John asked me the other day how I write. My first reaction was to respond, “Badly?” I refrained since even I know it is just challenging, not bad. I hope.
Being a working woman, I have other obligations even though I would dearly love to do nothing but write. So, here is a normal day. When I’m not looking for a deadly handsome man, I try to focus on Paladin. (Sorry, this video just tickles me so much I do start my day out with it just to get in a good mood.)
Right now, I’m in a rewrite and new material mode. Since I’m taking Barbara Rogan’s workshop, I’m working on scenes we use in the lesson. The latest one was on pivotal scenes. This is where the Bladesinger is resurrected and goes on his rampage. At the end, Gen receives his sword, Siren Song. This is pivotal because the sword is one of the major support characters throughout the story.
You all might recognize I’ve made some changes in this scene. I’m still trying to whip it into submission, but it’s cleaning up a bit.
Sarian Arragas, necromancer and apprentice to the order of Wendt, flitted between the headstones in the church cemetery. He licked his lips nervously as he read the names on the stones until he came to one that made him pause. “General Simon Lgarth.” He shuddered at the sword and flame carved into the stone below the name even though he already knew every grave in this yard was consecrated. The symbol was a deadly warning of what waited for anyone who disturbed the grave. A golden guardian from the Hall of Champions was bound to protect the general. He felt for the book in the bag slung around his shoulder and then scratched at his head, ruffling the wispy brown hair. He could feel it waving in the slight breeze and slapped it into submission over his balding head. If his research was right, the guardian would never be disturbed, though; and only the long dead warrior would awaken. It had to be right.
“The Skullsplitter. Champion of the Sylvans. Hero of the Marsh Wars. What would you give to live again, General? Would you serve just to draw breath once more?”
He sat down beside the grave, afraid to touch it. His thin arms wrapped around his knees and he rocked like an addled child. The masters would surely let him resurrect Rosalie if he brought back the Skullsplitter to serve them. They might be upset at first because he didn’t burn her body with the rest of them. Body. What body? All he left was a brown, leathery husk of his beautiful Rosalie.
He whimpered and rubbed the tears from his eyes.
I just wanted to watch.
I usually eat when I get home and get that over with so I can just get to work.
I’ll zoom through my list of blogs and post a comment if I absolutely can’t help myself. Then I go to the workshop and see if I need to do anything there. After that, I actually do work on some assignment from the workshop. Currently, I am reworking my Bladesinger chapter as noted above.
I’ll go back to where I left off reading and work on that chapter for a couple of hours. At this point I’m not so much polishing as looking for things I need to change to keep the action in proper order. Since I’m tossing some of he later chapters to the front of the book to bring the mystery aspect more into focus, I have to make sure I don’t have my characters referring to things that haven’t happened yet.
When I reach that stopping point, I go back to the new stuff and try to get 1,000 words down.
This is not how I normally write, but Paladin is turning into something far different than what it started out as. I hesitate to say it’s a fantasy mystery, but I am doing a lot of sleuthing elements in it. Once I decided to stray from strictly epic fantasy to fantasy with a strong mystery thread running through it, I had to go back and make sure there are reminders and clues strategically placed.
So, to answer John, I am rewriting and writing at the same time. Usually, I zoom through and get the story down and then go back and do a series of rewrites. Right now, I’m probably writing an average of three hours a day. It will go faster once I get things in order in the front so it’s a linear progression again instead of the chunk writing.
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So that’s the routine. Wow. So, uh, I guess one implication is, anybody who gets on JUST ONE NERVE during the day is risking a good boxing about the ears? 🙂
Seriously: “rewriting and writing at the same time” — that is difficult to do. Especially in a blended genre. Especially in a RE-blended genre. (Note completely misleading suggestion that I myself have ever even remotely attempted the latter.)
“Fantasy mystery” sounds interesting in its own right and a little, how you say, more wrestle-able than “epic fantasy.” Once you’ve got the basic structural reworkings finished, I bet it’s going to be much much simpler to build up a momentum for what follows. Gonna be fun (well, for the rest of us!) to see that happen.
I’m not familiar with Barbara Rogan but every time you mention her name I can practically feel my hair thinning.
Oh, lots of people get on my nerves during the day, but it goes with the job. I usually go walk instead of sitting around eating junk food during my breaks so that helps a little bit with the stress reduction. Plus, it gives me some time to ponder the story.
Paladin is still epic fantasy. There’s no getting around that and I will pitch it as such. The plot is just too complex and the cast too large to think of it any other way but epic fantasy. All the the critters from the workshop who have read it say it has an epic feel to it. That’s because they’ve seen the synopsis and some of the sub-plotting going on.
One thing I realized is Saerowyn, the wizard, is a major character so I had to introduce him sooner. The best way to do that and still have him on a collision course with Gen is to have him investigating the murder of Aegis and the disappearance of the king. So, instead of him making an appearance in chapter 20, he now shows up in chapter five.
The problem is with this shuffling, I have to find natural breaks in the story to insert these sleuthing chapters. In this case, I had to wait until Gen was getting in the military unit to break. Then I can add in Saerowyn and his son and introduce the idea they know the prince is being poisoned. Brother Albion, who was on to the poison has died in the prologue so they have to follow up the next lead who is Sister Anella.
Gen is happily or unhappily in the military unit, beginning her military training for a few chapters. Oh, no, she’s attracted the attention of a pirate!
Oops, Caidry, the guy who killed Aegis and Brother Albion meets with his lover Anella and they have a lovely evening of passionate sex before he kills her.
Back to Gen bumbling around etc.
Introduce demon and his caller,
It was such a pretty, linear story before. sigh
Tension is much higher this way and the story has a lot more depth because the different threads are being woven in sooner. But, like weaving, I have to make sure which thread is on top and which ones to cover for a bit so the pattern comes out right. That means continually going back to plant clues and draw threads out in a natural manner so the reader doesn’t realize their attention is being guided this direction or that.
I haven’t “known” you for long, yet somehow sense that you may ascribe all this work to some lack of talent, failure of imagination, etc. etc. And you know how I’d reply to THAT.
But I gotta say, this “go at it with hammers and tongs until it’s RIGHT, d*mn it!” process puts my own to shame.
The book does sound huge. Wonder if it’s actually a series, trying hard to break out of a one-book straitjacket?
John, yes, it’s a series if the entire story is told. I’m guessing four volumes, but the first one will stand on its own.
thx for the insight, julie…
nice to know how others tackle a wip
spare some time here, i put a piece in the running, too:
jason evans’ challenge…
check out all the cool entries here:
Hey, Tony. I wondered where you were.
I couldn’t resist a contest.
Looks like a fun challenge.
Now, I’m going to go read the entries.
if you want a go at it, do it quickly, before 11 pm et, tonite
Tony, I read your entry. Too funny.
I entered something, but it’s not very good. Still, it was fun to play.
i read your entry, made me laugh… and that’s always good
now, gotta go back and choose 5 for readers’ choice awards, before 20th
Oh, I haven’t even had a chance to read them all. Thanks for reading and telling me about it. I thought yours was so funny.
We’re scrambling to get Will ready to leave next week and get this move partially completed at least.