Because NaNoWriMo fast approaches I’ve shared how planning was the building blocks to enriching my novels. More specifically, I’m talking about planning for a fantasy novel.
For me that means a history, maps, an outline, and finally a draft that’s followed by multiple edits over a long period. Each step enables additional insight. In many ways the steps I mentioned are incomplete if I don’t talk about characters.
Yes, I do characters sketches, but I also let the characters live in my narrative outline that’s often dotted with snippets of dialogue, moments I don’t want to lose when they surface. I usually change them drastically, but they do help me capture the mood and gain insight into the characters.
That’s happening now as I write the narrative outline for So Others Might Remember, the third book in Riparia’s series. (My NaNo project is setup!) I’ve reached the 3rd plot point and have spent a lot of time as of late taking walks and doing anything else that stirs brainstorming. Oh, I had the last act framed in my notes and the preliminary outline I worked out, but I want more detail and emotion in my formal narrative.
It finally happened this week for the ending as I saw scenes so vivid I knew they had to be right. Likewise, the specific setting for the end began to take shape.
Of course, I’ve been here before…
Bk2, A River in Each Hand, played out the same way, a series of building blocks that deepened the story as they appeared, their presence in turn helping add more blocks.
The opening of that novel, which has only seen one edit, is a good example.
Weeks ago I talked about the town of Sprawn in the Wilder Hills and how it was an isolated town of cutthroats and hunted rebels. It was a town where rain was almost a constant and it was as if the land was trying to purge itself of the revolting humans who’d overrun sacred ora’ean lands.
The town’s evolution has been anything but straight forward.
In the earliest versions of the history the ora’ean remained and Sprawn was one of the last settlements in the Interior Forest. Over time, though, I decided to take the series in a different direction, modernizing it and giving it a more steampunk feel. The ora’ean, it turned out, had long ago returned to their homeland in Forstava and their settlement was abandoned.
Or maybe not…
What if the forest’s natural protectiveness had weakened over the centuries without the ora’ean presence and could no longer fully protect Sprawn, which was located along its edge? What if those described above had moved in and claimed it as their own? What if a woman, Riparia Dellbane, who’d never otherwise enter such a town, did so?
All these questions surfaced when planning the opening for the novel. More details about the town were added in the planning process and then in the drafting where much is learned about Riparia (it’s the opening chapters) and her companions.
Some might say having all that information diminishes the drafting process. Well, not for me. For me, all those facts are just facts that serve to set the stage for the play, but it’s the actors interpreting the script that makes the story come alive: