I realise “being busy” has become my go-to excuse for not posting new chapters. I wish it were otherwise, but there is no other explanation I have. If you have pursued any kind of writing to the point of researching wisdom on the craft of writing you have no doubt come across the sentiment that a true writer makes the time to write – finds the discipline to write regularly. You are going to have to take it on faith that that is not the case here. My issue is not so much a matter of discipline for writing, but a huge disconnect between the amount of writing I can complete now that I am a family-man and the level of output I used to be able to maintain. Gone are the days of locking myself away in my room for three days straight and coming out with a well-polished first draft stage or screen-play. I can’t imagine how I could possibly make that happen again now. I certainly can’t make it happen at home, and the chances of retreating to do the same are remote at best. I do still find the time to write, but the reality is that my efforts are spread too thin. I focus my main energy where I must and rarely is that on the novel I am serializing on-line with no pressure of fixed deadlines. So as a result, Necropolis gets neglected. But not entirely. I do nudge it forward. Necropolis does get more of my pillow-time imagining as I fall asleep than any single other project, and I do manage to find an hour or two to actually get words down.
I plan to do so tonight, (I am writing this on a lunch break – not enough time to really allow myself to get in the zone the way Necropolis really requires.) and hopefully I will actually finish the second and third parts of the chapter I am currently writing. They are mapped out on paper, ready to be fleshed. Once I have finished the chapter I will begin posting it – probably three installments – and when it is done, part two of book one will be complete.
But that is not why I began writing this update. This morning I was listening to an interview with Scott Sigler on The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe. It was quite interesting. I liked it a lot. I have never missed an episode of SGU and Zigler is a writer who, as one of the legion of online writers, I am pretty much obligated to respect.
Towards the end of the interview, the conversation drifts to a discussion of the merits of two story telling styles. It hit close to home. Specifically, they began by discussing how both Lost and Battlestar Galactica ended up solving their plots with a weak magical explanation that was in both cases infamously unsatisfying. Myself, I wasn’t terribly disappointed by either – I suppose I had already told myself that there was no way the shows could live up to their set ups. But I recognize that both ended considerably less well than their promise. The gist of the conversation revolved around how these two largely science-framed tales which both promised that they knew where they were headed turned around and “solved” their plots by resorting to a mystical solution. This is a MUCH bigger discussion than I have patience for here, but it did lead to relevant thoughts for me.
The interview went on to reference a George Martin (Game of Thrones) quote: something to the effect of there being two types of story tellers – the first is the architect who builds the foundation with the intention of it supporting the frame as designed and which itself will ultimately support the walls and decor according to the blueprints; the second is the gardener who plants seeds, then sees where they grow and applies care, coaxing, weeding and trimming as necessary. In the case of Martin, acknowledges that he is a gardener, despite the appearance of architecture. In the cases of Lost and Battlestar Galactica they claimed in various ways to be architects, but in the end it appeared as though they were gardeners.
I think I must defend both Lost and Battlestar Galactica on the grounds that I have a fairly good idea of where I am headed with Necropolis. I have a notebook that is carefully partitioned into sections for arcs of each of the major characters, many secondary characters (including a few who won’t appear until Book Two) and even a few tertiary ones. I have pages for notes for each part of each of the three books. If you were to flip through the notebook (No. You can’t.) you would find that the early portions are significantly more detailed than the later ones. But the last part of book three does have a clearly definable conclusion and I do have a rough plan of how I am getting there.
But here is the catch... (a catch I suspect both Lost and Battlestar Galactica both got caught by)... the individual elements do take on a life of their own (a writer’s cliché, I know, but not any the less true for being a cliché) and head off in independent directions that are hard to impossible to control. Note that I never originally planned for Sarah to be a major character... but there she is. I also, just his past week had a realization about another character – one that I cannot discuss much at all here as I would be spoiling portions of book three (but, see I do know where it really impacts in the plan) – that fundamentally changes the arc of said character as well as one other. This latter change I cannot control without rewinding and re-writing parts of the past book and ultimately weakening them... and that is not an acceptable solution. I have written said character in such a manner that they MUST change the way the latter stages of the plot unfold. Either I change my intended destination – a huge change – or I must pay-off the promises of the character in question by giving them a significantly different role in how the endgame plays out. I, at least, have the relative luxury I have provided myself, by allowing for some minor retroactive rewriting. On a TV show, that tool does not exist. You cannot go back and reshoot an inconvenient scene in the first season once it is the fifth season. It is easy to get dragged off course by increments, and hard to get things to work right when you are dragged off.
I guess I am building a greenhouse. It is a structure, but there is a lot of growing going on within. (And to stretch the metaphor further, the glass walls are allowing the reader to look in and see how progress is going.) It is my intention to maintain my intended destination at the end of book three… but there will no doubt be some meandering from the path along the way. There has been meandering already, but thus far I have managed to make sure that all changes (that I am aware of – some sneak up on you by degrees) serve the story as I have had it imagined for years. I suppose I have some more leeway than Lost or Battlestar Galactica as there has always been a sliver of inherent magic (so to speak) in my story. While I am trying to make my vampire tale as sciencey as possible, it IS after all about vampires.