I know, I know. This is probably like the director’s commentary on movies that I, for one, a.l.w.a.y.s. skip. But there were just some things about the process and experience that I wanted to share.
Also for me, after doing so much writing, and sharing of my writing, I’ve become a lot more interested in the “words from the creators”. I read every scrap of written material between the covers of a book, dedication, note to readers, bio, copyright info… 😛 So for any of you who are interested, here’s a director’s commentary (sort of) for Ancient Fire.
A Story Without Direction: When I began this story, I had no direction whatsoever. What I started with were the ashes of an abandoned plot idea for a NaNoWriMo story (only in that version the Witch couldn’t transmogrify into a dragon and involved complicated sorcerous lions and china dolls). Thankfully, Ancient Fire went in a much better direction than the original concept.
Two Stories Bound Together: Ancient Fire was the second novel I attempted to write in bites, as it came, with no planning ahead (Miranda’s Giants was the first… but the “bite” part didn’t last long on that one). Ironically, these two stories seem bound together. The character, who in Ancient Fire was Elad, was originally a character I stole when creating Miranda’s Giants, in which story he is Shade. Also, in the original plot, he died. In Miranda’s Giants you never discover his real name, but in my mind, it’s the name that he had when he posed as Lottie’s (or rather, the character who would later become Lottie) uncle.
Time Forges Close Friends: If my life had a Guinness Book of World Records, Ancient Fire would be Story Worked On Consistently For Longest. I’ve had stories I’ve started and abandoned and then revived (the one with the record is The Emerald Ring, which I began at about age 9, aborted on a few months later, revived at about 14 to be abandoned again, and am currently reworking), but nothing I’ve worked on, developed, planned, and written solid like I did with Ancient Fire. This story would have had it’s one-year birthday in May. From the day I started it to the day I typed the last word, it was six months. I’ve never spent that long consistently working on the same story. Posting it (and editing for spelling or grammar errors) helped me carry it on to almost a year.
And yes, I’m getting sentimental over a story. Because after all that time, it was really hard to say goodbye. I dragged my feet writing the whole last part after they killed the Witch. I dragged my feet posting said part. But, inevitable as the sunrise, the end came. When I do NaNoWriMo, it’s like a power workout. It pushes you hard in less time than you thought possible, you pour out sweat and your muscles burn, but then it’s over. By taking longer, I got to know the characters so much better than I normally do. (I also *kept* losing sight of what I’d written and what I’d set up for and consequently lost several subplot type things that I’d intended to do when I wrote part 3 but forgot by part 20) But it was not to be. Apparently my brain can’t handle writing slowly like that, so I had to incorporate it into NaNoWriMo to get anywhere.
Here are a quick ten random things that I learned while writing Ancient Fire/random facts and trivia
- Having a Werewolf as a friend/sidekick is extraordinarily awkward
- Creating miniature gods for villains really bites you when you’re trying to find a way for the hero to beat them
- I really just can’t write a story without pirates. Or bandits. Or both.
- Nearly drowning is NOT one of those experiences I want to try for research reasons. I’ll let my descriptions waver on inaccuracy first.
- Lottie’s time in the castle was in some ways my favorite part, partly writing wise and partly story wise. Don’t ask me why.
- The subplot with Lottie losing her memories and having to work toward getting them back was, obvious as it seems, one I almost forgot. It wasn’t until this scene in the cave when I was like, “oh my gosh, I forgot about Lottie’s memories! Um… dream sequence! There we go!”
- I tried to “wing it” on the plot of Ancient Fire, but by the time Lottie got to the Cloak Girl (for the first time), I said enough! I outlined the rest of the story. Which made this scene totally surprising, because it came completely out of the blue until I was right on top of it, and it’s not the style of scene I usually write.
- The scene when Lottie confers with the king and explains everything was originally envisioned as a serious, mildly tense scene where she is straining to convince him and get his help. After writing the scene previous to it however, one that was full over emotional ups and downs for Lottie (and blood and sweat for me), it came out portrayed in a very light, humorous way. This seems to be my go-to; just as reaction tempers action, so humor tempers emotion.
- It is entirely possible to have an aspect of the plot focused on the main character’s age and then fail to realize THEIR AGE. I didn’t realize until like, the second to last chapter that Lottie was 14 (!!!!!) for most of the story, all the way up until the day of the climax. Yeesh.
- I spent most of the story after meeting Elad deciding how to end his story. I had originally planned to have Lottie magically sucked back to Earth after killing the Witch, but the more prominent Elad became, the more depressing that prospect seemed. I’d strangle MYSELF for such a bad ending. So then I landed on the “kidnapping the Witch’s staff” idea.
So there you have it. At some point, I may write up something about the characters’ pasts that didn’t work into the story, like what exactly happened to Elad between the time when he was kicked out of Khent and when he met up with Lottie. But for now, I’m willing to entrust that to my casual references and your imagination. 🙂
watching reading! Have a great weekend!