As discussed last week, I’ve had a change of plan – or, more accurately, I actually have a plan for once.
That plan is to put Sick Beats aside for a while to write Raven’s Bones, the next in the Ghost Raven series, and to do so in a reasonable timeframe – six months rather than three years. That’s a totally reachable target – it boils down to about 4000 words or two chapters a week, and I can definitely manage that if I actually work rather than just faffing about.
So what the hell is Raven’s Bones anyway?
Without getting into spoiler territory for a book that only half-a-dozen people have read, Bones (like Blood) is a YA superhero fantasy novel set in a sorta-kinda-Elizabethan world of magic, artifice, gods, refugees, racial tension and occasional masked adventurers. It’s the next chapter in the story of Kember Arrowsmith, angry young woman with a need for justice, and the Ghost Raven, long-lost hero of the city of Crosswater.
Set a few months after Blood, it shows Kember dealing with new responsibilities, new relationships and new dangers, and having trouble with all of them. She’ll encounter figures from the past along with brand new threats, she’ll hurt everyone she cares about and she’ll punch a lot of people right in the face. Bad people. Probably.
And yes, it involves actual bones. Entire skeletons-worth, in fact. Along with super-villains, dwarves, sulky gods and a giant mechanical spider in a Dracula cape.
But just sitting down at the keyboard and saying ‘Punching! Feelings! Capes!’ isn’t a plan or a coherent direction. So I’m writing an outline – for the first time ever – to give myself more of a roadmap at the start. I may end up following it, I may end up ignoring it, but it’s there to keep me focused.
I’ve also written myself a list of questions, which I need to answer before or during (probably a mix of both) the process of writing Bones:
- What are the core themes of this book? How are they different to those of Raven’s Blood?
- What new regions of the setting do I want to explore? What new concepts and elements?
- What characters are coming over from Raven’s Blood? What new characters are coming on board?
- How will this book raise the stakes from Raven’s Blood?
- What will be Kember’s arc over the course of the book?
- What does Kember want to achieve over the course of the book?
- Who gets punched? Like, a lot?
These, along with the outline, a variety of notes and as much visual/creative idea fodder as I can find, are going up on the wall behind my computer to be the first thing I see every time I sit down at the desk. A constant reminder that hey, stop playing Pillars of Eternity (which I don’t have yet but totally need to get) and hit your goddamn targets for the week.
Do the work. Follow the plan. Focus on the mountain, as Neil Gaiman apparently said (according to this kick-arse blog post from Peter Ball, which I interpret as a whip specifically and personally aimed at my back).
Will it work?
Gonna find out.
First chapter is due this weekend.
Let’s do this.