“The Sacrifice” Behind-the-Scenes

Behind-the-scenes!  It’s long–you have been warned. 😉


The Inspiration

The inspiration for The Sacrifice lies way back, before I even had a blog.  The original story was inspired by a short dragon story from The Children’s Book of Virtues edited by  William J. Bennett.  I came up with a story that was essentially The Sacrifice, but still quite different.  I was planning on writing it down, but then had inspiration for The Captured Princess Series (cheesy title, I know), which has basically the same plot line as The Sacrifice, just stretched and twisted into five stories–and pretty long stories too, for me at least.  After writing that, the other story felt short and uninteresting and I gave it up.

After my amazing father helped me set up this blog and I started posting Into the Dragon’s Lair, I decided to write The Sacrifice and post it on my blog, since The Captured Princess Series was too long, and was in the hoping-to-publish boat.

After that, I went and found The Children’s Book of Virtues to read the story that had inspired me again, and found it was none other than St. George and the Dragon.  So there I was, re-telling the most well-known dragon story in the library and make it super suspenseful–go figure.  Ah well, I had fun, and I think I managed to freak some of you out just a little. 😉

The original story was quite different from what I ended up writing down.  You’ll hear me refer to that first draft a lot!

The Characters

Penelope is one of my all-time favorite characters to write about!  She’s a pretty stereotypical princess–brave and kind.  But she’s just a tad bit sarcastic and teasing at times.  It’s definitely Henry’s influence. 😉  The story was well under way before I finally realized that she was a lot more feisty than I’d expected.  After that, I had all kinds of fun.  I love her as a character–let those call her the stereotypical heroine who will–and she was so fun to write about!

Sir Richard is also a fun character, but tricky to write about.  Very, very tricky, with all due respect!  I had but to get to his first section, and that pesky writer’s block came slamming down in earnest.  I blamed it on the fact that he was a guy, and girls were easier for me (for obvious reasons), but I’m beginning to think he’s just a unique character.  Like Her Highness aforementioned, he has a quiet sense of humor.  It was just hard to balance the courageous, humble side of his nature with his occasional sarcastic comment.  But, on a cheerier note, Dad gave me some good insights on him while proof-reading and I do like how he turned out in the end!

And then there’s Henry.  He’s not around a lot, he’s not absolutely essential to the story-line.  But let’s be honest: I love him.  I did actually consider leaving him out, but something told me he needed to stick around.  I think he was able to add to the story and not just muddy the water.  And I love how his relationship with Penny turned out!  Since they’re the only two siblings and have similar personalities, I just imagine them having all kinds of fun and getting into all kinds of trouble together.  I do kind-of feel like I gave them the same personality, but they are different in their own way.

And I totally modeled Henry’s looks on the prince in the Disney version of Sleeping Beauty and this Playmobil figure:


And then there’s Gimel.  He’s been around since the original first-draft story mentioned above, but he was quite different then.  Played a bigger role, and was quite different.  And as for his looks. . . !  I’ve never had a character whose looks where so undecided!  He has undergone more changes than anyone else I can think of, poor fellow!  Only one thing has stayed the same: he’s always had dark hair.  It was dark brown at the beginning, and then black, and then who knows what, and finally black for The Sacrifice.  But always dark.  He was never blonde.  That just didn’t didn’t work in my head.

Gimel is another character I considered removing from the final draft.  But it turns out he’s quite stubborn.  And honestly, I really, really like him.  There’s just something about his staunch, unheroic courage and hard, brown eyes that I love.  Just didn’t have the heart to leave him out for the sake of shortening the story.

And his name has changed as much as his looks!  Gimel is actually from the Bible.  It is the name of one of the sections of Psalm 119–the longest Psalm in the Bible.  Jael and Cyrus are also Biblical names.  Eleanor’s name was suggested by Savannah in the comments of this post, and Cedric was suggested by both her and Ellen on the same post.  I was reluctant to use Cedric, as the only other place I had heard it was in Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott, and I didn’t want to copy him.  But considering Savannah and Ellen hadn’t read Ivanhoe, I decided it was fine.  And Sir Richard is named after my grandpa. 🙂

In the first draft, the Princess actually married the knight’s guide.  I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to have it in the story or not, and finally decided I didn’t have time.  The whole story spans two weeks, so having months squeezed in at the end was not going to fly.  And after the whole The Mushroom Feast thing, I was pretty sure we’d had enough implied romance for the time being.  And Gimel couldn’t propose within a few days of meeting a girl.  It’s just not like him–and not like me. 😉  Also, I felt like Penny’s strong relationship with her family made romance hard.  It’s not like a girl with a good relationship with her family can never get married, I felt like she just wanted a little more time with them, after being separated like that.  And with all the trauma I put her through, it’s the least I can do.

The Writing Process

The Sacrifice might have been the hardest to write out of all my stories.  The writer’s block was killer.  I can’t say why–it was so weird.  It took a year to go from writing the first sentence to scribbling the last words of my first draft in my notebook.

But when I step back and think about it, there are a few stories that have taken me several years to write.  I just do not write fast!  I get ideas for stories much, much faster than I can write them down.

So, putting things in perspective, finishing writing and editing in less than a year is fast for me.  Honestly, what kept me motivated was you guys.  Knowing you were excited about reading my story and getting impatient about the wait kept me coming back and writing more, and setting goals for myself.  Thank you so much, y’all, this story would not have happened without you!

Back to you! 🙂

And now it’s your turn!  Feel free to ask any questions you have about The Sacrifice in the comments!  I will do another post on Friday with all the questions and all the answers, so everyone can hear them.

And would you mind answering a few questions from me?  Please be honest–I really want your opinion!

  1. Who was your favorite character?
  2. What was your favorite part?
  3. Was there anything you didn’t like, or felt detracted from the story?
  4. Was there anything that did not make sense?
  5. Would you recommend this story to a friend?

I would love to hear what you thought!

Happy Tuesday!!

21 thoughts on ““The Sacrifice” Behind-the-Scenes”

  1. Girl, THIS. WAS. AWESOME!!!!!!! I loved this post so much! =D
    Penelope was gonna get married!?
    I’m really glad you ended up putting Henry in the story. I really like him, even though he doesn’t play a huge roll in the story. 😀
    I’m really glad we’ve had the chance to see how you came up with all of this. It was really REALLY neat, Hanna! Ooh, you named Sir Richard after your grandpa? That was nice of you. =D
    Ooh, it’s cool what you modeled Henry off of. 😉 I think it suits him. =)
    Okay, here are my answers to the questions you asked:
    1. My favorite character? Girl, this is SO. HARD!!!! I really like Penelope, and Queen Elanor- But I really like Cyrus and Sir Richard, Henry and the King…. Man, I just can’t pick! Okay, if you really wanted me to pick one, even though she’s hardly in the story, I’ll probably have to say queen Elanor, but Penelope comes super CLOSE. =)
    2. My favorite part? Well, can it be parts???? Okay, okay, you did say part, so I’ll just do one out of my top favorite parts, which would have to be when the family gets back together. #WarmAndFuzzieMoments =)
    3. Nope, you did awesome! =D
    4. No, everything made sense, and you did a really good job on that. Most people seem to have some problems with that, but you did awesome! =D
    5. Yes, I think I would. This is one of the best stories you have written, Hanna, and I can tell you worked really hard on it. This story made me happy, and I’m glad you wrote it.

    Hanna, if there was one word to describe you, it would be artistic. You are artistic in your drawings + in your writings. You are an amazing writer, Hanna, and you have been blessed with that ability.
    Thank you so much for posting ‘The Sacrifice’, Hanna! It was so fun to help you along the way!

    1. Aw, thanks, Jai! That really means a lot! I’m so glad you liked my story.
      Whoa, long comment! 😉 I guess I’m not the only who is unbelievably longwinded! 😀

  2. Hanna-
    I really enjoyed this little window into your writing process!
    Thank you so much for sharing…
    I love reading your work and look forward to much more in the future!
    I am so proud of you.
    Love you,

    Okay, here are my answers…
    1. Henry. He was so funny and caring and just, well, Henry. I’m glad he was in the story. =D
    2. When Sir Richard defeated the dragon! Victory! *hoists up invisible sword*
    3. Hhhmmmm…. I can’t think of anything really.
    4. Nope. I got it all. ANd the map was really cool to have around!
    5. Yes, yes and YES!
    Keep writing, Hanna! I can’t wait to see more of your work!

  4. Thank you so much, Micaiah! I’m glad you enjoyed it–and I’m glad you liked the map! If I post more stories, they’ll most likely have maps as well, as I have a new passion for drawing them. 😉

  5. I LOVE this post! Behind the scene posts are so much fun to read 🙂 . Ooo, the princess was married in the first draft? That’s dangerous information to be telling some certain people, Hanna 😀 . Ellen and I helped name Eleanor and Cedric? That’s so cool! Either I didn’t know about that or I completely forgot 😀 . And I’m REALLY glad you kept Henry in the story, he’s one of my favorite characters!

    Here are my answers (which I shall answer honestly … which could also mean a little bluntly, sorry.) :

    1. Are you kidding?! How am I supposed to pick ONE favorite character?! I’m going with three in no particular order. Penelope, Henry, and Sir Richard. But I also really like Gimel, so maybe him too … okay, never mind, I’m not picking 😀 .

    2. ALL OF THEM. Oh, you mean just one? Probably when she and Henry meet again 🙂 .

    3. I felt like there could have been more action, and that we could have been able to connect with the characters a little more.

    4. Nope, it all made sense to me! And I agree with Micaiah, the map was super cool *nods*.

    5. … if it wasn’t so short, I think I might (seeing as I normally wouldn’t recommend short stories to friends). However, if someone told me they were looking for a fantasy serial story to read, this might be one I recommend!

    Okay, now it’s MY turn to ask questions 😀 :

    – Do YOU have a favorite character?
    – How do you pronounce Gimel’s name?
    – … is there the possibility of a sequel? 😀
    – Which was your favorite part to write? Which was your least?
    – If you could literally meet one of your characters in The Sacrifice, who would you pick?
    – Which character would do the best if they were suddenly put into the modern world?

    This post was so fun, thank you for taking the time to write it for us!

  6. Oh wait, there are questions to be answered, aren’t there?? Whoops! 🙂
    Okay, I’m just gonna say what Savannah said. I’m going to try to answer these honestly, which could also mean a little bluntly. I hope it does not come across as offensive, but if it does, I apologize in advance. 🙂
    1. Um….. All the nice ones??? How could you ask me to pick a favorite character?!!!!!
    2. The part where Penelope is reunited with her family!!!! 🙂
    3. The thing that I think could have been done a little differently, was the fact that Cyrus and Sir Richard were badly injured by the dragon and then seemed to be fine shortly afterwards. Maybe it’s just me, but I think they should have had a bit more time to recover before moving on. (Once again, I apologize if this sounds terribly blunt.)
    4. Nope, it all made sense to me!! 🙂
    5. Well, like Savannah, I don’t normally recommend short stories to friends, but if they were looking for serial stories, I would TOTALLY recommend this one!! 🙂

    1. Skylar, Savannah, thank you for being honest! I appreciate it! I’m not offended at all–that’s what I wanted.
      And yes, Savannah, I know it’s dangerous. I decided I’d risk saying it though. 😉

  7. The Sacrifice was amazing, and so was the Behind-the-Scenes post!! The inspiration was really cool!! I’m glad you left Henry in; it was good to see her relationship with her brother and parents.
    1: How am I supposed to pick, they’re all my favorites. My top favorites are probably Penelope, Henry and Sir Richard.
    2: Favorite part – another hard question – it was all so good!! I really like the part where Penelope gets reunited with her family. And the part where it describe Sir Richard’s sword.
    And… ALL of it!!!
    3: I can’t think of anything.
    4: It all made sense to me.
    5: I haven’t really recommended stories to anyone before, but this is one I would definitely recommend to someone.

    1. Thanks, Juliana! I’m glad you liked it! Lots of people liked the part where they’re reunited! 🙂 The part with Sir Richard’s sword though? I think that’s a first! I should go read that again. . . Thanks for your input!

  8. Hi Hanna! I just wanted to ask you a couple questions for you to answer about the story.

    1. Who’s your favorite person out of the whole royal family?
    2. If you went into your story and wanted a tour of the palace, who do you think would be the best tour guide?

    Well, gotta go! =D -Jai

  9. Here are some questions for ya!
    -Who did you most enjoy writing?
    -Who do you like better out of Cyrus and Snowflake?
    -Will you be writing more, like a sequel, of the Sacrifice?


  10. Okay, I’ve got some questions!!!

    1. If you could actually BE any of the characters in your story, who would you choose to be, and why??
    2. If you could be best friends with any of the characters, who would you choose???
    3. Which one of the characters could you most see having a spin-off story?
    4. Which of the characters was easiest to name??
    5. Which of the characters was hardest to name??

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