Today’s post is a bit of a celebration, a bit of an update, and a bit of a reflection. This rambling is one I hope my fellow writers can relate to, because it concerns one of the best possible moments that come to you as an author.
I should start by remarking how hard it is to fix a problem with your work in progress when you’re not sure–or you’re wrong about–what the problem is at core.
That was my problem with the novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo last year. I read through the draft, and I knew something was off and would cause me trouble down the line. But for four months I’ve been trying to figure out how to fix things.
I have finally had a break-through.
THE BEAUTY OF A BREAKTHROUGH
This book is the first in what I’m hoping will turn into a new series set in my fantasy kingdom of Herezoth. A romantic subplot had lots of issues in terms of credibility, and my major plot was leading up to a war that for various reasons did not seem viable.
I somehow managed to solve both isssues–BOTH–with a simple realization that I had the kingdoms at war wrong (more on that below). That moment of realization is simply: it’s the best part of writing. SUCH the best part.
- It’s realizing all the months I’ve sunk into my project aren’t wasted time like I’d feared (and almost had come to accept).
- It’s understanding that I won’t have to bid new characters I really do love an early farewell.
- It’s calming and peaceful, like a sweet purring kitten greeting you at the door and climbing onto your lap to snuggle after a really rough day.
- It’s joyful and full of expectant hope, like the sweet love in the voice of my toddler nephew when he pulls on my arm and says, “Aunt Vic, Aunt Vic: you want to come in my playroom with me?”
All of a sudden, everything just feels right. The plot and the characters finally mesh, and it all make sense.
Of course, I’ll need to make some serious changes to the plot as I have it right now. More changes than I’ve ever done before, actually.
I’m excited for this upcoming edit because it means a big development and a totally new experience in my writing career.
I’ve started a novel over after 50,000 words, but I have never altered the main plot of a completed first draft to the extent I’m about to overhaul “The Esclavan Abductions.” Not even close.
I’ll be changing the “outer scenario” in which the major events of my novel take place, if that makes sense. They’ll be more believable now. I’ll have to rewrite the book’s final chapter, but beyond that, just minor tweaking of the major action scenes.
The new context makes me so much more excited about my favorite moments in the novel…. I feel amazing. And it’s been a while since I’ve felt good about things 🙂
I am so ready for the challenge!
WHAT I REALIZED
For those who are interested, I’d like to break down exactly what I had wrong and how I fixed it.
There are three island kingdoms in my fantasy world.
- Herezoth is the main kingdom, known for its sorcerers.
- A long way off (about a month by sea) is Traigland. Traigland is an ally of Herezoth.
- The third kingdom, on Traigland’s far side, is Esclavay. Esclavay is an enemy state of the other kingdoms and runs on a slave economy.
“The Esclavan Abductions” sets up for a war between Herezoth and Esclavay and a romance–almost an impossible romance–between the king’s sister and one of her guardsmen.
I had a lot of misgivings concerning that war. First of all, Herezoth has magic on its side, which would make a war with Herezoth pretty one-sided and enslaving its citizens a very dumb idea.
Second, the kingdoms are just too far away, given the lack of modern technology, for a war to really make sense in a way that’s engaging in fiction or could involve the characters I’ve developed.
And then, the romance subplot has always driven me nuts. (Read here about how I pulled lots of strings just to keep the dang guardsman alive).
What I realized–finally!– is:
It’s not Herezoth that needs to be the focus of war with Esclavay. It’s Traigland.
Traigland will need Herezoth’s support (because Herezoth knows Esclavay can take Traigland, and with Traigland’s resources, Esclavay would come after Herezoth next.)
I’m smelling arranged marriage now, involving the king’s sister and a Traiglandian nobleman. I’ve never written about an arranged marriage in my Herezoth novels, but the plot point will open tons of possibilities for the romantic subplot that felt forced to me before.
I have no idea if the arranged marriage will come to be or not, or what the heck is going to happen where the princess and her guardsman are concerned, but I think it definitely needs to be an option my characters consider. So….
LOTS of new possibilities.
Have you experienced a serious breakthrough in your writing before? How did you celebrate? What made the breakthrough so significant?
After all, we writers need to stick together and share success stories as well as commiserate 🙂