The plot fattens!

by Richard Perkins

Yesterday, I finally finished my draft of Chapter 13 in the Doormakers Fall series. Let me tell you, it was a long time coming. When I finally stopped typing, this nine scene monster was over 17,000 words. That’s longer than the entire Voices of the Deep short story from start to finish!

The completion of Chapter 13 brings my total word count for the series to a respectable 82,000 words. It seems like an appropriate time to stop, review my progress, and see if I still want to go where this long strange road is taking me.

I started thinking about writing a novel in early 2007. During March of the same year, I sat down and started outlining some of the themes and character types I wanted to explore. In April I started world building, and drew my first map of the land where the Doormakers live. I added a timeline of major historical events from the distant past, recent past, present, and near future. Then I tried to decide which of these major events should be the focus of my first story in this new world. (Yes there are many other stories yet to be told in the land of the Doormakers… ;-) )

I chose Devon’s story, the tale of a child of mysterious origin who is fated to change the world. This story is actually close to the end of my original timeline, chronologically. I started writing in earnest in April of 2007, and within a few months found that my story had taken on a life and voice of its own. The first few chapters went in unanticipated directions. I sometimes felt like I was transcribing scenes rather than creating them. Those were the good moments. There were other scenes that were brutal just to get through. But I felt I needed them to keep the story moving along the rather thin plot outline I started with.

Then I started working full time again, and could only write for a couple of hours a day. You can see the effects in my writing. The scenes are shorter, and a bit disjointed feeling. Individually, some scenes are stronger for being written quickly. Devon’s first nightmare sequence is a case in point. I wrote that on the train home one night. I actually rode past my stop just to get the closing sentances done and then had to change trains and come back.

Once I started weaving other characters into the narrative, they began competing for my attention. And my villain, Tor, was the loudest voice in the pack. The last few chapters have devoted a lot of attention to this mystical yet misunderstood prophet. Chapter 13 shows his meteoric rise to power in the Tribe of Prophets and sets the stage for Act 2, if you will. I’m beginning to think the first novel in Doormakers Fall might just be about him, instead of Devon!

What I’ve written so far is a little less than half of what I intended to cover in the first novel of the series. But, at over 80,000 words, it’s practically novel length already. Looking back at the story so far, I see a lot of opportunity to rearrange the narrative to focus on Tor in this book. Then I could focus on Devon’s growth in a second book, setting up the inevitable conflict between the two in a third book. Trilogies are the norm in the fantasy genre, after all. But whether that’s the best direction to take this story remains to be seen.

Regardless, I think I’ve reached a point where I should set Doormakers Fall aside for a while, to let it develop. Or if you’re familiar with bread-making terms, I need to let it proof. Alternatively, if you’re a vinophile, I’ve macerated the story, and given adequate contact time with the narrative. Now it needs to ferment for a bit.

So while I’m letting Doormakers Fall rest, I’ll be turning my attention to the National Novel Writing Month competition, or NaNoWriMo. In case you didn’t read my previous post on the topic, this is an annual challenge to write a full length 50,000 word novel from start to finish in the month of November. That’s 1667 words per day. I’m sure you can do the math to see that on Doormakers Fall my average rate was closer to 145 words per day. So I’m really going to have to up my game if I’m going to have any hope of finishing.

I don’t have a title for the new book yet. But it will tell the story of Devon’s mother, a courageous healer in troubled times, and his father, a dangerous yet compassionate man forced to make some very difficult choices. You can cheer me on by visiting the new series soon to be published in Writer’s Lair and leaving me some comments.

As for Devon and Doormakers Fall, I’ll be publishing the last two scenes from Chapter 12 and all of the scenes from Chapter 13 over the coming weeks. After that, you’ll just have to be patient while the story simmers. Or as I like to think of it, as the plot fattens!

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