I guess I should have seen the Great Crash of Mier coming.
It's a huge project, as I've been told a hundred times when I flail and fail to explain what the story is about. Key advice that I heard, understood, and just...filed under "but it can't possibly apply to my BRILLIANT WORLD" is this: If you can't summarize the central plot in a paragraph (some say a sentence), something's wrong. Alas, something is.
I think what it boils down to is, I love the world so much that I spent inordinate amounts of time writing a hundred mini-story outlines and never solidified a GOOD central plot. I know how the third prince in the east feels about his kingdom, his wife, and his crazy aunt...but I don't know how, in the first volume, my two main characters' stories will tie together in a satisfying way. I know that Tick and Vance are exciting to write and their (minor) story is one of my favorites...but I don't know why it's necessary before book three. And on it goes. I created so much STUFF that I want to pack it all in and hope you hit the ground running. But in the end, there's no way you can. Unless every copy of Mier comes with a five-hour Q&A session. (I don't think anyone wants that.)
I played with what I've got, trying to figure out how to rework this. I thought about making the first book Macy's story and the second Elina's (essentially covering the same year twice). While there are ways to do that, most of them seem device-ridden and I can't help but think it's a turn for the worse. I also thought about turning the four kingdoms into a single kingdom with four regions and cutting all the royalty stories I've developed. I don't like that either. (And not just because I love the royal plots. I was totally willing to chop my little darlings to pieces.)
So, new plan of attack:
I'm going to reboot totally. A few scenes might be reusable, but I'll figure that out as I go. I'm starting over and the politics will stay in the background where they belong. Somehow, I'll have to convey the important parts without getting caught up in my "look how everything works and don't forget all the people I made who I can't possibly leave out" tendencies. Before I start, rather than sailing in on a wave of world building like last time, I will OUTLINE. (My heart stops.) I tried the gardener route, and I love it, but I'm beginning to realize that I'm too easily distracted to tell this big of a story that way. I see a tiny flower hiding in a bush and I want to tell all about it, and its family, and its scent. When it just needs to be a tiny flower. It's time to give myself lists and try to stick to them.
I guess we'll see how that goes.
I'm still thrilled about Mier. This is a setback, but there's no point in pressing forward if it's fundamentally flawed. This is THE story that's been rocking around in me for a decade. I'm going to get it right, dammit.
THAT SAID, I think for my health and sanity, I'm going to work on a B project, too. The other day, my stepdaughter was playing and shouted "I'm the queen of the kingdom!" to which I replied "Why wouldn't you be queen of a queendom? That sounds more fun." And I spent the rest of the day outlining a project called The Queendom of Que -- a whimsical middle grade novel about a princess of Que and her mortal enemy from the Queendom of Pue. I don't know if it will turn out as fun as I think (I had a blast dreaming it up), but I think it's a great NaNo project either way.
So that's where I stand, four days before my writing retreat. I hope to come out of it with a solid outline for Mier and at least 5-10 chapters. I had a few dark days with the project, but I think it's all for the best now. (Thanks, in big part, to my writing group! DANG = savior.)
Til next time,