Monday, November 07, 2005

I've Come a Long Way

Today, I get to work on Book Three in earnest. I sort of already started, since yesterday I went to the same spot where I brainstormed most of Enchanted, Inc. and re-read all my notes, then did a little more brainstorming. I'm hoping that being back in that place where I came up with so many ideas will trigger more ideas.

In a way it was a fun blast from the past. When I sat in that spot a little more than two years ago, that world was very shapeless. It was a lot of little ideas swirling around. Most of my characters were vague concepts, and few of them had actual names. Now I've written two books about those people, and they're real and alive to me. I was sitting in that spot when I first outlined the kind of person Katie would be. Most of those ideas are still true about her, but I got one thing wrong: my notes from that day mention that she's trying to be a more sophisticated "Kathleen." That never happened. She was always just "Katie" and okay with that. She's only "Kathleen" when she's in trouble. That brainstorming session was where I mentally cast some of the characters. Some of those castings didn't work out (I had to mentally fire Renee Zellweger as Katie because she was totally wrong for the role once we started "shooting"), and some worked out to a scary degree (as in, one of the actors in real life is more like the character he plays in my head than he has been in any role I'd seen him in -- to the point it's almost kind of freaky). This was when I realized that my idea for an executive who was brought to the future from a more medieval setting should actually be Merlin himself, and when I ended up swapping the core personality traits between Rod and Owen, which I think made both characters more interesting. You expect the guy who's really good looking to be charming and the guy who's not so hot but who uses an illusion to be bashful, but the other way around made them both deeper, richer characters, and I think that also had a ripple effect on the way the story shaped up.

I don't know if I had any similar breakthroughs yesterday, but then, I didn't know for sure that those were breakthroughs until much later. I mostly just focused on the emotional journeys for each character in this book, where I want to take them, what they've learned already and what they need to learn. Now I need to come up with events that will trigger those emotional things.

As I plunge into the writing madness, I'm trying to set up a few ground rules for myself. For one thing, I'm going to try to exercise at least half an hour a day. That's good for my health and my creativity. Plus, I'll be visiting my editor in New York around the time I hope to have my first rough draft finished, and I'd like to not look like I've been holed up in a cave for a month. I'm also going to try to devote half an hour a day to housework. I'll be coming out of my book haze at about the time to put up Christmas decorations, and I don't want to have to overhaul the whole house in order to do that. I have some gold stars I'll have to put on my calendar, and then I can think of a suitable reward if I'm good.

In other news, I finally got all my "congratulations, you're now a member" stuff from SFWA. It gave me a real sense of how far I've come. No, it wasn't the membership card (cool! A membership card!) that did the trick. It was the envelope it all came in. The directory, back issues of the magazine and all that came in a big manilla envelope, pretty much exactly the kind of envelope I used to send as SASE with my submissions, and the bulk of it was about the size of a proposal. I'm used to seeing that kind and size of envelope in my mailbox as a likely rejection. The moment I saw it, I had a bit of a panic attack. Then I remembered that I don't have any submissions unaccounted for, I send everything to my agent in e-mail, and when she gets rejections, she just e-mails the rejection letter to me. I can now see a bulky manilla envelope in my mailbox and not assume that it's bad news. That, my friends, is progress in the life of a writer.

No comments: