A picture of my pumpkins this morning. You can see where hail damaged some of their leaves last week, but they are doing fine, and I’m hoping for some pumpkins by fall. Last year’s never set fruit, but I’m very much a believer in that “if at first you don’t succeed, add more shi- ah, compost.”
I’ve been enjoying myself immensely this week as I sit outside with my clipboard and sketch out the next book I’m going to be working on. I only get a chance to do this once or twice a year, and the weather has been cooperating beautifully. It’s been lemonade and ice tea–and then a little mixed together all week, sort of reflecting what is landing on the page. This time, my plotting is a bit different as I’m not working on just one book, but several ideas as I plan out the main structure to my next five years. Don’t get me wrong. I still have a couple of Hollows books to write, but with the last Madison book on the shelf, my schedule has opened up and I’ve been throwing ideas on the paper like mad–ideas that have been perking in my head for a very long time. Some are Hollows oriented since I’ve got a novella to write before the end of the year and I think it’s going to be Hollows, some are not.
Yesterday, I finished a very rough, chapter by chapter outline on a weird stand alone that has the potential for a second or third book. Still UF, but a very, very different feel, and I’m excited about it. It’s using a style of writing I’m not familiar with. I may lose the first person POV, but for now, first line: “They say on average that in their lifetime, a person swallows three spiders in their sleep. I’d always thought it was an urban legend, until I woke with one sitting on my nose. That was the morning Gram died.” I never know the first line when I start a book, and this one will likely change, but it has a feeling of legend, family, and sudden aloneness that I was looking for–and I like it.
The pages are ugly, messy, and have holes in the plotting you could throw a cat through, but I’m dropping it and turning my attention today to Grace, a book I started while Dead Witch Walking was being shopped around. It’s traditional fantasy, and I’m throwing out everything but the characters, the first 100 pages of rough draft gone, gone, gone forever. I’ve gotten the question before from readers as to what comes first, the plot, or the character, and usually I tell them they evolve together, but if I can pull this off–yanking a character from an already established story line and put her in a new setting and let her go–then I think my answer will be the characters come first in my mind, then the story. I wouldn’t want to try to do this with just any character. Grace is special. She is so beautifully flawed that she could walk down my sidewalk and I would know her in an instant. She is who I’ve been aching to write for years and years, and I hope that I can turn to her, but if not, she will wait for me, and I’m good with that, because I know there will never be anyone on paper like her.
So maybe ideas are like plants. They can sit in the back of your head for years until you pull back the branches and give them light–and a huge helping of compost.