Last year I started writing a novel. I wanted to talk about that project, and share some of my frustrations. Now’s your chance to leave before I get all ramble-y in 3… 2… 1…….
For anyone who’s still here, I want to give you a little bit of a prologue for this, to put everything into context. Some of this is stuff I’ve already blogged about last year, but for those that aren’t aware, I figured it might be helpful.
Last year, I wrote a short story about a guy who has an encounter with some telepathic frogs and learns a dark secret from his family’s history. That’s an extreme simplification of the plot, by the way, because it’s really about more than that. I won’t go on for hundreds of words about it (there’s always other days for that), but let’s just say it involves betrayals, cosmic druids, intelligent animals, and world-spanning conflicts.
Once I finished this story, I knew that the character I’d created wasn’t finished with me. Like seemingly everything I write, this turned out to be the beginning of a bigger work–in this case, an epic modern fantasy series. (Now, I want to be clear about this. I suppose some people would call it “urban fantasy” after hearing a full description of the world and characters, but I don’t feel like that term applies here–though I’m sure those same people would disagree. In this case, I use the word “modern” to distinguish my setting from medieval fantasy and other time/place specific forms of the genre. Any other conclusions you might come to when hearing that this series is epic modern fantasy, are entirely your responsibility!) At some point, I decided the original story would serve as a kind of extended introduction to this protagonist and use it to launch the series. From there, I was going to jump forward a little in the story’s timeline for the start of Book 1.
Until I started getting to the meat of the novel, I had no idea what kinds of issues I’d come across. The answer was many, many issues, and most of them were a result of having rushed into the process. Sometimes you can write a story with only the basics in mind, especially if you’re dealing with a short piece that is contained to its immediate focus. With this one, I left way too much to chance, and it ended up killing my ability to write the story I wanted. I got frustrated, felt lost and didn’t have a strong grip on my story’s course, and ultimately I became overwhelmed by the thought of even continuing to work on it more.
As I’m sure you know from the subtext of this post thus far, nothing worked out the way I’d hoped. I still haven’t published that story, and the novel I started writing (the theoretical Book 1 of the series) hasn’t been finished. There’s a list of different factors that contributed to this, but I can distill it into the two that really matter: I didn’t do enough planning before I started to write, and, not for the first time, I underestimated the amount of effort required to complete a draft of a novel.
Right now, I’m sitting on an short story that’s just over 8,000 words long and needs to have its ending rewritten (more on that later), and a partial draft of a novel that’s a little over 9,000 words. The short story, which I’m now calling Amongst the Wvuront, is pretty far along in its development. I’ve gone through a couple of drafts that I edited myself, and I also had about 7-9 beta readers look at it. Once I can fix the ending, and do a comprehensive edit of the modified text, I think it should be pretty much ready to go.
What’s stopping me from working on the novel? Well, as of a few days ago, not a damn thing. I recently solved one of the big issues that I ran into while working on the draft, and now I know what I have to do to get the project moving again. That’s after I wrap up some of the stories I’m currently in the middle of right now, of course. Gotta stay on track, get my shit in order first, and then I can devote some serious time to a story that’s been burning a hole in my imagination for a while. I’ll tell you more about it in my next post.