As I write, we’re at day 14 of NaNoWriMo. My pace is fine, but there has been quite a bit of frustration for me.
This is a sequel, and, if I had to force it into a genre, it’s strongest fit would be as a mystery. When I wrote the first one, I had no plans for sequel; though one of my readers wanted one I had no idea what it could be about. Then I added some sections to fill out some characterizations, and from one of the additions, a followup storyline was hatched.
With a little bit of plotting, I thought that I was all set for November, but about a week into it, I was getting bogged down. There were secondary and minor plot points that I had not detailed in my planning and I needed to nail those down. They weren’t obvious, and the characters weren’t leading me to them. Quite the opposite; the characters seemed to be waiting for me to give them direction. It was as if I were head of a project and was assigned a batch of actor/employees. Each of the employees had a specific set of skills and a temperment and it was my job to assign to them a job; you, the double agent, here’s your sides and your thoughts about them, you, the journalist, here’s your clues, get to work, you, the tech guy, here’s the problem for you to solve.
But once each character is given their job/role, they jump right into it and the writing flows.
The other strange part for me is the plot itself. It’s a mystery, as I mentioned, and is a sequel. In the first story there are some loose ends as well as a few intentional hints, but to plot the sequel I have to unravel the mystery. It’s like trying to solve a mystery from the clues, but in this case the mystery was not created by some evil genius; the mystery was created by me. I feel as if all the answers to the plot questions that I have are buried in the first novel and in what I have so far in the second. But how can they be buried there, when I wrote all of that? Shouldn’t I know what I buried? What the answers are?
It’s as if I’m having to psychoanalyze myself, figure out why I did the things that I did, as if part of me has the reasons and answers, but my conscious mind was kept out of the planning. And it’s a heck of a strange experience.
I know that I write more often as a plot writer than as a character writer, though I have done both. But this is extreme for me. The plot seems to be everything, and nothing happens without it. Something else is in control of this novel, and it isn’t my conscious mind.