I’m 8500 words into the second “Seasons” short story I talked about down below. It’s kind of slow going because it didn’t all pop into my head in a single shot like the first one did.
When it comes to writing, I’m a horrific pantser. Which, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, means “seat of the pants writer”. I don’t plot; I write stuff that comes into my head and then I link it together. If something I wrote doesn’t work, it gets tossed. Stuff gets changed on the fly. There’s no crying in pantser writing.
Now, this isn’t really a problem if you’re writing a short story, or maybe even a novella, but without a plot outline, writing a novel with a complicated plot and multiple characters can become a real pain. I found that out when I wrote The Lion of God…or more to the point, when I was editing The Lion of God. The initial draft had plot holes you could drive a truck through. The draft I actually published may still have plot holes; I know it has mistakes that I’ve documented in another post. I’m being more careful with the sequel but I still don’t have a formal plot outline for it. It’s just all in my head and it’s still jelling. And there are a few snippets of later parts of the story that have outpaced the first three chapters that are materially finished. Actually….I’ve already written the ending. Pants. Definitely pants.
For what it’s worth, I do have a timeline for The Lion of God. Because even I can’t keep track of what happened when, across two timelines and sixty years of linear time in both of them.
Saving the Spring, on the other hand, was pretty much a “sit down and write it out in order” proposition. There was one section I didn’t write in sequence (the fight between Jack, Rufus, and Joelle, and Loki’s constructs). I wasn’t sure how to write it when I got to it, but the muse was pushing me to keep going. Since I knew what happened after the fight, I just jumped over it and came back later.
When I wrote The Reason, I knew where I was going from the start, because I’d already thought it out as backstory for The Lion of God. So that got finished pretty quickly; I spent more time polishing it (and researching after the fact — and let me warn you, unless you have a strong stomach, do not go researching fractures of the femur) than I did writing it.
Now we come to A Midsummer Night’s Hunt.
It’s being written in order, mostly. The story from start to 8,475 words is all one piece, without any sections marked “fill in later”. There’s a lot more Sarah in this one than in the other one, and that’s good; I like writing her. Valkyries turn out to be fun to write. Joelle, as I tried to suggest in the first story, still needs a little “seasoning” before she’ll be a good warrior; well, go look up the Norse goddess Nanna, and other than jumping on her husband’s funeral fire boat with him, tell me what she actually did in Asgard. Rufus is still a big, bluff, red-headed Nordic man-at-arms who happens to be the god Baldur (the aforementioned husband of Nanna, who bought it when Loki managed to sneak a dart made from mistletoe into the hands of Baldur’s blind brother Hodr, at a time when folks were shooting and tossing all kinds of stuff at Baldur, who was immune to anything except…well, you get it). Jack, now that he’s got his memories back, is the oldest of the bunch, and the natural leader of the group.
It’s no secret, really, that they’re hunting chupacabra in New Mexico. And I know why, and how that’s going to turn out, and (vaguely) how I’m going to get from where I am to there in another, hmm, 4,000 words or so.
Or maybe 5,000. Or 6,000. Whatever. Sooner or later (hopefully sooner, so I can get back to The Lion and The Lizard), it will be finished.
And then you’ll find out why Joelle’s Queen of Spring outfit is always perfectly clean, and why she never gets wounded in battle. It frankly puzzled me, till just the other night when I figured it out.
Þǫkk fyrir lesturinn!