So, it seems I've finally managed to work through all the kinks involved in creating my own custom language and worked out a few of the major changes that need to happen in order to make this story vastly better than the previous version.
I should likely start off by saying that, from the chapters I've already written for my buffer zone chapters, there are some HUGE changes right from the beginning. This is to the extent that I've reached the conclusion I am psychologically incapable of writing the exact same story twice. I think the basic plot is about the only thing that will really stay the same. There are several things I have or am going to change intentionally, but there are a lot more which just get made out of intuition for what I feel at the time will be an improvement on the presentation of the story.
Intentional changes (planned or already implemented)
In my original version of this series, I was really attached to the idea of using an actual language instead of just saying they were speaking another language. I had always planned to create a custom language, but when I wrote Sister of a Goddess I just decided to use Tolkein's Elven language as a temporary place-holder.
Unfortunately, I actually had a lot of the early character names (Including, unfortunately, the main characters Aerien and Gaerien) generated by an Elven name generator using Tolkein's Elven language. So, for intellectual property reasons, I had to change the names of every character who had a name generated in this way.
Aerien, Gaerien, Tueth, Gailben, Gwilitphen, Esgal, and Taminarda are all names that were created directly from Tolkein's Elven language, and none of these names can be used for this new version.
Levin, Rolwen, Eirlathion, Sainel, Lairil, and a few minor characters had their names created entirely by me, but with a mind toward the feel of the Tolkein names. I plan to keep the names of the more prominent 3 characters as well as Sainel, but Lairil and the other minor characters will likely have their names changed.
Logrim, Oren (and all other fey dragon nobles,) Isanil, and Sagle all had their names created with the intention of having them not sound like they were built on the same principles as the Tolkein and Tolkeinesque names. Every single one of these can and will still be used.
As for what is being done with Aerien and Gaerien, well... you've already seen their new names in the synopsis. Asaren and Tiaren. When I originally named them in the Tolkein Elven name generator, Aerien meant "child of the sea" and Gaerien meant "child of the ocean." I liked the similar theme for the names when I saw them randomly spit out by the name generator with only 1 unrelated name between the two, and I decided those were the names I wanted for my main twins.
That was the original reason for me naming them in that way, but as the story went on I wound up attaching a greater plot-related meaning to the names "child of the sea" and "child of the ocean" that became plot relevant. As such, their new names Asaren and Tiaren have the exact same meanings in the new language I worked out. Meanwhile, it was crafted in such a way that 2 additional symbolic and plot-related meanings were worked into those names as well. (I can give a hint to anyone who likes digging and theorizing. It will be in a spoiler below.)
I built this new version of the Elven language by taking the IRL ancient Sumerian language and evolving it to fit Elven culture. This is relevant. Studying Babalonian and Sumerian lore will bring a lot of new appreciation for this series.
I have added more to Gaerien/Tiaren's character that wasn't present before. These are pieces of her lore and back-story including exactly what IRL mythology she is from and which goddess she is supposed to be. However, I have created a bit of a revisionist take on her story for the sake of making her more sympathetic. This is only the beginning of how much I'm adding to her characterization. I plan to have a much bigger focus on Gaerien/Tiaren in this version.
In addition to Gaerien/Tiaren, I have also worked out Rolwen's character in a lot more detail. My sister got married, and I got to know her brother-in-law a bit better since having written the 1st version. He was a very interesting individual. He was in the marines, but he also happens to be the first person I've ever met that crosses the Otaku line into Wiaboo territory. I had always meant for Rolwen to be an Otaku character, but I never thought about it beyond just the standard stereotype Otaku traits. However, my sister's brother-in-law in addition to being the first actual hard-core Otaku I've ever known in real life apart from the stereotypes, is also so much more and a very all around competent and world-worn human being. I have decided to base Rolwen's character very heavily on my sister's brother-in-law for the sake of this reboot, and I predict the added characterization will add a lot to the feel of the story.
Out of the main group of 4, that only leaves Levin who doesn't have a very strong base for his character yet. I do not have any inspiration to base a new depth of Levin's characterization on, but I do not intend to leave him out of this all-around upgrade of characterization focused writing. I will be paying attention to him and trying to work something out.
Finally, last but not least, "little Aerien," the alternate child persona of the MC, will not be included at all in this version. That character wound up severely distracting from the progress and characterization of all the other story-lines and characters last time around, and she was a huge part of the reason Levin and Rolwen wound up being as bland as they were last time around. She also outlived her role as soon as she was revived with the queen's help. I legitimately had no plan for her after that point, and it really did show up in the writing. As such, the better plan is just to not have that character even be part of the story in the first place.
Really, the only reason "little Aerien" stayed in the story as long as she did after she outlived her role is because a lot of readers were enthusiastically cheering for her and I felt getting rid of her when everyone was so head-over-heels for the character wouldn't be a good idea. I allowed others to influence my writing, and it made the story no longer mine. This was a huge part of the reason, I think, the 2nd book had such a drop in quality.
I plan to completely eliminate all alternate POV skips from the first 20 chapters or so. Whenever they come back into the story, they will be a lot shorter and play a much smaller role than they did in "Sister of a Goddess."
Asaren is the main character of Key to the Void, and she is the ONLY main character. She is not going to be sharing that role with anyone else, and the overwhelming majority of the story's perspective is going to be her's
One of the areas I consider to be the worst handled in the previous version is the trial event at the capital. I plan to give this series of events such a complete overhaul it will be barely recognizable. That is, unless my intuitive writing style just winds up pushing the story in such a direction where it doesn't make sense to have the trial at all anymore. As an intuitive-pantser, this outcome is actually more likely than not.
At present, I still plan to have the trial event, and I actually plan for the trial to really happen this time instead of getting disrupted and getting called off. However, if they all get to the capital and things at that time have developed such that the trial no longer makes sense, I will likely just exclude it.
Also, with the affore mentioned exclusion of the "little Aerien" character, their motivations for going to the capital will be re-worked a bit.
I also plan to have everyone at least a whole year older before leaving the village. (so, a year and a half for Asaren and Tiaren, a bit over 2 years for Levin and Rolwen.) Possibly more. This will allow them to participate more actively during the dangerous journey portion.
Intuition-based changes (changes made in the moment as I'm writing the chapters)
Of course, I'm not going to be able to predict ahead of time what changes are going to come up in this category. I also think it would be counter-productive to list every single change as it comes up, and would be dropping spoilers as well. However, I can assure you that there will be a lot more of these kinds of changes than there are planned changes. These intuition-based changes are likely to even make this seem like an entirely different story that only roughly follows the same plot as "Sister of a Goddess."
At the time I'm writing this, I am working on Chapter 6 of the story. It already seems completely different from "Sister of a Goddess."
Some of the bigger differences in direction that are forming, which I plan now to turn from in-the-process changes to intentional changes, include that I will be minimizing Eirlathion's role in the early story in order to explore the nature of the village and Elven culture a little more. He's still going to be the driver of the early plot, but is going to take a slightly more distant role.
Levin and Rolwen's family were no longer kidnapped along with them. Also, the main 4 wind up interacting with older children in the village a lot more. I have decided to straight up replace Eirlathion with these older children as the main 4's Elven language teachers. Levin and Rolwen's families were never properly utilized before. So, they are getting the same treatment as "little Aerien" and being cut out. This absence winds up making room for other characters to shine.
Unfortunately, the first 3 chapters were a little rough in terms of the 3rd person expositional narratives. I just wasn't feeling it for the deep exploration of the events that were less relevant to the characters and story, and decided to abridge the process with some 3rd person narratives in order to skim over it. I do not plan for this to become a habit, and intend to transition out of it. I do not predict that as being too hard since a lot of new slice-of-life style stuff is showing up in place of.