Warning: Rambly 'cause I'm tired and short on sleep.
So I am up to 192K words and 30 chapters.
I'm actually enjoying the current chapter a great deal. Alexandra at her bitchiest, followed by Alexandra at her bravest. And oh yes, she's going to be slapped. Repeatedly. (Maybe not literally slapped. Or maybe so.)
So we all know the big Avada Kedavra debate, right? That is, if the Killing Curse is unblockable instant death, why doesn't anyone who knows it just use it every time, assuming they're fighting to kill? There are plenty of perfectly reasonable fanon answers, but it's one of those things that I don't think Rowling thought through at all. But she got away with it, because magic in the books is all lights and special effects and "results-based," i.e., a spell does whatever the story requires it to do at the time. Rowling did work out a somewhat consistent, but not really very consistent, set of magical "rules," but it worked for her. Unfortunately, I don't quite have the storytelling style Rowling does that let her get away with the narrative legerdemain that kept the reader from noticing inconsistencies; more importantly, I have a rules-based mind that gets hung up on little details and logical inconsistencies.
I need to update Alexandra's "grimoire" -- the list of spells she knows. I try to make sure I have recorded everything I've demonstrated her learning/using in the past; it would be rather embarrassing for someone to point out: "Why doesn't she just use that Collaportus spell she used in eighth grade?" On the other hand, there's been a lot of vague "She learned lots of dueling spells from Max, and she learned lots more in the Dueling Club," so that gives me a certain amount of liberty to pull new ones out of my ass when it's appropriate. Also she spends lots of time studying, and in class, and I don't have to itemize every single spell she learns at the time. But new spells she whips out can't be too useful or convenient or powerful or she starts to seem like she just hit a Power-up.
Mostly, I try to make sure any magic she uses that is significant to the plot has a firm foundation in her previous experience. This is where writing the whole book first, rather than posting each chapter as it is written, as many fan fiction writers do, pays off. If I need Alexandra to cast a Shrinking Spell in Chapter 25, I can go back and make sure Shrinking Spells are mentioned in Charms class in Chapter 4.
Dueling, though, is a pain. I'm trying to make dueling seem like... well, dueling, but really, it doesn't make much sense for Harry Potter wizards to duel like fencers. I try to provide a bit of justification for varying one's attacks and defenses, with my own interpretations and assumptions (like that there is more to Blocking and Deflecting than a Shield Spell that acts like a force field), but frankly, it's one of those iffy areas Rowling hinted at when she wanted dueling, and then forgot about. I feel like elaborating on it too much begins to make the story read like the dreaded fictionalized Role Playing Game where you can tell the author has written up a character sheet for the protagonist. So mostly I handwave it and try to make magic stay magical (and vague, and not really explained). It's better to preserve the Harry Potter-ish feel and describe balls of light and glowing hornets and clouds of black spikes and whatever else sounds cool than make people think too hard about combat efficacy.
Right now, I find myself dealing with logistical problems. Alexandra is in a precarious physical situation that requires a whole bunch of physical and magical maneuvering to get out of, and I've been going on and on with it, and while I can clearly picture it in my mind, it may read really tediously (or worse, improbably) to the reader. This is definitely one of those times when I need to just keep writing. Get past that scene, move on to the next chapter, fix it in editing. 'Cause my betas will tell me if it's stupid/drags/doesn't work, right guys?
More art! That isn't mine!
This is a different artist than the one doing the cover: I wanted some good character illustrations to replace the Poser ones I've been using. These are rough sketches.
No picture anyone has ever drawn, nor any of my Poser images, have perfectly captured the pictures I have in my head of my characters with 100% fidelity, but these come pretty close.