I don’t know about anyone else, but starting a new project always throws me into a tailspin. Not because I lack ideas. Not because I’m not excited. Not because the story isn’t jumping up and down on my head screaming, “Write me, Woman!” Any of those I could handle.
What, then, is the problem?
The problem, dear reader, is there is so much to say, so much to write, so much roiling around in my mind, it’s a hot mess!
And I don’t know where to start.
In a perfect world (translation: in a world where I made the rules to suit myself), I’d write a dark prologue. The scene would be set in a cavern lit by smoking flambeaux, bright only in a limited sphere, leaving blurry edges in which any number of critters, whether real or imagined, could hide. Sound would be magnified; the slightest whisper would become a shout within the high, stone walls. And my heroine would not yet exist except in the mind of the man orchestrating the scene, planting seeds that wouldn’t sprout for nigh a millenia.
In case you didn’t get the memo, it isn’t a perfect world.
The previous two books in the series, while originally written with prologues, have since swallowed them at the insistence of my CP and a best-selling author who happened to judge the second book in a contest. Digesting those graphic but somewhat gruesome scenes came hard, and I cursed in five languages (yes, I can!) as the body of the story refused to accommodate the necessary information they provided. It kept rejecting them, vomiting them out. Naught I did would induce acceptance when the scenes were served whole. Their violence glared from the page, angry red hives erupting on otherwise smooth flesh.
It’s like the danged thing developed a severe allergic reaction. Leave it to me to have a manuscript—or two—with anaphylaxis.
In the end, small, brutally edited bites served over the course of several chapters did it, but my inner-purist had a hissy fit the size of a small continent throughout the process.
Since I’m not into masochism, I promised myself I wouldn’t make the same mistake yet again. I would write the story sans prologue, putting things where they belonged in the first draft.
That’s a promise I will, in the interest of getting the draft done during my limited lifetime, probably break.
Writing this series has taught me several rather annoying things about my process, not the least of which is that, while I plan to write in a spare, linear fashion, it never works out that way. Elements in book three have required minor tweaks in both the previous books. That translates into writing complete series prior to submission of any part of a series.
Even so, that little snippet of book three on my About Gwyn page has taken on a life of its own, opening doors I never anticipated. It’s exciting. It’s exhilerating.
It’s driving me quite crazy.
The research into Celtic mythology has been both frustrating and enlightening. Every myth has numerous versions, and every god or goddess several names or incarnations. Unlike the more studied mythologies that have gained some degree of standardization over the years, the Celtic myths remain much as they have always been. This can be either blessing or curse; I get to choose the version that best suits my story, but there will be some reader somewhere who is acquainted with only one version—and you can bet it won’t be the one I need.
The heroine’s physical blindness being mitigated by her perception of visual energy has demanded deep consideration of things usually taken for granted. What would a squirrel’s quivering energy look like? What colors would a tree’s energy be when the sun is high? How about at night? What color is a lie?
And the prophecy, the heretofore unknown thread spun in the age of Arthur, weaving itself through time to destroy a unifying threat, has thickened, gaining filaments until it has become a cord strong enough to pull all the stories together—and finish what was begun.
Yep. This story could prove a one-way ticket to the white-coat fashion expo.
I’m foundering here, folks. Please share how you begin a story. Keep in mind, I’m a pantser. I’ve tried plotting and storyboards and every other trick I’ve read about or heard mentioned to no avail. My process is inefficient, annoying, and the only thing that works for a mind as convoluted as it seems mine is. Still, I’m desperate. This story is stealing my sleep, my peace, and my sanity. If you haven’t a rope or a floatation device, I’ll settle for a pumpkin or a few empty milk jugs—anything to keep my head above water until this particular hot mess begins to take shape, cool, and gel.
When it does, when all the pieces finally come together, this is going to be one kick-ass story. And that’s a promise I intend to keep.