Friday, December 7, 2018
After NaNo by Jane Kindred
I was ready to accept that I wasn’t going to win. After all, the effort wasn’t completely wasted, since 38,000 new words was still a lot compared to how long it had taken me to write the first half of the book (I started NaNo with a book in progress at 50,000 words…that it had taken me five months to write). But then I just decided to go for broke and see what I could crank out without pausing. I literally had to write for eight hours straight both days, because I am not a word sprinter. Those last 12,000 words are pretty close to what a monkey would bang out at random, but somehow, I did it, with literally one minute to spare when I updated my word count on the NaNo website.
My book, naturally, thumbed its nose at me and informed me that I had a few more thousand to go. But by December 3, I had a complete first draft at 103,800-some words.
Now comes the fun part: fixing the mess. It took me so long to write the first half that I kept forgetting details from earlier in the story since I wasn’t keeping a running document of my thinking process alongside it like I usually do. (Which is how I “plot.”) So now I get to go through and try to make everything fit together. My characters’ hair and eye color and skin tones changed several times, the settings and time of year changed, and some of the names changed. There were even a handful of characters I created during that 12,000-word stretch that I didn’t bother to name, leaving placeholders like “Some Guy” and “Second Girl”—and there’s one secondary character who was just “Dude” throughout the whole book. I still have to name the world, the realm, and the city, along with streets and taverns and mountains. And I’m still not entirely sure how the magical system works—or the technology. And, weirdly, there are no animals in this world, except for a pair of reindeer that I forgot about after the second chapter. Some of that will be easy to slip into the story, but some of it may mean an entire rewrite.
But there are two things I feel like I absolutely need to add for the story to be complete: an epilogue and a prologue. I often include epilogues in my fantasy, because the ending is usually the defeat of an enemy or the destruction of an evil empire or the end of a quest, and I like to add a couple of pages that take place sometime later when everything has settled down to show how it all worked out for the characters. (Or, if I’m planning a sequel, to drop something unexpected and unsettling in there, because I’m evil.) But prologues are another thing altogether. I usually (though not always) hate them when I encounter them in the wild, so I’ve rarely included one. I figure the story should start at the right place, and if you need a prologue...it probably didn’t. But this time, since the world is one of enchantment and lies, I’m thinking a “before it got like this” scene would help readers relate to the characters more.
So what say you, good people? Prologues: yea or nay?
Jane Kindred is the author of the Harlequin Nocturne series, Sisters in Sin, and the epic fantasy series The House of Arkhangel’sk, Demons of Elysium, and Looking Glass Gods. She spent her formative years ruining her eyes reading romance novels in the Tucson sun and watching Star Trek marathons in the dark. She now writes to the sound of San Francisco foghorns while two cats slowly but surely edge her off the side of the bed.