The One Time I Didn’t Plot
I recently finished writing my first draft of Spirit of Life! This is, of course, the third book and final installment in my current epic fantasy series, the Rise of Fifth Order. So, I’m very excited, though I know the first draft is just the beginning of getting this baby ready for the real world.
Step 2, for me, is a quick read through where I map out the chapters with their POV, notes on events, and outline what needs work. I was really happy with how many chapters I liked! But I knew that would change once I got near the end of the novel… and it did. BIG TIME. Ugh.
You see, I basically ‘pantsed’ the ending, writing without much of an outline or idea on what was going to happen. And this is an epic battle to end an epic fantasy series. There is a LOT going on (the build up of 3 books worth!) with events unfolding across a wide area, witnessed and affecting all of the characters. Yikes! Lots happening… and I thought I could just write though this without an outline?
Uhm, no. Not really.
And I did have a teensy outline. My method of writing, on this novel at least, was to make chapter headings for the next few chapters, labeling POV, and adding notes on events. This kept the story flowing as I knew where it was heading and had a pace. But when it came to a big ending with lots of action, those brief didn’t help so much. I floundered a bit, but also let the action develop in bursts as experienced through the characters. So the events grew and evolved. But the chapters also repeated themselves as the same events are witnessed by different characters and the sequence of events doesn’t completely line up. Hmmm…
By the time I was done writing the scenes, I knew I needed an outline. I knew they weren’t perfect, but I wasn’t ready to tackle them until I read through the entire novel to make sure the whole thing wasn’t completely off. It wasn’t (whew!) so now… it is time to tackle the ending.
I have my new outline for the ending and have broken it up into chapters. I’ll be able to use a lot of what I wrote previously, but actually have new chapters to add in (3 of those!). The total chapters that will comprise the ending will reach 13, which seems like a lot of time to devote to a finale (Spirit of Life will have 45 chapters in all). But the true final battle scenes are actually seven of those (some lead up and wrap up in those 13 big ones) and when you count the chapters of Born of Water (41) and Rule of Fire (35), making a total of 121 chapters of which only the last 13 or so are the grand finale… well, that doesn’t seem too excessive!
So now, it is back to writing, well rewriting in this case! Then a read through, another fix of any buggy chapters, then a backwards read through, then maybe I can finally send it off to my editor. Then more editing!(?!?) Yup, still a long way until publication. But that should happen this spring, which really isn’t that far away. Guess I’d better get to work!