Imbalance was sat on for a very long time. Numerous times. Creativity for me has always been a sine wave and with each high to productivity comes the balancing low. It is not what it used to be, but with each progression towards the finished book, it is far more a product of what it was than not. All the roots came from a map, but at some point words came into play. There is always a first draft. This post is about the first incarnation of Imbalance and Purge of Ashes, between 2003-2007 when it existed first as a student’s fancy and then as a movie script.
The Original Imbalance Book One: Like most good stories, the characters and scenarios for Imbalance were conceived while steering a dragon boat on Little Lake in Peterborough, Ontario. The shorelines were dotted with houses and the air smelled of the Quaker Oats factory upriver. Being out on the water is quite different from sitting on shore and merely observing. Brushed along by the wind, yet bobbing gently atop the water, it is not so hard to forget oneself and one’s simple chore of turning a 22-passenger boat once every few minutes.
When I got home I collected a series of characters first, having pictured my aforementioned map as the homeland and decided what location suited me best for a beginning. Then I began to write…
I check the word count of my original Imbalance from back in 2003 and I see it totals 44,000 words. It is weird and foreign to me. Everything is out of order. People’s names are slightly different. There are five entire chapters dedicated to what I summed up in about three pages of the upcoming release. Plus I had a point of view from the Scalion Legion, which was… different. I also organized the book in an interesting manner. Four sections of five chapters each, plus prologue and epilogue. Each one was named after a location – the same as the upcoming release but adding ‘Hazenma’ between ‘Katolys’ and ‘The Longest Road’ disparities. Additionally, each chapter had a title, and each title was drawn directly from a war metaphor. For example: Chapters 1-5, from ‘Katolys’, where titled: ‘A Flicker’, ‘Embers’, ‘Heat’, ‘Inferno’, ‘Ashes.’ The chapters for Hazenma reflected the process of a blacksmith forging a sword, and so on. The prologue was called ‘Premonitions’ and featured Ronun Thel’s first memory. The epilogue was called ‘Apparitions’ and was likely a Matthew Good Band reference / cool rhyme.
While I scrapped most of this version when I began to write Purge of Ashes in earnest in 2008, I did borrow some of my favourite bits – and certainly many of the scenes flow similar. The very first scene I ever wrote was Kaern playing with fire in the fire pit beside his farmhouse, which lasted a long time before eventually being turned to memories in the release. The Chapter 1 scene with Bale overlooking the Katolyian wharf was not too different then than it is now. Nor our introduction to Aronan. Where these fledgling scenes were most useful, however, was the year prior when I attended a Television Writing & Producing program where I was asked to pen a movie script.
The Movie Script: Since everyone was there to try their hand at learning how to produce television shows, or in my case create adult animated cartoons, no one was too interested in drawing up a whole movie script for this one particular class. It was the odd combination of ‘movie scripts’ and ‘late night’ and slipped aside the objective of most students – myself included. After imploring the class for at least a few scripts before the winter holidays, I decided that while I had no new ideas for full-length movies, I did have one lingering property…
I took what I had written for Imbalance, chopped the ‘Hazenma’ part right down to almost nothing, and then actually finished the story by filling in the finale in the form of a movie script. I found the time over the holidays because… well that’s the glory of being a student, isn’t it? My teacher praised it some, but then he was desperate to encourage more scripts out of the other students, so I took it with a grain of salt. What mattered most was that I really liked some of the choices I made in the final moments of the script. This script also forced me to keep the dialogue short and to the point, which I believe later helped me with some of my favourite lines in the upcoming release. It also kept the pace of the novel fast and action-oriented, a pacing I am proud of amid my many details.
Now, nothing was ever going to happen with this movie script. Let us clarify that. I had not the comprehension to pursue it, and at the time there was a notable lack of interest in fantasy movies from nobodies. There was a notable lack of interest in fantasy movies from anyone. Anyone not named Tolkien or Rowling, anyway.
So that was where I sat in the new year. Cool script, but who cares? It would take at least a year to realize that the collaboration required to make it in TV was beyond my scope and that writing was a medium I could plumb until kingdom come… but that’s a story for Progress to Publication II.