The Legacy of Zyanthia

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When Doubt Creeps In

self-doubtSome days are like diving backwards through the darkness into a black pool. Creating a space where shadows creep in feeding self-doubt in the mind.  Writing can be a swinging pendulum where ups and downs cycle endlessly. Such is the complexity of holding onto a story for so long. Yet from the darkness the seeds of self-doubt can spark the greatest ideas. It is a paradox shifting with every moment. Somewhere between this the writer stands balancing hope and lingering doubt.

One Step Forward

The biggest tasks are accomplished one step at a time. Yet at the start it can be overwhelming. Time can make the end seem so far away. It can be disappointing when expectations are not met. One small setback can soon add up especially when dealing with a novel. It takes me close to a year to write a first draft. This gets broken down into little sizable chunks. Yet the big picture requires regular work to move forward. This is a challenge that can be daunting in the beginning.

Plan for the Down Time

It isn’t easy keeping the same pace or recognising patterns. There are times of the year when writing is not going to happen. Every year at the same time I wind down to a slow pace and switch to reading. Try as I might it happens, and it has been a struggle to let go of expectations. Instead the focus switches to other tasks. Keeping a ‘to do’ list has helped ease the sense of guilt.

Recognise Your Writing Pattern

There will always be occasions when life sneaks up on you. It is easy to get frustrated, but there may be a reason for needing to pause and take a break. Scheduling the down time allows me to focus on other tasks. That way the feeling of guilt over lost writing has not been as overwhelming. Writing is an enormous task. Don’t forget to give yourself permission to pause and recharge.



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Time is a Novelty

Time NoveltyIt is always fun when diving back into an unfinished story. Now where did I leave that character? What did that mean? If you are like me then the mind will weave clues into your writing that only make sense later. Resembling a magical trail of bread crumbs spread throughout the pages. A clue with no meaning re-emerged to take over the story. It is not the first so I clung on for the ride. That is why editing waits until after the first draft is finished. Things have a habit of reappearing much later. As a writer it can feel the same as being in a tug-of-war. On one hand I think I know what is happening and then everything goes topsy-turvy. I have lost count of the times I thought, did I mean to do that?

Falling into a Scene

There is only so much planning that can go into a scene to mix all the ingredients together. Then the wait begins and the suspense builds to find out how the pieces will fall. When almost halfway through the story a formidable villain appeared. Through a sequence of events the scene lies in wait. All the pieces of the puzzle ready to fall into place. I do not like predicting an outcome so I think of multiple outcomes before a fight scene. Halfway through a series and I still let my protagonist rise and fall by the final flow of a scene. There have been a few times when characters have not wanted to live or die as per the outline. Once an outcome is written in first draft it stays. That is one line I do not cross. There will be no resurrecting of characters here.

Fall Out

This leads to the next problem, what if a character lives? For some reason villains don’t want to die, who would have thought? The best thing about going into a fight scene with many outcomes is that the danger is real. There is more at stake. If I am not sure who will win then it will not be clear until the end. Have faith in your characters and let them achieve on their own.


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Story Lines

Story LineStory telling can take on a life of its own. Halfway through writing the series there was a question that needed to be answered. This meant putting the pen down, saving the draft, and taking a journey into the past. It is a difficult task keeping the backstory out of a series.  Yet the background demanded a novella. A few short sentences that held the scene needed to be told. Yes, I begin with writing a sentence for each story. A small idea swirling outward from a story, to a chapter, and finally down to a scene. Except for one thing, when the idea has had so much time, and so much thought one sentence is enough.

Backwards to go Forwards

At no stage had the thought entered my head. The backstory would be enough to hold the span of a novel. Even a novella was stretching the idea. Yet in the distant past of a series a chain of events impacted on the main story. The series was packed away. Expectations began to unravel with a few differences. The protagonist was not the same, and neither were the main obstacles. In the midst of the story details began rising to the surface. These linked the past to the main story. A complex set of events spanning across time began to reveal with a few small twists.


Was it worth going back in order to go forward? The short answer is yes. For a series with a plot embedded in a sequence of events it helped to keep focus on the main obstacles. There was one unforeseen downside, having to start a story from scratch. If you are anticipating being able to dive in to a backstory at the same pace allow more time. The biggest drawback was re-building the old world. Where changes meant having to rethink how the landscape had been altered. Alliances, communities, and the immediate problems had changed. Amidst all this a past revealed itself taking the form of a novella.