If only writing was that simple, and life stood still so you could have all the time in the world. It matters not where you write or if it is fifteen minutes or half an hour. When writing a novel every little bit counts. Every tiny step forward moves closer to the end. When I embark on a novel it reminds me of an epic journey. I wake up not knowing what the day will bring, but if I can find the time to write then I have done my best.
That terrible necessity that clogs up precious writing time can be a life saver. I was a pantser with my first novel. It took six years to write the first draft and I loved every moment, but alas I have become a plotter. Well, more like a plotter and schemer. I find myself in the middle of a fantasy series where the ending of my third book needed a helping hand. At first I thought the last third would need to be re-written. With some careful scheming some of the original text remains.
Develop Your Theme
Where did I fall short? The ending to my second novel had been fantastic. I rushed to the finally not knowing who would live or die, and the excitement shone through. I had allowed the characters to be who they were. When I neared the end of the third novel I became nervous. With several strong characters competing for the spotlight I faltered. When writing I was unsure of what the theme would be when approaching the end. I set the draft aside and began working on the fourth novel. Part way through it became clear that I needed to go backward to proceed forward. There were some underlying issues that had to be explored.
At the beginning I thought the series may continue for up to twelve novels. As I went backward I realised there would only be six novels at the most. The story was moving much faster than I had anticipated. This was partly due to the antagonists, and the action sequences. Apparently dragons don’t stop for anyone, not even writers. This created a sizeable gap because I misinterpreted the flow of the third book. It involved several major scenes that had to be told. Oops! My mistake, but I am pleased to be revisiting the third novel. It may take longer, but with each step it can be so much more.
My process begins with being a pantser then involves an amateurish attempt at plotting. I find the more my characters grow the more plotting I do, especially for tying up loose ends. Each novel begins life with a couple of sentences. Below is the original outline for the first book:
‘Saranon breaks free, and makes it to Normisia via Alveron. She tries to leave her past behind her. It catches up with her, and she has to come to terms with who she is, the angeon.’
That is it, the only outline I had for writing the first novel. That could explain why I edited and re-worked the novel more than thirty times.
One-third of the way through the second novel I realised it was complicated. The antagonist was too dynamic. Each chapter has a paragraph to plot the lead up to the antagonist. The third novel began with a paragraph for each chapter. Then I had to re-write the plot outline for the last third. The characters had developed beyond the original plot. This caused a disparity between the plot and the three main antagonists. The moral of the story is let your antagonists shine. They need as much development as the protagonist and it is well worth the effort.