I re-started work on Kai’s Book a couple of weeks ago. Here’s the premise, by the by:
A cursed runaway princess, despised by her people, returns from across worlds to save the homeland she fled after committing murder.
The “princess” part is a bit misleading since your typical princess doesn’t exist in this world. It’s more Dark Ages than medieval, where the king is just the warlord who has a bit more power than all the other warlords. There’s also a viking-type world and a steampunk world thrown in there, which makes things rather fun, especially since Kai crosses over to all of them in the first three chapters.
It’s been a long time since I worked on a first draft of a novel. I had a hard time getting back into the mindset. While looking through my notes, I was rather disturbed by the fact that large swathes of plot were completely unknown to me. Even intensive brainstorming and extensive freewriting didn’t bring these areas to light. I was getting rather worried there…
Then I remembered.
Novel first drafts are like setting out on a journey with a very rudimentary map. The starting point is pretty clear–the star on the northern coast of the continent with a You Are Here right above it–and the ending is generally also somewhat known–that nice beach somewhere down on the balmy southern coast. Between those two points, however, are blank areas with no features, save for maybe a large lake or two in your way and a mountain range bisecting the entire continent (of course!). Off in the fringes are places marked Here Be Dragons.
If you’re lucky, you packed well.
Usually, you didn’t. Usually you didn’t anticipate the desert that appeared right before the mountains, or the landslide that buries your pack mule halfway through the range, or the acidic spores of the Mushroom Forest, or the townspeople that seize you and put you to work in the peanut fields for wearing purple on a Thursday.
But that’s the joy of writing novels. The story is full of surprises, forcing you to be quick-footed and quick-witted, and dealing with the consequences if you’re not.
Not only is writing fun, it’s adventurous. Now that I’ve remembered that, I’m happy to have only a couple scenes plotted out in advance of where I am. More scenes will come to light. They always do.
I just have to keep going on, even if it’s through the Vermilion Marshes of Man-Eating Flies.
How’s your writing going?
I signed up for nanowrimo this year to give myself a much needed kick in the shins to get back into writing, and I’ve been digging for ideas ever since. I’ve been drifting after discontinuing work on a precious gigantic sprawling story of epic proportions (too complex to get into why) and finally, settled on fanfiction for a temporary way to keep in the writing groove.
Now, though a story has finally presented itself and I’m playing with it mentally, turning it over and over, letting the characters slowly reveal themselves, using Glenda Larke’s what if, who holds the power questions and others from my writing books, such as who has the most to lose? who has the most to gain?
Little pieces built into it. Two ideas started me off actually: the idea of knowledge being passed along the mother’s mitochondrial DNA and the idea of a powerful ancient civilization that left great monuments, but no written records. And why would such a civilization vanish? And what would it mean to the people if only the mother could pass along her knowledge to her children? Suddenly, women become more important in such a society. And if every single person had the memories, knowledge, and skills of all of their matriarchal ancestry, what would that mean?
Needless to say, I’m excited.
Sounds like a really neat idea, and it’s good to get the excitement back.
I’m an avid reader of sfnovelists.com, and if I recall correctly (don’t quote me on this), your blog was on the sidebar list of links. I think. Hmm… But either way, I love reading your blog. And I think I commented on here once or twice when the blog entry didn’t show up. Still haven’t read those particular entries.
I’ve commented on a post up at SF Novelists a time or two; probably even linked to posts there. You might have found me through the trackbacks. Regardless of how you made it here, I’m glad you enjoy my posts and I’m glad you commented. Your previous comments might have gotten swept up in over-zealous anti-spam measures. Sorry about that!