“Plan your work and work your plan” – has anyone besides me ever rolled their eyes at this business dictum? I do like a bit of planning, but perhaps it’s because I’ve spent most of my life in art that the “work your plan” half of it sounds overly optimistic for me.
For example, the Year of Fiction Sales – 2010 – I originally planned to submit 100 pieces of fiction or poetry in a year. I actually sent in 250, which stunned me. Wow – who knew I had that level of energy for what is, essentially, sales? Okay, maybe some of my friends are shaking their heads, but I wasn’t aware I had it, okay?
On the other hand, my plan to collect 100 rejections for “The Swan Harp” this year has ground to a halt because someone is interested in the novel. I don’t feel I can send it out to anyone else when there’s interest expressed by someone I know and trust not to say such a thing lightly.
At the moment I’m doing more planning than is my wont for a novel. I thought about the first book of the trilogy for nearly twenty years before putting pen to paper. I haven’t had the same amount of time to think about the second and third books, and perhaps that’s why I find myself making more planning notes about those stories.
This isn’t an outline, or anything like it, really. It’s more a list of things that I think of that need to happen, or to be included. For example, I have notes about language, clothing, weaponry, names and social structure as well as plot notes. When the final book comes around, I’ll have four different peoples involved, and I need to make them all – for lack of a better phrase – autonomous and convincing. I read, I think, I look at pictures, I imagine scenes, and I wonder “where would they get…” whatever it is I think they should have.
I’m also planning conflict. There are two kinds of battle in this series; magical ones and physical ones. I feel I have a considerable advantage in writing both. First, I’m a practicing witch and I’ve also spent many years reading fairy tales, myths and legends, and fantasy both good and not-so. I know how to construct a working magical system, and how to build in the cues that let the reader know why something did or didn’t work. Second, I spent many years as a fighter in the Society for Creative Anachronism, and in playing war games with miniatures on sand tables. This gives me a better-than-average working knowledge of weaponry, tactics, strategy and how it feels to be in a sword fight. I’m not saying it’s perfect, but it’s way better than nothing.
In June – when I’ll already have been immersed in my book for several weeks – the hard-core binge writers are having another weekend of eat-sleep-and-write. The notes I’m making now will help me forge ahead with the second book. Perhaps I’ll even write a scene or two on the third.
That’s the plan, anyway. We’ll see if it works.