Home > My Fiction > Reassessing ARACHNE’S LEGACY


Over the past month, I’ve been tooling along pretty well writing Arachne’s Legacy, the third book in my Arachne series — or so I thought. I’ve been focusing on just one of the book’s two parallel plotlines, since I often find it easier to write the A and B plots separately so I don’t have to keep shifting my mindset between them. As of early last week, I was getting close to the climax of this first plotline (I’m not sure whether to call it A or B, since they’re pretty equal), thinking about how to bring it all together… and I realized I’d been so focused on just moving through the outline and putting words to the page that I’d overlooked a problem.

Specifically, my outline for this half of the story was focused so much on plot and new characters that I’d failed to work out the specifics of the returning characters’ personal arcs. I didn’t really have them going on the kind of transformative personal journeys in this book that they underwent in the previous ones, since I’d pretty much resolved their arcs in Book 2 and hadn’t given adequate thought to where they would go next.

So I put the brakes on and reevaluated the story from a more character-driven standpoint, figuring out what the returning leads’ goals and states of mind were growing out of the end of Book 2, and how that would create dilemmas or growth opportunities for them going forward. Then I did a revised draft with that in mind, reworking some scenes and adding more material. It didn’t have too great an effect on the plot structure up to that point, but it did alter a lot of the character scenes and conversations to make them more substantial, and it let me plant some seeds of character growth or conflict that I hope will pay off in the climax.

In particular, the character arcs I set up led me to realize that a few characters needed to end the book in very different places than I’d originally intended. One character has become a more active antagonist than I expected, becoming the initiator of something rather than just being convinced to go along with it. Conversely, a new character I’d put in the outline as a secondary antagonist has blossomed unexpectedly into more of a protagonist in the latter half of the storyline. This is partly because my own opinion of a key element of the story has changed since I plotted it, so I’m more sympathetic to the point of view of the character who’s questioning and challenging the main characters’ goals. It’s also because I realized I had too many new characters, so I conflated this one with a more sympathetic figure in the outline.

Even with the clarification of the characters’ personal journeys and where I intend them to end up, I’m still wrestling some with how I want the climax to play out. It turns out that when I outlined it, I didn’t take the logistics of the situation into account well enough, failing to consider the days of travel time between different locations in a planetary system, so there are matters of timing that are harder to work out than I thought. Nor did I work out specifics for what all of the relevant characters are doing in the climax and how they achieve it.

Well, I guess it’s probably not as complicated as it was to choreograph the climactic action in Arachne’s Exile, which required a whole beat-by-beat breakdown and lists and a map of the battle scene. And this climax is going to be less action-oriented than that climax, or than the climax of the novel’s other plotline, which I haven’t tackled yet. But it still hasn’t fallen into place in my mind. I made essentially no progress yesterday, since I woke up at two-something in the morning because a neighbor was having a party or something, and though I eventually got a bit more sleep, I was pretty useless all day, and I’m still lethargic today. I am inching a little closer, though. Hopefully it’ll fall into place soon.

Meanwhile, now that I have money in the bank again, I’ve begun buying a few of the things I’ve needed for a while, like new bedsheets and a protective case for my smartphone. I’ve been using a homemade phone case that I MacGyvered from a vinyl bank book sleeve, cutting a hole at one end for the power/USB and earphone jacks. But I hesitated to cut a hole for the camera/light and risk the structural integrity of the sleeve, so I had to take the phone out of the case if I wanted to use the camera or flashlight or put it in my car mount. Also, the vinyl kept coming apart and I had to retape the edges and spine repeatedly, with clear tape overlapping the screen.

So I was glad to finally get a proper phone case. I considered one of those wallet-style ones, which would be similar to the makeshift one, but I decided to go for one of those heavy-duty drop-proof rubber cases with a metal ring on back for holding the phone or propping it up on its side. It works well, and the ring really makes the phone easier to handle. (I’ve long found it bizarre that smartphones are so poorly designed for being held in the human hand.) The case makes the phone a bit wider, so it takes a bit more effort to fit it into the bracket of the car mount, but once it’s in place, the rubber grips much better than the bare metal of the phone, so it should stay in more securely.

However, I’ve had a rougher time with the protective screen cover that came with it. I didn’t get it aligned quite right the first time, so I peeled it off and tried again, which proved a mistake, since it wasn’t as pristine afterward. Also, the very first time I dropped the phone, a corner of the screen protector cracked. At first, I wanted to complain to the makers, but I decided not to. For one thing, I didn’t want to send the whole thing back when it was just the screen protector that broke. Also, I found that replacement protectors tend to be sold in packs of 2, 3, or more, suggesting that they’re not expected to be permanent anyway. And I realized that it was probably my own fault that the thing broke. I didn’t realize it was tempered glass rather than plastic, so I probably bent it too far and weakened it when I peeled it off and put it back on repeatedly in the attempt to align it perfectly. All told, I decided it would make more sense just to buy a set of 3 replacement covers than to ask for a replacement for the whole thing from the seller.

(I also decided to make this one a pickup order delivered to the Amazon center a few blocks away, since my last couple of mail deliveries have been iffy. This’ll be my first time trying that. To make the order large enough for free shipping, I’ve also bought a new wall clock for my bathroom, since the old one died years ago.)

Still on the agenda, for when I get around to it, is buying new shoes, and also a new laptop. But right now I’m mainly focused on writing the novel, and on catching up with a bunch of shows now that I’ve subscribed to HBO Max (after putting Netflix on hold for a few months, since I still have my old stingy habits and don’t want to spend too much at once).

Oh, and I know I promised some new Patreon fiction coming up soon, but I’d like to get this half of the novel finished up first. Hopefully it won’t be much longer.

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