Yesterday night was miraculous 🙂 I was lying in bed trying to fall asleep and running all kinds of plans for my next novel–a prequel to my Herezoth trilogy–through my head, and I hit upon the perfect scenario, or “concept.” I’ve been trying for MONTHS to come up with an idea that was both interesting as a prequel and workable. I couldn’t envision anything that made sense according to the history and the culture I had established for Herezoth and that would also hold a reader’s attention.
Anyone who’s ever written a novel could say–along with Stephen King in his “On Writing”–that a novel doesn’t start with plot. It starts with a concept of some situation that has the workings of a fun story. Plot and characters come LATER, either through an outline or via flying by the seat of your pants (my preferred writing method!). When you can sum up a novel in a “what if” question, that’s your concept (again, this is King). For “The Crimson League,” the first Herezoth novel, my concept was, “What if a noble-born sorcerer took control of a kingdom in a coup and a resistance group arose to fight him?” What I have now for my prequel is that “what if,” and I could not be more excited.
It’s a magical moment to have that concept firmly in hand and to start pondering the possibilities it opens up. It’s like a wide-open road that could lead anywhere at all, because you can’t see the specifics and the details yet of where you’re going. You’re like Dorothy at the start of the yellow brick road, except you don’t know whether it leads to the Emerald City, or Kansas, or somewhere else entirely. Personally, I think it would be cool to walk a yellow brick road back to the New Orleans of my childhood. I miss home.
Now, I’m a “rank sentimentalist,” just like Rick Blaine in my favorite movie (cool points if you can name it!), and I’m SO stoked to think about writing about some of my favorite characters again. Since “The Crimson League” paints a civil war, many characters don’t make it through, and it’s been years since I’ve worked with some of them to any real extent. I’ll be able to take some of my beloved secondary characters from that first novel and make them the focus of their own adventure, pre-coup. I might even cross over to the dark side for this one and outline something ahead of time!
I cannot wait to see where this novel takes me! And I just have to know: How much are you a rank sentimentalist when it comes to your favorite characters (those you wrote or those of others?) If you’re a writer, what’s the concept of your novel? Please comment with a shameless plug. I and others are always looking for something new and fun to read! (As for MY shameless plug: “The Crimson League” will be FREE in e-book format September 3-5. Mark you calendars for the download!)