I am writing a book. I have been writing a book since June last year, and it has been an educational process. It is also the first book I have attempted to write in many years, and the first book I hope to complete.
This time, I will complete it. This time, things will be different. I am older, wiser, humbler and a lot more disciplined. Well, more than I used to be when I was younger. I have over 200,000 words worth of notes and rewritten material (a lot of it is rewritten material and several versions worth of the same chapeter/scene). And that’s just what I have in Scrivener. I haven’t bothered to do a word count on the notes I’ve put down in Evernote.
I don’t know if I’ve ever written this much material before. I used to write the old fashioned way – pen and paper. LOTS of pen and paper. That was a long time ago though.
But back to this book of mine.
The working title of this book is called “Mageling”. It is a name that I had struggled to give my book until very recently, when my most recent round of edits clarified what I wanted this story to be (hint: it centers on a noob magic user). I probably will change it somewhere down the line, because I don’t want to draw comparisons with Kristin Cashore’s Graceling Realms series (great series by the way, and very different to what I’m attempting here).
As for how far along into this book I am, well, first, you must know three things:
1. I write out of order. I have scenes that come into my head, and sometimes they are so vivid that I have to put them down in writing. That leads to my story coming together in bits and pieces. I already have my end written up, and while the scene itself does not change, the scenes around it do. Writing out of order allows me to change it up as the story changes.
2. I am an outliner. This appears to contradict Part 2, but it really doesn’t. When I first started this in June, I was on a plane, reeling from what was, and still is to me, an emotional disaster. I drew from an old story idea and ended up plotting out the entire story of Mageling on the plane – I had my start, my middle, and my end. I had my key characters and my key scenes all planned out. Thanks to that outline, I am able to write my scenes out of order, and then be able to stitch them all up and still have the order make sense.
3. I am a rolling editor. I rewrite a lot. I like to get parts of a story all pieced together and polished enough before I move on to the next section. My outline had changed over the months of labouring over this story as I write more and discover more about my story and my characters. As things change, I go back to the beginning, and refine and polish and rewrite.
My last rewrite cut down my first act from over 50,000 words to just over 25,000 words. This was the largest bit of editing I had ever done. EVER. I did this because I started treating my existing material as a first draft. I had hit the point where my scenes did not work chronologically, and I knew that I had to clean it up massively for me to be able to move forward.
The story had also changed over the months of refining it, writing it, and discovering it. I realised that my original beginning did not work. I was struggling to get from my good first few chapters, to my more fast-paced middle chapters. I finally realised that while those middle chapters build lots of backstory and character, they did nothing to advance the plot.
So chop chop, away they went.
I read somewhere that you can worldbuild all you want, and you can let that enrich your world, flesh out your characters. And your readers will never have to read a thing. But those scenes, those deleted chapters, all of it builds the world and the characters in my mind and make the main plot all the richer for it, just like the bulk of an iceberg hiding under the surface.
This is me wanting to talk about my book, my process, and what it means to me. I probably will waffle on more in the future, but I guess the big question is: What is the book about?
I’ve been working on my summaries for the book. This is what I have so far:
Alyssa had everything – the job of her dreams as the Crown Prince’s bodyguard, and close access to the love of her life – the Crown Prince himself. Then the King falls, assassinated after personally leading a charge of soldiers against a bandit horde. This sets off a spiral of events that threatens to destroy everything Alyssa ever held dear.
Soon, she must decide what price she is willing to pay for her new King.
This is the book in my heart of hearts, or at least the one that’s been living vividly in my mind for the last few months and more.
Also, I wasn’t entirely truthful. I wasn’t writing a book. I am writing two.
I have a second book in progress tucked away as a side project. It’s not as far ahead as this project currently is, and is currently on hiatus. And I’ll save my waffling on my second book for another time.