Caledorian Musing

A Dragon Rider (Not Imrik).

Today I should be finished making the ‘notes’ version of the Caledor synopsis. What’s a notes version? Like the manuscript, any synopsis I write goes through several phases or drafts. The first is the conceptual phase, and is just a semi-random collection of ideas, scenes and storyline. The next phase is usually some form of structural timeline. Both of these drafts are done in a notebook/ scraps of paper/ flipchart pad.

After that, I start word processing, layering on more detail into a chapter-by-chapter breakdown. The amount of detail varies depending upon how much I’ve worked out at this stage. Rather than worry about the wording I’ll use in the synposis to convey the story to the editors, this notes stage simply puts together the building blocks of the story or novel, plus any additional notes or references I need to bear in mind.

From these notes, I will then turn the document into the final synopsis, suitable for editorial examination.

To give you an idea of what these notes might look like, I have dug out the draft for Shadow King. For those that have already read Shadow King you can see two main things. First, not everything makes it into the final synopsis/ novel in the order necessarily laid out in the notes. Second, with Shadow King we made the decision later in the day to extend the novel by an extra 50,000 words. This extra material is not covered in these notes (though I could probably find the proposal I sent to the editors if people are interested).

These notes are less detailed that those I am putting together for Caledor, but will give you the general idea.

As with all synopsis material, these notes contain information about what happens in the novel. In other words…



[[[Map of Ulthuan and its realms and cities.]]]

Part One – The child of Kurnous – Strife in Nagarythe – a trailing shadow – the treachery of Malekith

  1. Shrine of Kurnous – The White Stag – The Raven Herald –
  2. Falling in love with 1st love
  3. Morathi’s agents – first fight at the manse – nobles gather – Naggarothi on Naggarothi action
  4. [Malekith attacks Ealith] The Raven Herald – shadow and confrontation – Elthyrior – reveals secrets within secrets – warns that all is not well – Alith sworn to secrecy about Elthyrior
  5. [needs something here for passage of time – foreshadow what?]
  6. [Infiltration of Anlec for Malekith] meesenger arrives at manse with plan – find cultists – diabolic ceremony – slay cultists and take gear – tense journey to Anlec – almost discovered – more killing – Malekith attacks
  7. Relative peace restored – return of Elthyrior – Eoloran sends him away as a pawn of Morathi and Alith is forbidden from seeking him out – Alith goes after Elthyrior – Nagarythe turning against the Anars – returns to manse – Alith scorned and abandoned by his first love – hatred stirs
  8. Malekith’s betrayal – arrest of Eoloran – Eothlir’s feigned acquiescence, if they fight they justify Malekith slaying them as traitors – Alith sent into hiding in Tiranoc – assumes a new name and hides for several years

Part Two – exile in Tiranoc – an usurper’s folly – hope restored – the fall of House Anar

  1. [Slaughter at the shrine] – rumours abound – death of Bel-Shanaar – return of Elodhir’s body and funeral – Yrianath’s succession – Palthrain on the prowl, suspicious of Alith
  2. Morathi freed – Court of Tiranoc perverted – Palthrain’s discovery of Alith – Alith rescues Elodhir’s son and vows vengeance on Yrianath – sacrifice of Yeasir – Alith returns to Nagarythe
  3. Alith reveals what has happened – Eothlir sends out the call to arms – Naggarothi gather – counter-spy work, wary of infiltraitors
  4. Battle of Dark Fen – death of Eothlir – army scattered
  5. Alith flees with Elodhir’s son, Maieth and Elthyrior – Raven Heralds chase across Ellyrion – Reaver knights rescue them
  6. The city of Tor Elyr – more revelations – Finudel declares war on Nagarythe –
  7. 2nd battle of Ellyrion plains – some families fight for Morathi –
  8. Affection for Atharielle – Finudel’s warning – must give up his love – bitterness deepens

Part three – Alith’s vengeance exacted – a troubled alliance – an traitor slain – the coming of the Witch King

  1. Alith in the Wilderness – vision of Kurnous – the white stag returns – runs with the wolves – dream of Lileath and discovery of the moonbow
  2. Attacks on the Naggarothi – spirit of vengeance – other Naggarothi drawn to his growing legend – Alith tries to dismiss them but they will not go
  3. Forces loyal to Imrik hunt them thinking them druchii – Alith and his band kill them – Imrik sends Carathril to mediate
  4. Meeting Imrik/ Caledor – will not join Imrik – true Prince of Nagarythe – ‘Shadow King’ used as a warning – ‘Nothing is forgotten. Nothing is forgiven,’
  5. Alith returns to Tiranoc to kill Yrianath – Yrianath’s ‘salvation’ – no pity from Alith
  6. ‘Rescue’ of Eoloran – confrontation with Morathi – taking of the crown
  7. Alith returns to Nagarythe with an army to confront the druchii The Witch King Revealed

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15 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Very interesting. I’m interested in writing too, maybe starting soon. I see some of the notes turned out quite differently in the finished story.


    • Glad to help. Often the act of writing means that the story takes a slightly different path from the one that is planned – certain scenes expand and crowd out others, while sometimes an idea or theme seems to run counter to what has developed and is dropped. Often purely practical considerations such as length and pacing require that things are changed.

      So, while a solid plan is usually a good start to successful writing, it should never be carved in stone.


  2. Interesting take on the story see the changes think they’re all for the better (much like the changes between other synopsis and the finished work), I may do a list of notes like this to guide my hand somewhat when working on my undoubtedly unsuccessful novel pitch for BL as it’ll keep things more ordered.

    Love to your mother.


  3. Very interesting; and may I say many thanks for continuing to post your synopsises(eses), and all your writing advice in general. It is entirely appreciated. I’m hip-deep in writing the synopsis for my first book, and yours have been instrumental in prodding me towards something which is both readable and giving publishers what they are looking to learn.


  4. Great news on this saga, but does anyone knows when are we going to see Malus Dark Blade Volumen 3???!!!!!


  5. Wow! That’s great to see a sample of the story building process. I’ve been working on a story my self but am lost in a sea of ideas this will help me on a path! The notes or ideas that didn’t make it into the story, will they be put into the next story perhaps?


  6. […] Caledor (zdaje się że to finalna część sagi o Malekithcie ale pewności nie mam), warto rzucić okiem. Uwaga na […]


  7. Thanks for posting this. I thought for ages I was more of a seat-of-the-pants writer, but I finally tried laying everything out first and it’s working out much better for me. It’s interesting to see how you’ve broken it up.


  8. This is brilliant. With BL publishing their new submission guidelines – being shown a synopsis like this is amazing. So thank you Mr. T.

    Could I be cheeky and ask if you still have a copy of Malekith’s synopsis kicking around and whether I could have a brief scan of it?


    • There is no synopsis for Malekith… The first book was originally entitled Flames of Treachery and did not have the single character focus that was later adopted for the series. It also only convered the events directly around the civil war, with none of the foreshadowing that I’ve now included.

      So, Malekith was created by lifting a lot of the Flames of Treachery manuscript(quite a bit made it into Shadow King too – never waste anything!) and the pre-Sundering exploits of Malekith were added on to the front of the story.


  9. I enjoy the detail of the work, in that i can infer and imagine my own storyline just from a single line or concept.

    I also admit to a mild juvenile chukcle at “Naggarothi on Naggarothi action”.

    I can’t help but despise anything that comes with the line “How To Write…” because generally – and I speak from some experience – things like that are trash.

    I’ve been a writer for well over a decade but it has only been in the last few years I’ve taken to looking at “How To..” books and works and the thing is, they tell you alot of common sense things and alot of subjective nonsense too.


    Thats not how I saw that going 😉 But I am a fan of your work, sir, and long may that continue!


    • Interesting point. I’ve never written Mechanical Hamster with the view that I could teach somebody to write. Writer’s write, as somebody once said. You either write or you don’t. Everybody has to find their own style and process and a writer looking to improve their craft or storytelling well do well to a) keep writing and b) seek advice and inspiration from many different sources. My posts simply provide a window into my own writing habits, and a little bit of experience of the requirements needed to be a career writer. I’ve talked to other writers and they can operate in very different ways.

      That said, for those who have the writing bug and are looking to move onward, there are techniques and means to help people order their thoughts, appraise their work and improve their writing. There is also an element of group therapy about writers talking to each other – thought processes often differ a lot but there’s a lot of commonality in the doubts, fears and hopes shared by writers. It’s good for those starting out to understand that even established writers went through (or still go through) that journey.


      • I’ve never been of the “ordered mind” variety of writer; my own successes, relatively speaking, have come from a single idea that has opened flood gates – I find that I get far too bogged down in intricate details when I plan that eventually I lose focus and then lose the will to write the piece in the first place.

        Writing, like life, is a journey – as you say – and some people find it easy, others hard, and I know it to be true for published authors but unfortunately most people don’t get that perspective as – aside from “live” events – there are few opportunites to talk with such authors as alot of them appear quite aloof and distant from us mortal beings (who incidentally buy their fame for them – not that I’m bitter ;)).


      • The amount different writers need to plan varies a lot. It can also change from project-to-project. I would say that two things are essential to make the writing part as smooth as possible: a) A firm idea of what the story is about; b) Knowing how it is going to end. Everything on top of that is just breaking down the writing into easier chunks. Like anything in life, knowing what you want to achieve makes it a lot easier to work out how to achieve it!


      • Strangely, I have never had a problem with not knowing the ending.. I find that once a get a chunk of the beggining out of the way then the end usually suggests itself.

        That said, I’ve never had to write a series so endings generally are not a massive worry.


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