My daughter has been about ready to combust lately over the story she’s about to write. She came away from the recent writers symposium full of ideas and eager to write, but with also with a firm determination to plan her story out before starting this time. It’s driving her crazy.
But I understand how she feels. I finished my last novel around just before Christmas. I’ve been world-building for my next novel ever since. And it’s been a worthwhile exercise. I know so much more about this world than I have any other I’ve written in, and I know how it informs the plot and the characters. Every layer of detail I add increases the potential conflicts within the story. If I can keep this all straight in my head (all the notes in the world are useless if you can’t remember when to consult them) this is going to be my best novel yet.
But the first scene is already taunting me, daring me to come write it. It’s the best first scene I’ve thought of yet–and I’ve thought of many as I keep developing the back story. I want to be writing this novel already. It’s going to be so much fun!
I’m trying to show discipline, though. I did a fair amount of planning for my last novel–the second draft, at least–and it still wasn’t enough. The setting, the plot, and the characters were all too sparse. While I don’t want to get caught in world-builder’s disease (always planning and never writing), I’d prefer to over-plan this time so I can see where the balance may lie.
I know there are parts of the world that will never be seen in this novel. But while I may not write about them, they may still influence things in the part of the world I am writing about. I’d like to get an idea of what I can safely ignore and what I need to flesh out. I don’t think I’ve hit the boundary yet.
Heavens, I don’t even know my protagonist’s name yet. I don’t even know more than a paragraph or two about him yet. Though I have some idea who the characters need to be, I don’t know anything about them. And I don’t have a plot yet–I have an excuse for all these people to be in the same place at the same time and end up in a big nasty mess. But plot? Nada.
But I still want to write this novel!
I need to remind myself that’s what I’m doing already. It’s just not the part that anyone else will get to read.