Over the past three months, I have been mapping out what will be my 2016 July CampNanoWriMo project (click the link if you don’t know this site). It started in early March. I had a vague idea of what I wanted to do, but nothing structured had come together except for the fact that there was going to be magic involved.
Usually, I am a chronological writer. Since I didn’t yet have a plot to work from the idea simply sat there stewing, trying to shape itself from an abstract inkling, into a story worth telling. Finally, I decided I’d had enough. If I wanted this tiny seed of an idea to turn into anything, I knew I had to get off my lazy butt and start trying. And dammit, I wanted this to be something, so try I would.
In this case, trying meant experimenting with something I’d never done before. I had to work out of order and start with what I knew, instead of what I wanted to happen. So… What did I know?
I knew that I wanted magic to somehow exist.
I knew that in order for that to happen, and create an interesting plot, magic would have to affect the outside world in some way or another.
Seeing as this project will hopefully become my debut novel, and it’s the first time that I’ve written fantasy since I was a teen, I also knew I needed a refresher course in the ins and outs of creating a magic system. I turned once again to Jenna Moreci’s YouTube channel. (I’m aware that I mention her quite often on this blog, but as a new novelist, I find her advice extremely helpful. She never offers solutions outright, but has a knack for understanding the needs of her viewers and giving them enough examples to work out the conclusions for themselves.)
Her video refreshed my knowledge and kept me from leaving gaping holes in the magic system. As I began to formulate the beings and their powers, elements of the plot also fell into place. With the bare minimum skeleton mapped out, rough sketches of characters came into mind, and then conflict, and plot, and so on and so forth. Within a little under three weeks since I first came back to the story, I have been able to establish the origins of my world, create a society and jobs based on magical abilities, determine the rules of magic as they apply to magical beings and mortals of the outside world, and establish a basic backstory for the main antagonist, as well as a backstory for one of the main character’s (MC’s) parents. I’m currently drafting the backstory for my secondary MC, and last will tie it together with my primary MC’s backstory before scrambling all of the elements to create the layout of my novel. But none of this would have happened if I had stuck to my initial way of thinking, and waited for the plot to come to me before I did anything else.
Leaving my comfort zone has helped my progress immensely, and I encourage everyone to see where a new way of thinking will take you.
Challenge of the Week: Describe one time you’ve stepped out of your normal writing routine, and tell whether it enhanced or hurt your progress.