You know, for the most part I’m a plotter sort of writer. Except when I’m not, especially when I’m dedicating time to attacking those unfinished fragments on my hard drive. Quilters talk about UFOs (unfinished objects); well, I have bits and pieces of books. Unfinished Book Projects. UBPs.
The last two rough drafts I’ve finished, Klone’s Stronghold and Bearing Witness, are both significant deviations from the process I’ve been using for novel writing over the past two years because they’re UBPs. I’ve got the plotting process down to a version that works for me when I build a book from scratch.
Stronghold and Witness are different because they’re UBPs. The previous books I wrote using my favorite plot matrix system were part of my two series’, Goddess’s Honor and Netwalk Sequence. Creating my plot matrix was part of the worldbuilding/character development process. However, both Stronghold and Witness started out as long short stories that became short novels, with Stronghold coming in at 60k words and Witness at a respectable novella length, 21k.
I often don’t rigorously plot my short stories. When I do that, either the story goes dead on me, or it decides to mutate into a first chapter. It’s just the way I am when I create. Give me half a chance and I’ll start trying to thread in more and more complexities and…yeah. Doesn’t work well for short stories.
With these two works, one novella, one short novel, I’m still figuring out the process when I pick up a UBP from several years back–and that means anticipating a lot more rewrite action. With both works, plot elements started warping both stories from what I originally intended. As a result, I have to go back and insert breadcrumbs to support the later plot developments. Arrgh. Yes, I am a very good rewrite writer–probably better at rewrites than rough drafts–but in this sort of situation, rewrites mean lots of organization in order to pull it all together. The more rigorously plotted and planned novels don’t require significant rewrite worldbuilding. What I’m facing right now is…a lot of revision.
Both books will come out longer, but not by too much. I’m guesstimating an additional 20k for Stronghold and 10k for Witness, max. In part that’s because there will be edits and deletions and so on to balance a certain amount of the rewrite.
Ah well, it’s part of the ongoing writer development. After all, both of these books are UBPs, the first of a number of projects I’ve got lined up. Now that I’ve finished the Netwalk Sequence and am two-thirds of the way through Goddess’s Honor, it’s time for me to attack some of the UBPs I have on hand. So it’s time to figure out a new planning process, just because I want to get these UBPs out into the world.
But arrgh. The degree of rewrite I’m facing on Stronghold is daunting. On the other hand, when I’m done, the story might could just launch another series. We’ll see what comes of it–and the same is true of Witness.