I only give advice on a basis that I would like to be given advice from. This isn’t gonna work for everyone. Although it is my firm belief that it could
be universal, I’ve seen enough from other authors’ insights to know it won’t be. But, hey, ain’t that the beauty of diversity?
750words a day. I’ve mentioned it before—numerous times before, actually—because it’s a daily recurring thing in my life since I dedicated myself to it once upon a time. Every day, no matter how tired I am or how busy the day has been or how braindead I’ve become, I try to sit down at my computer (or nestle up with my iPhone) and get to work on belting out 750 words or more.
I started out just rambling about life. To get it all off my chest. I’m a blogger, yes, but some things are too personal to be puttin’ out there to the world. So I shared them with myself. It was a pretty cathartic day or two (especially considering my first entry turned up one night when I couldn’t sleep so I snuck The Chainsaw [my computer] into the dimly lit bathroom [so as not to wake my boyfriend] and belted out some drama like you wouldn’t believe).
And then came the “I-dunno-what-to-do-here”s. Letters, symbols, curses, gjshgdls.
Then I said, “Fuck it,” and finally started writing.
Now, from time to time, I’ll still go on about the day I had if it was particularly eventful—or if I’m just tryin’ to get in the word count and move on with my life I’ll find something and copypasta it in. A sort of “check the box” method of mine.
But, mostly, I like to try and stick to just writing.
Background laid out. Now: what’s the advice?
My last few 750 entries have been mapping out the events that led up to Ero’s birth. I discovered a new alliance between Cerviel (note for anyone who’s read The Soul: that used to be the Ceryses) and Michael that I hadn’t known existed before. I discovered that Ireul has been changed by his close relationship with dominion over fear. I discovered that God was the one who had the plan to re-instantiate Angels among the ranks of espel. And I discovered that He used Cerviel to accomplish that.
It worked out beautifully. Often, when I read others’ novels whose events happen so naturally that you’d never guess it wasn’t in the plan, I think to myself, Was their writing process like mine? Or did they plan this all along? Because, I tell ya, anytime I come up with some genius thing (like above), I credit serendipity. Maybe that’s undermining my own creativity, but it is said your characters, if developed enough, will begin to guide you through their lives, and it’s your job to convey that in writing. I think that happens to me more often than not. I used to think people who said that were crazy. Now I guess I’m the crazy one.
Anyway, it’s not the first time just sitting down and getting to the backstory has been a surprisingly pleasant process in the scope of the Soul series. When I was in high school, I had a whole cast to introduce to a story I’d already written, Procession of Infinity, because I mapped out the process behind The Second Angel’s birth. As a side thing. Just to do. Never planned on including them anywhere. However, those separate scenes ended up being big players in the last Soul series book, Abhinc Inferno. Integral, in fact.
Depending on the novel, there can be TONS of untapped material there to dig into. In a much less recent case, when I was writing Please Reimburse Me for that Hot Pornography (y’all’ll learn about that piece of work someday >;D), one of the backstory scenes I wrote became a pivotal scene in it.
My moral of the story is this: Whenever I’m in a slump (
currently am—can’t get to the end of Abhinc Inferno… I keep trying to finish this big climactic scene so I get to the fucking dénouement already, but it’s… just not working out… so I’m letting it rest for awhile), I just go to backstory.
In addition to the fact that you’ll never know when a backstory scene can be useful in a later scene—not like flashbacks and gay shit like that—it is also plain old attention to detail that can make or break a book. If you know what happened inside and out, why not just… write it? It doesn’t have to be included in anything. It can just be something you have for you. So you know it’s there. So your characters’ memories are tactile. So you don’t forget anything. (Trust me—I have all kinds of “deleted scenes” and “never-before-seen footage” on my Soul series characters. It makes fore good characterization practice, too!)
Anyway, that’s just me. And prolly not you. But I thought I’d share regardless.