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Thoughts on Getting Things Done

As a discovery writer, I’m never entirely sure how I manage to turn chaos into order. “Instinct” is my go-to explanation, but I can’t be certain about a cause whose operation I can’t describe. All I know is that, nine times out of ten, connections will be made if I just keep writing. It takes some amount of skill to recognize and capitalize on those connections, yes, but I couldn’t have foreseen them before they appeared on the page. Maybe I’m just such an editor at heart that I can’t get truly creative until there’s some preexistent material to mold and finesse.

Things don’t play out according to some grand master plan I dreamt up beforehand. Instead I simply put in the work, never quite sure where it’ll lead, and things always seem to work out okay despite my uncertainty.

I feel like there’s a life lesson here.

Exposition Position

Excitement is afoot in Arlam!

First off, some big names are currently reading A Sea Sought in Song. Saying more would be imprudent at this point, but hopefully I’ll have positive news to report soon. Anything could happen.

Secondly, Book Three passed 55K words this past week, and continues to climb. A few months ago I realized that an encounter I’d begun describing carried more ramifications than I’d anticipated, and required additional setup. So I skipped back several chapters to insert several thousand words’ worth of character development, and have been working my way toward my last point of departure ever since. It’s going great. This section of the book involves a ton of exposition (at last, the answers you seek!), and it’s required my full attention to keep it from degenerating into a perfunctory data dump. But fear not: some of the revelations in Part One of Book Three count as the most thrilling stuff I’ve written to date, at least to me.

And yet I can’t wait for the upcoming scenes in Part Two. As characters begin to converge and subplots to commingle, this tale’s gonna blow wide open—slowing my progress with exponentially-expanding complexity.

But I did go ahead and write its epilogue already. That’s the second one of those I’ve tapped out on my phone whilst wedged into a seat on a crosscountry flight, so I guess that makes for a tradition. The strange, freefloating mental state engendered by being alone in a crowd at 30,000 feet has leant itself to the task of epilogue-writing, since the last two have been set so completely outside the normal parameters of the narrative.

I do feel similarly about my publication prospects at the moment. Things are happening, quite swiftly in some cases, but I can’t see out the windshield to anticipate what’s next. Instead I must content myself with awkward glances over a stranger’s shoulder at the unfamiliar terrain flowing past me far below. But such is life.

Milestones and Setbacks #342b

Time for an update!

First off, Book Three passed the 50K-word milestone a few weeks ago. It continues to expand and coalesce into something that not only excites, but also moves me in unexpectedly deep ways. I’m juggling more locations, interwoven subplots, and POV characters than ever before. I’d expected this book to run to roughly the same length as its predecessors, but now I think it may have to go longer. It definitely hasn’t reached the halfway point yet.

Secondly, it is with great ambivalence that I report Ilina’s failure to woo David Farland. That’s right—my follow-up entry to Writers of the Future didn’t so much as place. Which is perplexing to me, as I consider it a much stronger story than the one which netted me an honorable mention earlier this year. But be that as it may: neither entry was written to win a contest. They were merely the most self-contained excerpts I was able to extract from the much larger “Seed of Glory Sown in Sorrow” narrative.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any other such excerpts up my sleeve. The rewriting that’d be necessary to detach another chapter from its contextual matrix would require more time and effort than I’m willing to invest in something that wouldn’t directly serve the story I’m telling. So I hereby abandon my pursuit of WOTF glamour. FutileFistShakeAtSky.gif

Onward!

Pretty Paper

My WOTF certificate from the first quarter of 2019 arrived by mail today. It certainly looks legit. Though L. Ron’s ginormous gilt endorsement has been posthumously appended, the signature of David Farland appears real enough.

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So now that Hugh has been honorably mentioned, we’ll see how Ilina fares. An episode from her backstory is currently charging the Great Farland Wall. For those of you interested, it appears—with minor adjustments—among the first four chapters of A Sea Sought in Song. And if you’d like to see what it was that convinced David Farland to sign such a pretty paper, The Pull is available here.

The Plot-Paint Thickens

Now that the work of selling my series has passed out of my hands, I’ve been free to focus on finishing Book Three—a wild waltz through a kaleidoscope of espionage. It’s good to be back in the saddle and traversing new ground. As of now, I’ve completed 45% of my initial 100k-word goal for the novel.

But the thing about kaleidoscopes of espionage is that they demand plotting. Which is not my strong suit. Ugh. Fortunately, it’s actually quite simple to create a complex plot if you know the secret three-step formula: (1) create a simple plot, (2) identify all its holes, and then (3) explain them. Voila!

So if I’m being honest, my plotting process looks a lot like a four-year-old’s interrogation.

Me: “Why does W happen?”
Also me: “Well, I guess because X.”
Me: “But why does X happen?”
Also me: “Well, I guess because Y.”
Me: “But why does Y happen?”
Also me: “Well, I guess because Z.”
Me: “But why …”



In other news, the inimitable Hannah Gunderson, Painter of Arlam, has unveiled a gorgeously pensive new portrait of Ilina Lightkeeper.

Ilina03_v01