I started this blog well after I’d written my first draft of Blue Violet and had done several rounds of editing on my own. Consequently, my blogging for the process around that book was mostly on the professional editing, publishing, and now marketing phases. I didn’t get to blog about the process of writing the book itself. Now I find myself smack dab in the middle of of writing the second book in the Svatura series – Hyacinth. And I am excited to get a chance to document this process from the beginning.
I’m not sure how it works for other authors. I’m guessing it’s different for each individual. Some may outline excessively and some use a more organic process. For me it’s sort of a combination of both. I usually start writing with a very general idea in my head – main characters, main adversaries, high level plot points. I might even outline it a bit. It’s the getting my characters from point A to point B that is the organic piece.
I’ve posted before that with Blue Violet I would write a scene until I got stuck. Then I’d highlight yellow where I needed to go back and fill in or connect later, and move to a new scene. I would move between scenes and get ideas on how certain characters might interact, or how a background point might influence them. I’d then go back to previously written scenes to add more around these new points and have those new ideas flow through. For Hyacinth… yup… this process still works for me. (Phew! It wasn’t just a one off!)
Here’s where I’m hitting a rough spot with Hyacinth… it’s the second book in a series (likely of four). Not a shocker I know. You would think that if anything the second book would be easier. The characters and the plot are already introduced… already on their way. Jump started for me. But it also introduces two potential pitfalls I didn’t have to deal with as much in the first book…
First pitfall is continuity. As I was writing Blue Violet if I came up with a really cool concept that didn’t jive with a previously written section of the book, I’d just go back and change the previously written section. Can’t do that now. Blue Violet is out there. I can’t go back and change it and readers will totally call me on anything that doesn’t gel. So in some ways it’s forcing me to get even more creative. (Or sometimes even to save that new cool concept for a different book down the road – I have a lot more in me, I promise! I have some seriously awesome ideas around dragons, and also something around the Book of Ruth from the Bible – but incognito. You’ll see…)
Second pitfall is a seriously good plot line that will last three more books. Blue Violet was the intro – get the ball rolling. I have an idea of where the major plot line is going for the next three. I’m pretty sure that the overarching idea I have is new enough, unique enough to carry it through and appeal to readers in a big way. But it still needs tweaking. And as I write Hyacinth I have that in the back of my mind the entire time. I’m I setting it up enough? Am I saving enough for the next books without sacrificing the quality of this one? Am I making sure this goes in a direction that feeds the higher plot line?
Even with all these questions chasing around in my head, I can tell you already, only 90 pages into the first draft, Hyacinth is even better than Blue Violet. And I happen to think that Blue Violet is pretty darn good.