Writing City of Tears
To be a writer you have to be a little bit crazy. Just try googling "why writers are crazy" and you'll find pages and pages on the stuff. You'll see reasons such as: we purposely sit off by ourselves for hours and hours at a time, we create imaginary places, we create imaginary best friends, we sometimes kill them off... Trust me, the list goes on and on.
The truth is that writing is a love/hate relationship. You have this great concept in mind and must get it down on "paper", and they you proceed to agonize over penning it again and again until you've literally driven yourself nuts.
So, what does this have to do with City of Tears you might ask? The answer is after a year off from writing novels, I am once again knee deep in the craziness. There are two words in the writing community used to describe the type of writer you are: planner and pantzer. One is just what you would think and the other basically writes by the "seat of their pants" (hence the cute little nickname).
I am definitely a planner. I wrote out an entire outline for City before I wrote a single sentence of the novel. The problem with this approach is it never really works. You can't plan out every detail because things will change as soon as you start writing - sometimes even before. In the words of the infamous Leonard Snart (Captain Cold from the CW Flash and Legends of Tomorrow):
Truer words were never spoken. I had a cool plot, great characters, and some excellent scenes all planned out, and I found myself bored. Why you might ask? Because something important was missing: personality. What? Character personality in an outline? He must be nuts.
Yeah, not arguing that point, but the truth is as good as any plot is, without interesting characters, you'll quickly be bored to tears. It's worse for a writer though. If you try to force a character down a road that doesn't fit their personality, they will push back: "You want me to do what?" or "No way I'm I doing that!"
Okay, I know. It sounds like I'm hearing voices in my head and might be one step closer to the loony bin. That may be truer than I care to admit, but it honestly feels forced if a story point doesn't fit the character. So I went back and did a second pass at the outline, working in character personalities before writing a single line of the novel (yeah, I'm a planner.)
So, after two months of outline, and re-outlining, I finally finish and start writing the novel. I get the first few chapters completed and am feeling really good. Better than good, in fact. Writing these characters again is like spending time with old friends that I haven't seen in over a year.
You think that would go smooth after that, right? Not exactly. I finished four full chapters till I realized I left out a plot point in the fifth book of the original series that has important repercussions on this novel. Okay, okay. I can fix this. And I do. Eventually. Two frantic days later, and with a lovely assist from Seth, I have a new scene in the second chapter that fixes everything, and in fact, might even be better than the original idea.
So now I am finally on a roll. I finish seven chapters in a flurry of writing that I have never experienced before. This is great I think to myself! At this rate I'll be done with this book in four months - half the time it usually takes me to write a novel.
And then reality sets in. Real life responsibilities interrupt my prolific writing, and further progress proceeds at a turtle-slow pace. Its actually a very frustrating experience for a writer. This story is aching to claw its way out of you, and you don't have time to get it out. (I had a vision of the chestburster scene here from Aliens, but I prefer the one from Spaceballs.)
I mean, who can top a singing, dancing, Xenomorph, after all. Anyway, long story short, a busy month went by and I just finished chapter 10. Still not bad though. I'm now a third of the way through the book.
So there you have it. A peak into the writing process for City of Tears. As soon as my beta readers get through the first few chapters, I will start posting some excerpts here. I also passed on some concept art to Jackson and should have some preliminary cover art to show you soon.
If I stay on track, I might even have this first book out and published by this June. That's what I am hoping for, anyway. Thanks for stopping by and reading my ramblings. Next month I plan on an interview with Amalia Chitulescu, the artist who did the spectacular typography update to the Heroes book covers. See you then!