I’ve lost track of the tweet, but the core question was “What’s the most gut-wrenching decision your MC has to make?”

I like this question a lot. It’s the heart of the Hero’s Journey. A wrenching decision arises several times in a Hero’s Journey. Picking the biggest gut wrench is hard.

It actually took me a few hours to realize what the central problem for the Mage really was. (In rock climbing, they call this the “crux" — the real problem to solve.)

The Mage is forced to execute this world’s brutal form of justice against the two Outlander mages conspiring against him. This is an ugly, troubling situation. It solves nothing. It merely purchases a few weeks of peace before things get worse.

The Red Knight, on the other hand, is forced to flee from the Earl of Southlands. This may have been a rejection of the offer of being elevated to a knight of the realm. Or. This may have been a wise move avoiding the entanglements with yet another earl who’s possible utterly unscrupulous. (I’m not a fan of a reveal here, either. I like the ambiguity of never being sure of what the earls are doing.)

Both of these are the “Scenes from the Trailer” that I hold in my mind while writing them. Both of these pass without me supplying an elevated level of drama in the narrative.

Rewrites are called for.

I sweat over the melodrama issue.

The whole style of The Tales of the Red Ranger is intentionally cold and a little distant. It’s filled with gritty detail where the reader can include their own emotional response to the horror unfolding in front of them.

My query responses suggest the style isn’t popular. I thin this means I need to ramp up the explicit “you should feel horrified by this” aspect of the narrative.

Meanwhile, non-fiction me is sorting out another non-fiction title. Book III’s writing may be on hiatus for a few months.