Monday, January 30, 2012

Stepping Back to look at the Big Picture

This weekend was spent, in part, organizing and purging.  This tied, in part, to deciding to rename the warrior orders in Druthal.  Going through documents, finding outdated info, changing the names of things, purging out needless duplicates of paperwork.  (It's amazing how many times I've, frankly, thoughtlessly re-printed the same info.)  But I'm working on putting together both clean working files to reference (in Scrivener format primarily, though exporting that to a text format as well, in case of disaster), as well as a single, easy hard copy to go to if I need it.  It also involves digging through random handwritten notes (as I will jot down ideas just about anywhere) and making sure I've transcribed them somewhere where they'll do some good.

Part of this, of course, involved taking a good, hard look at the bigger picture of things.  I've made no secret of the fact that I have four different "heroes of Maradaine" series mapped out, with Thorn of Dentonhill, Holver Alley Crew, Maradaine Constabulary and Way of the Shield each representing the first of their own respective series.  Each of these four books stands alone just fine, though I've made a point of including hints and connections that pay off for readers who read everything. 

Now, I have a big crazy plan for each and all of these series, which I've worked to some degree.  Part of this weekend's process involved finding more detail to fill in, which then filtered back into the final bits of the Maradaine Constabulry re-write. 

On some level, I know that it's completely crazy to even be contemplating the level of plan that I have.  But I think in terms of epic.  And hopefully, I'll be able to make that pay off.

It occurs to me that this particular blog is coming off just a hair short of a total box of crazy.  Which is how stepping back and looking at my whole big-picture plan makes me feel, sometimes.  The scope of what I want to do is so huge, it feels like a tidal wave that I have to hold back.  It's almost the opposite of writer's block: there's so MUCH you can't get out. If I just let it go, it would be an intelligible word-salad of madness.  An unsolved jigsaw puzzle, dumped out on the floor.

Thus: Plan.  Organize.  Focus.  Build the edges of the puzzle first.  I've got three sides almost done, and I'm starting to build the fourth. 

This whole thing will probably make no sense to you, or it makes perfect sense, in which case you should probably be scared for your sanity.  Mine's toast. 

Off to the word mines.


Daniel Fawcett said...

Well, it makes sense to me... but again, I am a partial insider. But I don't think it is all that crazy. Remember, planning on an epic scale works in various ways for various people. Tolkien didn't plan his books the way you did, but he did plan his languages and cultures in such detail that he drew up grammars for his languages, histories for his cultures, and poetry that explored the aesthetics of his civilizations.

On the other hand, P.G. Wodehouse (an author who, really, couldn't be more different) had an entire room that was devoted to whatever he was writing at the moment, with pages tacked to the walls. But each page-column was a variant version of a SINGLE PAGE... he would modify, tweak, and re-write, putting his favorite version of the page at the top of the column. And then he would re-check each page against each other page, and would occasionally have to scrap the entire room and start again.

I guess my point is that we each have our own ways of planning. Some people plan out entire series and then examine how the various texts come together, while other people stumble upon their connections. Your level of planning is not what would work for me, but it completely makes sense.

Daniel Fawcett said...

I just realized that it came across as if I were saying that Wodehouse is epic. Of course, he was not.

That's what happens when you just type without planning.

Marshall Ryan Maresca said...

Wow. Of course, he was writing before we had computers. His method was essentially simulating in a low-tech way, the way people write now with Word or Scrivener or such.

(It helps that he had whole rooms to devote to that. I don't even have a desk that I get to keep set up 24/7.)