I know I’ve blogged about this before. I consider myself a modified discovery writer. Modified because I once wrote a whole novel-length work that didn’t come out to be a story. I knew it wasn’t a story as I was writing the end, though it took me–back then–a few tries to figure out why.
The reason was because it wasn’t organized around a central conflict. Once I figured that out, I knew how to fix it. (I’ll confess here, that not-a-story, written back in 2009, was actually the very earliest version of what became THE VOICE OF PROPHECY.)
See, you really can fix anything in the revisions. I need to keep reminding myself of that as I work on the first draft of Book 3 in the DUAL MAGICS series, BEYOND THE PROPHECY. Part of my brain keeps wanting to slow down and make it like a revision, not a first draft.
Just get the story down. Fix it later.
After that experience, I no longer just launch blindly into a story. (Well, sometimes I will on the rare occasions that I write a short story, but that’s not nearly the same investment of time that a novel is.) I try to at least map out the central problem and the high–or low–points of the story. Not anything like a real outline. Just a few paragraphs to guide me along the way.
I’ve done that for BEYOND THE PROPHECY, but that doesn’t stop me from getting things a little out of order.
Sometimes, that central problem is the antagonist. The Dark Lord (whichever particular variety of Dark Lord appears in a given story) must be stopped. And the main character’s internal journey and growth is a secondary plot. But sometimes that’s reversed and the internal journey is the main conflict, while the antagonist is more of a complication. THE VOICE OF PROPHECY was like that, which is probably what threw me off years ago and why it took me becoming a better writer to be able to pull it off.
BEYOND THE PROPHECY is not like that. In Book 3, the antagonists come back to the fore. Yes, I meant that to be plural. There are two. If you’ve read the excerpt of BEYOND THE PROPHECY included in the (ebook version) of THE VOICE OF PROPHECY, then you know Gerusa’s back and making more trouble–and not just for Vatar. The other antagonist is actually someone (or someones) from the first book, THE SHAMAN’S CURSE. (No, it’s not the shaman come back to life.) And, eventually, they’re going to join forces.
The reason this topic came up today is that I started to write that chapter, then realized I was making that alliance way too early. That’s got to happen much nearer the end of this book.
That’s okay. I’ve written the chapter (or most of it) and it’ll probably stand as is, at least for the first draft. Just not where it is. Now I have to go back and figure out what does happen in that space. My few paragraphs of proto-outline don’t cover everything.
And remind myself, it doesn’t have to be perfect in this draft. That’s what the final draft is for.