There’s The Conflict. You know, the hero’s personal journey. Love, Justice, Power, whatever.

There’s a contextual conflict. For me, the true hero rises out of the chaos of some background conflict. They stand in stark contrast to the context.

And. Conflicts don’t exist in isolation. If there was only one conflict, it would be resolved. Instead, there are layers.

Bonus. There’s the more nuanced internal conflicts within the contextual conflict. The Us v. Them narrative of war is generally written by the victors to consolidate their victory. The victors weren’t really a single Us. And the Them was far from a unified implacable evil. Indeed, often the Them collapsed through internal problems. No one wants to diminish their heroism through an analysis of the failures of the losers.

Deep in a rewrite and I’m struggling with a spare bad guy who surfaced.

I think the character is there to telegraph a fragmentation in the opposition.

But the character is not in any outline. Anywhere. Not in any chapter overview.

I think I included this as part of the setup for Book III. In order to sort out a few lines of dialog, I’ve got to reread the chapter synopses for Book III to try and work out the factions who will arise and what the earliest hint is of what the Mage’s decision has to be. And why the Red Knight makes a different choice in Book III. Spoiler Alert. They’d don’t always support each other because the Red Knight can be a jerk sometimes.

I really want to launch deep into an adjustment to focus on the Mage’s fears and how the Red Knight’s impulse toward action is (sometimes) not utter chaos. But. Before I can get there, I’ve got a larger plot point to understand.


My partner is baking Christmas treats. What a stark contrast between warm cooking smells and the rotten duplicity of my characters. Maybe I shouldn’t write #grimdark.