Caught in the web of lore

Caught in the web of lore

This writing thing is hard.

When I sat down to write my first book, and again with my second, I just wrote. I had a loose idea of the plot, I knew the characters, but I didn’t give a lot of thought to the worlds they lived in beyond the slices of them that went into the books.

One of my editors put a note into Secrets in Blood: “Make a list of everything Evangeline does and doesn’t know.” As non-spoilery backstory, Evangeline was raised in a bunker underground. So only a little pop culture from discs and books, no idea of the realities of stoplights, pollution, or shopping malls. That sort of thing. So I did. But even so, I didn’t give a whole lot of thought to the world Evangeline existed in beyond what she could see, feel, and touch.

Even with A Shift in the Water, my…I-don’t-even-remember-which-number book, I didn’t build a whole lot of lore. Sure, there were werewolves and elementals, and I did actually do a lot of things right with that book…things that as I write book 3 in that series, I’m realizing work perfectly. But there are also decisions I made that are making things harder.

So I took a step back last week. In consultation with my editor, I came up with almost a complete lore for the entirety of the Elemental Shifter world.

This was not easy. I agonized over every sentence, every bit of history, every event. Mara’s mother. Katerina’s true motivations. Why Caitlin feels she must do…what she does. Every character has to have a purpose, and a backstory, and motivations that mean something, that further the plot. There were days I couldn’t fight my way out of the web around me, could see only that spider, stalking closer, ready to make me his lunch, or wrap me so tightly in his silks I’d never get free. Every path I traversed only to find a dead end, every u-turn that sent me reeling, every flash of inspiration or frustration, laid bare on the page, all for the love of this world and these characters.

I’m only 20,000 words into A Shift in the Earth, but I had to plot out A Shift in Fire (or Flames, the title isn’t set yet) just to finish the final outline for A Shift in the Earth. Why? Because I needed to know the destination in order to choose the right road.

Not a lot of words landed on the page this week. A few, sure, because I can’t not write, but none on A Shift in the Earth. Unless you count those close to 10,000 words and two Scapple outlines I agonized over.

And I do. Absolutely.

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