Wednesday, April 24, 2013

How I changed The Future by writing about The Past

Well, hello there. *sizes you up in a marginally creepy, yet obviously inept and comedic fashion*

I had so many plans for this post over the last few days, but finally decided that if I posted everything that was squishing around in my brain, it would be linked to in the dictionary definition of tl:dr. So I might someday blog some of that other squish as part of an Untweetworthy, or a new segment I've been considering entitled something clever like "RANTY PANTS" or "I LIKE TO YELL SOMETIMES, AND HERE'S WHY." I'm still thinking that one over.

For now, I want to post something about writing. Specifically, about what I am writing right now, and how I've shocked and confused myself about half a dozen times this week by the unfolding events. If you are not interested in my writing posts and only show up here hoping to point and laugh at my life, then please to be enjoying this gif of a baby turtle who thinks he can fly. I promise I'll make it up to you soon.

If you're still with me, then thank you! I will try to make this as entertaining and free of angst as possible. Like everything to do with writing, there is a dollop of angst, though, so please bear with me. I will reward you at the end.

When I set out to write what is essentially my main character's origin story, I was extremely excited. I mean, I'd already written THREE novels about her (one done and ready, one half way through edits, and one in first-draft-rough-as-hell form). I've had a year and a half to think about her, her history, her life, where she was born, and the events that made her into the person (well, shapeshifting dragon, but she thinks of herself as a person) she is today. WHAT COULD POSSIBLY BE EASIER?!

Performing an appendectomy on myself with a rusty spoon would probably be easier, and possibly less painful.

You may think I am crazy. You'd be right, but that's beside the point. If I already know everything that happens in her long history, all I have to do is write it all down, right? It's like writing from the most complete outline ever! True, but writing something about a character that already exists (at least for me, I feel like she's a real person{DON'T JUDGE ME, I KNOW YOU DO THIS, TOO}), writing about the events that shape her into the person she becomes, feels like time travel. PAGING THE DOCTOR, CAN YOU PRESCRIBE SOMETHING FOR THE WIBBLY-WOBBLIES?

Time travel creates paradoxes. If you go to the past, you could potentially change history and warp events in such a way that you'd never been born. So then how could you have traveled back in time in the first place? Then those events that prevented your birth would never have happened, and you would've been born, then traveled back in time preventing your birth... and so on, ad nauseum. Paradox.

Writing this prequel (tentatively titled TORN), I've had a chance to travel back into the distant past and tinker with things. I've been able to flesh out details I'd only considered in passing before. Sometimes that fleshing out has created weird lumps and loops that I never saw coming. Some of them will change details of the "later" novels I've already written. Nothing big, nothing earth-shattering, but a few personal relationships will be different, and so will some of the magic. I can handle that. It will make her a stronger character in the long run. It will also give more history to a few other important characters. Always good.

The real problems hit me last night and this morning. Here they are in better detail:

1. Every novel I've written to this point (this will be my sixth complete novel) has clocked in around 100k words. When I started writing TORN, I assumed it would fit into the same mold. It doesn't. It's sitting at about 65k right now, and is at least 3/4 done.  All told, it will probably land right about 80k. Revisions probably won't change that total much. When I realized this last night, I had a near panic attack. THIS IS FANTASY. FANTASY NEEDS TO BE LONGER. Then I calmed down. Nope. Fantasy doesn't need to be longer. It needs to be exactly how long the story requires it to be. This story needs to be about 80k. I am okay with that now.

2. I was weirded out to discover that, despite the rest of the books in this series being firmly in the Adult Urban Fantasy genre, this one is probably closer to NA. So thank the elements that NA is an Official Thing now, at least according to Publisher's Marketplace. So, phew! What makes this NA as opposed to Adult? Well, it's an origin story. It takes place at a pivotal moment in the MC's life, where she has her first taste of what it means to be an adult. She has to spread her wings and fly on her own. Literally even, since she's a dragon, and has actual wings, and flies. :D

3. I told Helper Monkey about the Word Count Panic Attack this morning. As is my wont, my innocent remark led to a 10 minute babble session, during which I continued talking at the poor man until I realized what was really bugging me. I found a different kind of time travel paradox. Since I know this character and her world so well, is TORN a full enough novel to relate to for a reader who has never read the other books? Is it so short because it doesn't need to be longer in my mind, even though a new reader would be left scratching their head? I guess the only way to find out is to finish writing it, and then let someone read it. No reason to get all angsty about it until then, right? *nervous laughter*

So there you go. My weekly writing dilemmas.

If you're still reading at this point, I can only imagine you are also a writer, or just curious about writing. How ya doing? What are you writing, and what sort of ledges have you had to talk yourself down off of recently? All writing involves walking precariously close to the edges of cliffs. As long as you don't fall off, everything else can be edited. :D

And your reward for sticking through this with me? Here you go:


  1. Are you looking for beta readers for this one? I'd love to volunteer.

  2. *hugs*

    Just write the book. It's done when it's done. If it needs tweaking, that's what revisions are for. STOP REVISING! These worries are REVISING worries, not DRAFTING worries. Keep drafting, and let Future Laura deal with revisions.


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