This is the third post in a series describing the various projects I have on the go, summarizing where I’m at with each, what the challenges I face are, and what I need/want to do so that I can get each project back on track.
The Citadel is a series I started about four years ago. It rose out of my disgust for Young Adult stories where the protagonist (usually a girl) waited for others to act and spent her time whining.
The Citadel is based in a world where everyone is born with telekenesis, but for various reasons the nobility of one country decided that this magic was for peasants and that they would never use it. Children are “trained” out of using their magic through constant physical discouragement.
This same family is obsessed with assassinations, to the point that their main objectives in life is to produce as many children as possible so that the male children have others to kill off in the competition for the throne.
Into this totally messed up culture arrives sixteen-year-old Julian, whose mother fled the country years ago, but who then turned around and sent Julian back at the request of his maternal grandmother. Julian scandalizes the family by insisting on doing magic, on not trying to kill his cousins, and by refusing to marry anyone.
The other main characters include Hannah, a self-labeled rebel who dreams of getting out some day and who sees Julian as her exit strategy. If she can get herself married to Julian, she might be able to find a way back to his country of birth and away from the killing. Other than Julian’s lack of interest in her, her major obstacle is her loveless and sexless marriage to William, the golden boy of assassinations.
For William’s part, he see Julian as a danger, not just to the stability of life within the Citadel, but also to himself because the longer Julian stays in the Citadel, the more William finds himself attracted to him, something totally unheard of in the child-obsessed family.
Add in convoluted power games by the Matriarchs and attempts by the civil government of infiltrating the Citadel to find out what secrets the Matriarchs hide, and you get a complicated plot that twists and turns in the most annoying fashion.
I’ve already revised and rewritten the first book at least twice as well as getting started on the second one three times, but it refuses to come together. My first reader has (quite rightly) commented that while the idea of the story is solid, the scenes themselves are a bit of a mess and there is too much waiting around while characters whine, which is the exact opposite of what I wanted to achieve.
At times I wonder if it would be better to shelve this project as failed experiment, but I like the characters too much to do so. What I think I need to save this one is a big whiteboard, several colored markers and a in-person sounding board to point out inconsistences and moments of whining as I restructure the whole thing.