Story of a Story

August 31, 2010

The first draft has been finished for a few days. I’m rereading the whole thing from start to finish, in preparation for editing. Project W’s not done yet- here’s my map for the rest of the journey:

  • Edit first draft
  • Hand edited second draft over to beta readers
  • Bite my fingernails down to stubs, and develop paranoid theories that my beta readers are “taking so long” because they’re trying to figure out the best way to say “It sucks.”
  • Take wonderful, thoughtful criticism and make changes where necessary
  • Muster up the courage to send this third draft to an editor/agent (???)

So, clearly, a lot of work still to be done. I was going to write something about saying goodbye to my characters, but I’ve realized that’s  premature. Sure, the fun rush of creating is over, but now I get to polish and refine. That’s good too.

Instead, I thought I’d briefly share Project W’s timeline: the story of my story, as it were.

I can trace Project W back to autumn of 2007. I’d just finished a not-very-good fantasy novel, when an image popped into my head. There was a woman, or what looked like a woman, and she was making a conscious effort to mimic breathing. She was terrified someone would notice she wasn’t.

Obviously, this was the genesis of R. She had a different name then, and I began developing a world around her- mostly the magic system and a few other characters, including a prototype for D. But I couldn’t get anything to coalesce into a plot, so I abandoned it.

Flash forward to April 2009. I’m not sure how I got onto the idea of apocalypse, but I was working with the idea of the alleged “devil” coming to save humanity from the end of the world. A foster child’s profile in the paper caught my eye- that little boy eventually became P. Initially, there were two boys, but that quickly simplified to one. But again, I was struggling to come up with an actual plot.

Then the magic happened. The two half-stories combined. The magical system, and a few characters from the first story joined with the apocalypse scenario and characters from the second. Suddenly, sparks flew.

But the ending I had in mind was too easy. Not surprising, or exciting, or… well, fulfilling. I knew the answer lay somewhere in the magic system/mythology I’d set up for my characters. So I read. I read a lot of Mayan mythology, and a lot of the Book of Revelations. I don’t even know how many hours I spent in the library’s Theology section.

Nothing. I kept hitting the same walls, over and over. Until the fateful day I moved downstairs to the Astronomy section. Having read the theological account of the universe’s beginning and end, I now turned to science. Looking back through my notes, I can see how close I got on several occasions. Still, the answer to how does this actually work?? eluded me until sometime in April 2010 (a full year after I resumed serious work on this tale).

And then the pieces fell into place. As I walked down the hall to my room, I felt like I’d been hit in the face. It made sense, it accounted for the nature of magic as my characters understood it, and as I knew it to actually be. It aligned with my themes, and it provided tons of opportunities for character growth and conflict.

I knew how to end my book.

With that in place, the plot came more easily. I had a 30-page false start, but by late April I was well on my way.

The way continues. It’s been a long, hard trip, but worth every step.

Cheers, guys,



One comment

  1. I feel you should finish this book by end of this year and we will be happy to read it! thanks

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