Sometimes writing stuff crops up on my time line on twitter and I’m like: YES! That! Only to read the next tweet in the thread and go, oops, no. Not that at all. Often it’s about the writing process (and how plotting makes you a better writer, like BOO!)
Anyway, this is not a rant against plotting. If it works, it works. You do you. (I’m just disheartened every time I am told how much better writing is with plotting because I don’t plot, ergo my writing must be bad. Shush, my head knows this isn’t how it works, still gotta convince my heart.)
This is a post about my process. It is certainly different for each book I write. A red thread persists, though: for me.
I write a thing, but FOR me.
The first profic novel I started and got 2/3rds through? Dragonbone Chair, but for me. Space Wizards? Dragon and Thief, but for me. Sava? Amaranthine Voyage, but FOR ME. And my current project? Mass Effect Andromeda, Scavenge the Stars, MacGyver, each of them tailored specifically to my wants.
I will go out on a limb and say you can’t really recognise the “source material” in the finished product any longer. Maybe because the source material never had a lot to offer to me (side-eyeing you, MacGyver). Maybe because I’m writing off a feeling it afforded and which time couldn’t preserve. I change, the media does not.
It may just be part of my process to scavenge the things I love for what I like best and then stack what I would have loved for myself in there on top. Woman and enby protagonists. Slow and well-grounded love of all kinds. Queer shit. Social interactions that make sense to my neurodivergent mind. People like me getting to be the hero for a change.
Take my unfinished fantasy. What did I want from The Dragonbone Chair? I wanted Jiriki, I wanted an old evil and immortal brothers. I wanted magic and so many different kinds of people. But I also wanted my woman protagonist. I wanted my own version of evil elves and superstition coming true. Women, I wanted so many women in the story. I wanted marine squirrels and magical swords and above all, I wanted the power of love to make it all go away.
I also wanted it to be over and done with within one book. To this day, I love my little world and wonder if I’ll ever go back and pick up the strands I so carefully intertwined until they all met and I had no idea how to get my group across a country in civil war…
Take Space Wizards. From the Dragonback Series I wanted the family in space, adventures, finding your place, the cosy vibes. But of course I needed my woman protagonist, the digital uncle had to become a real found father. Can’t have space without magic, and a shiny pet and the K’da warriors were cool but I had no use for warriors. Add space terrorists, a mercenary mum , heists, an immortal space god, corrupt banks and voila. Doesn’t sound much like Dragonback Series any longer, does it?
But that’s just how it works. Plotting or no (the answer is always NO) there is a shape in my soul that is built on the foundation of somebody else’s work. Something that gave me just enough to want more and let me know what it was I was missing.
In the end I add so many new, shiny stones that the foundations can barely be seen. Which is fine. You need a good foundation for a solid house, but you don’t need to see it. There’s a great number of structures you can build on the same foundation. And I will take my rainbow stones and build my colourful castles.
So I will keep doing it – grab a handful of my fave media and make it me.