Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Post Dreams of Stars: The Writing Process

Dreams of Stars has been in the works for a LONG time now.  Well over a decade, perhaps more, which probably makes it seem like I'm a lazy writer or something.  Well I am to the point that sitting down and writing (even this thing) is something I really have to force myself to do, and be in the mood for.  It also helps if I have a computer with a terrible net connection, I get a lot of work done then.

That means, though, that the early parts of the story came LONG before the later ones.  Much of my work in editing it to the condition it is now is to bring one half of the story up to speed with the other half.  I think I've done a pretty good job of it so far, but there are things I do want to get back to.

For example, at the end of nearly every post I put here, I asked the question:   Does the setting seem fitting? Would you like to know more?  The reason for that question (pair of questions) is that I have issues with settings, and back when I started the story, it was even worse than it is now.  But I wanted the story to go through, so I made the decision to forgo writing details into the setting and leave it as, well, generic and empty as I could so I could focus on the action.  As the story went on, you do see more setting details fill in, but often it's very brief or not very detailed.  I could argue that its a stylistic choice, of course, as for L'lorn and Ritch 'arrd, the world around them really didn't matter and was unimportant, but mostly it was because I didn't want to get bogged down.

The result is the fact that there are no names for places.  The capitol is just that, and nothing more.  Hell, I don't even have a name for the city where Deborah, the character the entire story was built to support, was even born or lived.  There's no background and outside of a few references to places that might exist, for all practical purposes, the story could be anywhere.

The only real hints as to where is the clues to where L'lorne is from (the answer is Cahokia, BTW), and the fact that it's "out west" from where Deborah lives, but close enough to appear on a TV weather map.  It could be anywhere along the east coast of the United States, if there is a United States.  Eventually I did work up a quick alternate history for Deborah's world, but I have yet to decide whether or not to include it in the story, and if so, how.

As the writing went on, scenes developed almost independent of the plot.  The scene at the farm, the ghost, the CDPC (I love that name, BTW), all were built in my mind long before they went on paper and grew up as the scene went on.  There's several scenes that had to be rewritten from the ground up because they just weren't very good (including the last scene between Deborah and Delphi).  The fact that the story flows so well, thanks in no small part to the flashbacks to L'lorne's past, is amazing to me.

And I had fun writing many scenes.  The invention of Bar Theory, which starts the story, was a fun exercise (I was mostly thinking of Lord of the Rings there, BTW), but more fun was including little things L'lorne does long before the reader is told outright that she has amazing powers.  Her first act in the story is not freezing the poor drunk in place, for example, but looking through the floor of the bar and noting there was no basement.  The whole nature of L'lorne's power was gradually ramped up as the story went along, so that when the final description of it came through, it wasn't exactly a surprise, but still shocking how much more powerful she really was.

I also built mysteries into the story.  Who is Deborah's father is a good example that I don't even approach in this story (see next week for more on that).  Also who and what Quinn and Delphi are isn't really given more than a brief moment of conversation (again, next week).  The big mystery though, and one that really only stands out for me because even I don't know the answer is why did Ritch 'arrd die?

L'lorne is clear that they can only die when they want to, and it's pretty obvious a little pinprick like what the axe caused wasn't likely going to kill him, yet he died anyway.  I leave this as a mystery because I'm not quite sure of the answer, and in-universe it is just as much a mystery to those who are far more powerful and knowledgeable than me.  Only Deborah in her advanced years might know why, and she never says.

I took my time to write this, too much time perhaps, but even in it's current form, which still has several small edits to make (I want to switch a scene and a flashback during the deaths of the mothers), I am happy with it.  Will I write more?  Well, let me talk to you about that next week.

Until then kiddies.

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