We’re already approaching the middle of October. This is prime NaNo prep season for me. A few weeks ago, I shared that one of my projects was writing the final chapters to Bleakbourne on Heath, a novel that began life in 2015 as a weekly serial. I have the outline all written for that, and the ending is now firmly established. Finishing that should cover about 20,000 – to 25,000 words.
My second project is for my new duology set in Neveyah. I need to write the chapters that show my antagonist’s storyline. For my protagonist’s story to make sense and be compelling, I must show why my antagonist opposes Alf, and why we should have compassion for him and his struggle.
To that end, I must spend the next few days outlining what needs to happen for him at each point in the overall two-book story arc.
I also have three short stories and a novella to fill in on those days when I can’t focus on the tasks at hand, so I’ll be well set up with ideas.
So, let’s take a look at what I have to accomplish on Heaven’s Altar before November 1st.
The first hurdle I must leap is a trap of my own devising.
In 2008 when we were designing the world of Neveyah as an RPG and before the story had been written, I had the bright idea to make a calendar where each month has
- 28 days
- The months are named after astrological signs and the days are sort of named like the Julian calendar.
- The 13th month is called Holy Month and is between Harvest and winter, but belongs to no season. It’s set aside for religious observances and family events.
- The 365th day of the year falls on the Winter Solstice and is called Holy Day. A day of feasting, it stands alone between Holy Month and Caprica, the first month of the new year. Every 4 years you have a double Holy Day, and the community throws a big party.
Was I out of my mind?
Yes! I suggest you stick to the common Julian calendar we know today, as it makes things a lot easier for you.
However, six books later, it’s canon in that world, so I have to roll with it. Fortunately, I was smart enough to make a visual calendar in an Excel workbook. I can cut and paste easily, note changes, and move events around if need be. This workbook covers all of the books set in the Tower of Bones world of Neveyah.
I was a bookkeeper for many years, so I use an Excel workbook to keep the stylesheet, plot outline, pertinent back history, and worldbuilding in one logical place. The tabs across the bottom show the different sheets detailing each aspect I need know for that world and that story.
I do this for every project or series, and you can do the same. If you don’t have Excel, you can use any free spread-sheeting program, such as Google Sheets. It’s just a visual way to keep things organized and avoid introducing conflicting elements.
The process of writing out my antagonist’s storyline is essential. At the outset, from Alf’s storyline, we know that Daryk has powerful earth-magic. However, Tauron, the Bull God, gives him new gifts, one of which is called “compelling.” Since he has no empathic magic, he needs to find and snare an empathically gifted healer to project his compulsions. He also needs to enslave a coven of elemental mages to have a greater chi reserve to draw on when casting spells.
So, there are five people with whom he has close relationships and conversations. The backstory of each of these characters must be created and added to both Daryk’s storyline and the overall cast of characters.
This is so I don’t inadvertently give two characters the same (or ludicrously similar) name.
I have already designed the magic systems for both sides of this conflict, and the world has been established. I have comprehensive maps that I use in conjunction with the calendar for plotting my events.
I’m fallible, but I do try to take everything into account when plotting my events. This way, when I begin writing I can concentrate on laying down the opposition’s story as if he were the hero and maybe generate a little sympathy for him.