Saturday, September 29, 2012

Apologies to a Story.

Dear story I'm plotting:

I'm sorry I ignored you, disregarded you, and otherwise neglected you for this long.

I'm sorry I came up with silly reasons why I wasn't going to write you.  I thought writing you would be a bad idea, because I've plotted you and your kin as a trilogy, and writing you didn't seem like a good idea.  I'd like to think you'd understand - it's easier to sell a stand-alone story than the first part of a series.  I think.  I'm not entirely sure, now that I think about it.  Would a would-be agent be glad to know the writer has more planned?

I'm sorry for my ignorance, story, because it's led to you not getting written.

I'm sorry I neglected you in favor of something I swore I could make work.  Again, I'd like to think you'd understand.  I mean, I've already written two versions of that story, so who could blame me for thinking the third time would be the charm?  I'm further sorry I deliberately ignored you while I struggled with plotting that other story, all those nights I tried to figure out why it always, always seemed like there was something wrong with the plot.  I appreciate your patience while I went through revision after revision.

Though I think I heard you laughing at the relief I felt when I decided to let that other story go.  I forgive you.  A little bit of schadenfreude on your part is more than warranted.

More than anything, I'm sorry you've had to wait so long.  I'm sorry I didn't start working on you two months ago, while I instead wrote 103,000 words I hope to never look at again.  Hell, I'm sorry I fought against the basic idea behind you for years, because I didn't think I could pull it off.  I appreciate you proving me wrong as soon as I started working on you.

I hope you'll forgive me.  I hope we'll work together to create something awesome.  And I hope I'll be able to start on you soon.

Dear Self:

I apologize for making a blog entry after I've been drinking.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

It's Not Time to Write that. Yet.

I've seen many experienced authors give a simple bit of advice: write down everything.  They offer different reasons for this, but they all amount to the same thing.  If you don't write something down, you might forget it.

There's a long file on my computer, called "untitled world notes", because I have no idea what else to call it.  The notes themselves started as just a few pages of ideas about a world with a magic system I've never before.  Yes, some people say every idea has been done, and the only difference is in execution.  (Some won't even concede that last point.)  I loved the world and magic I'd come up with, but there was a serious problem: I had no real story.  Not yet.

That changed a little while back.

Inspiration strikes in the oddest places.  I was at Dragon*Con with friends, at the Tolkien-themed event called "An Evening at Bree".  My mind started wandering, and as I was already surrounded by elves, I started thinking of how to do elves differently.  What I came up with fit perfectly into the world I'd created several years ago.

All of a sudden, boom, I had something greater - I had the start of a story.  No, I had the start of dozens of stories.  An epic series in this world started taking shape in my head. When I got back home, I sat down with the old notes file and started taking new notes.  I fleshed out as much as I could of the elves, worked out their relations with the humans and some of their history, figured out how they deal with this world's magic.  And somewhere in there, I realized something else:

Writing in this world, doing these stories justice and putting together the dozens of elements I want to incorporate, will take a long, long time.  There's political and social manipulation going on that will take several books to play out.  There are so many things to determine before I even know where to start.  To put it simply, not only am I not ready to write this, I'm not yet good enough to write this.

It's a weird thing to realize my limitations like that.  My confidence in my writing waxes and wanes, but this is the first time I've ever come up with something and had to admit I'm just not capable of doing this the way I want to.  Yet.  I have the seeds of the first few stories, I have an idea of where things will go, I have a few characters slowly forming themselves in my head.  And I'm writing all of it down.

I don't want to risk losing any of this.  The day will come when I'm able to put this whole puzzle together, when I can plan a dozen books in advance and let things play out as they should.  When that time comes, I'll still have all the notes I've ever written for this story.

Lots of things will change by then, I'm sure.  But I'm also pretty sure it will start with a morbid revelation followed by something blowing up.  Seems like a good way to get things going.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Figuring it Out - Emphasis on "Out".

Warning: the following blog entry contains a link to a TV Tropes page.  Your free time may be at risk.  Please attempt to avoid clicking the link if you have things you want to get done today.

Aside from the obvious distraction and "ooh, that sounds interesting" uses, I use TV Tropes a bit for research.  It often helps to know how something's been done elsewhere, so I can better figure out how I want to use it.  So when I found the page for Coming Out Story, I started reading with Skyborne in mind.  In my book, the two main characters are both women, and they end up together in the end.  But reading through the page made me realize something.

The whole "coming out to someone" thing?  It doesn't work for Skyborne at all.

The main character, Shiloh, only truly realizes what she feels for her companion, Alexi, toward the end.  And seeing as how Alexi makes no attempt to hide either her sexuality or her attraction toward Shiloh, it wasn't like Shiloh could just say "Oh, by the way, it's all mutual now" or something equally ridiculous.  I started really considering Shiloh's sexuality, and realized she had the same issue some of the people discussed on the TV Tropes page had:

Shiloh needed to come out to herself.

Where Shiloh grew up, there's an emphasis on getting married and having children, and people who don't have kids are seen as selfish.  It takes meeting Alexi, who's from a much more open culture, to make Shiloh realize how restricted her home life was.  It takes being around Alexi to make Shiloh realize she was never interested in the people her culture said she should be.  And it takes their journey together to make Shiloh realize what she never felt for anyone else.

I've been writing these two in one form or another since 2002.  In their stories, it's never a question of if they'll get together, only when.  But Skyborne is the first of their stories I've truly tried to get published.  So getting this right has become very, very important to me, and in the edit/polish I'm doing now, I think I've finally figured it out.

Another reason why I'm doing this entry now: another author with LGBT main characters, Adrien-Luc Sanders, is doing a promotion for his book, From the Ashes.  He's trying to get it into Amazon's top 100, a worthy goal for any author.  Drop by and take a look, won't you?

Win $500 or $250 Visa Gift Cards or a manuscript crit if From the Ashes reaches the Amazon top 100!
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