Merry Christmas to you all. Since it has been a year since starting this progress journal, I thought it would be a good idea to have a yearly round-up. How far this novel has come from this time last year. Not sure of the total word count, but it's in the range of 150k-160k at the moment, split across 30 chapters + an epilogue. First and foremost of all, I made the difficult decision of slashing the number of POVs from 2 to 1, effectively cutting 50% of the book that I have been writing for the last three years. It was the correct decision. It allowed me to focus on the people rather than the events of the novel. Whilst the repercussions have far-reaching consequences, the plot is far more personal. I recognised the rapport of the two main characters, and so I decided to capitalise this to the max. In the end, I think it was the best decision I've made so far. Rewrote the unfocused Act II I near entirety, as well as large sections of Act III. If I'm particularly unlucky, I might have to have another shot at Act I. Bringing together what was a collection of scenes into a full novel. Beginning and ending scenes, tying together random thoughts/dialogue, making each chapter like one miniature story - all things that I have struggled with. And there's still a long way to go before I've killed all of those white spaces and square brackets. Theme - I finally discovered my themes of prejudice, with my main character starting off as a bigot, and finishing... Much more educated! The setting is a country beset by civil war with prejudice set within its very being, both sides determined to unite and repair a failed nation that was never even whole in its inception. Which led me to develop an overarching story for the series, The Trials of the Kahhari, a series of threats, from without and within, that will see either the rebirth or ruin of the Kahhari people. As for the novel there is still plenty of work to do. I need to read over Chapters 1-4 and edit the start once more - when I got to the big reveal at the end of the book, I found that even I couldn't explain what was going on, which was a sin that I needed to make more changes. To align the beginning with the new changes, I will need to readdress these first chapters. Chapters 17-18 need re-addressing since the big Act Two climax all happens a bit too quickly. I will probably need to add material that will extend it to three chapters. I've been writing Chapter 26, which is a new chapter, and tying it in with the explosive Chapter 27. That's where I'm at now. I haven't read Chapters 27-30 yet, so who knows what state they're in. I think the novel still ends the same way it always has even though the middle and end have morphed and changed, so hopefully I won't need to change much. And this is all without having even read through it yet first! I also have birthed several ideas along the way:- a sequel, The City Above, which mainly came about from wanting to know more about certain elements of the desert city that are presented in Act Three of the novel. In particular, the criminal underworld. I have a two-page plan, and need to focus on adding more details and characters, so I am well-armed when it comes to tackling it. Two trilogies, The East Guard and The Cerulean Front, set within the same world and era of Artesia. Both premises I'm finding are really exciting, so much so, that it's difficult to resist the temptation to get to work on them right now. (It's a shame that I still haven't found a title for this novel yet) Thank you for all of your continued support. I have little doubt I would have given up, or been way far behind if it wasn't for you all. Even in absentia, this whole forum has made me think differently and more critically about my writing in a way that would not be possible alone. So I thank everybody for that, those who read this and those who don't. And Merry Christmas once more. None of us ought to be here - I know I certainly shouldn't! - yet here we are nonetheless, tapping away rather than celebrating!