Well it has been a while. Not since I wrote a blog, I did that yesterday, but since I wrote a blog that focused on why Writing in Shadows was created in the first place. I started this blog several years ago to write about the process of writing. Back then, as a young whipper-snapper of 40, I had dreams of writing a novel. Maybe a movie. Perhaps a series. Definitely more than a shopping list.
Somewhere along the way Writing in Shadows became about a wide variety of topics. Pretty much anything was okay to write about. Politics, homosexuality, depression, anxiety, my so-called life, all of it was fodder for the mill so to speak.
I didn’t forget my reason for creating the blog in the first place, I just, umm, diversified. After all, there’s only so many times you can write about writers’ block before it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
One of the challenges I set myself for 2017 was to complete the draft on my first novel. I’ve already started work on an information guide that I’ll be releasing as a non-fiction book on Amazon in the next few months. While I may be having difficulty in landing a job (or an interview) personally, I have over a decades experience in hiring graduates. Knowing what employers are looking for is the central message of my first Non-Fiction info guide. But, it’s not a novel.
And creative writing is what I enjoy most in this life. True, give me a paper and pen and I’ll write anything, just to be writing, but my goal for as long as I can remember has been to be a professional author. And so, I now turn my attention to the third challenge of 2017; write my first novel.
I’ve been toying around with a few ideas and I keep coming back to two of them. One is an Epic Fantasy Series which quite honestly seems terrifying to someone writing their first full-length novel. The other is a gay romance novel about a man back on the dating scene for the first time since he was 18.
Given I have the same real life experience in both fighting evil Gods and finding a boyfriend I figured they’d stretch my creativity nicely, but not enough to send me under the first bed I find to play with the dust bunnies.
The Hero’s Journey is something that intrigues me. Are those building blocks really all that are needed to begin the process of developing a storyline? Can those set steps be a true guide in starting at “Once upon a time,” and ending with “The End”?
I’ve been interested in how you can use The Hero’s Journey ever since I watched a documentary with George Lucas. He was talking about how he used the steps outlined in The Hero’s Journey to plot out a space opera called Star Wars. Watching Star Wars (and the subsequent films in the series) the hero’s journey is still central to all the films that have come after it. It’s also one of the highest grossing franchises in film history.
The idea of that level of success isn’t what drives me or makes me question how useful the technique might be in mapping out a novel. What I find difficult is figuring out how to manipulate the theme into a modern day setting. To me, it seems well designed for things like the Star Wars franchise but how do you use it to build a romance novel or a dynastic family drama spanning the first 100 years of Australia?
So here we are. The novel idea is pretty much certain. I have 3 characters and a genre. I need more than that to build a foundation strong enough to hold up 90,000 words or thereabouts. But I’m not panicking yet. I’ve got plenty of time before December 31st to get the novel completed.
To start with, I’m going to map out the main character’s journey, building in the necessary obstacles along the way. The main area I am concerned about is the subplots. I need to be able to weave all of them together in such a way they compliment, not complicate, the main story. So far I’ve got a widower, a child custody battle, a renovation and a surprise love. Other than that, at this stage, I’ve got bupkiss.
I’m hopeful that by taking it a step at a time and working the Hero’s Journey as you would any other ‘instruction manual,’ that sooner or later I’ll have a plot with depth, development and an emotional journey that will make the story worth reading.
It’s been a long time since I wrote more than a blog post or a barrage of marketing material. It’s amazing how nerve-wracking it can be to sit down at a blank screen. It’s the first time I’ve attempted writing anything creative without cigarettes to the right of me and wine to the left of me.
If nothing else it will be good plotting practice. I’m not particularly good at spending the time I need to get things outlined. I’m too impatient and I tend to get half way through and think “ah stuff it, I’m just going to write.” But if my aim is to complete my first novel by New Years’ Eve 2017 I best get to figuring out how to do just that.