Monday, December 5, 2011

The Easy Part of Writing

When I try and badger my friends (and, I’ll admit, even acquaintances) into doing NaNoWriMo with me, the most common refusal I get goes something like this: “I’m not creative… I don’t know what to write about… I don’t have any good ideas.”
I never really sympathize with them, because for me, ideas are the easy part. They come from everywhere - I couldn’t stop having story ideas if I tried, not even if my life depended on it.
Take last night, for example. I was in bed for the night, knitting while I waited for my brain to slow down, and just letting my mind float. I had read Rampant (by Diana Peterfreund) over the past few days, and my thoughts drifted back to the scene where a man discovers that one if his daughters isn’t. There’s a magical test, that determines if girls are virgins of the right bloodline, and since this young girl is a virgin… the conclusion is obvious.
I felt sorry for the girl, minor character though she was. I hoped her father would tell her she was still the daughter of his heart. I wondered what kind of father wouldn’t - an overly proud one, perhaps? Then a scene came to my mind, unbidden: a man telling someone he raised and loved as his daughter that although she was the daughter of his heart, she was not the daughter of his blood, and that’s what mattered.
I asked myself why would it matter… What if she was supposed to be the man’s heir, and had failed just the bloodline part of her trial? What if she then had to be exiled? I abandoned my knitting and sat up quickly scribble down some notes.
Daughter of my heart, but not of my blood. And in this case it is the blood that matters. Katy has trained her whole life to rule Rivendale after her father (book smarts, etiquette and fighting skills). But to be officially heir, she must pass trials on 20th birthday. The announcement is that she aced everything skills but failed the bloodline test - her mother slept with someone else. Her younger brother will thus be heir if he passes in a few years (looks like dad so no blood doubts).
She offers to marry a cousin with her “dad’s” blood but the code/law is that failures must be exiled from their home estate for 2-5 yrs. She can live there again after, and her dad says she will always be welcome, but they must follow the code for now. He gives her her horse, plenty of food, supplies and money, and she leaves at sunrise the next day. Her father says he will miss her but she might find good use for her time away and find her blood father (since her mother died when she was little so they can’t ask her). Armed with a magical direction finding token (blood calls to blood), Katy sets off to find her true father and find out why her mother slept with him.
I might not end up writing this story, but the idea called to me so strongly that I had to write it down. My ideas come easily, but I have trouble sticking with an idea, and getting the words on paper (NaNoWriMo excepted). I want the words to sound like the story feels in my head, and that’s impossible - at least right away.
I’ve mentioned my story Fire before, and my plans to expand it to novel length. NaNoWriMo delayed me, but I’m going to post chapter 2 in the next couple days. With Fire, my goal now is to stop worrying so much about matching my vision with the reality. If I focus more on simply telling the story, I’ll get stories written, and the flowing prose will come.
Click here to read Fire's second chapter. I hope you like it.

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