Quick-Minicon next weekend
Me and a handful of AQ fans are meeting up next weekend. If you are available on Saturday, October 15 and you are or will be in the Maryland/Virginia/Washington, D.C. area and are interested in dinner and chatting, email me at inverarity dot author at gmail dot com.
I haven't done a long meandering author ramble in a while, so sit back for some ramble.
I have mentioned before that I do not, in fact, have every detail of the next three books planned out. I know generally what major events will happen in each, and what needs to be facilitated for my Master Plan. How exactly I will accomplish certain endgame events remains to be determined, and along the way some of the things I planned will change. I will have new ideas, I will throw away old ones. On the one hand, sometimes it's frustrating to know that three entire books are mostly a blank slate right now, thin plot threads strung between major events which I have no definite idea how I will make come about.
But hey, that's how I wrote the last three books and this one.
When I first started writing Alexandra Quick and the Thorn Circle, I had a vague idea that I might write more books about this eleven-year-old girl if I enjoyed writing the first one and if anyone liked it. By the end of the book, I knew I had more story to tell, and the vague idea of a seven-book series to parallel the Harry Potter books had taken shape in my mind.
Certain major events that are happening in book four were planned all the way back when I was writing book one. And anyone who looks carefully will be able to see the clues that prove it. But I certainly did not know precisely what I was going to do in book four when I was writing book one.
By the end of book one, I knew that book two would introduce Maximilian and Alexandra's other siblings. I don't actually remember when I decided Maximilian was going to die. I think it was before I started writing book two, but I can't swear to that. I did know early on as I began my first draft of AQATLB that this was the direction the story was going.
I had not yet invented the Deathly Regiment when I finished AQATTC. And I didn't decide that Darla was going to go Dark until I began book two, either. I made up most of Alexandra Quick and the Lands Below as I went along. It was almost entirely unplanned and unoutlined! The only book I've written in a more unplanned manner was Hogwarts Houses Divided, which unlike my AQ books I had not finished or even almost finished writing when I began posting it.
I actually had a pretty good idea of the general plot of Alexandra Quick and the Deathly Regiment when I began writing it. Obviously, I knew what it was going to be about, and in many ways, it would be the Big Reveal of the series, the reason why Abraham Thorn is fighting the Confederation, the driving force for the conflicts that would shape Alexandra's life. Very broadly, I had Darla's scheme with Innocence planned out from the beginning of the book, and Alexandra's meeting with the Most Deathly Power. But I had all kinds of early ideas that didn't pan out, plots that didn't go in the direction I originally envisioned. I've written before about how I sketched out and discarded many early versions of Darla's plan and Alexandra's final confrontation with her. Originally, for example, it didn't involve the Lands Below or the Generous Ones at all. I knew I wanted Alexandra to meet the Most Deathly Power, but how that meeting would take place and what the result would be was vague to me. Alexandra's "seven years to live" was in fact a twist I didn't think of until relatively late in the first draft of the book three. Even though that twist is now a major factor in the rest of the series.
So, Alexandra Quick and the Stars Above. Many things are happening that I have had planned all along. Many things are happening that I didn't think of until I started writing this book. The ending -- which might not be the most shocking ending of any of the books to date, but then again, it might be -- was something I came up with very late in writing the book. Not the climax -- I had the climax planned from the beginning. But the denouement. Hah, am I teasing you enough yet?
Anyway, I am working on Chapter 29 now. My betas have almost caught up with me, because I'm hitting some spots where I still feel like the story is a bit murky and the pace flatlines a bit. I just excised an entire subplot that I decided... I don't know what to do with. Sometimes I come up with Nifty Ideas that I am not sure what to do with right now, but I figure I'll drop it in there and do something with it later. Done right, this makes you look like a brilliant author who was planting clues many books ahead. Done wrong, this makes you look like an author who keeps dropping awesome ideas and then never does anything with them. When the AQ series is finished, I am sure there will be a list of Chekhov's Guns I left unfired. Anyway, there's this thing in AQATSA that I thought sounded cool and I'd develop it more in future books, but the more I think about it, the more I just... have no idea what I'm going to do with it. And rather than introduce this Really Obvious Thing Of Obvious Portentousness which might then just become a big old White Elephant of a plot device that I'm not sure what to do with, I am cutting it (and another chunk of words from the book).
But don't worry, there's still plenty of room for the Big Reveals.
As the first draft stands now, it is 42 chapters and just over 262K words.