Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Too Much of a Good Thing

Sometimes I hate my brain.

For the last couple of entries I’ve been talking about my efforts to write a closed romance series—seven books that follow sets of characters meeting up and falling in love while telling a single long story. I’ve already run into problems, chief among them my glacially slow writing pace—seriously, empires could rise and fall in the time it takes me to write a single 50,000 word novel—and the fact pantsers shouldn’t try to write a series, except for loosely related standalone books. If you can dig up Marion Zimmer Bradley’s essay on how the Darkover “series” evolved, you’ll understand what I’m talking about.

Anyway, I figured out I’d need seven books. I decided what would happen (in general terms) in each book, came up with titles and characters, decided on the overall storyline, and started writing Book 1. So far, so good.

Then the fun began. My bad guys are vampires; my good guys are a family dedicated to stopping them. I was at least three chapters in when Brain tossed inspiration my way: what if the woman, who’s supposed to fall for the two handsome heroes, comes from a family that sided with the vampires a hundred years ago? After all, vampires need human servants. Somebody has to be available during the day to pay bills, answer the phone, go to the grocery store, and above all make the house looked lived in so nobody goes poking around. The woman’s family served this purpose, and were all but wiped out, along with the vampires, because of it. By the heroes’ ancestors. Their family killed her family. That’ll put a crimp in the ol’ romantic plotline, wouldn’t you say? Ah, conflict. The lifeblood of fiction.

I decided to run with it. Which meant a total overall of Book 1’s plot, and I’d barely even started on it. I went back, redrafted Chapter 2—

And got stuck. Stopped dead in my tracks on a scene I’d already written. I knew where I was headed, but I just couldn’t make myself progress.

Here’s why: If you’ll check back to my previous post, you’ll see I actually decided on eight books—the seven in the main series, and a backup standalone I could maybe use as a springboard for another connected story arc, or as a placeholder between arcs. But I wouldn’t have to worry about that one for awhile, because the series was meant to go first.

Three guesses which book Brain wants to write. And Brain won’t take no for an answer.

It gets worse. Just for the hell of it, I wrote the opening to Book 8. I added a throwaway character who wasn’t supposed to last beyond Chapter 1. Think again, said Brain. Not only is the “throwaway” now a major player and vital to the resolution of the story, she may be getting her own book once the first series is done. I already know who she ends up with. Whether it still leads to another story arc, I have no idea at this point. All I know is, I have a whole other storyline that wants to get written right effin’ now, putting the original seven-book series on hold.

Brain is doing this deliberately. All this “creativity” is my subconscious throwing roadblocks in my way so I’ll end up not writing anything. It’s an insidious form of procrastination designed to screw me up.

Well, up yours, Brainy boy. I’ve got your number, and you lose. That former standalone Book 8 just became part of the main series. It’s Book 3 now. Book 8 will be the finale. Then I can start a new story with the former throwaway character, if I haven’t reduced myself to ash by then. Nobody ever said writing, or life, was easy.

Innocent, carefree non-writers ask, “Where do you get your ideas?” Mine come from a dark pit inside my subconscious, thrown at me by my own brain like boulders from a catapult, meant to shatter my castle walls so my resolve leaks out. Well, the joke’s on you. I’m writing this series and you can’t stop me. I just ha ve to write the books out of order. All eight, nine, or ten of them. Oy. Why didn’t I take Art in college?

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