As much as these stories have similar starts, there are also large sections where they aren't alike at all. The two chapters this week is one of those moments as the two stories reflection where they are: Rutejìmo's story is almost over and Kanéko's is just beginning.
I once read that Jim Butcher alternates between brutalizing Harry Dresden and giving him an easier time. It seems like I do the same thing, though when I originally submitted this, the writing group felt I was just beating on poor Rutejìmo and Kanéko the entire time. I don't think so, there are highlights too.
Sand and Ash 27: Two Months Later
This chapter jumps a lot of time, two months. These aren't quite the same months as we live. I created the calendar for the world a few years ago to help with this scene (and to post in a Reddit contest).
This is the beginning of the end of the novel, the move to the final setting. It wasn't by his choice, and you can see that a number of people were involved in forcing him to move.
In hindsight, I should have written one or two more chapters between this and the previous chapter. Two months is a long time, but there were a lot of heartbreaks and struggles as he learned how to survive on the streets.
I didn't for intuitive reasons, ones that I doubt every time I read the chapter but then remember when I consider changing it. My gut feeling is that I did the right thing by not having those chapters in here.
Rutejìmo's two months of living on the streets were critical to his life, but they were also secondary. He didn't make friends, he didn't establish relationships. He struggled to put food in his belly and find shelter, but ultimately those were secondary to the one thing important in his life: Mapábyo.
It would have been 1-3 chapters of him not living life, just mechanically going through the motions as he got caught in a cycle of “survive until Mapábyo comes back” and then “love Mapábyo as much as he could” before going back to survival.
That kind of cycle destroys someone, it burns them out. I know what happened during those two months. I know when he considered suicide. I have the scenes where he is begging for food. Even what he and Mapábyo did when they were together.
Ultimately, they aren't in the story. Neither Rutejìmo or Mapábyo evolve. They don't change, they don't struggle beyond the basic tier of surviving. So, I cut it. Maybe I'll show it from a point of view that does, maybe I won't.
If enough people insist it belongs in the story, though, I'll put it in anyways.
Flight of the Scions 9: Archery Lessons
Chapter nine points out one of my favorite parts of writing teenagers: making really stupid mistakes. I like it mainly because I made those mistakes and I still remember the self-satisfied smirks on people's faces but not realizing that there was nothing they could say that would prevent me from making them.
Kanéko is in the middle of a train wreck, the reader knows what is going to happen but she doesn't. The thing is, as bright as she is, there are things that she doesn't know how to handle. After spending her entire life sheltered at her father's keep and being told she had to be protected because she's damage makes it hard to resist when something changes for the better. Affection is a powerful thing to someone who doesn't realize that it is skin deep.
I feel that this and the last chapter should have someone screaming in the theory, “don't go into there, you idiot” but it is a painful lesson that actually will affect her for better part of four books.
So, an important mistake to say the least.
This is another chapter that I cut entirely. Which was the wrong thing since horseback archery is very important to later events. Actually, the entire bow thing is, but I felt that the later challenges were diminished without showing her struggling and improving here.