Inverarity (inverarity) wrote,

AQ: Years In the Making


swissmarg is about halfway through. shinygobonkers is at about the 25% mark, and tealterror0 is wrapping up other projects and will hopefully be able to start shortly.

So far, revision still consists mostly of word polishing and clarifications here and there. I have changed some scenes, deleted a couple, and added a couple more, but it's too early to say whether any really big changes will be needed.

Right now AQATWA is still 60 chapters and 283,300 words. Woof!

Plans Years In the Making

J.K. Rowling is often praised for her foreshadowing. Planting of seeds, laying of Easter eggs. The planning she demonstrated, from the very beginning, is one of the hallmarks of Harry Potter, and one of the things that elevates it above so many other children's book series. It's not that no other author ever did that, but there really aren't very many other children/YA series (or at least, there were not at the time) where it was clear that the author had the endgame planned out from the beginning and laid clues throughout the earlier books to things that would happen later.

Of course, this is also one of the most frequent criticisms leveled against her, by fans disappointed in her execution. I have a less harsh view of The Deathly Hallows than some, but you can certainly see places where Rowling kinda sorta knew how she wanted things to go way back when, but wasn't sure how to tie it together when she got there. We know, from her statements, that she had the Epilogue planned from the very beginning. She knew Voldemort would be defeated, the next generation would grow up in a better world, and that Harry would wind up with Ginny and Ron with Hermione (to the angst-ridden screams of millions of shippers who had different ideas).

What I often wonder is how much of the rest she had planned and how much she made up as she went along. It's pretty clear she had Horcruxes planned from the beginning, but I'll bet the Deathly Hallows were something she invented later, maybe as late as while she was writing book seven. I believe Snape's character arc, and the death of Dumbledore, were things she had planned from the start. But when did she invent the Luna Lovegood character? I wouldn't be surprised if Luna popped out of her head fully formed, because she needed a character to fill that role, while she was writing book five. (Maybe she's said differently somewhere? I dunno.)

Did Rowling have the Triwizard Tournament neatly outlined in advance? How about the Battle of Hogwarts? I'm betting the latter was a big climactic but vague scene in her head until late in the series. It always seemed rather messily plotted for such an epic climax.

Did she know every character who was going to live and die when she started writing? Did she ever change her mind? I would give much to sit down with Rowling and ask her those questions, though at this point, I fear fame and ego have gone to her head and I'm not sure she'd be able to answer honestly if she wanted to. She's doing too much retconning as it is.

But, this is all of obvious relevance to me, because, y'know. Years ago, when I began the Alexandra Quick series, I made the insanely ambitious (and optimistic) decision that this was going to be a seven-book series, like the original.

I have also been praised for my foreshadowing (why yes, I did have a lot of this planned out from the very beginning!), so I also worry about whether I can pull off the final execution.

When I finished Alexandra Quick and the Thorn Circle, I did not have the next six books plotted out. And in fact, I still don't.

As a writer, I am a bit of a hybrid between pantser and plotter.

This is evident when I sometimes find the notes I wrote while working on previous books. I am kind of a sloppy outliner. Until now I have usually scribbled ideas down in a notebook, and the finished work is often quite different from what I originally outlined. I have discovered subplots and characters that I forgot all about, to be replaced with something else. I have always had a pretty good idea of what will happen in general in any given book, but the specific resolution for each plot point is often quite different from what I originally brainstormed when first writing down my ideas. I apparently had a very different storyline originally planned for Darla and Alexandra, though the end result was going to be the same. Sonja Rackham being elevated from extra to supporting cast was a decision I made spontaneously in book four. I have a file full of excerpts I cut from AQATSA.

So I'm trying to do things a little differently for the last two books. I have started an outline in Scrivener (which is what I use to write) instead of just scribbling notes in a journal.

Right now books six and seven are a mess of scenes and plot points and events that have been in my head for years. I have known from the beginning how the series will end. Now it's time to write all those scenes down, and organize. So I can finish this thing. Maybe without taking seven years on the next book.

Here is another art sneak preview:


I told the artist to draw her with "Harry Potter style robes." She was a little too literal.
I have a crestless version now, but this was amusing. Although really, Livia would be a Ravenclaw.

Tags: alexandra quick, aqatwa, fan art, writing

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