My muse is definitely back. I don’t know if I was encountering Writer’s Block or what, but you may have gleaned from the last couple of posts that I wasn’t working on Pa’adhe very much, other than to tweak and adjust Keylim based on feedback from my Beta readers and send it out again. Then last week I finally got an idea for a new Pa’adhe story.
As is my wont, I began thinking about it: what would be in it? Where is the challenge? What kind of trouble can the crew get into? I also began research into Tibetian Bowls, as that is what triggered the idea in the first place. Now I want to share with you somewhat of my writing process, insofar as it relates to Pa’adhe stories.
I had developed a situation that resolved around Tibetian Bowls. They’d be called something else in my story, of course, but they’d be recognizable as such. Now that I had what seemed to be a key prop, my challenge was to somehow get the Captain into a position to deal with them. I didn’t realize it at first, but what I had planned for the Captain risked putting him on a pedestal so high that in reality it would be unreasonable to expect him to go back to being a simple Captain that loved sailing. My subconscious obviously did, though.
Having the kernel of the story, Pantser that I am, I set out to develop the opening. I’m very aware that probably 2/3 to 1/2 the previous stories open with the Captain musing or enjoying the view, so I’m trying to avoid that now. That’s good for some stories, but definitely not all.
At this point, I’m not yet committing anything to file, other than my research notes about the bowls. I’m still developing the idea and story mentally.
So, for this opening, I thought I’d have the Captain enjoying a soak in the baths in the Captain’s Section of some port. Soaking after a hard day working on Pa’adhe several captains were discussing trades, routes, and exchanging stories. After a bit, one captain asks if anyone’s headed towards ????. The ‘????’ indicates I have a nebulous idea where on the map it is but no name for the place yet. Of course, our Captain is free at the moment and has been thinking of heading that way. The two make a deal: in return for the fee plus a bonus, Captain will carry the other captain’s cargo destined for ????. To make it plausible, the other captain has received a more lucrative offer to carry a cargo in the opposite direction and wants to take advantage of that. All this fits in with an underlying driving action I have in mind, based on Sean in the Lord Darcy stories.
So far, so good. I’ve got an opening that works. I’ve got a driving action I can play with. I’ve got a prop that’ll be fun to use. Hmmmm. It’s about time to start putting all this down in a file, eh?
Then as seems normal enough to not surprise me, I had full-blown, springing from the sea like Venus, an image of Pa’adhe on the sea with another ship coming up over the horizon. Two ships passing on the wide ocean, a rare enough event that they’d want to meet and exchange news, maybe some goods and supplies. So each alters their path slightly to meet and cross on towards wherever they’re going. The idea was that the other ship would pass the cargo to the Captain at sea rather than in the baths. A pleasant encounter that hides events to come.
I’m thinking I need to get this down into a file and start working on it. Yep. Time to start employing the keyboard.
What goes into the file?
The opening idea is as I imagined. However, the encounter isn’t. As the ships come alongside, the other ship is in poor state, and so is it’s crew. No matter what, the Captain can’t get the Pa’adhe close enough to transfer stuff or help the other crew. He doesn’t realize it at first but he’s fighting the steering oar more and more the closer the two ships get. Then he sees….um, that’s enough. I don’t want to provide the whole story here. *evil laugh*
The plans I have when I sit down to write, as one of my favorite poets says, ‘gang oft agley.’ I start with some dimly perceived thought that I nurture and watch it grow until I can consciously mess with it. Then I start formulating a story line around it, but never know if that is the beginning or somewhere between beginning and end. It’s never been the end yet, but I imagine someday it will be. Once I have that kernel of the story, I’ll think about it more and more and start developing ever more ideas around it until I feel I have enough to sustain me and start actually writing. When I sit down at the keyboard, I have an idea what’s going to go into the file and I start inputting it. While I’m typing, things…change. The story grows on it’s own is how I put it, but I’m pretty sure it’s my subconscious doing most of the work and driving the story. Still, it’s more fun blaming the Captain, the crew, and Pa’adhe for not doing what I tell them.
That, dear readers, is in a nutshell how my writing a new tale of the Pa’adhe begins.