OK, change of plan. Again.
Something's been niggling at me, a memory of when I was on a forum that a guy I knew elsewhere online had set up for short fiction critiques.
I had put up one of my pieces, and he said to me, "I want to know the stories that are behind this story. You're hinting at all of these things having gone on already. Tell me those stories."
And I just decided that he's right, again.
These great, wonderful characters deserve to have their stories told - not just summarized. With a full supporting cast and elaborate stage settings and props. I've been having them tell their summarized tales, one at a time, but what I want to do now is cut between them as they converge on that moment when Victory brings them all together in one room for the first time.
In other words, the scene that I started with in my first couple of attempts at writing The Gryphon Clerks isn't the beginning of the book at all. It's actually the end.
Before the big story of all of them together unfolds, we need - I need - the stories of each of them separately. Their struggles and heartbreaks and triumphs, everything that got them ready to be the elite of the Gryphon Clerks, the people Victory is going to turn to for help and advice as she sets out to create her legacy and transform her realm.
It was while I was writing Windknower's story that I figured that out. I had already thought about telling his story this way, and it's the right way to tell it.
This is a huge setting, and there are a lot of stories to tell. But I can still tell them at their own pace.
I feel relieved about that, so I know it's the right decision.
(And I'm pretty sure that Thorn and Midnight don't come into this book now. They get their own book, or their own series, after this.)