The story is about ready to enter the first draft writing stage (probably today or tomorrow). I’ve broken down the chapters, so it’s in a fairly firm state now. The first part, at least. The other two parts have only vague ideas for where things go, and a few solid scene ideas.
It feels wrong to start without knowing how it will end, but at least the first part has a firm structure with a kind of resolution to the surface plots. Not knowing how later parts go will likely mean more revisions of the first part to get things to fit though, which is not something I look forward to. The actual revision process is generally more relaxed than the first draft, but it’s the knowledge there’ll likely be more revision that’s the problem, looming over my current workload with the promise of more slog further up the road.
I don’t foresee the first part being long enough to support a traditional length novel. Even with a couple of main story strands it still doesn’t feel like it’ll end up being that long. I don’t know whether I’m too influenced by other media, but my stories feel like they’re just not long enough. Hopefully having all three parts (assuming I reach that point) in one work will offer something of the length expected by the market.
[I’d intended to post this last week, but apparently neglected to schedule it correctly. Since I don’t have anything to blog about this week it won’t delay any additional content though. Still in the breaking the story down phase.]
One thing I’m trying on this project is, when writing up notes on the characters (major and minor), I try and come up with three stories they’re involved in. The main story is fairly broad, with a fair bit of intrigue and a number of elements that I started with only a vague notion of. The stories don’t have to relate to these elements, and they may not even come into play, but they help build up a picture of the character for me.
While some of the stories are strongly linked to the main plot, others have been useful in helping me firm up some ideas that were only vague to begin with. It’s also developed a clue as to what the later parts of the story will be.
Because of the nature of the story there’s a danger that having too many elements will confuse the plot, so that’ll have to be watched. But that’s the kind of story it was going to be anyway.
It probably isn’t an approach I’d use for a simpler plot, but in this case it appears to have been useful in breaking down the story.
The current story is looking less like a trilogy as I break it down. While the three parts had different feels, as I get into it the third feels too dissimilar to the other two to work. I’m not sure yet, as only the first part is gaining a firm state in my mind.
I’ll probably write it as one large story, in distinct blocks, and decide on breaking it up later. Assuming it does get broken up. I always tend to overestimate how long a story’s going to be, and I’m not sure the first part as I currently see it is going to be as long as I might like (100k+ words, which is around the lower limit the ‘market’ expects epic fantasies to be these days).
I may try and do the first draft of the first part before breaking down the second part, which I have only vague ideas of at the moment. I don’t like not knowing (even roughly) how the story ties up before starting. There’s too much chance of having to redo early stuff to accommodate it, and it’s always trickier to change stuff than plan it properly in the first place. But the scope of the story is fairly wide, and can be difficult to think about as a whole.
Breaking things down into more manageable chunks is the way I prefer to work. Working out plot arcs, character arcs, world building that needs to be covered, and breaking them down into the required beats for each arc. With a list of those beats it’s then easier to work out the progress of the story, and break it down into chapters.
The character arcs tend to be fairly vague at this point, as the characters become more solid during the writing, so their arcs may well be refined more during editing. In this case the characters are slightly more solid to begin with as the main viewpoints are from characters in the Dwimmerscout short story.
The plot arcs can be more firmly developed before writing, as the more time you spend on them beforehand the more chance you have of spotting the plot holes and fixing them before they ever get on the page. Without having the story fully plotted all the way through before starting, I therefore run the risk of not seeing some plot holes until the first draft is done, making more work for myself later on.
The sixth story in the Tales of the Thief-City series is now available, free on Smashwords and associated sites for this month. The remaining stories should then be published on a monthly basis.
Parliament of the Streets
With gang tensions approaching breaking point all over the city, the last thing Rax wants is to be caught in the middle. When a debt comes due he doesn’t have a choice, and the only solution may be to find the person responsible, or at least to survive the changes to the city.
Sixth in the Tales of the Thief-City series. A 7,000 word short story.