Monday, June 29, 2015
I'm pleased to announce that the long-simmering first drafts of the Queen of Cinders trilogy are now all complete. Emphasis on first drafts!
As I come to grips with having such a big project reach such an important milestone, it occurred to me what a strange journey this has been. I pre-planned this project pretty carefully, but wasn't too surprised that the plan was often off-track by the time it came to write the events themselves. Characters mature as you write them, and deepen. Their motivations become far more nuanced and the themes you didn't anticipate have come to dominate.
Another notable tendency is that the need to highlight and emphasize is very different while writing than it appears during planning. The writing so so much brighter and detailed than the plan, that the need to bring certain traits forward falls away. they've already emphasized themselves. As a flipside to this, new connections you could never have planned have sprung up, becoming so fundamental that I would sometimes wonder how I was planning to write to book without the link between two characters, or a cause and another effect.
Similarly, I used a lot of what I call "event compression" in these books. I would have the character ruminating on something that has just occurred "off camera" while they deal with events in their scene. This inner world not only lets the character sort their thoughts out where we can hear them, but also allows me, the writer, to effectively write two scenes at once. It also shows how hectic things are for the characters. Before they fully process one event, the next is upon them. This speeds the pace, and, during the climax, I stop doing this, making the endings feel all the more immediate.
So, I'm happy to be done, and move on to some well deserved polish. I've already got a list of alterations for the second draft, but some of this was details I knew I was getting wrong, but didn't want to interrupt the flow to go and check. I do have to make two major changes to this second draft, though, one to change how two characters relate to each other in the third book, and the other to adjust the timing of a key event in the second book.
Also, my note-keeping suffered a severe dislocation during this trilogy, and I need to change my system. No more notes for each individual book, as this created real headaches for me to check on small details between the volumes. There are a number of towns whose names appear as XXXX in the text, ready to be replaced once I get my notes all together. And one major character has a mid-book change to their last name due to poor organization on my part, Sorry! Ah, live and learn!