As a writer, I’m not always sure when an idea becomes a story and then the story becomes a living breathing entity. With Legend, the transformation happened the night I decided to re-write the idea from a piece of fan fiction to part of my series. When I woke up the next morning after starting the process and had a talk with myself, I had a title, a major quote, and an obsession that lasted several years.
Most of the stories in my series are at various stages of becoming living, breathing entities. A lot of in-depth material is written, but they haven’t reached the stage where I pick up any section and see, feel, and hear what my characters are going through on a consistent basis. Spirit reached that point last Saturday, becoming only the second to do so behind Legend. And for that particular book, it was probably the hardest journey.
Spirit was one for the first books written. The original story was not much other than me yelling at the world and doing very stupid things with superficial characters. I put the novel on the back shelf of my mind, dreading the day I would take it down and re-write what little salvageable material I had. Even when I started the re-write those many months ago and told myself the story was going to be the first book in the series because I needed to explain things before going on with the grand, intricate story line of the series, I still wasn’t sure where I was going or what I was dong. Then exposing the better written content I did have to other people helped me find purpose and direction. Outling the events of the book, along with the rest of the series, helped somewhat with my focus. The publishing contract gave me purpose for chunking along until I could get my grip on the story or blow the whole thing up and start all over again. Not that there was much danger of that actually happening because I was, and am, pretty stoked by the front chunk of the book.
Well, I’m happy to say the creative non-damaging, but very enlightening explosion happened last Saturday. I was dealing with a scene in the original story where a shooting happened at a racetrack. I found myself in my main character’s head, thinking about the racetracks I had visited. No, my method isn’t the standard look at the Racing Forum and other research material to plot a specific course of action. I pick by the seat of my pants, sometimes thinking about the name of the jock or the trainer, and perhaps a sire in the blood line. Most of the time, It’s about how the horse looks and makes me feel. Does my system always work? No. In fact, more likely that not, I end up with paper airplanes. However, I did once win 66 dollars when the person I was with won none despite all his statistics, so I think I’ll keep using it, the very, very rare times I do go to the track.
Anyway, all these memories, emotions, and thoughts came out in a long session on my IPod Touch where I typed a chapter of 1,132 words one fingered. I know I still have some work to polish the thing off. Actually, the whole story needs work, except for the prologue and first 9 chapters, which I’ve pounded into the ground.
Now that Spirit is alive to me, I’m trying to be gentle with it and write the whole thing all the way through as a rough draft and then begin the editing, again going all the way through, each time instead of getting caught up in the endless cycle of hammering on each minute detail like I did with Legend.. Hopefully this new approach with make me a more proficient writer and leave me with a straight logical, stories, instead of convoluted messes that need to be sorted out before being exposed to the world.
So far I’m liking the result. Since the breakthrough, I’ve managed to add a few more big chunks to Spirit and am starting to see the puzzle of the book become a clear picture.