Heh, heh, heh. It has been a good day. Not only is it a gorgeous Indian summer day in my neck of the woods, tinted with gold and crowned with blue, but it has been productive as well. At long, long last I have all the threads of Seaborn in my hands.
This is a bigger victory than you know. This year has been a struggle on the writing front because of the concentration factor caused by my back. I've been trapped in a vicious circle for awhile, of back pain leading to no sleep leading to fuzzy concentration leading to serious drop in productivity leading to anxiety leading to insomnia... You get the picture. I've had the mental acuity of a gnat lately.
Several things clicked today. For one, I actually got a little decent sleep last night, always a plus. For another, all my winter wood is now in the barn, which means I can relax and not worry about the gathering chill at night and the slow creep of the year toward winter. I like heating my house with wood heat, not least because it is proof against power outages, of which there was one memorable 9-day marathon that was...not fun. But it is a yearly adventure getting it in. That's one.
Two, I actually remembered to haul out the ladder and sweep the chimney. I confess it was to avoid sitting on the deck pounding away at Seaborn, which until today was crawling onto the page rather than bounding with the usual exuberance of stories wanting to be told. Some of my novels have poured out like Tigger arriving at a party; Seaborn has sat there like Eeyore, stubbornly refusing to come out and join the gang. But--but!!! Somewhere between putting the ladder away and sitting back down with the laptop, Tigger must have goosed Eeyore, because the second I sat down I wrote a line of dialog that broke the whole dang plot loose.
All of it! At last I know why my sentient elements are doing what they're doing in this book. And it was waaaaaaay better than anything I imagined. Up to this point I only knew that Water was very upset, and making it known in spectacular fashion. I knew what the climactic scene would look like but I was definitely mired in the muddle in the middle trying to figure out how to get there. And I was having a bit of a hard time wrapping in the thread from Windrider that I had envisioned at the end of that book. (Yes, series can be tricky things to write when you had not originally envisioned book 1 as part of a series.) As I am firmly in the make-it-up-as-you-go camp of writers rather than the outliners who plot everything out in advance, this was not unexpected but still somewhat maddening. Usually my subconscious is much better at spinning threads together much faster.
Although each book in the Masters of the Elements series can be read as a standalone novel, independent of the rest, there is a definite overarching storyline that runs through the series, with each book picking up and advancing it. Maintaining the integrity of the story arc, making the action in previous books relevant, yet not giving away the entire plot of those books, is an interesting and complicated balance that must be kept in a series like this. Some authors just plunge ahead with the continuing story and don't give you backstory; others spend half the following book catching you up on the series. I like to ground you without burying you in detail, so that you can savor each book on its own. I am thus very grateful for that line of dialog that will now help me pick up the threads of both the previous books rather effortlessly.
Yep. I definitely hit a trifecta today!
Just from curiosity, how do you, the readers, like your series? Tolkien-fashion, as a continuing story? Dresden fashion, with a loose arc and a stand-alone set of books? Total understanding of the previous action, or just enough to feel like you know what's going on? Drop me a comment. I'd really like to know.
Next time, a Horse in Fiction post. Any suggestions or something you'd really like to know?