My writing has been on hold while I try to untangle the vast reserves of ideas I have. I needed to put everything in place for this story, because it’s been years since I worked on it, and despite knowing the general plot, I never came up with too many specifics. Ahh, the days of literally making it up as I went.
I have been sorting and compiling ideas for a couple of weeks now. It feels like forever, and I’m an impatient sort. I’d prefer to be writing than planning and plotting, but I can recognise that one must come before the other. Little ideas, big ideas, strange notions that don’t seem to fit into this story have all been running through my head. For a while there, I intentionally avoided even thinking of any of it, because I was getting so frustrated at how none of it was slotting together nicely.
Then yesterday, it clicked. The parts fell into place. Even the weird things that I didn’t think were relevant to this story had a specific and important role to play.
I don’t know how any of this works. It’s some kind of function my brain has had for as long as I can remember. I could attribute it to a wild imagination or half a lifetime of practice in writing, but that doesn’t encompass the fullness of how stories sometimes just “work”. After all that struggling with ideas, after all those days of just giving up trying to put the crazy jigsaw together myself, I can finally see the full picture and why those ideas were connected at all.
Does this mean I’m back into writing immediately? Not quite. I can see it all, but I still need a little time to percolate this as a whole. I’ll probably start by putting down a plot outline with all the major and minor events I’ve already decided on. From there, I think I will be able to fashion something like a story out of it. I have a pretty great feeling about this work. This is going to be fun.
My novella project is the first time I’ve put a lot of effort into planning a series. It’s alien and frightening, and every time I come up with some new perspective on the story, I’m afraid that half way through writing the whole set, I will understand something new and want to change something.
Usually an author will begin publishing a series before all the installments are complete. This is understandable, since a novel often takes a year or more to write, and no one wants to wait ten years to start publishing something they’ve completed. This means that the overall theme has to be well established before they send out book one, because once it’s printed, there isn’t any “fixing” the story.
I thought I had done most of the important planning aspects for TDM, laying out plots and important events, characters which won’t be involved until several books in, the list goes on. My notes are extensive and the outlines were poured over until a cohesive plot was made. I really believed I was in a good position to just write these and expect things to turn out the way I planned. But as I progress through the edit of book one, and drafting book two, I realise that little things can change, and indeed sometimes need to. I worry what this means to my series. Do I need to go back to the planning stage and make the outline even more detailed? Would that be so much different from just writing the drafts and working from there?
At the end of drafting book one, I realised some of the mistakes I’d already made. In some places, I had written the characters to behave in ways I had never intended, and some of the scenes were really unsuited to both the characters I was creating, and the story they needed to tell. Not only that, but it wasn’t until the full first draft had been completed that I understood some of the events I rushed to include too soon when I planned the stories. They shouldn’t happen in book one. They need time to get there organically. My enthusiasm for this series was driving me to cram too much in right away.
Maybe I deviated from my outline too much, even though I really didn’t change many events in the first draft. At the same time, one of the added ideas was so solid and brought together all these other elements, I start thinking I just need more time to get to know my characters and reassess how they will respond. Maybe I haven’t done nearly enough planning. This is an interesting learning curve. It’s hard not to worry about it.