“So, dude, you’re working on 3 books simultaneously? Why?”
Uh, yeah. Good question. It’s just how I work, although I can’t imagine anyone else doing it the way I do.
The first book is a prequel for Standing The Final Watch. It came about this way:
When I finished the first draft of the book, it was 170k words. Max for a debut author should be around 90,000. Yikes! However, a story line had been floating around in my mind for the first part that I rejected because it interrupted the flow of the original concept. When I created two halves, the previously set aside plot was a perfect fit.
Honestly, I think it was intended this way. Maybe God, maybe my sub-conscious, I don’t know, but the new plot was ideal and I fell in love with the new characters, especially the psychotic (?) young woman who likes hurting (mostly bad) people.
I had no idea these characters had their own backstory, and, as it turns out, they have become a pivotal part of the entire canon. Thus, the prequel. This is their story, how they came to be who they are now and a direct lead-in to STFW.
So that’s what will eventually be Book One of The Last Brigade, with STFW as book two. Book Three, as yet untitled but possibly The Blood of Patriots, is finished and has had two edits. Book Four, untitled, is 14,000 words long so far.
“Why do it this way? Doesn’t it hurt the books?”
I follow plot threads, and sometimes these transcend a book. Everything in book four will be a direct result of what happened in the first three, with lots of Easter Eggs scattered around, BUT, to finish the subplot, I write it out in the following book even before plotting that novel. Same with the prequel. As I visualize scenes I put them where I think they belong. After that has gone on for a while, I start connecting them. For me, this makes everything better, because I can put in all sorts of hints and cool little things for the reader to discover and have an ‘aha’ moment. I love that stuff.
This is NOT how I wrote 30 years ago, when I plotted everything out, and edited while I went, and over thought everything and hated dialogue. Now, I don’t plot anything formally, I edited when I’m done, I have taught myself to disconnect from my fingers (my thoughts are typed before I realize it) and dialogue not only comes easily for me, I’m damned good at it. In fact, most of the scenes I write out first are nothing but dialogue…I would write an entire novel of nothing except dialogue if I thought that I could pull it off.
I cannot always remember scenes I want to write and I cannot use a scratch pad…don’t ask me why, I don’t know, it just doesn’t work for me. So if a scene (or a snippet or a line of dialogue) pops up in my mind, I have to get in in the computer then, not later. And yes, I’ve rolled out of bed at 3 am to write down a dream before I forget it.
Every writer does it different and I don’t know if there are any lessons to be learned here. It’s my simple attempt to share a peculiar methodology, and to answer the question why I’m writing 3 books at once.
Oh, yeah, the third book, I forgot about that…it’s a fantasy novel totally unrelated to the others. Go figure.
Update: I had no sooner written the first draft of this blog when something triggered me to look up an actual part of Memphis history, a legendary place called Voodoo Village. It did and does exist. This led to an entire 700 word scene for the prequel, now finished in about 45 minutes. And THAT led to a short story idea for a contest, using the same characters and involving an incident I refer to in the prequel. Damn, I love this! And that’s why my way works for me.