Feyon in the Doll Room

Mike Grist Jabbler's Mons, Stories, Story Art 2 Comments

Feyon is the voice of wealth and pampered privilege in DAWN RISING, my epic fantasy novel. She has never had to work a day in her life; rather she is treated like a porcelain doll by an army of maids and retainers, dressed and primped endlessly, and looks on Dawn and the others in the Abbey as if they are her playthings to toy with.

However, there is steel at Feyon’s core, and a horrible secret even she has struggled to forget- centred around the grand doll room in her mansion in the Roy, where all the figures of her family for generations are gathered in doll-form.

Here Feyon begins to unravel her secret in the priceless Doll room:

This is the fourth artwork I’ve commissioned from the world of DAWN RISING. You can see the other characters here-

Dawn– the main character.
Mare– a half-head street-rat.
Gellick– a young but calcifying rockman.

Again I commissioned with Bryan Fowler. We started with the notion of an elaborate cosplay girl, blue skin and red hair, standing in sumptuous room filled with elaborate dolls. I sent Bryan a few study images to work from.

This is a cosplay maid from Akihabara. I wanted the goth-lolita kind of element mixed in for Feyon’s look.
Another one, quite frivolous, but with the same kind of cute-sexy vibe I wanted.

With those ideas in mind, Bryan set to work, and came up with this pencil sketch-

Hissy teen.

I appreciated the work, but it wasn’t really right. The girl was too stalky, hissy, wearing a cheap-looking dress that was too small. Everything about Feyon needs to scream wealth, and also cute. Her dress needs to be bigger, more like a wedding dress. Also way more dolls. So I said that to Bryan, and as usual he got straight on it-

This was a massive improvement- and set the format for the background that didn’t change again. However here Feyon’s face looks pretty ugly, and the doll she’s holding in her hands (which is actually quite integral to the story) is barely visible. I suggested Vanessa Hudgens as a model for her face.
Bryan came up with this. She looks a lot like Vanessa Hudgens, no? Perhaps too much so, really. However he sorted that out in the next version, when we start in with color.
A first wash of color- looks good I think.

And on to the final work-

I love it, grand dress, grand doll room in back. The doll she’s holding will mark a key turning point for Dawn.

DAWN RISING progress report-

After working hard on some 10 short stories this year, and selling a few (most notably Bone Diamond to the pro magazine Beneath Ceaseless Skies), I decided to turn back to Dawn with what I’d learned about story craft. It seemed to make the story complete, and to really give it back the unique flavor it started with, I’d have to put back the parts I’d split apart earlier, and make it all one book again.

So that left me with around 240,000 words. Almost certainly too long by far. It’s true some fantasy novels come out at that length- but I suppose it’s not really what I wanted. So I had to make some considerable savings.

I’d already gotten some hard practice at cutting with two short stories- Mud Girl and Scarecrow Boat. Both of them stood at about 16,000 words when I finished, an awfully unwieldy length for a short story, and sale-able in only perhaps 1 pro-market. So I had to cut them. And I did. It was damned hard, and in each case took at least a full day of work- going through the story again and again with a fine-tooth comb, trying to figure out which bits were unnecessary, excising them, then reconnecting the bits of story either side with suturing segues.


But it taught me a few things about the value of back-story (very low), the value of descriptive writing (less is definitely more), and the importance of maintaining narrative flow. I’m definitely better for the exercise.

So I bent that to Dawn.

Dawn was experimental, and included large tracts of backstory told in a quasi-LOST style. That meant whenever a new character was introduced, I’d go off on a ten-page narrative summary exposition about their backstory. Reading through it, I realized those sections had to go. I would just have to sow whatever details were pertinent into the thread of the story. I cut some 20,000 words from the first quarter by doing that.

Next, there were several whole chapters in the second quarter that were great fun, but also totally redundant- especially if I was bringing the whole story back together again. In the days when I’d thought to make the books separate, I’d worked on setting up a different villain. But that wasn’t necessary if I was putting the books back together. So I could cut some 20,000 words more.

Now I’m standing astride the middle, and plunging on into the second half, with a whole lot yet to cut and rework.

ART update-

I’ve got more artworks from Dawn to post. I’ve had them for a while actually, but been lazy to post them. Daveron the Moleman and Alan the Spindle remain. Plus I’ve got a bunch more cover designs for short stories to post- I’d though to put them all up for Kindle, but am not convinced those older stories are my best work anymore, so will hold off on that. Of course I can still showcase the art.

See more story art here.

See all my published short stories in the bibliography.

Comments 2

  1. Hey bro; I can barely imagine cutting hard-written words, much less 20, nay, 40, nay eighty thousand of them.. I’m glad you’re honing your writing skillz.

    I look forward to seeing the finished book in bookstores!!!!

    1. Post

      At first it was hard, now it feels kind of liberating. What I hope is happening is the editing boils off the solution leaving only the crystals behind.

      Thanks for your support!

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