It’s surprising to think how different each story can be. At first the focus was solely on finding the ideal method to shorten the writing process. It would be nice the story wrote itself, but there is still hard work to be done. Figuring out them how left me trying several different ways to outline, write and keep track of time.
The first story was a meandering journey that led down several paths. It took a whole six years to write the first draft and I was determined to shorten this. The easiest book to write was the second, providing a false sense of optimism. The third was almost as quick, yet almost half needed to be rewritten. From there it took a long, sometimes frustrating path, working through the four story. I won’t lie, there were times when it would have been easier to leave the fourth book unfinished. What kept me going was the fact that it was part of a series.
Reaching the End
After spending so much time editing it was still a massive task to back and find story within the draft. The first draft took three years, far longer than I expected. Yet there were many obstacles between those years that prolonged the process. The story had also become complex. Characters had grown and changed. The story had a lot of heavy lifting to do to fit in with the development of the series. The stakes in the story had risen and it was time to wrap up loose ends. The journey moved in a different way. I can certainly say it was worth staying with the story until the end.
When it’s hard to figure out how that wonderful first drafting plummeted into so much editing. It was time to look at the structure. I had agreat deal going on, introducing new characters and complicated scenes. It took a while to step back and figure out where to start. The story was there, but how could it be so much easier to see. I wasgetting nowhere. I pulled out the books on how to write for anyclues. Perhaps tackling a large battle scene had become too much. Self doubt was beginning to creep in.
Small Steps Forward
I sat down to work out what I had. Too many subplots running along and in the process the main story had been suffocated. Sometimes scenes have to go and this time it was characters that left. I had createdplenty of characters, but it felt odd removing some completely. Slowly whittling away at edges to bring the real story home. In between odd moments, I wondered if it was the right thing. If it would help to remove too much plot. As each part went, some characters fled to the background as others vanished all together. The story held and with every stage it grew stronger.
Keeping the Main Story
Somewhere between the beginning and near the end of editing the story had finished its tale. The fourth and last book in the series was almost complete. It’s been a long road, travelling with the main character Saranon. A reckless sorceress who was never meant to take the lead. Mitch, a wizard who had his own problems to face. Last of all, Katholomu, the great big clumsy dragon with a love for danger and flying straight into it. Saranon grew beyond the story, leading the way right to the end.
It’s the second chapter that creeps in when you least expect it. Trying to get to first place. Yes, that’s how it starts. When you realise you jumped straight into the action without a lead in. Who does that? Well… The first attempt is not about being perfect, it’s about getting into the flow. For some reason that means skipping the beginning. If you have ever had this issue there can also be that awkward moment of realising it’s happened again. It can be a hidden blessing because it means you get to rediscover the start. Only this time it’s different. This time it can change.
Knowing Your Flaws
More often than not I find the story began too far in. Oops! The idea rushes around inside for so long. That by the time it’s written the scene has already begun. Like starting a conversation without the crucial detail. If you have ever done this it can be rather difficult to backtrack and explain the missing piece. The good part about knowing your flaws is that it means you can look out for them. A personalised check list can help if you know it’s going to happen.
Make One Change
After the ending is written it can be easier to back and write a whole new chapter. The fun part is laying the ground work and revealing the potential of what is to come. Adding a fresh start is a fantastic way to get reacquainted with the characters. If you are a pantser it can provide an opportunity to include foreshadowing or the odd bit of intrigue. However you start the first draft it can be easier when you already know the end. If you have a story or a favourite book, go back and change one thing. What would it be?