Past Me Versus the Real Me

So, as many of you know, Heir of Elendri: Destiny's Lure is my first novel. I started working on her nearly ten years ago. Jeez, that's a long time.

Now, prior to working on this novel, my writing had always been much, much shorter. A lot of poems and short stories. In fact, Heir of Elendri: Destiny's Lure started out as a short story titled “Celyna.” Until a friend of mine read it and said “I can totally see this as a book. You should keep it going.” And then when it reached novella status titled “Celyna: Heir of Elendri” my friend said “I can totally see this as a novel. You should keep it going.” And then when it reached novel status my husband said “I can totally see this as the next epic movie trilogy. You should keep going.”

Ten years after starting that short story, I am still working on and revising “Heir of Elendri: Destiny's Lure.”

Now, I have written several other projects. Some for myself and some for clients. And there are new practices that I have now that I really wish I had known about or done when I started working on this story. Or when I decided to convert it over to a novel.

For one thing, Heir of Elendri: Destiny's Lure was written in Microsoft Word. I know right? Don't get me wrong, MS word is okay. But it's linear. Which means if I am working on chapter 45 and need to check on and reference something that happened in chapter 12, I have a lot of page scrolling and skimming to do.

Now, my projects are exclusively written in Scrivener. So much better for so many reasons, not the least of which is being able to check on and reference a chapter in just a click.

Ten years ago, I knew a good story when I read one. I knew how to string sentences together. I knew grammar and spelling.

I did not know how to structure a good story. A skeleton. I figured you just started telling the story and as events unfolded you adjusted and your characters did stuff. Basically. So I never outlined. I didn't care about plot points. Just so long as the story moved and the characters grew.

Since then, I've had a few clients insist that I use specific plot points or beat sheets for their work. And regardless of where you stand on the “should I use a beat sheet” debate, these have really helped me to see and understand the skeleton holding the story up. Yes, of course all those other elements are important, they make up the muscle and vital organs of the story. But now with a deeper understanding of how plot points work, I know how to build a stronger story faster.

So today, as I am (yet again) revising Heir of Elendri: Destiny's Lure, it occurred to me just how different I am as a writer since I started writing her. My entire process is different than it was when I first started. And it really shows as I try to go in and adapt this book to match my new process (like, importing it into Scrivener, for one thing).

2 thoughts on “Past Me Versus the Real Me”

  1. That does sound like a difficult process. I write with pen and paper, do my editing with cross-outs and arrows and then enter it into wordpad. I make a printout and shuffle the printed pages around. Lastly, I copy the pieces into one Microsoft word document. I finally realized recently that I should have kept a list of characters and made up language words. I find typing directly into MS word very slow and awkward. I find I can draw an arrow with a pen a lot faster than cut and paste, and I'd rather flip through paper pages to find something. If I'm really stuck I go as a last resort to my accumulated MSWord document and use the "find" function. Thoughts flowing through a pen onto a piece of paper seems to engender less interference from technicalities. Remembering some cut and paste or other operation seems to break up and interfere with thought.

  2. Hi! Pen and paper are still two of the most important pieces of equipment in my house. I have found as I get older, my wrist gives out long before my characters do. So now, I keep most of my notes on legal pads next to my computer. Scribbles, arrows, giant circles, favorite quotes, reference points, printed photos for inspiration.


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