aka: In Which Teenage Me Weeps In Angst
Once Upon a Time
When I went off to college, Steven and I used to write letters to each other.
One of his letters contained a couple paragraphs of story and was accompanied by a note saying he thought it’d be fun for us to work on something together. My reply took the first two lines of his first paragraph and turned it into two chapters of story. (Note: he’d intended that I add on to the end. We’ve had our fair share of miscommunication.)
We spent years polishing the world. We made maps, came up with cultures and societies and species. Every once in a while, we even came up with characters, and ONCE we even made a plot! (gasp)
We called that world Taven, and it was our first shared love.
Over a decade later, I finally feel prepared to start writing those stories.
Unfortunately, teenage me wasn’t a very good writer. Current-day me has written novels and short stories and webserials and gone through writing classes and learned to read critically …
The stories and characters I had so carefully laid out are falling apart under more advanced scrutiny.
Good and Bad
This is good! Better that it fall apart now, before writing begins, than halfway through the book.
But at the same time, I feel like I’m losing something precious.
“Why does …?” we ask, and we need to do more worldbuilding.
“What if …?” we ask, and suddenly we’ve wiped entire beloved characters from the face of the novels, and the leaning jenga-tower of our plot crashes down around our ears.
“If that’s true, then … ”
“When does …”
“If we don’t have that, then we don’t need this, which means …”
It’s hard. Harder than it should be, even knowing that it’s necessary.
Harder than building something new up from scratch because we spent ten years, waiting for the day when we’d start writing these stories as novels to share with other people.
The only thing I can compare it to is when I was a kid and I realized I had to stop carrying around my beloved Littlefoot stuffed animal, because I wasn’t a baby any more.
The final books will be better than what teenage-me had planned. Teenage-me didn’t understand plot arcs or pacing or promises or stakes. Teenage-me hadn’t read enough books to recognize a tired trope when I saw one.
Loose planning, for a “some day” book is easy and fun. It’s daydreaming and fingerpainting and jangling the keys on a piano.
Now’s the time for actual planning.
Anyone else with me?
Anyone out there have a long-cherished story, only to find that you needed to cut out some lovely bits in order for the whole story to thrive?