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I earned enough during a successful career in tech to retire early and focus on a lifelong passion for writing. I discovered my poetic style long ago, but my fiction writer's voice developed over the first half of The Celestial Wars.

I love these characters and want their stories to be the best I can create, so I went to my series narrator, Dan Johnson, and told him I wanted to completely rewrite the series to date. When he agreed to renarrate all six episodes, the project was on.

Below is an example from that year-long revision process. In "Waite on the Blind Angel," Harmon is trapped in another world and must fight a dragon to get back home.

Original Version

The dragon didn’t even pause to acknowledge my answer. He lowered his head, opened his mouth, and spat a ball of flame at me. I slowed time and sped under his fire, noting the four fangs set at each corner of a mouth filled with jagged teeth, each as long as my knife. Yeshu’a grew into a sword in my hand, and without haste, I slashed the elongated iris of one baleful eye as I raced by. The dragon reared back in pain, and a blast of sand blinded me. I kept moving at hyper-speed, using the light in my head to reorient. I ducked to one side of his bulk and slashed at his back leg as I passed.

 

That’s when I made my mistake. I hadn’t considered that the dragon’s tail was as much a weapon as his fire. Out of nowhere, that armored appendage, as thick around as my own body, slammed into my chest. I flew through the air in a long, endless arc. My last conscious thought was, “So that’s what breaking ribs sound like.”

Audio Excerpt - original
Dragon from The Celestial Wars

Revisiting my stories to revise for clarity and cadence ended up being too much fun! One key lesson I learned was, Not one word more or less.

For example, my audience already knew the sword, Yeshu’a, grows from knife to katana-like blade during a fight, and that my hero, Harmon Waite, has Flash-like hyper-speed abilities.

Also, the attack made it obvious the dragon didn’t wait for an answer, so I just needed to get on with the action.

Finally, I clarified character inner voices with an italized font, versus "quotes". The main reason is, the dragon communicates mind to mind, so it absolutely makes his conversations easier to follow.

Revised Version

The dragon belched fire, and I hyper-sped under the reddish-orange flames, drew Yeshu’a, then slashed the elongated iris of one baleful eye. The dragon reared back in pain, and a blast of sand blinded me. Using the light in my head to reorient, I ducked to one side and slashed at his back leg.

 

That’s where I made my mistake. I hadn’t considered the dragon’s tail was as much a weapon as his fire. Out of nowhere, that armored appendage, as thick around as my own body, slammed into my chest. I flew through the air in a long, endless arc, my last conscious thought, So that’s what breaking ribs sound like.

Audio excerpt - revised
Dragon in The Celestial Wars
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