The (purely symbolic) Awakening

So it’s March 1, which means I’ve officially started Tempest’s Legacy, the third book in the Jane True series.

I say, “officially,” because I don’t have time at the moment to do more than start a folder, called Tempest’s Legacy, and start two files, one called “Tempest’s Legacy Brainstorm,” and one called “Tempest’s Legacy Outline.”

This is how I work.  First I sit down and I brainstorm.  I outline where the characters are “at” in their lives.  This book is going to start one year after the close of Tracking the Tempest, which ends with many Big Bangs.  And I don’t mean Big Bangs as a euphemism for sex.  Or a sudden, and alarming, penchant for large ’80’s hair.  I mean bangs, although some are, indeed, metaphorical.  Sorry, I’m getting distracted.

Anyway, Tracking the Tempest ends with a series of big bangs, and a lot of things up in the air.  So I could take the third book in a lot of different directions . . . If I hadn’t had the whole series nailed down to start with.  That said, there’s still a lot of room to play with Jane and Co., and this book is going to be a bit different than the first two.  The subject matter is darker, and Jane is, paradoxically, both more powerful – magically – than she’s been in the first two books, and more vulnerable – emotionally – than we’ve seen her before.  I’m really putting Jane up against it, in this book.  Which almost makes me feel bad.  Almost.  Until I remember how much I enjoyed beating her up in book two, and I acknowledge that little streak of sadism every writer must, inevitably, have.  

Therefore, I will first do a big brainstorm, in which I define where the old characters are “at.”  Then I devise some new characters, to mix things up.  This is fun, and I’m going to try to integrate some new mythological creatures into every book.  Then I start brainstorming the plot in two ways.  First I outline the Big Plot Points.  What is the BIG arc of this book?  Then I start asking myself the questions I need to fill in that arc.  For example, if I have Jane end up in Toronto, how does she get there?  I’ll literally engage in a Socratic (if Socrates urban fantasized, which I bet he would have if he could have) dialogue with myself, on the page.  Yes, I am apparently schizophrenic as well as sadistic.  Why I live alone?  Most probably.

So in the coming weeks I am going to be going through my process of writing, and I hope to take the readers of this blog (Hi, Mom!) with me.  My process is certainly not everyone’s process, and it is, realistically, a very “academic” process.  Although my process, as an academic, is not every academic’s process, either.  But it is very organized, very outline-driven, and very OCD.  

So drop me any questions you’d like answered about “my” process, or about the books, or about anything you’d like me to discuss in a comment.  


10 thoughts on “The (purely symbolic) Awakening”

  1. I wonder if Orbit has more per capita academics amongst their SF/F line. Every time I read another Orbit author's blog or hear an interview it turns out they are slaving intellectuals of some kind. One wonders, does that say something good, or bad, about the house?

  2. I had to send in my CV, didn't you? 😉 And write an application essay.

    I think it says that they like people who can proofread. It saves on copyediting costs.

    Thanks for commenting, Gail! Can't wait to read your debut.

  3. Hi Nicole,

    Your process sounds very similar to mine. First brainstorming, asking a lot of "what if" questions, then imposing some order on that mess with an outline that focuses on plot points. So it's probably not a coincidence that I'm an academic, too (although I'm no longer in academia). My publisher is Ace, though–maybe that's the publisher for recovering academics? 🙂

  4. Hi Nancy! Thanks for posting! Are you the Nancy Holzner with the book coming out in Aug. '09?

    That is really funny about the academic links you and Gail brought up. I was at a conference during the week, and everyone was asking how I made the "leap" into urban fantasy. I was like, "It's because of the vicious nature of the academic world that I have no fear of rejection, criticism, or slights. I've applied to about one million things and been rejected from all but three. So it's good training for publishing."

    Anyway, now I know the publishing company to go to when I've read as many freshman comp essays as my brain can take and I run for the hills. 😉

  5. How many words do you write on average each day? I am trying to write between 1500-2000. Not sure if that is a good goal, or should write more.
    I love books that end with big bangs 😀

  6. That's a good one, Katie, and I'll definitely do a post on that. I don't do the whole word count thing, I go by chapter. But I just wrote, "on word counts" into my "to do" list for the blog.

    And yes, I love all types of big bangs. Especially the large, feathered hair ones.

  7. It's even better when I do it while I'm in public. Which I do. And I forget and say something out loud. And then I laugh. And then I look around, all shifty-eyed, thinking, "Did anyone hear me talk to myself?"

    It looks delightfully crazy.

  8. LOL re: your comment about making the "leap" into UF. Yeah, that sounds about right. 🙂

    I can't say I envy you stacks of freshman comp essays. Don't they just buy them off the Internet now for a guaranteed B? Seems like a system that could save everyone a lot of time.

    Yes, I have a mystery coming out in August: Peace, Love, and Murder. Then the first book in my UF series follows in January 2010. I'm not sure what title to give people for that one anymore, b/c my publisher keeps changing it.

  9. So if they DO buy them off the internet, and they ARE guaranteed, shouldn't I get a cut of that??? 🙂

    You are a busy bee! That's so exciting! Do you have a website where I can keep taps on your fabulousness?

    I was lucky with my titles, they've been the same the whole time.

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