I’ve slightly changed the way I’m writing the book, after two years of having a super-strict schedule.
Up until this and the previous chapter, I would sit down on a Tuesday evening and write the entire chapter, then post it on Wattpad. Every week, without fail, unless I was significantly ill.
I’ve now tweaked that slightly, in that I still write on a Tuesday but I then post the chapter on a Friday. This is a bit of an experiment to see if it affects reader numbers, but it also builds in a bit of extra editing time between writing and publishing, which can only help the quality of the chapters. This is especially important as we head into the book’s latter quarter, because everything has to come together perfectly for me to stick the landing.
I’m still writing on Tuesdays, though, as if nothing has changed. That’s important: I can’t risk losing momentum and breaking the habit. On top of that, though, I’m putting more effort into writing at other times as well. This is partly because I need to accelerate my overall productivity: two and a half years to write a draft of a single book isn’t fast enough.
Anyway, as for this chapter specifically –
We’re back with Fenris, seeing how the events of the book have taken a toll on him. He’s a humbled, troubled man, now, haunted by his decisions but unable to see what he might do differently. I like that we get to explore that in a chapter with only two characters, especially as it’s been a while since we got to hang out with just these two. Their situations now really hammer home how much has changed since Tarn was sat in a cage in the palace jail with Fenris observing from the other side of the bars.
One of the central themes of The Mechanical Crown is ‘isolation’ and how it can affect individuals, or countries, in big and small ways. Here we have Fenris feeling isolated, and loading all the responsibility and guilt upon himself. Previously we’ve had Tarn feel isolated – even stating that the entire world was an endless series of prisons. Tarn’s emphasis on the importance of friendship is a sign not only of his growing maturity, but also a reminder that Fenris has been alone really his entire life, one way or another.
In a broader sense, we have Bruckin back in the valley, isolated, under threat and alone. The survivors of Aviar are isolated below the caves. King Guijus has been isolated up in the throne room. The valley itself, and all its problems, stem from the consequences of isolation.
In case you missed it, the central point of the story here is that isolation is a bad thing.
I mentioned in the notes for ‘Towards Apotheosis’ that the first draft of the book killed off Fenris during the apocalyptic events around Aviar’s destruction. This chapter is an example of why it’s a good thing I went a different way with The Mechanical Crown’s redraft. The interplay between Fenris and Tarn works so much better than it would with any other charater combination – their roles have largely reversed, in terms of the teacher-student relationship, even while they retain their core personalities.
Writing Tarn now is even more fascinating. He’s undergone such a massive change from the start of the book, when his outlook was simplistic, his vocabulary almost non-existent and his comprehension severely lacking. His younth and inexperience still comes through in his speech, but it’s coupled with the centuries-old memories of a god-like being. He’s perhaps more confused than he’s ever been, but for the first time he’s at least fully away of that fact.