I wrote (and rewrote) a short story. That was fun. But — in a way — it was work avoidance. I have a novel (first of four) to finish.
I have a long list of things to tweak in The Forge. The list starts like this:
Mage Weaknesses (different from fears) The Mage is arrogant, distant, and self-centered. It’s all about him. There are moments when the mage must learn to work with others. And times when he fails to work with his ring or the Western Wizard when they’re insufficiently deferential. He’s dangerously haughty.
This identifies a fine line. The character needs to be likable. But not perfect. The Forge is about sacrifice and the Mage’s sacrifice of his self-image is essential.
What’s really important is to emphasize the drama of his sacrifice. I’ve read some posts about the line between melodrama and drama, and there’s a blurry edge between describing the stakes cooly to the reader and describing them melodramatically as seen by the characters.
It’s kind of weird. But. These are life-changing things for the characters. But. We don’t want to over-write the OMFG!!1!! aspect of it.
After those rewrites, there’s a second list of details about the Mage’s captivity in part two of The Forge. It has to lead to this.
The thing that nearly broke him taught him everything.
(I can’t remember where I first read this, but it seems to be useful advice.)
Right now, the “nearly broke him” part isn’t present enough in the narrative. The captivity is bad, but not all the way to utter despair.
And. Once that’s done, I can touch up the query letter and restart the agent search.