Life Throws Curve Balls

A foggy evening 01

A foggy evening 01 (Photo credit: AnneCN)

This was meant to be my first attempt at an Insecure blog having failed to do one on the first Wednesday in October or November – sorry IWSG.

Damn those curve balls, whether they be my health (MS), stress, or moving plans. They keep on coming, so I keep trying to knock them away. This is another attempt, although I should be doing my tax return.

Starting on a positive note, I managed to write 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo in November, and a week later I had typed the last word ~ ‘forever’. This was only a 60k rough first draft of ‘Tortuous Terrain’, but at least it’s something to work on. With a lot of revision, editing, and critique, I should be able to produce a fitting sequel to ‘Spiral of Hooves’, my first published novel, coming shortly from Spectacle Publishing Media Group.

However, my 2013 NaNo effort will have to join the queue behind four other novels needing revision, although it might jump the queue a bit if the demand is there, and if other efforts are deemed unworthy of revision. And that is where I am in a quandary, and where I am Insecure. Where do I go from here? What do I tackle next? How can I improve my editing process, which with ‘Spiral of Hooves’ took at least a decade?

I look at the speed of others when it comes to producing finished books, and I marvel… and I shudder. Most of my Facebook writing friends are completing a book a year, sometimes as many as five. Some are even producing short stories as well. Although my health is a drawback, I am retired with more time, supposedly, than many of my colleagues.

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What do I give up doing? Linking with the digital world, by checking emails and social media? Learning my craft, by reading other blogs? My only escape, gaming?

Or do I set tighter deadlines? Or do I chill out and tell myself that at sixty I still have time? Or maybe I must accept that in the next life I will start trying to be a writer earlier.

It’s not straightforward when I find it easier plotting a new novel, even writing that first draft, than editing. I even have a sequel to the sequel churning around in my head… ever since I read a blog about writing a series, which suggested that one write the first and have the synopsis of Book 2 and of 3 in the wings. Great when I have two series in the pipeline ~ the Chasseur series (Spiral of Hooves++) and the Gossamer Steel series (Wyrm Bait++).

The solution is out there somewhere, but for now I will stop being a lone wolf howling at the moon, and stop baring my soul here so I can go edit ‘Wyrm Bait’, the next novel crying out for an audience. It’s already had at least two drafts, several critiques, and a professional edit.

Time to get the red pens out.

Is that the best solution? Or have I dismissed a better one above?

November

November (Photo credit: Cape Cod Cyclist)

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A sequel of questions or opportunities?

 

Well I’ve finished my 2012 NaNoWriMo novel, or rather the first draft of another outpouring of words – Wyrm Blood. Hopefully it makes more than a bit of sense as I had a detailed outline to work to, although I made a few changes as I got further into the story and discovered extra sub plots. Some of those will require a new draft, which will perhaps be Draft 1.5 rather than Draft 2.

Wyrm Blood is the sequel to Wyrm Bait and as such the central characters are the same, other than the antagonists. However that throws up a question:

Cover of "Darkspell"

Cover of Darkspell

How does a writer ensure a new reader learns about the characters from Volume 1?

I realised that I needed to supply some indications and I have attempted to build it into dialogue as much as possible. I have also tried to reference Volume 1 in passing but not as info dump type exposition. At the moment I am reading Darkspell, Volume II of Katherine Kerr’s Deverry epic fantasy series. I read Volume 1 in the summer so I know where she is referring to events in that book but I am grateful for the reminders and realise how well she blends them in.

Obviously this doesn’t just apply to characters but to events, although they should arise from well-crafted characters. However there is a danger in erring on writing less and leaving new readers with unanswered questions – loose strings in a way. That is something that I will have to address in editing Wyrm Blood.

 

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Star Wars: The Old Republic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Is it possible to foreshadow the sequel in any way?

Once I started working on the outline for Wyrm Blood there were elements that were ripe for inclusion in the opening novel Wyrm Bait, so these were worked into the draft at that point and I will ensure that both novels are linked in this way. However once the opening novel is committed for publication that will stop. Whenever Volume III becomes a reality the option will not be there, although I will be able to amend Volume II, Wyrm Blood.

As I am playing Star Wars: The Old Republic, an online MMORPG, with my wife at the moment, the Star Wars universe and story development has lessons in terms of sequels, not least that prequels can undermine the freshness and the novelty of the original. In many ways those writers and film-makers that have re-visited the setting of their initial product successfully, have done so be creating a new tale, albeit set against the same background. Terry Pratchett is a prime example in my mind and an inspiration to us all in so many ways.

 Terry Pratchett enjoying a Guinness at honorar...

 

How should a writer tackle a sequel to a first published novel?

I am in the process of having my first novel Spiral of Hooves published as an e-book and my contract allows for them to publish other books in the Chasseur series. As I was writing Spiral of Hooves there were elements that I felt could be developed and there are places where these were added so future events could occur. I have a rough outline for Tortuous Terrain which shifts the setting from Europe to North America but still involves two of the central characters. How the novel pans out may depend on the success of Spiral of Hooves, which does create a slight deterrent to writing the story. Yet there is a part of me that wants to revisit my created equine world where I started, especially as there has been time to let everything marinade.

Talking of marinading there are other novels either in my bottom drawer – The Last Leaf and Fates Maelstrom – or in some sort of outline – Eighth Passenger, a novel about love across boundaries and war, that began life as the idea for a TV series. Where I go in 2013 will have a bearing on which WIP receives the necessary input of energy required to move it ahead of the queue.

 

Until next time the Silver Scribbler wishes you all Good Writing.