Today I had one of those rare but always awesome “eureka” moments. No, I wasn’t in the bath, but I was taking a shower when I decided to write about it on my blog, so I guess that counts for something.
I was just sitting here in front of the computer, grumpy and dissatisfied about my new project. Prequels are tough, especially when you’re trying to fill in specific gaps in the plot of the next book in line. I know what has to happen, but massaging the timeline to fit into something already constructed isn’t as easy as it sounds, especially since I would have done things a little differently in TLDTC if I had known I was really going to write a prequel. But that’s bathwater under the bridge.
The problem I was facing – and I was having a similar issue with The Paper Flower – is that no one really wants to follow some dude around as he finds stuff out that will eventually, but clumsily, forward the plot. That falls on the wrong side of the “show, don’t tell” rule, which is one of the most important in fiction writing. But you also can’t have non-stop crash-pow-bam action, especially when your main character is a clerk in a merchant’s office, because that’s equally unrealistic.
And then I got an idea. Out of nowhere. What if [name redacted for spoilers] was really a [redacted] instead of just a [redacted]? And then so-and-so could do this, and ooh, maybe then this guy could be here, and she would do that other thing, and bring such-and-such to that place, etc. etc.
It all fell into place with a joyful little click, and suddenly I was the master of the universe. It’s a lovely feeling, like everything is right with the world for that one brief moment of rushing, bubbling excitement. I felt like a real author who could write things and control the very fates themselves just by tapping on my keyboard. I was a god. My story would be awesome. I would sell a million copies and win all the prizes and retire at age 30 to my beach house in Key West.
And then I looked at what I actually wrote, a sample of which was this:
Okay. So maybe it needs a little work. But believe it or not, it was a real breakthrough in my brainstorming, and I ended up sketching out the whole plot, so now I have something to go on. I’m very pleased, if a little full of myself. I think this should hold me for a while.
On a promotional note, I will be recording an interview for the wonderful and entertaining podcast Friends and Other Strangers tomorrow. I’m not sure when it’ll air, but I’ll definitely be letting you know. The host is someone who’s been very supportive of my writing journey so far, so please check it out if you have a chance (it may not be entirely safe for delicate ears).