Fantasy Friday – New Novel Preparation

As I’ve mentioned in a couple previous posts, I’m in the process of starting a new novel. I’ve done considerably more pre-writing than I have in my previous work. To date, I’ve written four novels and started three others. The four complete books are those in The Lore of Efrathah, which is really just one story. The partials were for either a contest or a critique group and I never fully developed the characters or story.

Two of the partials are fantasy and one is contemporary. In none of those have I done as much preparation to write as I am with the one I’m working on now. In many ways I’m curious to see how this turns out — will the story be easier to get down or not?

So here’s what I’ve done so far. After going through (for the second time) two and a half writing books (the third one was getting into some redundancy) that each had writing exercises I could do with my new story in mind, I’ve created a character profile for the protagonist, developed a time line to connect this prequel to The Lore of Efrathah, drawn a map of the city which is the main location of the story, mapped out a subplot, and finally listed out some of the scenes I envision including — the most basic list of “what happens.”

I feel pretty ready to start, so today I tackled that first paragraph. I know by this time that what I put down today will be unrecognizable by the time I’ve written the entire story and revised the necessary times, but still I wanted to head in the right direction. It’s much easier to tell the story the way it should be told, I think, if I can start it in the right place.

Of course, I no sooner finished than I remembered I had considered setting this one in wintertime. Oh, so already I have some revision to make!

But here’s the cool thing. I don’t think I would have considered having this story take place during winter unless I’d done the pre-write work.

One of the key lessons I’ve learned about writing is to push beyond the obvious. So if it’s obvious for the main character to stop at a fast food joint and buy a burger and fries for dinner, then that’s what he should not do. Of course all the actions need to be properly motivated and logical. They just shouldn’t be obvious.

It’s a basic lesson, but I remember when I first started writing, I had some line about water. I don’t remember what it was exactly — maybe how someone leaped across a stream or how it gurgled between the rocks. At any rate, I asked a writer friend how he would say it, and to my dismay he used a completely different set of words. See, I thought then that I should be like everyone else. I should say what others were thinking. You can see, I had a lot to learn! In fact I had to change the way I approached writing.

The next hurdle for me was to be satisfying with suggesting scenes, painting with a light hand so readers had room to imagine rather than producing a detailed replica of what I was envisioning.

Honestly, I can’t begin to tell you how many different lessons I had to learn and how many old habits I had to break. In reality, I’m still learning and probably always will as long as I write. But what’s changed is that now I know a lot of what I need before I start writing.

Last point. Since I’m writing this post as part of the Fantasy Friday series, I should say a word about the fantasy elements in this book. There aren’t a lot yet! I decided to set this story in a period of time when a lot of the “magic” has become dormant. So one of the issues I have to deal with is how much do these people know about the special powers so central to The Lore of Efrathah. Writing a prequel, I’ve decided, isn’t as easy as it sounds! 😉

Published in: on February 10, 2012 at 5:49 pm  Comments (7)  
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  1. Becky,

    It’s great to follow your journey in writing this!


  2. Thanks, Maria. I’m never sure if other people are interested or not, but obviously it’s a big thing on my mind. 😀



  3. Becky, these interesting posts on your approach to starting a new novel with appeal to readers, certainly. You write on a broad range of topics, and I think this is good.


  4. Becky, meant to write ‘will appeal.’ Getting bleary eyed because I’ve been working. I linked to this in my latest post.


  5. […] A Christian Worldview of Fiction for Rebecca Luella Miller’s ongoing story of starting over with a new novel. Share […]


  6. Becky, it’s interesting to hear that as you’ve grown as a writer, you find yourself doing more pre-writing.

    So far, I’ve found the same thing. I’ve realized the stronger the foundation I build beforehand (particularly when dealing with more complicated settings/timelines/etc) means less work revising the story due to changing logistical elements of the storyworld.

    As you said, I know more of what I need to know before I plunge into the story. Of course, new elements will always emerge in the course of telling the story, but that just keeps things interesting. 🙂


  7. Maria, thanks for your encouragement. You’re very kind.

    So true, Sarah. I also know what I need to keep straight, so I might as well write it down from the start rather than putting it in the story four different ways, then tracking it down and changing them back. Heheheh — might sound as if I’ve been there! 😆



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