So I just finished the last in a vampire trilogy. There were about a million characters, all of whom had something to say—and do!
It was the most complex endeavor I’ve undertaken thus far, and last summer, I was screaming, shouting and tearing my hair out to get it right. I thought of Celtic knotting while putting the novel together, and in case you don’t know, it’s basically weaving a braid. So it’s “over, under, over, under.” For some reason the visualization helped, but there were still all those details to get straight. And to add to the mix, there’s a trip through time and characters existing in different centuries. Yes, these are crucial to the plot or I would have axed them
After cursing at myself for thinking this story up, I realized that my writing by the flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants method didn’t help. It was during this tumultuous project, that I thoroughly got the usefulness of outlining all the action before even attempting to write, but I’m still confused as to how that would work.
There were about a hundred twists in the story that I didn’t plan on. A couple of the characters I would have banked on giving me trouble, but there were these others—nice, safe, reliable characters—that got totally out of hand and did the most outrageous things. I was shocked, but like the good court reporter that I am, I merely documented the action and tried to keep up with them. Not an easy task. That was the summer I lost two of the plastic lettering casings off the keyboard. Yup, they died from overuse. Flew up into the air and dissolved into the atmosphere. The “A” and the “I”. Made typing a byotch, but when the book comes out, if anyone has a lot of time on their hands and wants to count how many times I used them, I’d be curious to know. Then there are the revisions. The book is 562 pages and, at last count, was revised seventy-two times! *gulp* I believe that’s a record for me.
But the point is this outlining methodology vs. making it up as you go, I’m just not clear what would have happened if I’d spent a month outlining and then have the whole thing be useless because Rachel (and I’m not naming names here *Rachel! Rachel! Rachel!*) goes and does some outrageous thing that usually involves murder and the tearing off of someone’s head—yes, literally! I mean, what would I do? Put her on a leash and not have her comport herself like the common piece of baggage she is because it’s not in the now inaccurate outline? Or spend another month outlining the new story that includes this plot twist?
If anyone has any sage advice or partiality to one method or another, I’d love to hear your thoughts. I do have one crucial piece of advice as concerns writing trilogies or sequels and that is: Don’t wait to finish them! Write one right after the other!
I wish I had known that. I took breaks in between where I’d work on different books and then I’d come back a year later and wonder what the heck happened in the previous book. I tend not to remember my stories. Once I’m finished—buh-bye! This penchant makes it fun trying to promote these stories because I’ve already moved on. Sort of like having to give toasts to an ex when you just burned all his photos and ripped up all his clothes—except for the t-shirts that you’re still wearing. Boo-yah!!!
I look forward to your thoughts. As for me, I’ve promised to limit all future novels to having two characters! While it may not be much fun for readers, it’ll save me a lot of headaches.