Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Thunder Always Follows Lightning

Don't you love it when you are deep in revisions and lightning strikes?
That thing you just couldn't figure out is suddenly crystal clear. And it ties things up oh so nicely. It makes you feel good. It makes you feel all brilliant and sparkly.

A day or two goes by and this bolt of lightning has time to simmer and spread. It's still perfect, but...
something starts to nag at you.

Say for instance, you find a way to resolve a major problem in book 4 of your series. Its heart warming happy making while still being a bit sad. Its the perfect feeling you want. There's hope for the MC finding joy, but there's a built in distance/time frame to achieving it. That perfect bitter sweet sigh. But...
You start to ask yourself:
1. Am I taking the easy way out?
You answer no.
2. How am I going to pull that off?
3. How will each of these little technical details affect the delivery and final payoff?

And it's these details that roil and pound the inside of your head. Then you ask yourself:
4. Are all these details back story? Do I even need to know these details? Will anyone else care? Will someone put the book down and say, "Wait! Why is he a hatchling instead of a fully grown dragon?" *waves magic wand of confusion*
5. If he's fully grown how do I deal with the time differential between planetary travel? Will the worm hole portal be sufficient?
6. Who/how/when decides who ascends and who doesn't?

And on and on.

Suddenly that bolt of lightning is no longer beautiful and shiny because it has charred your brains. Maybe it isn't such a good idea after all and you should scrap the whole thing. But it feels right for this story.

Then you groan, tug out a few strands of hair and type a blog post because you need to know if you're completely crazy.

Question for you: When you are writing or plotting (which I'm actually doing!) how detailed to you get? Do those details drive you nuts?

Ya see, I worked out this elaborate spell with ingredients and everything for book one and I'm not even using it in the MS. I worked out all the rules of magic for book two and then moved some of them into book one. Now I'm trying to figure out the details of ascension in my universe. Am I over thinking this whole thing?

In other news, this is what I'm listening to in order to calm down a bit.


  1. NO. You are not overthinking. What you are actually doing is research. I write historical romance, and when I write, I have a year (say 1811) that I need to figure out what happened in that year and how it plays out in my book. Snow, the princess, the king, the riots, Parliamentary sittings, flooding,etc).

    Now half the stuff I look up I can't use in Book 2, but maybe, possibly in book 3. and other stuff can go in 1 nd 4. Or maybe not at all.

    No matter what you conjur up, spells, dragons, magic, it's not wasted (even if you never use it) because it's research.

  2. Thanks! I think this is another one of my "growing pains". In the past I've enjoyed just writing whatever comes to mind and hang the consequences.

    Now I've got awesome crit partners and they ask hard questions. I'm learning to ask these questions myself during the writing process. I guess that means I'm learning and perhaps the writing will get better because of it, but man it hurts sometimes!

    I miss the carefree writing days when characters just did stuff and I didn't need to know why. Or how, or the fall out... :D

  3. I'm in the middle of my 2nd draft of 3rd book in series and totally understand. I've had new ideas - great ideas - but it's the part of weaving in all the details throughout the already written story that's bogging me down. Hence the smell of smoke around my head and the clumps of hair on the floor. No, you're not alone! Good luck!

  4. I'm not too detailed until I am writing the novel, but I did try outlining. My characters seem to deviate from the outline and the story changes, making me outline one chapter at a time. I'll be anxious to go back over everything and see how well it flows.

  5. What stinks is when you get really good ideas in Book 8 of a series and then have to go back and change the other seven. Such a pain in the butt.

  6. I think about details one chapter or scene at a time. In my mind, the story is like a rope or a braid that I'm pulling together from strands. I can only work on one spot and only move forward. (A flawed analogy, but that's how it feels when I'm drafting.)

  7. Ha, GREAT post. And I loooove that Loreena M song!

    I don't do too many details when I plot, cuz I like to discover at least some of them as I go along. And (thus) the storyline constantly changes!

  8. I guess this is what you get when you write by pantsing. Seriously, take the time to do a detailed story outline of your entire plot. I can feel the resistance...BUT I JUST WANTS TO WRITE EVERYTHING NOWS!!!!

    Stop pantsing...start plotting. You won't need the thunder follows lightning thing BECAUSE you will know what is supposed to happen. Novel thought I know :) You're welcome.

  9. Michael, LOL, this actually is me plotting and mulling. I have books 3 and 4 outlined and haven't started writing them yet. In 4 I just have the big events laid out and this is the execution of one of the subplots. It just sort of came to me and worked with what I already had in place. :) See I can't even plot right.

    Carol, I love the discovery too. Part of me is really worried because right now I'm plotting all this stuff in my head. It's great, I love it. Have I wrote anything on paper? Nope. I'm scared to death I never will, but don't tell anyone!

    Ben, I like your analogy. Do you have an idea of what strands you have out there before you pull?

    Rogue, I hear you! That's why I'm trying to decided all these things BEFORE I write books 3 and 4. :D

    J.L., my characters still wander too. They develop as we write so I think that's a good thing. Often they wander to places I never thought of and it turns out so much better than what I planned.

    Kristie, thanks for the smile! I think we would make two smoking heads for some great vlog somewhere. I guess its all good as long as we don't actually combust.

  10. I'm not as detailed the first time around, although maybe if I were, it would be easier the next twenty times!

  11. Alex, Hear, hear! Yeah, I set a goal to at least outline the whole series so I could keep things straight and foreshadow in spots. As well as build up the storylines from the beginning. My hope is to make writing books 3 and 4 easier because of that, but I keep getting bogged down in details and not actually writing anything. This is what happens when a pantser tries to plot.

  12. I have a tendency to let those details get to me. I feel like I have to know every tiny thing, but really it's a way to procrastinate starting to write that new shiny idea. At some point, while trying to work these things through, a CP (or a few) will say, JUST WRITE. So I do, and it all works out in the end.


  13. Charity...mutt's being attacked on his blog by an angry book blogger. You should go check it out if you're bored.

  14. Yes, I totally understand where you're coming from. I've had plenty of charred brain moments from seemingly wonderful lightening strikes (love that analogy, by the way!). I think you need to find the balance - spend time trying to work these things out but understand the answer may not come to you straight away. Write down your ideas and your questions then let your subconscious mull it over some more. It's worked for me (sometimes).


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