So I’ve started working on the next Black Library submission with a brand new novel.
This year, I submitted three short stories and a novel. The stories were likely rejected because I forgot to add the summary paragraph, while the novel risked going against the direction of existing canon, as well as coming up a little short on content. All of this is without consideration for the Xaphan the Faceless submission window, which I still have some confidence in.
This time I’m getting a huge head start on crafting ideas. One of the things that sucks is that a lot of tiny details and ideas will never make it into the pitch because of the submission guidelines. Any smaller details that take place after chapter 3 will go unmentioned unless I get the thumbs up to write for round 2. So I feel my best chance is to run as follows.
For the chapter summary, I have a new focus. The characters, setting, plot and story are four separate entities and all four must move forward in some shape or form every single chapter. The difference between plot and story here being that story is what has already happened, while plot is the story that is being told now. While the plot can be winged and created on the fly, the story must be devised and laid out and told ahead of time.
I know from my writing that I am a better story teller than a plot creator. I feel confident that I can make interesting characters, amusing stories and occasionally devise intriguing settings. Plot has always been one of those things I’ve wanted to really get better at, and the only way I can do that is to keep developing new novels even if they don’t get published.
A quick chat with Shadowhawk has given me some ideas and a great focus for the story. Because the existing story is essential to crafting a sharp and smart plot, I want to avoid plot writing until I feel I have enough of the story in place. Hence my aim is very clear. There will be no real start of the novel until the background story is in place, because you must have the beginning before you know the end, right?
So when I’m done with developing the story, I want to create the break down in such a way that advances the story, plot, characters and setting in every chapter with an aim of about 20 chapters. With a six page limit on the chapter summary, I’ll need to keep my description of what happens limited to three and a third chapters on each page.
Now the second half of this revolves around the first three chapters. Last time, I was weak in this regard and barely squeaked passed the 10,000 word minimum. I have a hard time translating the correlation between the chapter summary to the actual chapters. Simply explained, the chapter summaries were too long and the chapters themselves were too short.
This tells me that far too much of the chapter descriptions were spent developing tiny, trivial details that should be coming about naturally from the story.
I write this in bold because it is, in retrospect and realization through writing this blog post, this is the greatest syntactical problem of my previous novel. This obviously says that the novel development fell short of the intended goal, that being the creation of a complete story. The chapter summary is simply to assure the editors that I know where this story is going. But the editors will not be selling the chapter summary, they will be selling an extension of the first three chapters. So when I write the chapter summary, I should save the miniscule details for the story and get to the damn point.