Lessons From My Works-In-Progress #1: The Castaway Prince

Each month, I’ll be featuring a different WIP. All projects featured have at least one completed draft and are of novella or novel length.

This month, I’ll be featuring a writing project which has undergone several name changes but is currently titled The Castaway Prince.

Other Titles:
  • Fight For the Throne
  • A Prince in Exile
  • On Every Side
  • The Castaway Prince

(Out of all my WIPS, this one has had the most title changes.)

What it’s about:
At sixteen, Prince Arin of Brendelin was banished from the kingdom upon his father’s death. The throne was instead left to his younger brother who sought to kill him. Now, a chance has arrived for Arin to take back the throne.

Second draft complete at 67,856 words.
37 chapters
(A third draft has been started but set aside.)

This was the first entirely original story I completed after I began “officially” writing. At this point, I’d mostly stuck to Pirates of the Caribbean short stories and a few scribbled story ideas that I kept abandoning. (Terrible, I know.) Fight For the Throne was the story idea that really pushed me to research writing stuff and publishing.

The notebook containing the first draft.

The first draft clocked in somewhere around or under 10,000 words, I believe. It collected dust for a while after I finished it, though I did get several printed copies from Lulu, which I think I still have. I remember using them during the second draft as an outline. Sometime in 2011, I decided to dive back into it as a potential option for publication. Of course, it was way too short and needed a lot of work. I’d never significantly revised any of my writing projects before, so the only way I could think of to start was just to dive in and redraft from the ground up. 

What I learned: 
  • How to expand a story and add layers to the plot. I was also able to dig deeper inside the characters’ mindsets and discover their motives.
  • Making characters realistic. My antagonist was in great need of some good traits and my protagonist’s flaws needed to be shown rather than talked about. They still need some work, but they are much more complex compared to how they appeared in the early drafts.
  • Balancing minor characters’ roles within the frame of the main plot and the subplots.
  • The revisions process as a whole. While I’d done some minor editing/revisions (mostly expanding scenes for another project), this was the first time I really redrafted something. It was tough, messy work, but it taught me how to stick with that second draft and to find out what the basis of my revisions process would be.

Meet the Characters:
Arin and Jossa are my protagonist and antagonist, respectively.

  • First-born prince (should have been the heir but his parents left it to his brother instead).
  • Basically just wants to be left alone. He’s a kindhearted guy but being a fugitive brings out his     grumpier tendencies.
  • Likes books and maps. (A little nerdlet, really.)
  • Second-born prince (the actual heir to the throne).
  • He doesn’t mind playing dirty to achieve his goals.
  • Actually doesn’t mind being in charge, though the potential for being assassinated keeps him on     edge.

What are some of your favorite lessons from your works-in-progress? What would you like to see in future Lessons installments?


  1. I liked this post, Jameson! It was really interesting - I especially liked seeing how the title of The Castaway Prince changed.

    ~ Savannah

  2. Love this post! This is such a cool idea for a series of posts and The Castaway Prince sounds so awesome. I love the idea of the throne being left to the Prince's younger brother, it leaves me with so many questions but sounds so amazing.
    I learned similar things from revising and rewriting my very first real novel, like how to actually revise and edit. And the making characters realistic thing, yes, that's something I had to learn while revising my first novel because they were so perfect and bland and annoying and I've never had to work so hard on characters but it was important because it made me realize I need to work on my characters more before drafting and really make them flawed and realistic and everything. Anyway, I'm rambling, love the post, love the sound of this novel and I hope you're having a good week!

    1. Thanks! I'm still figuring out exactly how I want to put them together but it was really fun to look back over this one and pick out some of the really memorable things about writing it!

      Making characters realistic can be such a challenge! This cast still needs some work, but the revisions really helped with that. I was able to figure out their motives on a deeper level and figure out how that impacted the plot and the minor characters too. So, it was difficult at times but a great learning experience. :)

      Thanks for stopping by!


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