"Welcome to Japan, folks. The local time is . . . tomorrow."
- from 30 Minutes Over Tokyo, The Simpsons, Season 10

Sunday, June 1, 2008

When Everything Clicks: Or What Happens When I Stop Thinking Too Much

This is sort of cross-posted from the Den of Shadows.

One of my favorite things about writing is when everything just clicks together. The first version of Kitsune was a jumbled mess called Butterfly Kiss that became even more of a mess when I tried revising it. So last August, I dumped the original plotline for something completely different, one that featured a new character as the villain. With such a simple change (having a different villain), the whole story just seemed to come together. I was amazed at how easy it was to plot out the main events. Of course the writing is a bit trickier, but that's always the more difficult part of the creative process for me.

Only I was having a new problem. I had always wanted to write Butterfly Kiss as the first book in a trilogy, with the second book called Butterfly Shadow and the third book Butterfly Essence/Soul. Unfortunately, I also thought of calling it the Fox Chronicles, and I figured something labeled "Chronicles" should be more than three books long, and maybe closer to being five books. But with everything I had shoved into Butterfly Kiss, I didn't think I would get much more than those three books. But, when I changed the central focus of book one (now called Kitsune), created a new villain and thus a different aspect of my world, I opened the Fox Chronicles up to the potential for a very long series.

Of course the problem I was having in May was how was I going to recombine what I had initially written with Kitsune to make a cohesive overall plot for the series.

When I was in tae kwon do, the black belts and red belts who tried helping me always told me, "You think too much. Just stop thinking, and it'll come to you," or something like that. It didn't matter who was giving the advice, but it was always along those lines. And, you know, the few times I was able to actually "stop thinking," I was really good. I didn't make any really dumb mistakes and I could ignore the other people in the room while I was testing. The same thing applied when I practiced board breaking. Every time I thought about kicking the board, my foot just stopped right at the board, because I was too afraid of hurting myself. When I finally stopped thinking about breaking the board, and just did it, it didn't even hurt.

Anyway, about a week ago, I just started writing a basic outline for the series. It was something simple like a few notes on what the book is about, who the villain is, who the love interest is, and Kitsu's main character arc or the main theme/controlling idea of the book. At first, I didn't think I'd have much of a plot for any of the other books, but it was quite easy for me to come up with a basic plot for the next three books in the series. I was kind of amazed at how easy everything just seemed to fit together. Plus, this quick outline for the Fox Chronicles, books 1 to 4 covers Kitsune, Butterfly Kiss (now divided into books 2 and 3), and a new idea I came up with after introducing Kadin and the Foxes in book 1 instead of in book "yes" (meaning, I needed to introduce the Foxes, I just had no idea when that was going to happen). Plus, these first four books lay the groundwork for the politics that I want to deal with throughout the series.

As for the events of Butterfly Shadow and Butterfly Soul/Essence. Well, Shadow can be worked in pretty much anywhere after book 4. While the events of Butterfly Soul/Essence will get divided up much like Butterfly Kiss. Since the probable events from Soul/Essence dealt with a lot of the backstory for the galaxy in general, sort of like the "real history" of how the galaxy (politically speaking) came to be. Likewise, Soul/Essence dealt with the far future of the galaxy. All in all, I think the story will be better by having it split up. But the events in the far future will still be the last events dealt with in the Fox Chronicles.

Now I just need to get back to writing so I can finish Kitsune and find a home for it.

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