Hello again fellow adventurers. Today, I thought we’d take a break from the Lore and Character reveals to sit around the fireplace and chat about the process of the book so far. Writing Process is something that I’ve often strayed away from when doing updates for a future release. I suppose it feels a bit more personal and I always worry that it will be boring. But for today, I’ll discuss a few topics that have been of interest to me in the writing of this book and you can let me know in the comments if it was worth the time! That way I know whether or not to include this type of thing in future updates!
Alright, brief prologue complete, let’s jump in.
Where is the Book at Right Now?
After writing a full draft of the book, I am now 75% of the way through my full edit, which, when complete, will be considered my second draft. This full edit is important for a lot of reasons. By going through the book myself first, I’m able to iron out scenes, dialogue and characters as a means of giving my editor’s the most complete version of my vision to work with. In the past, with A Home for Wizards, time was so tight that I was not able to go through the book with a fine comb, and my edit’r’s suffered because of it as they were forced to do triple and quadruple the amount of work.
It’s also important this time around, because for the first draft I wrote Longtails: The Storms of Spring completely free of any sort of Outline. Typically, I fully outline the story before sitting down to write, but in this case, that didn’t happen. I’ll get to that more in a moment. This meant that several key details changed as I wrote and needed to be fixed before handing off to the editors, for clarity.
A great example of this is the actual name of the mouse military force in the book. Now simply called the Longtails, the group was first called the Lygoden Corps, and then just T.A.I.L.S. As the story evolved and the Lore developed, this finally evolved into the current form and title of the series: Longtails.
As a side note, I have this weird superstition that if I come up with the title for a project early on or even first, that project is doomed to fail and never see the light of day. So far, this has always been true. But then again, maybe it’s a self fulfilling prophecy. In any case, I feel a lot better knowing that “Longtails” was a late edition to the book.
Another fun thing on the rewrite is that, as I mentioned last week, Del, our hero, is obsessed with comic books. The rewrite really allows me to add in more references for the nerds out there that I hope will find a lot of commonality with this little mouse. Just yesterday I realized, while editing, that a flock of birds attacking probably looked a heck of a lot like Parademons attacking the Justice League to little Del.
Writing Without An Outline
I am a big believer in outlines, so it begs the question: why did I decide to forego one this time around? In many ways, Longtails was spawned from my love of tabletop role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons or Mouseguard. In these games, the exciting part is always seeing what characters do based on their personalities and belief systems. As I wrote the adventure of the Longtails, I wanted to be free to let the story veer off in different directions simply based on taking each character’s beliefs and asking, in each situation presented to them, what would they actually do in these scenario. After all, it is the randomness of the players in an RPG that makes the game exciting. This provided a wonderful array of twists and turns as characters made decisions and pulled the story in directions I never even considered when I sat down to write Chapter One. In one case, midway through the book, I recall having to stop writing to spend a day contemplating “What would she do?” in order to figure out the next step in the story. It was scary at times to not have a road map to the next plot point, but I truly think the story benefited from this decision. Would I go into every book in this way from here on out? Probably not. Outlines are incredibly important, but every so often it’s important to stray off the path.
Making Reading a Part of my Writing
For a long time, and certainly during the writing of my last two books, I avoided reading whenever I was in the middle of a project. This was mainly because I was worried that I might copy another author’s style which I never wanted to do. This time around, I faced this fear head on, by devouring all sorts of literature while working on Longtails. This was also an amazing change as it really helped to develop my vocabulary as well as helped me to see ways that different authors challenged their characters and their readers. This enabled me to challenge myself to be better and I think it really shows in the story as well as in my writing. I can honestly say that Longtails showcases some of the work I am most proud of in my writing career so far! Want to see what I’m reading and share what you’re reading with me so I can read that too? Click the link and add me on Goodreads! Let’s be friends!
What Comes Next?
In the next week, I hope to wrap up my second draft of Longtails. Once this is done, the book will be sent off to my editors for several months of notes, grammar fixes and suggested changes. These then get sent back to me so that I can tinker with the book once more in order to get it into its final form so that you can read it come next April! Editing is ALWAYS a painstaking, meticulous process, but it’s also very fun to see the book take its true shape. I usually only ever really start to believe in a book’s success as we edit it. This time around, I actually feel really good about the not edited version, so I can only imagine how happy I will be with the final product!
I hope you all have enjoyed this little look into process and where the book is at this point in time. If you found this interesting, perhaps I will do another one once we are in full edit mode in order to show what that process looks like! Next week we’ll get back to characters and reveal our second member of the Longtails! I’ve also been in close contact with the artist of these sketches, Dexter Allagahrei, and just recently saw a sketch of one of the villains of the story which looks amazing! I can’t wait to share the final version with all of you!
Until next week, keep your paws clean and your tails long my friends!