Aza and the writing of a novel
This autumn I published a novel, writes Sonora Hills.
It’s called Aza, and it’s about a girl named Aza Raven who lives with her tribe, the Egrets, in the Forest of Silence. Aza is a misfit who manages to get into a lot of trouble and have exciting and dangerous adventures in order to save her tribe. [You can read an excerpt from the book in this issue of Write On! magazine further down the page.]
I wrote the first draft of the story when I was twelve-years-old. The first draft was really rough; it was only 35,000 words long and had no punctuation— I didn’t even capitalize people’s names! It took me two years to add all the punctuation and create a second draft, which I had my parents read. At this point, I realized that my story world was still weak. I worked on world and character development in my third and fourth drafts, which my parents also read. My fifth draft I sent out to close friends and other test readers who gave me valuable feedback. I revised it twice more before finally self-publishing it through Createspace on Amazon.
In all, I spent three years revising it. The plot went through many changes. The published climax is the third climax I wrote. Now it’s 30 chapters and 56,000 words long, and all the punctuation and capitalization errors have been fixed (I hope!). In between revisions of Aza, I wrote the first drafts of two more novels based on the same world and characters to complete the trilogy, which I’m revising now.
Writing a novel is fun, but revising it can be hard work (especially if you write it without punctuation…). It takes a lot of time, willpower, and willing readers. It also takes the ability to accept people’s constructive criticism and to figure out how to incorporate those ideas into the manuscript. If you like to write, you should definitely think about writing novels. All published authors had to start somewhere.
An extract from Aza:
Evening gave way to early dusk. The shadows under the trees deepened until the back
of Aza’s neck began to prickle. Glancing to the right, she could just see the path through
She wondered if she ought to tell the others to climb into the trees to be safe. No,
she decided, that would be cowardly. She had to show Mat and the others that she
wasn’t a failure to the tribe.
Aza stiffened her shoulders. She had nothing to worry about, she told herself,
nothing would attack two Learnings, would it?
“It’s getting dark,” Anna whispered from behind her. “How much further?”
“Only a little bit further,” Aza whispered back. She didn’t know how much further it
was, but it couldn’t be that much further, could it?
Something cracked in the pines beside them.
Aza turned towards Anna, but as she did so a low growl sounded from the trees
Aza’s mind went blank. She slowly turned around and her mouth went dry as she saw
two glowing red eyes peering out from the shadows.
The wolvin padded out of the pines and into the clearing. Anna screamed and turned
to run. Before she could even take a few steps the wolvin moved more swiftly than Aza
could have imagined. It reared up on its hind legs and swiped at Anna with one of its
shaggy paws. She collapsed on the ground in front of Aza and didn’t move.
The wolvin’s nose wrinkled as it snarled at Aza and stepped delicately over Anna’s
A crashing sound from the edge of the clearing made the wolvin freeze, one paw still
in the air. It slowly turned its huge head as Ferrel and Terra burst out of the trees. They
stopped quickly when they saw the Wolvin.
Aza stepped backward and tripped. She hit her elbow on a rock and her arm went
numb. The wolvin’s gaze snapped back to her, and it growled again.
The wolvin began to pad forward, slowly closing the distance between itself and Aza.
Aza tried to scream, but no sound came out of her mouth.
Out of the corner of her eye she spotted Ferrel, who was slowly walking towards
them. Terra seemed to have disappeared.
“Ferrel, help me,” she managed to whisper.
Ferrel stopped walking. Was it just her, or was the look on his face cold and somehow
“Ferrel!” She said more loudly, but still in a hoarse whisper. The wolvin was
frighteningly close now. Aza could feel its warm breath on her face. Did it know that she
was too scared to move? Was that why it was making no move to attack just yet?
As soon as those thoughts entered her mind, the wolvin stopped walking.
For a split second its whole body seemed to quiver with energy as it gathered itself to
leap towards her.
Then it pounced.