Yep. Done drafting Hesitation. The way is clear for beginning the third, along with one other book I’ve been eager to write for a year now. Book three of my “Aigis” trilogy is called Determination. I’ll be drawing up an outline that’ll look like someone splattered a bunch of ideas on it abstract painting style. I’ll be concurrently outlining and drafting a standalone fantasy novel tentatively titled To Oceann’s End. It’s the story of a seafaring captain in a post-apocalyptic Earth who can never find a moment to eat a cheeseburger in peace. For the life of me, I can’t recall how that story came into being. I think it was another dream I had, but I could be totally wrong. My brain says it was spontaneously generated. My logic says my brain is full of crap.
I did attempt a drawing sketch. I’m rusty but I still have some skill. And I need real pencils to draw, not this fail piece of plastic containing “liquid lead.” Stupid thing did nothing but scratch up the paper, unless I held it at a ninety-degree angle.
Test reading will commence by Sunday. Right now I’m reading Hesitation beginning to end so I can get a feel for the arc of the whole book. If I’m satisfied, a bunch of people will be scrambling to check their inboxes. So far, so good on the read through. The sentence structuring in chapter one is a bit distracting, but that’s not what’s important at this stage. It’s all about content. There’s no point in line editing until I know the content is going to stay.
Oftentimes, being a fantasy writer, I wonder if I must be crazy. I’ve got these universes, alternate realities, people and their histories–all these made-up things in my head, and I swear there’s a sort of reality to them. I don’t just “make stuff up” and turn it into a book. I’ve sat down and interviewed characters and they’ve supplied me with information about themselves I did’t come up with myself. I admit I’ve tried to force a few characters to be a certain way. That works as well as it does in reality. I recognize when I do this when I spend more time staring at my screen than I do writing. Also, I feel frustration–perhaps not mine, but rather my characters’. Everything I type out feels wrong, like that gut feeling you get when you’re driving somewhere new and you inadvertently start heading in the wrong direction. You turn around and try again, until you feel out the correct path. I’m not sure how to explain this, so here’s (hopefully) a decent example free of spoilers:
In chapter 28 of Hesitation, Roxie, my main protagonist, did something I didn’t expect her to do. In fact, she didn’t even expect it, but now she has to live with the consequences of her actions. Still, she handled it better than both I and Aerigo (other main protagonist) expected. This example will become clearest once you read the book and learn what happens.
So how can my characters do things I don’t expect when I’m the one who made them up? Good question. Good. Frickin’. Question. The answer is simple, yet intricate. Writers attempt to reproduce reality through their writing. I let my characters have free reign of my imagination. In turn, they fascinate me to no end. It’s not the greatest answer by far, but perhaps this is one of those things where it’s better to not ask how it works, but simply trust that it does and enjoy the results.
Being a fantasy writer, not only do I have to emulate it, but I have to suspend your disbelief into believing these fantastical possibilities are real in these realities I’ve created. Tolkien called this quest/process “high fiction.” He had a deep respect for the effort put into world-building. You can read about it in The Liberation of the Imagination, written by Richard Mathews.
The title of this blog entry was inspired by the shift in my thoughts immediately after I finished drafting book two. Book three has been sitting quietly in the back of my mind for years, waiting patiently for its turn to be written down. As soon as my head hit my pillow, ideas and plot points began drifting along my fading conscious thoughts. The next morning they picked right up where they left off, and I spent the entire day wondering what was gonna happen next. I have plot points for Determination, but my characters will show me how we connect those dots, or they might even skip a few of them. We shall see.
Now, if you want a great example of how writing has a life of its own, I’d originally planned to have this entry focus entirely on plot and plotting. That didn’t go as planned now, did it?