Saturday, July 17, 2021

The Book Two Posts: Episode 12: Magic Moments and Changing Characters


Dear Readers,

First, I finally finished the EverMerge Gnome challenge, so here is my "Duck Duck Gnome"!  I felt that the Gnome challenge was very fitting since I'm still writing the Gnome Sweet Gnome series. I realize that not everyone will be impressed. 😸

It has been a strange time since I published my last book. There has been every type of distraction you can think of (a pandemic, for Pete's sake!), and I'm an easily distractible person. I had a lot of things tripping me up about the current work in progress, but I finally determined that I want it finished! Don't get me wrong. I'm actually really enjoying the writing at this point. My brain is really happy with the task and living in this other world. I mean, of course, we could ALL use a vacation from the real world right now, right? So this is the best possible scenario at this point! 

Magic Moments

I have most of the book written, and I'm mostly tying up loose ends and problem-solving at this point. A lot of writers might say that this is the point where the magic happens. You can add things that make the story go from good to better. I've already had so many magical writing moments. And, to be honest, I'm going to miss writing this particular book. I'm already having that feeling like the kids are getting ready to leave the nest. 😿

I'm not ready to leave this world, but, fortunately, I don't have to. There is another book to write after this one. Maybe more--I'm not ruling that out! There's always a bit of a white page/screen/canvas syndrome at first, and working with something that's already there is always easier than working with nothing, which is why I will definitely miss this writing. But there is more of this world to be explored and people to meet in the next book. I feel better knowing that I already have a few ideas to work with, but I expect it to feel a little cold at first, like the first day back at school. It will take a while to get back to that comfortable zone where the world feels real again.

I'm extremely happy right now because I'm at this point where I've been racking my brain for, IDK, years??? trying to figure out how to make something happen. And I start working on something next to it, and suddenly it's all right there. The answer. It's kind of like faith; sometimes you don't know the answer until you start heading in the direction as if you already do. And the way it falls into place creates a lovely twist. I'd like to say brilliant, but it doesn't even feel like it's my idea, but as if someone whispered it in my ear at just the right moment.

One day, I want to make a list of all of the crazy things I have researched in writing this book. I won't tell you now because I don't want to give any spoilers, but you would be surprised! For example (and I may have mentioned this before), in writing Winterborn, I had to research how old was the pet door (Chaucer wrote about a pet hole in Miller's Tale in the 1300s), and I learned that a woman invented the ironing board (I don't remember why I needed to know that! 😹). But it's fun to be working on something, pulling information from multiple disciplines and tying it all together and explaining things about Book One that I didn't know when I was writing Book One. Everything is coming together.

I've heard a lot of writers say they never reread their books after being published or that they waited years. I am not one of those people. I have reread my book many times, and when it's been a while since I've worked on it, I will go back through the first story just to get myself back into the flow of things. The series has a high-energy feel to me. Even if they are in a conversation, it feels fast-paced to me. I will read the written book and also upload the converted mobi file to my Kindle to listen to how it flows. After the reread, I'm ready to jump back into Evie's world. So, I enjoy the the world, the characters, the story, and being able to balance the heartbreak with humor. I'm especially excited about the new things that this particular book brings including revelations and characters.

One of the interesting things about this journey is that this book has very little in common with how it began. I thought it was going to end one way, but it didn't. My initial ideas were a jumping off point for the story, but it didn't stay like that. I don't think I would ever be able to use a template for writing; my brain just doesn't work that way. And there is so much going on. I tried to plot it on a whiteboard, and, wow, it took the entire board. There is just so much happening.

I think one of the main things that has bothered me is that, for one, the book has to build up to the main problem, but there are so many other problems faced during the build-up that I've actually been worried that the main problem, the main plot, will feel like a random tangent. I considered separating the plots for perhaps two different books, but they just seem to fall apart on their own. They are co-dependent. So, I do worry that it will feel a tad schizophrenic, like the book that couldn't decide what it wanted to be. If it goes badly, that will suck, but I'm hoping that it's more of a good wow and not a bad wow. Let me just say that, for the record, the next book will also feel like two stories in one. However, whereas this one is like a story within a story, the next one will feel more like Part I and Part II. I'm just sayin'....

Changing Characters

I have struggled with this book in ways I didn't anticipate. I was having a difficult time with the romance plot. I had to have a heart-to-heart talk with myself and maybe some psychoanalytical therapy and medication (jk! 😸), but I figured it out, and I feel like I'm on the right track. Sometimes you have to go out searching for the right inspiration. Most of my questions now have answers. It's mostly a matter of plugging things in and shifting a few things around. In one spot, I changed the scene's POV, and had to look closely at this particular character arc. The character felt flatter than the others, and I needed this character to metaphorically pull an ace out of his/her pocket. So, we did some soul-searching and made a few developments. Then, when researching some of my original ideas for the series, I stumbled upon an answer. I went with that and did more research, and realized that the solution to this problem was also the answer to a problem in the next book. I got so excited thinking, "That's how they do it! That's what they use! Problem solved!!!"

Edit: Since writing this post, I've had other such Eureka! moments where the details contain the answers to the bigger questions if I study them. The book is starting to feel somewhat epic. My main concern at this point is whether the ending will do it all justice.

Another struggle I faced was that, once again, one of my ideas was duplicated in a major TV show. I try hard not to copy any other work. Yes, there are often similarities within genres. When working with certain character types such as monsters or witches, writers often turn to fairy tales and myths and other things written on the subject that define this particular type of creature. Of course, you make it your own, but I do know I've read books by different authors that you just know that the second author did some shopping in the book of the first author. As someone who is virtually unknown, my original idea would not seem original if someone saw the same idea on a TV show, no matter how much I swore I had never watched the show before I wrote that character. Even if I could show in my viewing history the first time I watched the show, no one would believe me. And this was that same type of idea... same sex, same race, same disability, and same gift. There's no way they'd believe that idea was mine. So, I realized that either they stole my idea (I still feel that this is extremely unlikely) OR it's just a common idea. Maybe it wasn't that unique after all. Maybe it was good that they used it, so I can go back to the drawing board and do some character remodeling. It was just one of those characters that popped into my head fully formed, and after seeing another character just like her on TV that checked all of the same basic description boxes, I was floored. I couldn't believe what I was seeing, but the more I think about it, we had to have gotten the idea from somewhere. I started searching my memory for where I might have read about a similar character, but I didn't know. It makes me paranoid that I may be duplicating things that I'm not aware of.

The memory is very tricky like that. We're so influenced by things we read when we are younger and don't even realize where the ideas come from. When I wrote Winterborn, I knew that, only in the most general sense, I was inspired, in part, by a classic book that I had read forty years ago. It wasn't the same story, but you might see shades here and there. While I don't try to reinvent a classic, like I wouldn't write Lord of the Rings in Space or anything, there are bits and pieces of things I have absorbed over a lifetime in my writing, whether I recognize it or not.

I did decide on another character. I made her prettier and more charming. I changed her history and gave her a good story that went well with what I already had. Even better than my first idea. I'm still writing her parts, so I'm not sure exactly how much more the character will evolve before I'm done.

But this is the best I have felt about this book so far. Not that it was ever bad, but I was stuck in plot quicksand.