Getting to the end of writing DAMSEL OF THE HAWK (scheduled for release April 20, 2016), I cannot help but look back upon my first brainstorming sessions for the plot of this book. How it evolved since then amazes me. Then again, it happens with all the books we write. The semi-finished product as I near "the end" goes far beyond my expectations. It's a good thing.
I know many writers write from a rough draft. I never could. When I tried, I had to throw it away and start the novel again from the beginning without looking at the draft. Although I'm a plotter, my plot is never set and constantly evolves with the characters' reactions as the story unfolds. New villains appear out of the shadows, creating different conflicts and changing the backdrop and the course of the story. As I research minor details, better ideas come along and change everything again. Characters are forced to deal with unforeseen situations. The black moment is not what I predicted at all. Until the denouement, I do not know what the theme of the story is. That's what keeps me writing, what keeps me intrigued, what keeps me excited about my characters, what keeps the story alive in my mind, brimming with possibilities.
As I discover the heart of my story, that's usually when the final title comes to me. This book had several working titles in the six months it took to write it, none of them worthy of mention. Damsel of the Hawk appealed to me because of its medieval feel, and the tight connection to the heroine and her circumstances. This is also when I start looking for images to inspire the cover designer for the cover. I've been blessed for this Curse of the Lost Isle series:
The inability to write from a complete draft is what prevents me to participate in events like NANOWRIMO. That draft written in a month would be of no use to me. So I write my novels from a rough outline, ten pages or less, one paragraph per expected chapter, with the beginning, the main scenes, the major plot twists, and the expected ending. I leave plenty of room for change, to implement new ideas as they come, adding more chapters to the outline. Often, it means I have to go back to the beginning and add or rewrite several scenes to accommodate a new plot line, introduce a new character, give the reader clues, or foreshadow a future plot twist. It works for me. I don't mind rewriting as I write.
Then, when I have a complete story with all its intricacies and its nuances, comes the real work, the polishing, the fleshing out, the recasting of every scene to make it part of the whole. Emphasizing the theme, adding emotion, polishing the action scenes, the love scenes, making the reader part of the story by adding more setting and sensory details... That's usually the last month in my novel writing process.
Can you tell I love writing? Well, I do.
DAMSEL OF THE HAWK
Curse of the Lost Isle Book 7 (standalone)
Available for pre-order in early March:
1204 AD - Meliora, immortal Fae and legendary damsel of Hawk Castle, grants gold and wishes on Mount Ararat, but must forever remain chaste. When Spartak, a Kipchak warrior gravely wounded in Constantinople, requests sanctuary, she breaks the rule to save his life. The fierce, warrior prince stirs in her forbidden passions. Captivated, Spartak will not bow to superstition. Despite tribal opposition, he wants her as his queen. Should Meliora renounce true love, or embrace it and trigger a sinister curse... and the wrath of the Goddess? Meanwhile, a thwarted knight and his greedy band of Crusaders have vowed to steal her Pagan gold and burn her at the stake...
In the meantime, catch up with the Curse of the Lost Isle series at:
Blasters, Swords, Romance with a Kick