Thursday, June 25, 2009

Writing Process

Inspiration for King Rolen's Kin, my new fantasy series.

Havock 21 asked about the writing process. I'm a real control freak, I must be the exact opposite of Trent!

I've just delivered King Rolen's Kin books 1,2, & 3 to my agent. If you could see me now, I'd be doing the Happy Dance.

This has been a long time coming. Back in 1998 I wrote a fantasy novella. Not much call for novellas of 90 pages, so I put it aside. Came back to it in 2002 and it grew into a book. That one book grew into three books and the first 3 chapters were what I submitted to my agent, John Jarrold, when I approached him to see if he would take me on, in 2005. (Only book one was polished, the rest was about 600 pages of story arc).

Unlike Trent, who writes a bit here and a bit there. I sit down and write from beginning to end. If I jam up, it is because something isn't working earlier on and I go back to the beginning and do a rewrite. By then I know the world and the characters so much better, so I do what I call 'layering'. I add layers of characterisation and back story with each rewrite.

But it gets very complex with over 1700 pages of story. So I keep scene notes for each chapter as I write. That way if I decide a character had to have a certain prop with him 7 days ago before he was kidnapped, I can make sure he had it on him, without wandering around pages of manuscript trying to find the exact scene.

I also keep a 'terminology' file. Like all fantasy writers, I create my world and people it with societies, inventing words along the way. I have to remember how to spell those words and what they mean. So I need a terminology file.

Then because I have multiple points of view and the narrative takes place over so many days/weeks during the course story I keep a 'timeline' file so I know how many days have passed and where each person is at a particular time and how old they were when things happened in the backstory, (only important things that affect them now).

I also keep a file of images that have inspired me. For King Rolen's Kin I did some research into Russia. Thirty years ago there was a National Geographic cover of a Russian peasant boy. I can still see it clearly in my mind's eye. I needed a look for the people, and a look for the way they built their homes and strongholds. I wanted it to be a little different from your average medieval fantasy. So King Rolen's stronghold has towers and domes. Inside it is ornately decorated like St Petersburg.

When I'm writing the world I create seems more real to me that the world where politicians wrangle over Utegate.

Was that the kind of writing process you were wondering about, Havock21?


TansyRR said...

I am so much less organised than you, R! (formulating my own writing process post as we speak)

Trent Jamieson said...

Hmm, interesting. I really think a writing process is representative of the author. You're much more organized than me in life and in writing.

Thanks for sharing, Rowena!

Can't wait to see yours, Tansy.