As I've been forging ahead on my next project, I've found the process of plotting a lot harder than it has been in the past. Part of this, of course, is due to the nature of my next project. It's new, you see. Unlike the last few things I've been writing, I am creating a brand new property for myself. As it stands, the last three things i've written have been quite established.
First it was Tales by Lantern-Light 2. The fifth book written in the world of Jack Lantern. So, I know the world quite well, and I really know the characters. It was slow going in a few places, but I was never really stuck. Next was Shadow Mountain book 3. It's been a long time getting back to that world, but again... I knew everyone and everything involved in it. Then there was The Wishcharmer Saga volume 2. It's still relatively new, but I knew the direction I wanted to push things.
Now I start my new project. It's a kind of story I've wanted to write for years. As is the next project I'm scheduled to work on. There are good base characterss ready to go, there is a general direction... There's the basic building blocks... Then, as I start forward... Pffhhht.
I kept struggling. Every time I thought I had something figured out, it would start to fall apart. Crumbling before me. I'd get excited, then watch as that passion for the plot rotted away. It was disheartening. I started doing more research, but everything I did seemed to push me further and further away from the kind of story I had set out to tell. Slowly I started to think... Maybe I should just shelve this, and move onto the next thing. This isn't working, so why force myself?
In writing, I think there are two tenancies that people fall into.
Well, I think there are a bajillion that writers fall into... But I want to point out two that I know I fall into sometimes. With this project, it brought it to the front of my mind.
For me, the biggest problem I faced was overthinking things.
We do it in life, we do it in writing.
I started obsessing over things in my plotting. Little things, that didn't even matter to the story as a whole. I started pushing myself away from the story I wanted to tell because I thought A and B wouldn't be able to equal C or D. I thought the reality of my story would fall apart in my eyes, as well as the eyes of the reader. I thought my ideas for the story weren't thought out enough.
Now, I'll admit right off that I'm not the deepest thinker in the writing game. I don't spend ten months researching the fashion of the Tudors so I can write about their decedents two-hundred years down the line, with some little accuracy.
Nope. I write pulp fiction. I write action-adventure stories. I write fantasy stories. Now, this isn't to say that I don't, or I shouldn't think deeply about what I'm building, and putting down on paper... But in the same breath, I shouldn't overthink what I'm writing. In fantasy, in action-adventure, I have to remember what my goals are. That's true of any writer in any genre. First and foremost, I want a story I enjoy. I want it to entertain me, and others. Entertainment is my business. If I can't accomplish that, then what does all the writing get me?
In the case of my story, I had to come to a realization that I was trying to do too much with the story. I was focusing too much on little things. I was moving away from character, plot, and entertainment, for things that, in my kind of story-telling, did me no little good.
So, with a bit of frustration, and hopefully a little humility, I stripped everything back down to by basic building blocks I had had for months. Those were still good. But I had to start again. I had to launch from the right head-space. There was no point in me trying to write an exciting action adventure story if it wasn't going to be adventurous, exciting or action...y.
Now, with a new perspective, I'm back to work. I have to tell you, that work is beginning to fall into place much better. I'm far happier with the plot, and the characters are able to act as they were meant to. They can breathe and really excel in their roles. I have a good feeling about this. I think I may be onto making the kind of story I set out to do. No more overthinking things. I'm focused on the feeling, the adventure... Everything else falls into place when I have an eye on the destination.
Now, there's another pitfall I have to watch out for: Underthinking.
But that's a discussion for another time. For now, I'm just going to focus on thinking. Not underthinking or overthinking. Just thinking.