...by which I mean the end of Éowyn, Book 1: The Cage. In terms of publication I'd guess about nine more chapters, but at the original writing everything from Chapter 24 onward was one very, very, very long chapter; one which I've decided to split up into more digestible parts.
I felt it for the best, as the content of these final chapters isn't going to be particularly easy to digest. The content warnings in the headnotes are to be taken seriously; the book ends in an extremely harsh and decidedly unpleasant fashion for the title character.
Knowing what "happened" in these chapters is necessary to understand a lot of what Éowyn will struggle with in Book 2. But I certainly understand if some readers feel the need to step away before the end of Book 1. Sometime after I've published the final chapter of Book 1 I'll write a recap of the essentials here in the blog, just so no one needs to be completely lost when Book 2 begins.
For those already unsure what's going on (though I feel the introduction makes it fairly obvious), there's a clue/Easter egg in Chapter 25 that will give it away for readers familiar with Tolkien's posthumously published writing. Everyone else could just use Google if and when they see it, but to be honest I think it's more rewarding to wait for the reveal in the final chapter. And if that still doesn't make it clear, the Easter egg itself will be explained in the first chapter of the next book.
The current chapter of my ongoing serial (chapter 18) finishes with a dream in which there's nonconsensual sex. This is something that will happen again in the fairly near future, but in a much more extreme way and with a lot more violence and horror attached. (It, too, will be a dream.)
As with the "there's no incest but two characters are certainly thinking about it" chapter a little while back, I struggle with how to best issue useful warnings about this sort of content without suggesting that the overall story is something it isn't.
I put it to the readers: how do you prefer to see this handled? I see three primary options:
1) Tag the whole story, which is what I think most authors do.
2) What I'm doing now, which is putting warnings in the headers of specific chapters but reserving overall serial tags/codes for things that are generally pervasive in the story. This is a solution I prefer to the first for several reasons, one of which is that I think that certain tags - and non-con/rape/violence are among them - are as much for people who are specifically looking for that sort of content as they are for people who want to avoid them. My story won't satisfy the former, but the majority of it can still be enjoyed by the latter, and putting warnings on individual chapters can help them avoid those they'll probably want to give a miss.
3) Proceed with the second option, but add an "alternative" chapter that runs down the significant events of difficult stretches without actually depicting the controversial content. I feel like this probably needs to happen, because my main character's state of mind will be profoundly affected by these events and they'll be referred to time and time again in Book 2. Not knowing what happened in her "dream" will make a lot of Éowyn's struggles in the second book inexplicable.
My gut tells me I should choose the third option. But what say you?
I believe the aforementioned formatting issue with chapter 13 has been fixed. (Thank you so much, Lazeez.)
We now move into a very sex-laden period, and in fact the next "scene" covers four consecutive chapters before its denouement. I'd like to say that it's absolutely clear what's going on, but chapter 13 was talky and opaque enough - by design - that's there's ambiguity. What it has also led to is some very incisive and inquisitive feedback, for which I thank everyone.
Despite the wall-to-wallness (or perhaps against-the-wallness) of the next few chapters, I'm not changing the story status from "Some Sex" to "Much Sex." Characterization and plot will return shortly, once everyone's dressed, presentable, and decent. Meanwhile, if you insist on voyeurism I suggest you don a waterproof garment and have a moist towelette handy until chapter 18 arrives.
Unfortunately, a huge number of italicization changes in Chapter 13 don't seem to translate from my original, via HTML, to the version posted on SOL. I've tried three edits and reposts and they still don't work. They look fine in the HTML code, but they're somehow getting changed on this site. So if you read things that seem like they shouldn't be italicized, that's why.
The next chapter (13: Brothers) features a ton of talking. Kinda. What it doesn't feature is sex, though there's a sexual act. Kinda.
I promise the next three chapters will more than make up for it.