When I first dived into fan fiction and later branched out, the question of ‘how’ always remained. How does one write a novel? How does one built on their story and create something readers enjoy?
The question came not because I wanted to know the secret, if there was any, but because I was curious to see how other writers turned their imagination into amazing books that cluttered my shelves and kindle. And the answer is in the question itself. By writing. The rest follows.
Using a scene from season three episode eleven of my online series, The Five Kingdoms of Severi: the Keys of Destiny, I will show you a glimpse of the chaos that is my writing process. I write a few lines stating the overall action that will follow leaving the dialogue out.
Edwin struggles against the shadow beasts.
Alden catches up and tosses the sword to Edwin who in turn kills the three remaining beasts. They debate which way to go (if to return to the golems or try to find their way on their own). One of the rock golems stomps down the tunnel and offers to show them the way.
At this time I don’t worry about grammar, sentence structure, or anything else. Once satisfied I move on to define what I wrote. During this stage I expand, reorganize, delete or add as much or as little detail desired. I keep writing and playing the scenes over in my head like a movie, changing and molding the scenes.
Another important thing to know is that though I tend to write in present tense when doing basic outlining I prefer to write the actual story in past tense.
And the first sentence in the outline becomes….
The realization that he was being dragged away by two shadow beasts hit him and he struggled harder. He remembered the first time he had come across these creatures and that they had retained their solid form when they were clamping their jaws into him. His free leg smacked against the first shadow beast, taking the creature by surprise and giving Edwin the reaction he sought. Its fangs loosened and Edwin kicked harder, the heel of his boot digging into the cruel beast’s eye. A snarl reached his ears and the creature whelped finally releasing its hold.
With both his legs free Edwin turned his efforts towards the beast clamping down on his shoulder. The vile beast dug its fangs deeper into his flesh and continued to drag him further into the tunnel. Edwin tried to find something to slow the beast’s movements, his hands cutting into the sharp rocks before he could secure his grip on them.
I try to include description and words that trigger the senses. I try to put myself in my character’s shoes by asking myself what would I do and then asking what would my characters do. I replay the scene again in my mind weighting the pace and level of suspense it carries. I am a big fan of suspense and try to end not only each chapter but each scene, each paragraph, with suspense.
The process continues until the scene connects with the rest of the outline.
Thus the second part of the outline turns into….
“Let him go,” Alden’s voice cut through the gargling of teeth and a sword lashed out at the beasts. Both beasts turned to smoke and reformed near Edwin’s head.
Edwin scurried towards the young prince’s form and clung to his wounds, blood soaking his fingers.
“Are you all right?” Alden inquired, worry and fear causing his words to come out shaken and mumbled.
“Yes…thank you…” Edwin gasped, the pain he felt too strong to allow him to speak further. He looked up at his friend and the sword on Alden’s hand caught his attention.
“Thought you might like it back,” Alden explained handing the black haired youth the magical sword.
Edwin gripped the sword and struggled to his feet. The light from his and Alden’s crystals disappeared beneath the bright blue rays streaming from his sword. Like before when he was fighting the golems the sword’s light diminished and hovered around the blade. The shadow beasts retreated, sensing the threat the blue light contained, but their actions were not fast enough. Edwin’s sword came down on the first beast…
“What now?” Alden asked, staring back in the direction he had come. “Which way to the Chamber?”
“Allow me to show you the way young prince,” a booming voice echoed through the tunnel. The ground shook yet stayed intact as the wall ahead parted and a rock golem stomped towards them, it’s one remaining yellow eye void of anger and hate.
The dialogue in the second part is to the point. I tend to write stories with moderate or very little dialogue using what I do incorporate into the story as another means to add to the tension and suspense with a dab of humor here and there. For more on dialogue and its uses you can read my blog, Creating Dialogue that Works.
Revising and minor editing rears its head again and then it’s off to the editor.
Followed by more revising and editing once the editor sends back the corrections. And there you have it. Crazy right. Still clueless? That is in part because there never is a clear overview of what I am going to write. I sit down and write chapter per chapter, scene per scene, and jump around fleshing the chapter to its final draft before moving on to the next. I rarely write a complete first draft of a chapter much less the entire story. My first draft receives countless revisions and changes that it becomes second and third draft before it is finished.
Also, though I used an outline here, I am a Pantser at heart. I never outline an entire story (for the exception of book two of The Five Kingdoms of Severi), only various chapters or a scene or two here and there. But whether I use an outline or not the process is the same. I begin with writing something that comes to mind and that writing turns into more thoughts and probing for other possible outcomes. There is a lot of writing, rewriting, until I feel I have reached the right mixture. I write what I like. I pick from numerous ideas floating around in my brain fleshing out the ones that are thick with suspense and angst.
If you would like to read the final draft of this scene and the rest of the story drop by BigWorldNetwork. All three seasons are free to read with the last season of book one coming out next month.