he’d just made a deal with demons.