Same game, new rules


Smile!
Smile! (Photo credit: rkleine)

I suppose I should start with an explanation as to why it’s been almost three weeks since I’ve last posted to my blog.  Considering the medical state I had been in during the last set of posts, I’d like to give a short, three sentence update as to my situation.  Ready?

I’m better!  I’ve been pain free for 18 days straight which is, after two months (I think), quite an accomplishment.  In light of this new freedom from pain, I’ve written over 13,000+ words on Crescent Knights!

So, as you can imagine, I’ve been busy with celebrating, writing, and handling the holidays with family and friends.  Sadly my blog was ignored and for that I apologize for the neglect, but it’s hard to compete with the euphoria of being pain free and writing so much in such little time.  But to make up for it, here is a really long post of you!!!!

Speaking of which, Crescent Knights (CK).  A little back knowledge for anyone who isn’t aware, is that Crescent Knights is the second book featuring two characters specifically: Alexandria Holtz and Mark Ruins hunting after an organization known as the Crescent Knights (yes, I know, not overly original, but there is a reason for it).  When I first began this story line, Alex and Mark was originally going to be a single book which was Memory Lane, but as that book came to a close my beta readers began asking “what next?”  What happened to Alex?  I even asked that, which created an epilogue and started the idea for book two.

Once you have the first book under your belt, even if it isn’t published yet, only making the rounds, I found myself filled with a type of arrogance.  I found myself thinking:  I got this, I know how to do it.  It’s easy, because I’ve been living with Alex and Mark for several years now.  You see, I already knew that no two stories are the same.  Take Memory Lane (ML) for example, which is about assassins works differently than my story about monsters taking over the world.  Different genre, different rules, different characters… you get the idea.  So I expected the rules and challenges to be different.

However, I expected that because ML and CK had the same core characters, rules, and genre that it’d be like writing the same book all over again.

Imagine my surprise to find out how wrong I was – am – and probably will continue to be as this process unfolds.  The genre and the characters are the same, true, but now the rules have changed.  Several things are different and I have a nifty little comparison list to illustrate.

 

Memory Lane

Crescent Knights

POV Single – Alex Multiple
Main Characters Three – Alex, Mark, Tim Ten (so far)
Timeline Two – Past and Present in conjuncture Linear
Location Worldwide Worldwide
Basic Main Plot Acceptance of who you are Revenge/Justice (I’ll let the reader decide)
Basic Subplot My, what a tangled web we weave ?
Screaming Bloody Murder
Screaming Bloody Murder (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s basic, I know, but I think it works fairly well to get the point across.  Because CK is a different book I have to treat it like it is, but since it has the same characters, it’s hard to do.  So now I’m stuck with –

AHHHHHHHH!

It’s either screaming or swearing, I opted for screaming because it’s a PG blog and I’ll leave the swearing to Alex.  But you’re right, this is too generalized.  I hear you!  “Let’s get specific!  Give details, woman!”  Alright!  I’ll give specific examples but show some patience will you!

POV

The point of view is a writer’s bread and butter for the story.  You have to choose whose eyes and head the story will be told from.  In ML it was Alex (or it was supposed to be, apparently I had/have some difficulties staying with her as I’d sometimes go to Mark or Michael who was her fiance).  I was in her head which made it difficult pulling out of the story because she swears so much going back to the family when you shouldn’t swear in front of children required a ton of restraint, which is only one example.  My situational awareness going into restaurants was a bit much too as it’s not necessary for a mother of two to identify any potential threats of attackers in Olive Garden while it is for Alex, but anyway, you see my point.

For CK, on the other hand, I’m playing with many different POVs.  I’m doing this for several reasons.  The first is to break it up the story and the other is because information vital to the story will be found somewhere that Alex isn’t for example.  I have two teams, the one on the ground that Alex and Mark is with, and one that is doing the recon and information gather where Gloria is in charge, plus I have the big wigs in charge moving their pieces around the game board.

Cover of "The Exorcist (The Version You'v...

Talking about it threatens to cause my head to spin around like I’m in the Exorcist instead of a writer.  This point here is the biggest argument for planning the story before writing if there ever is one in my opinion.

Characters – a part of the POV

I’ve talked about this in a previous post where I had minor characters in ML jump up with a demand to become main characters in CK, but the problem is now how to manage them.  It’s like the inside of my head is an indoor arcade filled with the loudest 6-year-olds in existence.  Each one wants their turn to play and wants to elbow each other out of the way.  I’m having more and more respect for elementary school teachers the more I deal with these personalities in my head (despite how crazy it might be making me sound at the moment talking about voices in my head).  The truth is, when you have to switch between characters (and POVs) you start having to change how you think.

My ratio of male:female is off as well, but it works for peculiar reasons that is too complicated to get into at the moment.  The thing about having the characters is that I’m finding it is like cooking.  Each ingredient, or personality, has to work together.  A team has to mesh, even when they disagree, the chemistry has to fit on the page because if they don’t work together then it’s crap and no one wants to read that right?  So I’m juggling personalities while mixing them together with their POVs.

Cue head spin again.

Timeline

Finally, something that makes sense.  Mostly.  The benefit of ML being two timelines working in tangent is that my transitions were easy.  Past or Present.  She’s awake or she’s not.  I’ll admit it, I cheated, but it had to be done because telling the story in a linear format from beginning to end didn’t work.  CK, on the other hand, has to be told from start to finish, no jumping around allowed.  All my flashbacks are in ML, or should be, I don’t anticipate any showing up in CK.  So now I have to worry about that.  On one hand, this makes life easier because now I don’t have to worry about how I can fit ten years of memories into 6 hours of time ( it’s harder than you think), but now I have to worry about transitions.  No more cheating.  *pout*

There, now you have three specific examples of how book one and book two changes when it has to be drastically different.  I will say this though:

When I started ML I had planned it to be a single book and had no aspirations for writing a series in any way.  I like the idea of different types of stories in my career as a writer (when it becomes a career of course) and I still aspire to be that.  But, with that said, I can see Alex and Mark having many books and for GAN to become a series beyond these two characters as it has a lot of potential to it.  I also know that after CK I at least have one more book with this pair (no title for it yet) and it will be linear as CK is.  I have a plot idea for it as well, but that’s it.

Memory Lane is the fluke, the odd duck in style and rules for the series, and it needed to be to introduce Alex.  While these are valuable lessons for others, I think it’s important to note that series work better when they stay similar to each other in style to make it easier for the readers to stay with it.  I only hope that as a writer, I can carry my readers from ML to CK well enough to make the transition easy enough so I don’t lose anyone (or they don’t ignore ML completely because it has a lot of good juicy stuff that is vital to know about Alex and GAN).

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