Today's writing notes:
Still working on: Editing "Worth Searching For" for FFN
Although, I've decided I'm going to put it up on a petpage on Neopets when I'm done, too, because I'm growing less and less fond of the version that got into the Neopian Times, and I want this new edit to stand as the "canonical" version of events.
I'm glad I've been making Isengrim more sympathetic and less sociopathic, because I think it gives greater weight to when he does things like donate the slain Monocerous to Caxton Bank. I think the old version portrayed him as socially obtuse and completely lacking in empathy, but this version paints a picture of a Werelupe who is naturally very warm, giving, caring, and protective, but had that side of him severely hurt by his creator, and as a result he became much more guarded and neurotic about it. I think this version better serves to portray Terra as a strong individual as well, because her kindness and compassion is powerful enough to swiftly break through those emotional barriers and give Isengrim the courage and confidence to truly be himself. In addition, we see the effect spreading as Isengrim earns his peasants' trust through being genuinely kind and generous to them, and softens their hearts as well. (Also, it makes Skoll's comments about Isengrim being cruel and unchangeable even more conspicuously odd, because the reader is instead seeing the direct opposite of that idea.)
Another alteration I made to Terra's character is that she's now wary of Skoll from the start. Terra isn't stupid and she's certainly not oblivious--she's extremely observant, reads people well, and easily picks up on if something's off about someone. Her mistake in this edit, though, is not trusting her intuition--she's worried that Pharazon is a coward because she's been babying him, and she tries to make herself stop being a helicopter-owner, even though something doesn't sit right with her about Skoll. The lesson she learns is to always trust your gut, even when it's telling you something that goes against your reasoning.
I really enjoyed writing Skoll being super manipulative in the chapter where Pharazon learns to use the Lupe Moon Charm. Skoll knows full well that Pharazon will use it to ask for help, but totally pretends like he doesn't, giving Pharazon a false sense of independence and courage when he breaks his promise to his mentor. In reality he's just learning how to lie and break promises. Skoll's such a jerk.
Speaking of Skoll, I also solidified his backstory quite a bit and made him make more sense as a whole. In the original, he was expelled from Brightvale University and exiled from Brightvale after being cursed into a Werelupe while searching for spell reagents in the woods. When he returned to the university, they turned on him and cast him out, and as a result he grew bitter and vengeful. But I realize now that, as arrogant and stuffy as Brightvalians are, I don't think they'd do something so severe to a student-turned-Werelupe simply out of species prejudice, especially if his transformation was accidental. (Later, when something similar happens to Connor, it makes more sense in his situation because he's attending a regular boarding school, not a magic university--and he lives in the Haunted Woods, where everyone is much more jumpy about Werelupes, and for good reason.) Plus, I wanted to give more of a hint early on that Skoll was not entirely an innocent victim, and that he'd started down some paths in his youth that, left uncorrected, led him to his villainy later on.
So, in the revision, we learn that when Skoll was a university student, he'd begun dabbling in off-limits magic, and the reagent that cursed him was an ingredient that he needed for said magic. That is something that the university would take extremely seriously, because even though Skoll says otherwise, certain types of magic are off-limits for a reason, and it seems the faculty deemed it simply unsafe and a bad idea to allow Skoll to continue learning magic--and to keep allowing him access to dangerous knowledge. That makes his banishment much more reasonable, and also gives the reader the foreshadowing idea that he is not exactly the kindly old grandfather figure he plays himself out to be.