So I've written three novels in a series. I'd been querying the first of these, and had some positive responses along the way. Recently, I had the most interesting response I'd ever received, and it started me in an entirely new direction.
I'd been told there was too much backstory, too much world building that seemed to take place in the far distant past. I suppose it's one of the difficulties involved in writing a character that was nearly two thousand years old. I wanted to set her stories in the modern world, a world that would be almost identical to the world we all live in. But how do you even begin to relate to a character who's that old, who has that much tragedy and loss in her past without digging a little deeper into the main events that shaped her into what she is now?
When I started writing the work that is now Running Down the Dragon, I compiled a massive amount of history. I knew Thalia's story from the day she was born until the day RDTD begins.
I recently received the most delightful rejection, in which disappointment was expressed that Thalia's origin story wasn't really included or fleshed out as well as the agent in question had hoped it would be. Well, I know her origin story inside out and backward. In a flash of insight, I realized I could take the defining moments of her early life and use them to illustrate the world she lives in today.
All that being said, I am now in the process of writing Thalia's first story, the first Major Turning Point in her life. It completely changed the way I look at her. And the writing isn't like anything I've ever done before.
I already know this story. I had to invent her entire history in order to be able to write RDTD. But now that I'm going back and writing it down, I get to fill in all the marvelous details that I'd never stopped to consider before. Since I've written three other novels based on her, novels that include flashbacks to events in her past, and references to people she'd known in the distant past, I've had to scour through three novels in order to make sure I referenced people, places, and events correctly. It's taken a lot more preparation than I expected, but I am FINALLY ready to write.
I am so thrilled! So far, what I've learned about writing a prequel is that it's a lot of work to prepare for, because consistency is so important. Once I got started, though, the words are running faster than anything else I've ever written. As a pantser, this is as close to an outline I've ever started a project with.
I'll periodically blog about any weird observations I have during this process over the next few weeks of drafting. I have a feeling this is going to be a real doozy! In the best of all possible ways!