Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Working through the muck and murk of things

Currently, I am torn in two. That is why I've procrastinated moving back into heavy revisions, but reading the comments on my revised query has forced me to face the wall, so to speak. (I'll post those comments later.) I have been looking at Sendek as a stand alone work, but the story is too big for one book. I've left out important aspects simply because I did not want to slow down the action of my story. I've been lazy (kind of).

Today, I stumbled upon this great blog post (that helps) thanks to twitter. (Yes, I'm on twitter--I don't quite "get it" but sometimes I find nice little nuggets from the writers I follow.) Anyway, Justine Lee Musk posted a great blog entitled The problem with outlines and word quotas . The whole article is great, and you should check it out. It shows the process a writer goes through with a first draft, but here is my favorite part.

Part of the struggle of novel-writing is dealing with the muck and murk of it. The process can feel like a swamp that is eating you alive, or a massive knot in your head that you desperately need to unfurl.

To ‘encounter the work’ means to face that ambiguity, that half-formed mass, and patiently work it through (and work it through and work it through). Sometimes this takes time — including time spent away from the manuscript. Different parts of a novel aren’t meant to proceed at the same pace: some sections come to you quickly….and others maybe not so much. Sometimes you’re forced to go slow. Otherwise you might miss a sign that marks a turn-off and come to a dead end.
I feel like I'm in a murky spot right now. I'm far away from that first draft, but I need to make a decision. Finish polishing Sendek as it is, or go back and work in the Draguman's more complete story. 

Here are the Pros:
  • The story will gain new depth.
  • I will have the opportunity to show how scary and evil the Draguman really are.
  • The stakes will be greater, making the payoff more satisfying.
  • It will force me to work harder and most likely become a better writer.
  • Because of the above, I might not feel embarrassed to ask OSC to read my book and give me an endorsement. (If you know who OSC is you now know that I'm that crazy!)
  • I could make Draguman book one and Sendek book two in the series with Oreck becoming book three (all titles subject to change :) )
And the Cons:
  • It will greatly slow the progression of action (I like the story as a fast paced escape from reality)
  • It will move Talia's story to the middle of this "epic". That means she can't really be my main character any more, right? For seven years I've been telling her story and it is hard to let anyone else take the spotlight from her, even a story as compelling as the Draguman.
  • I will have to re-write all of Talia's scenes back to 3rd person, because it does not make sense to start a 1st person viewpoint 100 pages into a novel (unless Sendek becomes book 2?)
  • The thought of starting over is paralyzing (even though Draguman is a 50k VERY rough draft).
  • I doubt I will finish it this year as hoped. (Only an issue because I feel my family is tired of this obsession that I have, but that may not change when I get this one story on paper. I already have 9 completely unrelated story ideas talking to me.)
  • Those 9 other ideas will have to wait, haunting my dreams and disturbing my thought processes. I might lose my mind completely.
Aaahh! It boils down to I'm so impatient to be moving down this road, and that is something I have to learn--patience. It will be better for me to wait years to be published and put out a dynamic and memorable book than a great story that is only half complete. I have made my decision. I'll go back to the drawing board and devote the time needed to tell this story right. I guess I'm back to my original Quest for Sendek trilogy...


  1. Who says Sendek HAS to be book two? That's why they make "prequels", right? :) Now if you really want to write a trilogy, then it makes sense for the books to be released chronologically. I'm curious to know more about what book three would be? Does it wrap up Talia's story? Is it a continuation of events from Sendek? Is there a clear path of what you want to accomplish from each story?

    Just my ramblings, which probably aren't worth much. :)

    Also, you'll be happy to know that following your progress and thoughts the last few weeks has inspired me to rethink how I spend my down time. Perhaps I'll dust off an old idea or two myself. :)

  2. Book 1 would be more fantasy--introducing the mage and dragons that decided to create the Draguman. Why would they do that and what was the benefit, since it was meant to bring the two species together. I go into the reasons of why and how the Draguman are exiled and the events that lead them home thirsty for revenge.

    Sendek would be book 2 chronologically--Talia's story of how she learns to accept her magical side in order to defeat the Draguman.

    Book 3 would be Talia and Landry's journey to a distant planet (Jaron's planet--alien in book 2 who comes from a world that embraced magic and science successfully. He is the one who teaches Talia how to use magic.) to gather information on how to bring their world back into harmony.

    Several adventures later (possibly a 4th book if I come up with enough adventure on the other planet or during space travel), they return to Sendek to find it in a massive civil war--magic against science. They have to convince their world that the magic and science can work together, but of course that won't be easy with power hungry people on both sides. :)This phase is in very loose "idea" form.

    I'm glad you are thinking of pulling out old projects. I'm a bit frustrated right now and trying to get moving again, and it actually helps to think someone is reading this blog.

  3. Well, I'm a believer in following your instinct. So if you think Sendek should go first, than that's what you should do. Every story has a beginning, but you don't always need to know it first. :)

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