Back to prose, after a run of poetry posts.
Deciding where, and when, a story begins is one of the most important, and difficult, choices a writer can make. It’s not always obvious as one sits down to write. Yes, I know some people work very well and efficiently with outlines but I’m not one of them. I need to find things out as they happen. If I know what happens I find it much, much harder to write. I make things up as I go along, with only a loose idea of how I’ll get to the end. Sometimes (okay, often) I end up doubling back as I find myself in a blind alley and I’ll work through several versions, revising heavily between them, before I get to the end of the official first draft. But, at last, after more time and effort than I care to think on, I’ve got a full draft of a novel complete with characters I can believe in and a plot more or less free from holes. It is, in other words, the Official First Draft. Hurrah for me!
Thing is, this draft is a direct sequel to After the Ruin. In the course of writing, however, I realised the story I was really telling began much earlier and didn’t need to be a sequel. It could overlap the events of AtR and – more importantly, I think – stand alone from it. I also – in a blinding flash of inspiration – realised what it was about. Theme, I mean, not plot or incident. So now I’m revising and rewriting, telling a different face of the same story with a secondary character from the first draft as protagonist. The two strands will, mostly likely, end up being woven together, part and counterpart. Until I have a final draft I can’t say where my official first draft will stand in the grand scheme of things or who will get star billing as the lead. I’m not going to worry about that now. Just write, and see where the writing takes me this time.