Where We’re At – Project #2

This might actually seem quite strange, but this project is entirely more developed than Project #1. So, you might be asking, why would this be your second project and not your first if it’s further along? Well, there’s a lot of answers to that question that I’m going to touch on a little bit later.

But first, what is it about? It’s a fantasy YA/NA with magic and journeys and fight scenes, and all that glorious goodness. It’ll be the first in a trilogy that explores separation, love, prophecies, tragedy, relationships, fate, and so much inner conflict that the turmoil will be absolutely constant.

We’ve got two main characters, but such an ensemble cast as well. It’s full of culture and exploration of different lands, there are clashes of class because we’re in a world of kings and queens. I really like this idea of people meeting from different worlds, cultures, and traditions, and how this expands people’s concepts of the world, how it makes a person grow, how opinions change. One of these characters is a prince who hasn’t seen much of the world at all, and he is forced into meeting all these new people who have entirely different experiences and outlooks. So many of the themes are about change and growth, and there’s a plentiful cast of background/secondary characters who are so crucial in expanding these characters’ experience of the world. I think a lot of them will be super lovable, there are some who are meant to be hated too because we always need a spectrum of characters, and there are loads to choose from here.

I’ve got a whole world and map to explore, an enormous pantheon, flora and fauna galore, some mythical, some fantastical, some mundane but still adorable. Every aspect of world-building is so fascinating for me, and I love piecing together traditions and family trees and history, it’s just such a joy and I have loved putting together this world that I get to explore through these characters.

But this is also one of the reasons this is Project #2; there’s a lot that goes into world-building. I’ve been working on this for a couple of years now, and given I’ve still got elements of the world that need to be structured and worked and rearranged, this means things change a lot between drafts, and there’s still a lot that needs to be done.

Obviously, everyone drafts a little differently, but I’m currently two drafts into the first book. The biggest change for the next draft is, because I’ve got all the chapters separated into separate documents, I now need to bring them altogether into one document instead. I had to separate them because there were some big structural changes between the first and second draft, and now it all needs to be brought back together.

Another part of my drafting process is how I work in big changes; I’ll go through a current draft, edit, write what I need to, and I’ll make a note of bigger changes that need to be made. So I’ll edit sentences, prose, dialogue, but if there’s a structural change or a piece of lore that needs way more fleshing out, I’ll make a note of it and keep working on the current before I go into whatever needs more attention. Even if all this fleshing out doesn’t make it into the book, it’s vital to be secure in knowing how a certain castle/palace looks or what a specific language might sound like. If I’m going through a daft and it all feels too loose or I wouldn’t be confident enough to explain it to someone, then I know I’ve got to spend some time giving it some thought.

An example of this is, after the first draft, I realised I needed a lot more building into the basics of the magic in the world. So I had to go back, rework it, really flesh out how it works, where it comes from, what it can and can’t do, and then I put it into the second draft. Magic is so complicated, and I still think it needs a little work. Even further, there was a section at the beginning that, whilst something I loved, probably isn’t great to open a book with. There was exploration of certain relationships, but I felt it wouldn’t hook people in enough, that it would feel too slow. So for the second draft, that all had to go into a separate document to be put in elsewhere.

This basically means that, in this stage, things are changing a lot between drafts, and there’s still a lot that needs to be worked on. Even if I don’t explore all the lore that I’m creating in this first book of the trilogy, its bones need to be there to refer to and so it all makes sense in the grand scheme of this world I’m creating. There would be nothing worse than me half-heartedly going through magic lore in the first book and then deciding it does something different come the final book. There’s a lot that goes into this world-building, and I want it to be concrete, I don’t want there to be any major holes that ruin it all. Admittedly, I think there are always going to be holes and ways to pick apart something when it’s created from scratch, but I want it all to feel solid and strong, and that’s still going to take some time.

Also, I need to work on my ability to write action. Poorly written action is such a shame because I think it really takes you out of the moment. It needs to be choreographed, it needs to be a mix of action and thought which has to be balanced super well, and you need strong verbs. There’s obviously a lot of debate about adverbs in the writing community, and I personally adore adverbs because I think they hold a lot of power and nuance, but when it comes to action, it’s strong verbs all the way.

Admitting weaknesses is important for writing, it’s crucial that you know what you’re not strong at. My two biggest weaknesses are action scenes and describing layouts of rooms. I could write introspective thoughts and dialogue forever because those are two things I adore, and things I think I do well, but I need to really work on choreographing action sequences and learning how to describe rooms in a concise and interesting way.

That’s another reason this one takes title #2; there isn’t any action in #1, or at least there isn’t yet. Perhaps I’ll learn how to write fight scenes well, fall in love with it, and fill all my stories with them. I doubt it, but you never know.

The problem is, there’s still hefty research for me to do in order to make Project #2 something I feel is concrete, solid, and written to the absolute best of my ability. I’ll never say anything’s perfect, and I think it would be hard to find any artist who feels their work is perfect and beyond being tweaked because art is about finding a point where you’re confident it’s the best you can do in that moment and it’s at a stage where it’s ready to be shared. I think you’ll always come back in ten years and see ways it could be improved, but it’ll never be shared with the world if you leave it because in a year, two, twenty, you can do it better. Stories are meant to be shared. Obviously, it’s so important to put the work in, to make sure it’s the absolute best it can be and that you’re doing the story and the characters and the themes and the messages justice, but if you aim for perfection, it’s never going to get shared and no one else will ever get to read it.

But those are big messages for me to discuss perhaps in more detail another time. All I’m really trying to say is that I cannot write action and I need to. This story needs action, it needs its fight sequences. I also need to be able to write about how a chair sits in the corner of a room. You might be thinking, how can you be a writer if you can’t write about room layouts? It’s a good question, but I will tell you, I have friends who want to be writers too who loathe writing dialogue, so we’ve all got our specialities, and mine is not how rooms look. But I will get there! Eventually. Research and improving on your weaknesses can be just as important as the writing itself.

The next immediate steps are working on the prophets, because prophecies are a major part of this universe, and they need a lot of work. On top of that, I need to look into buildings and structures and castles (and how to describe them too), and how different cultures and countries built their homes. This is set in a fantastical past, so I need to brush up on some history. There’s a lot of travelling between countries and towns, and so there needs to be more work done in terms of differentiating between these structures and solidifying different cultures and traditions. There’s probably even more I need to do too, it really is a mammoth task creating a world like this, and I want it to feel real. Even though it does feel monumental and like the list of things I need to work on keeps growing, I absolutely love it, and I really cannot wait for the day I get to share it with people.

As a final note, I submitted my last assignment a few days ago, and it was so freeing. Whilst I no longer have deadlines and essays and readings weighing over my head, I’m going to be working a lot more, so this doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to have more free time. What it does mean though is that, although I’m still waiting for results and my degree classification, I can now give myself completely over to writing, the shackles of education have been left behind. I’m so excited to finally be able to dedicate entire weekends to these projects instead of essays now. I will still have work, so progress might not be much quicker, but I feel freer, and I think that’ll have such positive ramifications for these projects.

Until next time.

Robyn x

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