Writing Kingdom Blades (PSOL Book 4) « Official Author Website of Melissa McPhail

Writing Kingdom Blades (PSOL Book 4)

light tree kingdom blades

Many of you have been asking when book four in A Pattern of Shadow & Light will be released. All I can tell you right now is that I’ll have Kingdom Blades to you at some point in 2016 (the Muse willing). For comparison, each book in this series runs around 300,000 words, and the first three books each took around a year to write and six months to edit.

On Sequencing

I’m about 200 pages into the story of Kingdom Blades now, and it’s proving an interesting challenge. When I wrote Paths of Alir, I was able to write almost each character’s story thread independently and then interweave them all into sequence at the end. That’s proving impossible with Kingdom Blades. The threads are so interwoven now, the actions of each character so interdependent on another character doing something else, that I’m having to write four or five viewpoint characters at a time. If I wrote the story otherwise, I would hit a section of a scene and not be able to complete it, because I wouldn’t know how another character’s scene ended.

I’ve heard that many writers can do this—leave scenes incomplete and come back to them later. This is impossible for me. When I write a chapter, I can’t leave it until it resonates with me as being “true.”

I may go back through the chapter later and change some wording around or add more (or less) explanation, but the dialogue, the action, the message of the scene—everything that drives the story forward or develops a character—those all have to be “correct” for the characters and for the story overall before I leave the chapter.

Another element that may be unique to my creative flow (authors, chime in and let me know your experience) is that I can’t move on with the story if a chapter is bugged or incomplete. I have to keep working on it until it has that resonance I’ve come to expect. The upside of this is that I have very little editing to do after all chapters have been written. Once a chapter is finished—once I leave it and move on to the next—it’s basically final.

On Character Threads

Kingdom Blades has five primary character threads so far: Ean, Trell, Tanis, Franco and Darshan. It has nine secondary character threads: Fynnlar, Alyneri, Carian, Sebastian, Viernan hal’Jaitar, Felix, Nadia, Marius di L'Arlesé and Errodan val Lorian. Some of the secondary characters may end up becoming primary, based on how many chapters it takes to get them to their next major resolution. Then there are tertiary characters (such as the Sundragons, Vaile, Bjorn or Valentina) whose viewpoint I may claim as part of telling the story on another major character’s thread. But I’m basically writing fourteen viewpoint characters.

Kingdom Blades Scrivner binder

Scrivener Binder

Here's a snapshot of my Scrivener notes binder to give you an idea of what this looks like. Many of these main sections represent primary story threads. Most of them intersect at some point, if not throughout the story. Where I've minimized a section, it's to save you from spoilers.

As you may be able to tell from the way I've grouped my notes, some of these characters are incredibly interwoven with each other. For example, along one major character’s arc in the first half of Kingdom Blades, I’ll be writing Viernan hal’Jaitar, Dore Madden, Darshan, Ean, Sebastian, Pelas and Nadia all at the same time.

On a different major character’s arc in the first half of the book, I’ll be writing Viernan, Dore, Trell, Gydryn, Sebastian, Errodan, the Sundragons, Vaile and possibly introducing Creighton Khelspath and/or Katerine val Mallonwey as viewpoint characters.

Then there’s the thread of Franco, Carian, Gwynnleth, Fynnlar, Alyneri, Niko, Alshiba and Björn, which intersects with the thread of Marius, Valentina, Vincenzé, Felix, Nadia, Pelas, Shail and the Dane’s king, Ansgar.

These are just a few. There are many.

My only point is that this book is complicated in terms of how interwoven the character and story threads are, which makes it a little slower to write, because I’m having to keep so much sequencing straight, i.e. A can’t happen until B and C happen (on thread #2) and over on thread #5, Q, R and S need to be simultaneously happening… *sigh*. It's also complicated for me because it's important that it doesn't feel complicated to you.

But the good news is the story is moving forward, awesome things are happening, the ideas are flowing, and chapters are stacking up in the done pile.

Next week I’ll touch on some of the themes I’m exploring in Kingdom Blades.

I promise to keep you posted.

34 Responses to “Writing Kingdom Blades (PSOL Book 4)”

  1. Eric F says:

    I mentioned this to you recently on facebook, but since this is your first blog post since then I just wanted to say thank you for the update and the information. I think it’s fascinating seeing the author’s thought processes as they work through the writing.

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      Thanks, Eric. I’m glad you found the post interesting. It’s helpful to me when readers give feedback on the kinds of things they’d like to know more about. Your FB note was great!

  2. Matt W. says:

    So what I took away from this is….I have to wait a whole freaking year to get my my hands on Kingdom Blades! *throws self on floor and beats heels and fists repeatedly*


  3. Suzan says:

    Melissa, Ok. I knew you were high IQ but after reading this blog post from you…I see it even more clearly. Respect is out the roof for what it takes
    to pull off what you have done with your detailed universe creation.

  4. Farah says:

    Dear Melissa Mcphail

    I thank you for such an amazing series

    Are they also in Audiobook format? I checked Audible and nothing was there.

    Thank you in advance

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      Farah, I’m sorry, I don’t have them in audible yet, but I hope to in the next year or so. Thank you for reading!

  5. Farah says:

    Thank you so much for answering.
    Glad to know there is such project in your mind for this amazing series, I usually listen to Audiobooks but I read your series and re-discovered the joy of reading all over again.
    Hope Graphic Audios will do the production for this series.

  6. Hi Melissa
    I have never actually before written to an author of any of the very many books I have read over the years, this time I felt I had to! I have read all three books in the past 2 weeks, I own and run a hotel in Devon so the spare time is minimal, but what there has been has been with iPad in hand, lots of far too late nights with early starts and my mind saying just one more chapter….

    This set of books is phenomenal in lots of ways, the characters, the interactions and well, just about everything! Makes for a terrific read. WELL DONE. I cannot wait for the next book/s

    Kind regards


    • Melissa McPhail says:

      Robert, I’m so honored by your kind words. Thank you for writing to me. It’s always exciting to hear from readers and be given a little insight into their experience as they’re coming through the story. I’m so happy to know that you’re enjoying the series enough to carve time out of your day to read. It’s always been one of the most joyful escapes for me, those moments of stolen time spent in another’s world (or writing in my own). It’s my greatest pleasure to share it with you. Thank you for reading!

  7. Gene Clay says:

    I am thoroughly enjoying these books. I am especially looking forward to how Tanis fares, as I have a feeling he will be a major player. That little meeting at the end of book 3 was masterful, and will keep me coming back. I am particularly interested in how the meeting with his “father” will go.

    Of course I have read the Wheel of Time and enjoyed that, too. Speaking of Jordan, he stated on his website that he started with the end of story already known and he had to write with that end in mind. Do you know where these books end already (no spoilers, please!)? Do you develop your characters at the beginning and detail ad you progress? I am not a writer, but it has intrigued me.

    I am looking forward to the rest of this series!

  8. Nash Page says:

    Anxiously awaiting and best of luck writing. The anticipation is half the fun of waiting for a new book to be released. This is a great series and to date I’ve reread it four times. Can’t wait for it to be finished, but I’d rather you not be rushed. Thank you for all you do.

  9. Roger Jenkins says:

    My son got me a personalized and signed copy of your three books for Christmas. I can hardly wait until book four is released. I have been a ferocious red for the last sixty years and hopefully passed on this desire to my family, I have a grand daughter who loves reading thank you for the excellent books

  10. Barbara Briden says:

    I understand completely about Muses. They are very fickle but very important in any creative endeavour. I thoroughly enjoyed your books and wait the next instalment when ever that should happen. Best Wishes to you and your Muse.

  11. Jake C says:


    I want to first thank you on an amazing series. Then I want to let you know that I read the first 3 books in roughly 2 weeks, and I’m hooked. Funny story actually, for some reason I was under the impression that it was a trilogy. So as i neared the end of book 3 all I could think was that there was no way this could be finished in the next 200 pages! I am very happy to know that there is another book coming out this year and I am so excited to continue experincing the story of these wonderful characters.

    Best wishes and speedy writing,

    P.S. Tanis is the bomb.
    P.P.S. Ean/Arion is also bomb. Wait who am I kidding all of these characters are amazing!

  12. Adam J says:

    I have enjoyed the series thus far and cant wait to see what happens in this next series… so far tanis is my favorite but that could change Alyneri is my close second. so excited thanks for this awesome series so eloquently written

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      Thank you so much, Adam. I’m thrilled that you’re enjoying the series and honored by your kind words.

  13. Terasa says:

    Hi Melissa, just discovered this whilst googling for any news on a release date. I can only imagine the gymnastics of the mind that must be involved in keeping track of storylines whilst writing new ones.
    However, you have many appreciative readers all wishing you well and eagerly awaiting your latest instalment which I am sure will be well worth the wait.
    Best of wishes

  14. Thorgrim says:

    Do you think it would hurt Balance if you used a little bit of the First to get it out before then? I’m wrapping up PATH’S OF ALIR now and I’m dreading leaving Alorin.

  15. Matthew Privett says:

    One of my all time favorites thus far!!! Noticed it list your personal favorites. I personally really like the Brandon Sanderson! Been waiting for like 2 years for blood mirror to come out! I don’t know if you have read it or not but he dawn of wonder is a wonderful read.

    P.s I stayed up two days straight reading this books just finished the last page so on this I take my leave.

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      So glad to hear that, Matthew. Thanks for the recommendations on your favorites. I’m always on the lookout for more great books. Thank you for reading. 🙂

  16. tim says:

    is the release of an audio version of kingdom blades in the near future?

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      Hi Tim, yes book four should be released on Audible in early 2017. I’m hearing late Feb/early March. As soon as I have a definitive date, I’ll post to my blog.

      Thank you for listening!

      • Alvin Rausse says:

        That is awesome to hear. I drive for a living and have listened to the first 3 books 4 times now. One of if now the best yet. Thanks for helping 12hr shifts go by will a great story.

  17. Chrisz K. says:

    Hey Melissa,
    I’m loving the series and anxiously await the fourth book to arrive on audible (I have already preordered it). I know this might be a question that people might not want to hear, but, will that be the last in the series? You can email me instead of answering on here as to not upset fellow fans!!! Thanks for the time and the incredible series, keep up the great work!

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      Chrisz, I’m so glad you’re enjoying the series on Audible. There will be five books in A Pattern of Shadow & Light. Five strands, five books…it just seemed like a propitious number. I would love your thoughts on Kingdom Blades once you’re into the story on Audible. I love real-time updates. Thank you for listening.

  18. Jacque Effray says:

    The most entertaining story I’ve listened to since lord of the rings. Looking forward to finishing this tale. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      It’s my pleasure, Jacque. Thank you for letting me know you’re enjoying my series. And thank you for listening. 🙂

  19. John Carey says:

    Hi Melissa,

    I am so amazed at the world you have created… Your attention to detail is staggering ….i was so captivated , I listened to all 4 books in a little over a week! I can’t wait till book 5 comes out…..I Am so glad I stumbled upon your book.

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      That’s music to my writerly early, John. I’m thrilled you’re enjoying my series on Audible. But wow-that’s quite a lot of material to get through in one week! I’m very glad you stumbled upon my book also. 🙂

      If you have any other thoughts on my series you’d like to share, especially speculations or expectations for book five, send them my way. Thank you for listening.

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