Four days ago I published my fantasy light novel titled Seeker. Today I want to go over the steps it took from idea finding to publishing.
But before I start I want to place the blurb here to get some context first.
The day Roger Persefall turned twenty, his life changed forever, unwillingly and cruelly. He had awoken as a Seeker.
It has been five years since then and Roger is painfully aware of his fate. His inner nature drives him to seek ancient spells, powerful magic that appeared over seven hundred years ago. Seen as criminals, they need to live in hiding, isolated from others, while continuing on their journey of finding and deciphering ancient spells.
Through odd twists of fate, Roger one day ends up unsealing the last remaining queen of the demon race that had perished over a thousand years ago in the Great Purification War. He is faced with a demon, a said manslaughterer and the most feared existence from the distant past. Luckily, the demon girl loses consciousness shortly after they meet. But because of his circumstances as a Seeker, he is forced to make a decision and ends up taking the demon with him.
But was it the right decision to make? Will his new companion turn out to be a curse or a blessing?
Seeker takes you on a journey full of fantasy, adventure, demons, romance, magic, drama and action.
Here is the link to Amazon: Seeker
Finding the Idea for Seeker
Finding ideas is getting gradually easier for me. I basically ask myself want kind of stories I currently hold dear and when I found a concept, a character, a setting, a scene or really anything that could be used as a foundation to start of my new story, I have done the first important step: I’ve limited the possibilities. From it could be anything to it is this particular thing. For Seeker is was the theme human closeness. One related work that I really like and inspired me was Spice and Wolf. Therefore you might encounter some things here and there in Seeker that are similar to that work.
After I found the first piece of the puzzle, I gathered some new constraints that I really wanted to have. The first was a fantasy setting that is on a technological level somewhat medieval which was simply a decision based on my tastes. I also wanted this to be my first series, so it had to have the potential to stretch out over many many volumes. And since I have a fantasy world, I also want to explore it and not be locked down in one place the whole time, so I wanted Roger, the protagonist, to travel.
The reason why Roger traveled was the first challenge I had. It needed to be something that made sense in that world, so I researched medieval professions that needed to travel. I quickly found out, however, that traveling wasn’t so popular as it is nowadays. Things were just not so convenient. So I needed something else and when there is a fantasy world I might as well have magic in it and so the idea of a Seeker was born. Of course I’m simplifying things here. I spent days on that problem and had a variety of different other approaches, but I didn’t quite like them so much. In the end I fell in love with Seekers existing in that world, and to include a self-promotional side note here: You can read the details of what a Seeker is in the novel itself! But even if you didn’t read Seeker yet, the key takeaway here is that a Seeker has a goal, he seeks so to speak, and in order to reach that goal, he has to travel.
The other thing that was missing was another character so that the human closeness theme could take its place in the story. And this other character is the queen of the demon race that was extinguished long ago in the Great Purification War which, don’t fear, is not a spoiler but is said in the blurb above if you skipped it. And although she is technically not human and doesn’t like to be compared with them, she is still human enough so that the theme applies.
And from that point on I made a multitude of more decisions to give this vague idea a proper shape. I made decisions on my writing style, as well as decisions concerning characters, world and story. Eventually I had enough information so that I could start planing out how the story will go, and this was precisely the next step.
Planing Out the Story
I use what I call a scene list. A scene in my world is just some arbitrary unit that naturally forms. A scene could start the moment Roger enters a church and end when he leaves or there could be several scenes in between. The important takeaway here is that a scene is a unit that has a beginning and an end. That idea allows me to later exchange scenes that I don’t like with better ones without affecting the other scenes and creating inconsistencies in the story. I just have to keep the beginning and end of the scene and change the middle part.
So what I then did for Seeker was split the general story in chapters which was a decision I made earlier: I wanted long chapters and a continuous plot where there are not many jumps in time and location. After coming up with ideas for the chapters, I created the scene list which in the end held a total of 27 scenes. Tell me if you can identify them all.
The level of detail of this scene list can be described by the following number: 7441. This is the number of words the scene list contains. As a side note here: Everything up until now I have sketched out on paper. The process is as follows: I gather some wild ideas on paper. Then I take the staple of sheets and write them down a bit more cleanly and organized. Then I digitalize them, more specific: I created a simple text document (LibreOffice) that holds all the details about the world, characters, writing decisions and so on, and another document which contains an ordered set of scenes written down word by word. The style of those scenes is something like this: First he does this then he does that. Then something amazing happens. He reacts to that and does something else because this action will be important later on when this one special thing happens. I think you get the idea. Let’s continue after this long side note.
Actually that was it for this step. We now have a story laid out. Let’s continue then with bringing the scene list into a more novel-like form.
During writing I discovered an amazing trick. I would put the scene list on my second screen and make bullet points in the manuscript on my main screen, detailing how the scene plays out. That means I read the scene description and think of the individual steps that could happen in between the happenings I thought up in the scene list. This allows me to get some more details in while still maintaining a high-level overview. When I don’t like something, I just change some bullet points and that’s it. I don’t need to rewrite entire paragraphs or sections. After I finished bullet pointing out the scene, I start writing, and I have to say it has never been easier to write. While writing I put in some more detail in addition to the already detailed bullet points and when I’m finished with one, I simply move on to the next and there’s never the question of what comes next. Some people call that writer’s block, but it’s just that you lack a plan. Just take a step back and think about it from a high-level perspective instead of thinking of the next word.
And that’s really all there is to writing. I made sure in the previous step that I liked the story and in this step I just wrote it down in novel form. This sounds easy and is easy, but it certainly isn’t done in a single afternoon.
We’ve arrived at the editing phase. If you were following me on Twitter while I wrote Seeker, you probably are familiar with the terms phase and pass. To make the connection: The first phase of creating Seeker was planning out everything up to the scene list. The second phase was writing Seeker into novel form. The third phase is this one and is called Editing. That’s also where I start using the term pass. I divide this phase into multiple passes which all have in common that they transform the manuscript iteratively from the beginning to the end. This sounds abstract and it is, but I like the sound of it. What it means concretely you can figure out as we go through the different passes.
The first pass entailed reading through the whole thing and noting down what kind of information was revealed in a scene and what happened. This is important because it is not unlikely that I brought in some details somewhere that contradict details somewhere else or didn’t belong there. I also collect a TODO list of things I noticed while reading. After I finished reading through it, I fix all relevant things on the TODO list and all inconsistencies I discovered after looking at my notes. This pass belongs to a sub-phase that I call the broad phase to confuse you further with my terminology. I call it broad because it is not about individual words but the whole picture. Anything that I miss in this sub-phase will come back to haunt be later in the narrow phase. Imagine having neatly laid out each single word so that everything fits perfectly together and then you discover a story inconsistency somewhere and you have to rewrite some parts. Then you waste a lot of time placing all the words neatly again after your rewrite. But if you found your mistake first, you just would have to rewrite and that’d be it. And that’s basically everything that happens in the broad phase. I make sure that the whole picture is as it should. This involves several passes depending on what you discover on your way. After I was convinced that the story was consistent, I moved on to the narrow phase.
The first pass of this phase I call the language pass. I go through each sentence and make it pretty. I also take into account how sentences sound next to each other or if sentences are redundant. Each following pass I basically assure myself that things sound good and correct things on the way. After I was done with this, the novel was basically finished, except for the proofreading.
This phase of my novel creation process involves several passes which involve reading the manuscript each time from start to finish, correcting things on the way. I could do this a hundred times to make sure that everything’s perfect, but of course I want the novel to get published eventually, so I did three total proofreading passes after I discovered that the number of mistakes I found in the first pass was minimal. And I hope you agree with me on this and do not find a catalog of mistakes. However if you do, I’ll gladly appreciate and correct them. Don’t be shy to message me on Twitter or via the contact form on this website.
This of course has to be done, but I’m always eager to do it and it’s fun. This involves taking the manuscript I wrote in a document with 1.5 line-spacing for more readability and copying it into a novel template I created for my first light novel. And this natural mention of my first light novel allows me to do a casual mention of its title which is Help! My Little Sister is Disappearing!. I’ve also wrote an article about it a few months ago when it came out. But let’s continue with this one.
After formatting my manuscript for the Paperback version, I just take the convenient Kindle Create and convert the print edition into a Kindle edition with a few clicks.
Then I uploaded and verified both editions and after filling out all the details on Amazon KDP, I purchased a proof-copy to check if the print had any major flaws. For some reason the proof-copies I receive always are a shade darker than the actual copies. Not sure who thought that was a good idea, but in the end I had verified that everything looked fine. I then had the pleasure of teasering the imminent release of my new light novel that I worked so hard on for a few months on Twitter and feel my happiness points fill up as I watch the reactions. Thank you very much! Also to those who have read this far into the article!
Then it is time to press the publish buttons for both editions and pray to the Amazon god to release them quickly. From my very limited experience of publishing exactly two books, I have concluded that the Kindle edition takes a few hours while the Paperback takes a day to be on the store.
Then I send a link request to link the Kindle and Paperback editions and also request for some categories to be added for each. And after four days of reverse engineering weird category policies I can finally look at both editions proudly and begin my next writing project. And as another side note: I’ve already done most of the planning for my next light novel and am currently digitalizing my 33 sheets of DIN A4 paper. Of course, I’ll be doing daily novel updates on Twitter for this title as well.
Congratulations for making it this far. I hope it brought some value to your life. If I sparked your interest in Seeker, here’s the link to Amazon.