Half My Life: Writing An Epic

Each day is another step closer, even if nothing was written. The measure of my own success is how far I feel that I've come. With every life experience has come a new and interesting evolution to the work I see now is as precious to me as a child. I recently turned 30, and it has dawned upon me that a little over half of my life has been devoted to a world of my own design.

The first drafts of which were written in High School and since then have undergone countless modification of story, content, and overall purpose. Despite the growth, the story was always seen as the same tale -- it just changed as radically as its author did. In 2009 I wrote full drafts from start to finish. I completed two novels in four weeks, writing a total of 150,000 words. What I thought was satisfaction over completed works was actually a feeling of reward for completing a major hurtle in my journey towards expanding my story.

While I was proud of my work in 2009, I was not satisfied with it -- but what artist is? I subjected the work to test readers and took their feedback, only to once again set the books back into the oven. But now, now I had a wealth of new material to work with. I realized that writing two books from start to finish introduced new characters, new settings, and new events that I had never intended to happen in the first place. The story wrote itself to a degree where I had to accept that I needed to do more work -- much more.

In early 2012 I encountered not just one, but several game changing ideas which rewrote the very fabric of the story once again. But mind you, each change I've made was always for the better of the story. While people have told me "It'll never be perfect, you need to stop revising at one point" --- they didn't understand WHY I wanted to keep changing things.

While I can write a story at any time, I've always wanted to tell one that people would never forget about. I wanted to make sure that it was a well oiled and meaningful piece of work that did all that I intended: pushed my themes, spoke of my views, and captured the reader in a way that would leave them wanting more.

In my head the story has existed, and in my head the story I've written has become more and more solid. The only ideas I amend are those which fit together into the overall puzzle and make the picture more and more clear for me. Often I'd spend months at a time waiting for a thought to cross my mind, and when it does I wonder why it never crossed my mind before that moment.

Like a mad man I fiddle with ideas like an obsession, and recently I've practiced a method of production that has radically changed everything I've done and the way I will write forever more. While I always respected the need and importance of internal history, when it comes to growth and development of any world I will tell you now that the characters do not shape the world --- the world shapes the characters.

History. Profound amounts of history can shape and mold the thoughts, feelings, and motivations of your characters to the point where they will come alive and refuse to be stale. With this reality fully embraced, I've taken it upon myself to author 1500 years worth of DETAILED history. Not just mere footnotes, I tried that in June 2012 --- I've now taken my previous 20,000 word footnote-timeline and using it as a guide to write four history books.

With one completed in October, I realize now how absolutely revolutionary this was for me to write. Because my characters exist in a Fictional Fantasy world, I need to make that world as real as the characters themselves. Since I wrote my previous two novels, I knew where the holes were and I have worked tirelessly to fill them in. The 2009 drafts of my book are now due to be completely and utterly rewritten word-for-word thanks to this new history.

I'm writing two history books at present right now, and the 4th will follow once they are done. The 4th will lead into the events of my first novel and require a 5th timeline --- the outline for my FINAL major revision of my 1st novel. Why is it FINAL? Because so much has come to pass with the writing of this history, and the most important element I realize now had been missing from the first draft --- a PLOT.

My 2009 drafts were just a string of events I had recorded and written which just linked together because the same characters existed within those events. But now I have a plot, a underlined subtext which will creep into the minds of the reader and keep them pushing towards the finish --- the very fuel of a "Page Turner" as it were --- all because of the history I had taken time to write.

I always had several Meta Plots, but now I can actually SEE the stories materialize so clearly before my eyes it's not even funny. I'm no longer having to reach out into the darkness to find my way, it's all eagerly forcing itself upon me and I have to strive to actually URGE myself NOT to write my first novel -- because for once in my life the urgency to write it is overwhelming. I must complete my history first, because I want each word to be meaningful and important --- I want the dialogue to real, I want it all to be real.

I will keep posting in the future. In the meantime I hope my warm-up writing is helping some people in their journey to write their novels.

N.J. Rockingham

TemperWolf TemperWolf
26-30, M
1 Response Nov 28, 2012

This is really cool. I'm sure the novels would be great. :)