Monday, August 22, 2016

New ideas at the wrong time

After that three-part rambling series about preparing to write a story, let me tell you what happens when things don't quite the way I would have planned.
First, you need to know that I have never been without something to write since I started writing.  I can look anywhere and find a new idea.  I have written 100 novels, over 200 shorter stories, plus another 200 flash fiction pieces.  Ideas jump out and I squirrel them away.  They pile up, sometimes meld with other ideas, and suddenly there is something leaping up and down and demanding my attention.  It doesn't matter what else -- or how many other 'elses' -- I am already working on.
Take this week.
I need to get the final formatting on Living in Caine's Hold finished for the print version so that I can mark that book off my list.  I like getting things done, but I keep getting sidetracked by everything else when it comes to this final step.  First, there are the notes to Silversun, the next science fiction novel.  I have a major amount of worldbuilding, etc., besides the outline, to do there.  Next is the final edits on Ruins, the contemporary mystery/adventure set in the American Southwest.  It's going well, but takes time, and then I'll have to do the ebook formatting and the print formatting for that one. 
So there we have three projects, all of which should take my full attention.
The other day, while my computer was being slow and I was just sitting here, I grabbed a piece of scrap paper to do some notes. I thought I was going to do notes for Silversun.  My brain had a different idea:

History walked into the king's court.
Not the boy -- young man -- himself, but the blood in this veins.  Descended of two barbarian conquerors, raised at his mother's court and suspected of magic.  Exotic.
Called himself Prince since both grandfathers called themselves emperors by the time they were done.  No one argued but they snickered, the princes descended from Gods, though rather farther back than grandfathers.
For all they knew, grandfathers had been Gods leaving destruction where they passed.  Kingdoms fell, royal houses disappeared, fire, plague and death across the lands.  Could the Gods, short of total destruction, do worse?

People who know some history of India might recognize the tenuous link between my Prince (as yet unnamed) and Babur, who was descended from Genghis Khan and Tamerlane.  That was where this idea first took seed, but even in these few notes, it's going off on a different path.
I shoved that note aside.  I was not going to work on this right now.
But last night, while my husband was in a store, I found a pen and more paper.  (Determined, you see, not to commit it to any kind of electronic device, which then makes it real.)  I jotted down two more pages of notes, which are more an outline for the rest of this opening.
I am not ready to truly work on the world building or outline yet, but when something calls to you that strongly, you might as well take notes.  Now, with a couple pages of notes all nicely started, I can let it rest again and finish up something else before I bury myself into what looks like an interesting setup.  (Of course, he has magic.  And he's run afoul of demons.)
This is an important point: just because you have a new idea doesn't mean you should throw yourself into it without finishing something else first.  That way only leads to files and notebooks full of unfinished dreams and frustration. 
If you want to be a published author, you must finish your stories.
That seems obvious, right?  Yet everyday writers convince themselves that the new idea is much better than what they were working on, toss aside the old one because they hit a problem, and leap into something new.  You will never learn how to write a novel, from start to finish, if you don't work past those problem spots.  You will never be a novelist (or even a short story author) until you learn to write a story from start to finish.  No amount of prefect grammar or lovely art work will make you a novelist.
The work is not easy.  It shouldn't be.  However, if you are serious, this is what you need to do:  Set a goal of finishing the story you are working on.  Tell yourself that you must write x amount a week (or a day) on that one project before you can work on anything new and fun.  When that project is done, move another into that slot.  You'll be amazed at how even writing 250 words a day on the novel will move it along.  The more often you do this, the easier those words become to write and the more time you have for the fun new project.  More likely, though, you'll find yourself adding more to your first project because once you truly commit yourself to doing the work, the more exciting it gradually becomes. It will be hard at first.
However, if this is what you want, then you need to do the work.  There are no short cuts.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Flash Fiction # 212 -- Rose

After Lord McCallis and his Lady, my clerk should have introduced the children from eldest to youngest for their presentation to the queen.  However, the three-year-old shrieked when they tried to take her from her mother's side. I gave Prentis a sign, and he introduced the five girls from youngest to oldest: Marigold, Poppy, Daisy, Lily, and Rose.
Of course, there had to be a rose in such a bouquet, but I had not seen her behind her massive -- that is to say rather wide and plump -- parents.  The rest of the little flowers had been pale, pasty blond creatures who had probably never seen the sun.
Rose stood tall, thin -- thorny, too, from the defiant look on her face -- and with a bloom of fiery red hair that made her look more like her late grandfather than the rest of her immediate family.
"Rose," I said.  I had not said the names of any of the others, not even the Lord and Lady.
"Your Highness." She executed another perfect curtsy.
I did not glance at my daughter, but she was there at the edge of my vision, watching the girl.  They were about the same age, and both in that awkward stage at the edge of womanhood.  Princess Amelia hated to be on display and she often gave the impression of haughtiness, an accusation that, though never said to her face, had sometimes brought her to tears.
I had the impression Rose felt much the same way but that she did not cry.  She'd blushed, a line of freckles across her nose and cheeks standing out and her gray-green eyes bright.  It was rude of me to leave her standing there while I considered her future.
"You are quite lovely, Rose," I said.  She blushed all the more and her father made an unpleasant sound. "I am sure we will meet again before you and your family leave."
I gave a bow of my head.  She retreated back behind her parents though she must have slouched to avoid being seen since she stood a head taller than them.
The rest of the presentations took another hour.  I nodded, smiled, spoke now and then, and thought mostly about Rose.  I hadn't seen Lord McCallis in at least five years.  I suspected now that the lack of sons had embarrassed him.  Since I only had one daughter, I did not consider it a badge of dishonor, though the gods knew I heard enough whispers about not having a proper heir.
With the tedious morning done, my daughter and I retired to our private suite.  I signaled the servants away as soon as was proper.  Too soon and they worried about what they'd done wrong and I would have to deal with nervous, upset young women who were apt to break into tears at a glance from me.
When they were gone, Amelia threw herself into the nearest chair in a dramatic pose of despair.  "I cannot stand it, all those dull, staring eyes --"
"What did you think of her?" I asked.
"I don't know," she admitted and didn't pretend not to know whom I was talking about.  This was a huge step forward in our relationship.  I had hardly known my mother, who kept her own court and sent me off to be raised by my uncle.  I married.  I had a daughter.  My husband died in a fencing duel, trying to prove himself.
And now I am a Queen with no son.  I could have had some sympathy for Lord McCallis if he hadn't been such a pompous bastard.
"What shall we do about Rose?" I asked as I settled, a bit less dramatically, in the chair at my desk.
"Rescue her," Amelia said.  Those words startled me, but when I looked into her face, she gave me a grave nod.  "I suddenly have that feeling, mama."
My daughter has a 'gift' and it is not one I would have wished on her.  She tried to warn her father about his upcoming death.  She has tried to warn servants about dangers, but no one listened to her except for me.  Seeing the look on her face, I stood at once.  So did she.  I started to call a servant to lead us to Lord McCallis's suite, but Amelia knew the way instinctively.
Servants scattered.  Royal Guards fell in behind us and had a hard time keeping up.  We were all breathless by the time we reached the door and Amelia pounded on it with a frantic haste that made me worry.  I saw servants gathered at the end of the hall, all of them appalled to see us there.
"My Queen," one young woman said and came to kneel at my feet.  "He sent us all out.  We heard blows, but no cries --"
"She wouldn't," I said.  "Captain, the door."
He and four of his young men battered it in with two great blows.
"How dare you draw her attention!" Lord McCallis roared.
Rose was on her knees, her arms around her head for protection.  Her mother and sisters stood back and looked on -- no emotion there in any of their faces.  Lord McCallis had a cane raised, but he stared in stupid shock at the intrusion into his rooms.  He started to shout, saw his Queen, and dropped the cane instead.
Amelia went straight to Rose.  I had never seen her so angry for the sake of another.

By the end of the week, Lady McCallis and her four younger daughters were off to live with her brother, Lord Martin, and his wife.  I would hold the McCallis estate in trust, paying for their upkeep and dowries for the girls when the time came.
Lord McCallis went into exile.
And as for Amelia and Rose -- well, they deserve tales of their own.

976 Words