Friday, April 9, 2010

Worldbuilding and First Drafts

I'm about three hours from the end of Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy. When a book is really really good, I have to savor it, like the best dark chocolate truffles I ever had (there were only six of them in a little bag I purchased in London). And of course, as a writer, it's fun to analyze the author's style.

I both love and hate that I can't figure out where he's going with his plots. The arcs of plot and character are so well done, the clues so patiently distributed that when they come together at certain turning points in the novels, I say, All Riiight! or Aack! A couple of times I've had a feeling of pure satisfaction at an unexpected but desired result.

This all makes me wonder about his rough draft. How much of his world and magic did he have figured out at the beginning and end of the first draft? How much developed through revisions and into the next two books? I've been trying to find some reference to this on his site.

TR now stands at 95K and I believe there's about 15 more to go. For some reason I'm still waiting to move to the end. Not sure why. Do I have that disease some writers get when they see the END coming? Fear of what comes next? I don't think so. I'm actually looking forward to the revision, to growing and deepening the story. Am I just suffering from inertia? Maybe. But honestly, I keep thinking up new paranormal characters, details, abilities, possibilities and want to incorporate them into THIS rough draft before I start over. And just maybe I'm afraid that once it's done, and I start over, the ENTIRE STORY will change and I'll be writing it over - an completely different book. Ugh! I think that's it.

You know how you read a great author's book and subconsciously you compare, okay, consciously, and it seems like David looking at Goliath in terms of dynamism. Well, you know what I'm saying.

Here's a great post by Donald Maaas on Writersunboxed that addresses this awesomeness. 'The Elements of AWE' Part I and Part II

How much do you know before you start writing? What is left to discover at the end of your finished draft?

Amended: I discover two of Sanderson's posts where he has made available the various versions of Warbreaker in two forms, one is a comparison side by side of how he made his revisions in Word 2007. I haven't gotten that one to open yet (slow internet you know).

AAHHH! Here he says "Before I wrote MISTBORN: THE FINAL EMPIRE I wrote a rough draft of a book I simply called MISTBORN. After that, I wrote a book I called THE FINAL EMPIRE. These were books set in separate worlds, completely unconnected. When it came time to do a follow-up to ELANTRIS, I looked back at these two books and remembered how fond I was of elements of both of them. I decided to combine them, starting from scratch, and using the best elements of both to create a new book. That became MISTBORN: THE FINAL EMPIRE."

Well, now I've faced the worst that can happen. I better get to it.

1 comment:

Bill Kirton said...

Fascinating post Marley, with some interesting questions. I've sort of been asking myself some of the same things as I set out on my Figurehead sequel, and I still don't know the answers. There's no doubt, though, that whatever technique you adopt (careful pre-plotting, wading straight in with only a vague idea of your direction, a single event or a multitude of them), you're dealing with an organic whole which will grow in whatever direction it wants, however disciplined you are. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that disciplining it too severely risks stifling it altogether. But it's great fun, isn't it?