I just noticed something that is funny and terrible about the writing of DAYS OF BLOOD & STARLIGHT. It's a grand 'headdesk' moment but I have to share it because it is kind of my writing "process" writ plain, in all of its "don't try this at home" glory (because you too will go crazy).
Those little "You might also likes" at the bottom of each post led me to make this connection.
There's this post.
And there's this post:
The first claims:
"I am put in mind of . . . because of where I'm at now in my work in progress. I have come upon the Big Things that were on the story horizon -- the things that make me most excited about writing this book (the sequel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone). Big Things. Big Ideas. Big Plot. Back when I was brainstorming it and plotting (in the fall) I had a "OHMYGODTHAT'SSOCOOL!" brainwave that made the whole thing click into place, and now I am upon that thing! Yay!"
The second claims:
"Right now I am in REALLY good spirits about the whole thing because the last few days have been great. Two 3000-word days in a row (a VAST LOT for me!) and the realization AT LAST of the scene that was the A-HA! moment for the whole book, way back when it was first germinating in my brain well over a year ago."
Okay, so I'm talking about the same scene, the same a-ha! moment in both posts. If you've read DAYS, I'll tell you: the thing I'm talking about, and which absolutely was the plot "snick" of the whole book, toward which I was driving the plot the entire time, the thing that made me know I had a book in my head, was ... well, without spoiling anyone who hasn't read it yet, the deception. Or the Deception with a capital D. And in both of the posts referenced above, I believed I was writing that scene, or almost writing it.
The thing is ... look at the dates on those posts.
Yeah. They're a year apart. A YEAR. So what was happening in that YEAR??? The thing is: the first post, I was wrong. I was not almost there, and in fact everything that I had written up till that point was wrong. Well, not entirely. I was able to use bits and pieces, but really, it was months of scaffolding, all that writing: the stuff you need to write in order to find the story, and which will get torn down later, leaving no trace of toil? Months of work that did not make it into the book, but which were not for nothing. They were a necessary part of the work. From the outside, it makes me crazy a little bit, that my process is like that, but I also accept it.
Well, it's not always like that. Sometimes the story rolls itself out like a carpet and there it is. DAUGHTER did that, at least after the first section was written and everything was figured out. (Beginnings are always hardest for me.) But mostly I have to struggle with a lot of "Nope, that's not it eithers" before I find the form of the story that I'm looking for. It's kind of a bitch. But on the bright side, when a story does manifest easily, it's like the greatest gift of the gods, unbearable beatitude.
What happened with that scene/idea/plot-point was that at first I thought it would be a turning point early in the book, but as I wrote, I discovered that it was actually a critical part of the climax. It had to be built up to and earned. You know the "terror of the middle"? Most writers I know experience some terror over the vasty middle of the book, and having to fill it up with things happening, awesome things that move the plot and hold the reader rapt. It's hard! And for me the big work of writing a book is creating a story and set of characters in which that vasty middle becomes an organic thing, where the things that fill it feel "true," like they're what "really happened" in this alternate reality I'm cooking up. Where it doesn't feel like I'm struggling to fill anything up, but like this story is growing and racing and expanding and there is so much life it's difficult to contain it all in the pages. That's what I'm always seeking, and it takes a fair bit of work up front to make the characters and their situations real enough that the middle begins to unfold itself organically. So that's the scaffolding. That's why the two above posts exist, because back in May of 2011 I didn't realize I was still building scaffolding. It was a bit of a hard road, when that became clear, and what was happening for that year in between was that I was actually writing the book.
This puts me in mind of one of the Writing Tips I did for Publisher's Weekly. Did you see that? Full post here. The one I mean is this, part of #4:
Cultivate the attitude that every word you write need not end up in the book. Some things are just exercises, part of the process of discovery. Be willing to do more work than will show. The end result is all that matters. Be huge and generous and fearless.
Also, from #2:
Never fall still, and don’t be lazy.
Good day, friends. Back to work!