I tend to think big in my writing. A glance at last week's entry can confirm that - my first genuine attempt at a novel resulted in nearly 302,000 words of what can charitably be called epic fantasy. I like to create stories in worlds that have real history, tales that go to interesting places and have big things happening and end with something major going on.
But it's easy to go too far.
Looking back at last week's list, I can count which books revolved around saving the entire world. Hell, book #7 happened because the world had been destroyed, and the entire story was about the gods' failsafe making her way to where she needed to be (which meant traveling through the internal layers of a moon until she reached the surface; long story) so she could put the world back together. And it was only after I finished it that I realized, holy shit, how am I supposed to follow that?
Part of my problem with this comes up in world-building. I tend to make worlds where seriously bad things have happened in the past, so having those things rear their collective ugly heads makes for a good story. In theory. It leads to the problem of facing down a major threat again and, of course, saving the world.
It's an exciting thing, to be sure. But it's also limiting. When the world's at stake, there's only so much room for personal issues, so it's easy for characterization and development to get swept aside. There's also the need to show why it's a world worth saving. I mean, if the reader decides that the world would be better off burnt to a cinder or erupting into tentacles, it'll be hard to get them to cheer for your characters. And as I said above, there's always the question of what to do next, for the inevitable sequel. :P
I'm not sure when I realized this was an issue, but it's something I still deal with when I'm in the plotting phase. My ideas tend to start with a character doing a thing, so I've had to learn to focus on who the person is and why that leads to them doing that thing, instead of immediately jumping to what the thing is and why it needs to be done. Because what's more interesting - the reasons behind a character dropping a bomb on a city, or why this character is riding on the bomb as it falls?
(Yes, that's what I'm working on now, and yes, I know the answer. It's the result of a decision that's going to piss off a lot of people.)
It is comforting to know that I'm getting better about this. For all the times I tried to make an interplanar story work, it wasn't until I got the first ideas for STARWIND and came up with the race that it actually came together. And for all the tales I've told about Shiloh and Alexi, the better ones have come from their personal issues, not the world's problems. So for all the plotting problems I've been having lately, it feels good to say I've largely fixed one of my issues.
Until I get another idea, and I have to make sure not to do this all over again. >_<
Next week: IWSG.