I have indicated in the past that I’m a bit of a “fly by the seat of my britches” kind of writer. I have an idea of where I want to start and a less well-formed idea of where I want to finish, and then I kind of sit back and see what happens along the way.
I know there are authors out there who cringe when they hear that. They have their whole story outlined before the type their first “It was a dark and stormy night.” They know on which page the hero will almost lose his life two hundred pages prior to writing it. And they think guys like me are hacks, amateurs, or at best just plumb crazy.Well, I am all those things, plus a scoundrel, a cad, and on Wednesdays and Fridays, a scallywag. But for my money, and I don’t have any, so this next statement has nothing but my winning smile to back it up, one of the most fun parts of writing a book is seeing where the writing takes you along the way.
In each of my novels I have, at some point, come to a section that I had imagined would go one way, only to watch it take an unexpected, fascinating turn. In every case (so far) this has proven to be a good thing. It has made the story stronger or made a character easier to love, hate, or understand. It has allowed me to flex my writing muscles a little bit, and simultaneously ride out the unexpected change while molding and conforming the new twist to get me to the place I vaguely wanted to end up. [Ed. note: he already said that. See paragraph #1]
Many Hidden Rooms has several of these twists and turns within its six hundred thirty pages, some of which I hinted at in A Dark Clock and remembered in time to include, some of which were totally out of the blue, and will send ripples through the future installments. For example, chapter 31 may or may not set the tone for the entire third book in the series. I’m not tellin’.
Also coming from parts unknown was the title of the first book. I had written the line of dialog, (spoken by the wizard Kern) in one of the middle drafts, but it wasn’t until I was doing the final rewrite that I heard it in my head, and realized it was, in fact, a perfect title. The actual line, (from page 269) is as follows:
“I think it is right to expect that Cerah will continue to grow in power and wisdom,” said Kern. “But I share her concern. Surok’s goal is obvious: he would rule Quadar. But his plans remain shrouded. We do not know what he is doing, and we do not know his timetable. I hear a dark clock loudly ticking.”
For the second book, it was a little different, title-wise. Many Hidden Rooms is, again, a phrase spoken by Kern, although he says it in book one to describe Slurr before Cerah saw who he really was. Again I offer up the passage:
“Slurr is a house with many hidden rooms, young Cerah. You should neither underestimate him or ever fail to give him your eternal gratitude. He had carried you a good distance in his arms before Szalmi and I could overtake him. I watched over you and sent him to gather the Witch’s Spike and blossoms of sour corrinthia that I needed to begin purging the poison from your bloodstream.”
I knew shortly after writing that sentence the first time that it was going to be the title of the second book.
Book three is over half-way finished now, (in first draft format), and until today I had no inkling what I was going to call it. But in the midst of one of those unexpected turns that I spoke of earlier [Ed. note: he really did. See paragraph #’s2-6], it happened again. A character spoke a line, (this time it was Parnasus), and as soon as the words escaped his lips I knew I had my title.
And that title is…
Not so fast! I have to announce it to my mailing list subscribers first! They know everything that goes on prior to the general public. But don’t fret. Don’t feel bad. You can join the mailing list by clicking here and filling out the simple, intuitive and rather attractive Mail Chimp form. If you do it quick enough, you can get in before I send the title reveal. Otherwise, it will be days of wondering and fretting on your part. Is that what you want? Days of wondering and fretting?
I didn’t think so.
So in summary, hail to the seat of the pants twists and turns, hail to the wizards who keep coming up with titles for me, and hail to you if you join the email list.