Thursday, September 11, 2014

How a book was born

It was about 3 years ago when I sat down and began putting together ideas for a new novel. I'd started writing books before, and some of those had even gotten past the first few chapters, but I'd never gotten more than halfway through any of them. The impetus to reach the finish line just wasn't there, and the motivation would just fizzle out eventually.

This time would be different, I told myself. This time I'd try something new: a grand new scheme they called NaNoWriMo! For those of you who haven't heard of it, that's the National Novel Writing Month, and it takes place every November. The idea is simple - start a new novel on November 1 and keep writing until you have at least 50,000 words by November 30. Sometime around August, I decided I'd take the challenge and then spent the next 2 months or so prepping to write a new book. Outlines, character profiles, pages and pages of mostly incoherent notes, spreadsheets with character data, all that good stuff.

But before all that, I had to know what book I was going to write! That idea was born when I thought about the medieval fantasy world I'd written most of my other stories in; I'd been building that world, mostly inside my own head, since 7th grade or so. So I had lots of stories and adventures lined up all over the map, and I started going through each of those ideas to see if it was the Right One for Right Now.

And what I settled on was actually nothing I'd thought of before. I wanted to write something Game of Thrones-esque, since I'd enjoyed the 1st season of that show earlier that year. You know, lots of perspective characters with multiple storylines meshing together in one gigantic web of holy-crap-this-is-epic. I also wanted the basic plotline to involve a love triangle where the romantic choices would have far-ranging repercussions. And those inspirations led me to the story of Ebreyon Marin, the young King of Yenmas who has won his wars...and now must secure his reign by finding a suitable Queen.

Ebreyon didn't materialize out of nowhere in August 2011; I'd actually written a fairly lengthy story about his mother, Erinya, who was born on the Yenmarian Prairie and became a footsoldier in the capital, which then led to her chance encounter with the youngest Prince of Yenmas, Tensarus...her eventual husband. That story, which was far from complete when I set it aside in 2001 or so, ended with Yenmas falling to the Empire of Xades. One of the only survivors from the Royal family was Erinya, who gave birth to twins at the very end (in a very Luke and Leia New Hope kind of way).

So Ebreyon and his twin sister Selana had existed for a while in the giant twisting M.C. Escher sketch of my mind. I'd always known how they came to exist and how they factored into some of the other stories I was planning to write, but I'd never sat down and thought about their adult lives as Ebreyon took the throne and Selana became his closest adviser. Now I did.

And, like the Big Bang, the world exploded out from there. A vast majority of the characters of The Queenschair were born in September and October 2011; some of the most significant ones even arrived on the scene after the outlining and writing were well under way. That's the way it goes sometimes - you don't see everything from the beginning, no matter how meticulously you might prepare. And I'd say it's better that you don't, or else there's no spontaneity in it!

An early version of the logo for The Queenschair

In November 2011, I ran the NaNoWriMo gauntlet and wrote a shade over 57,000 words...and the book wasn't even half done. For once I kept at it and didn't abandon it; it never became stale or boring to me. And in June 2012 I had a complete 1st 160,000 words. I'd finished my first book, EVER!

The 2 years since that day have seen a lot of editing, revising, and general angsting about how to make the book better, how to touch up the language, and then how to package the whole thing so it not only reads well but catches the eye. The finished product is what (I hope) you'll be reading in early October 2014.

And then you can tell me if my time was well spent :)

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