Story Engineering is Saving my Bacon!

For the past few weeks, I had a feeling that something had to change. I wasn’t happy with my protagonist, and my plot was all over the place, when it wasn’t adhering rather boringly to historical events. Something was missing. More than one something, probably.

I decided to take a break and read a book several writers had recommended to me, probably because I’m a “pantser.” I don’t know why I’m that way. In every other aspect of my life, I organize, outline and spreadsheet anything I can get my hands on. Anyway, the book is Larry Brooks’s “Story Engineering,” and only a few chapters in, I see the error of my ways.

Just about every problem I was having has already been addressed on some level.

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Multi-tasking fail

It seems I’m learning the hard way that I can’t write fiction and non-fiction on the same day. In theory, writing different things in two-hour blocks seems reasonable. In practice, my brain is completely unable to switch gears.

So, in the past few days, I’ve successfully written blog posts, worked on editing our next book, and less successfully, worked on a new blog template. That’s good! What’s not good is that I can’t do that stuff for a few hours, then get back into the novel.

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Oh wait . . . I’m not done!

So, by the end of NaNoWriMo, I thought I was more or less at the end of my novel. Since it’s the first in a series, I wasn’t entirely clear as to where the end should be, exactly. Then, my husband had the brilliant idea that I should just keep writing. After all, I’ve been keeping character trajectories in mind from the beginning, so sending them straight into book two should be pretty easy.

I loved this idea, because I’m just not ready to stop writing and to get started on the editing process. First though, I needed to work out my plot and characters. As I did that, I realized that I’d overlooked someone cool- Christian of Brunswick. My first thought had been to start his story in book two, but then I’d have to kill him off midway to open things up for Christian of Denmark. Could there possibly be any more Christians? Why yes, there can be! We’ve already got Christian of Anhalt in the mix.

Since this is all speculative anyway, I figure he’ll be an interesting character to work into Book one, especially since a couple of my male characters had fallen flat. But don’t tell anyone- I’ll revive them!

Initially, I thought I’d go for another 50K in December. Sure, I won’t have a lot of time, but I managed it in November in about 14 days total, so if I can write every other day, I could make it. Now I’m not so sure. I think my first priority should be to figure out this guy and plot his trajectory out to the end. That gives me a chance to spin out some of my other characters and get them into a better position for book two. Clear as mud? Yeah. This book is gonna be long!

I’m beginning to wonder if I’m wasting my time, trying to turn this into fantasy. I’m so averse to coming up with my own plot, that i’m sticking to the historical events very closely. It might actually be harder to create a fake alternate world than it is to just write straight-up historical fiction. Well, I guess I don’t have to make a decision now. I’ll carry on as I am, and maybe I’ll find a use for magic and dragons in there somewhere.