Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Happy First Day of Autumn!

Apparently I took the summer off from this blog, my last post was shortly after the first day of summer.

So ... did you miss me? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

I haven't been idle while I've been on my unintended hiatus. I've been pretty steady with the writing, and Lucky Dog is in the merciless loving hands of my editor. The cover is being designed as we speak ... I hope. I'll have to jog my cover artist's (aka the daughter) memory.

I finally figured out why I was having problems getting going on An Elemental Spirit, the final book in my Ardraci Elementals series. Every other book has featured an elemental, plus their soon to be significant other. In other words, I focused on the two main characters and everything is pretty much from their points of view. But Spirit is bringing all of these characters together, so everyone pretty much has equal billing.

However (and you knew there had to be a however coming, didn't you?) however, I finally figured out that I did have two focus figures after all: Gra'anna, the ancient Illezie who's pretty much orchestrating this all, and Kaine, the former mercenary from the as of yet unnamed race/planet who was mentioned briefly at the end of Elemental Water and who has a special role to fulfill in the upcoming events. Finally I have my focus and I can move forward.

In writing a series of stories about the same characters, plan the whole series in advance in some detail, to avoid contradictions and inconsistencies.

~ L. Sprague de Camp

Excellent advice. And it's also a good idea to take a lot of notes as you go along so you're not having to keep going back to previous books for fact checking. Too bad I didn't figure it out until the end of the series. It really does pay to have at least a sketchy idea of the story arc if you're doing a whole series. De Camp's advice is definitely something to keep in mind for future use.

In fact ... I have another space series that I began many (many, many) years ago that involves the human/Kohl-trin war mentioned in my elemental books. I have the first book in the opening trilogy, and a stand alone that takes place after the war already written. But the series itself never went anywhere because I only had a vague idea of what was going on. Once I'm done with the elementals I'll be sitting down with notes, pens, and plenty of paper and figure things out.

It occurs to me that this could be why I have an easier time with my Moonstone Chronicles than my Ardraci Elementals. To be fair to myself, I didn't start out with the intention of writing a series when I wrote my first elemental book. The intention was to write a serial for my blog. But once it was finished I figured I might as well keep going and write one for each of the elements, even though I only had a vague idea of what could possibly tie them all together.

But the Moonstone Chronicles started as a short story that kind of petered out once Jessica was magicked to the magical realm. It sat for a couple of years, and then I had an attack of "what if" and wrote a multi-page back story about the magical realm and Jessica's parents, then continued on with a sketchy outline of Jessica and her story and the final, epic, confrontation with Anakaron, the evil wizard. So even though the books have kind of wandered off track from the original story arc, the back story is still solid and I know what the ultimate goal is.

I'm a panster, I prefer to write by the seat of my pants, so you'd think I'd find knowing how a story is going to end would stifle my creativity. But just because I know the ultimate goal doesn't mean I know how we're getting there - there's still plenty of room to be surprised. As Ensign Harry Kim said on Star Trek:Voyager: maybe it's not the destination that matters. Maybe it's the journey.

Something to think about.

Don't forget to check out my newly updated progress bars to the right, and join me here Saturday when I continue to talk about writing a series and also about ... the number seven. :-D

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