A good day. That’s my latest Potter-verse fanfic Starfall finished, or at least the first draft. There’ll be editing and tidying, and probably crying over my prose and tiny plot inconsistencies (some of which I have already spotted and need to note down or I’ll forget ‘em) but it’s mostly posting it from here, and it feels good.
It’s just shy of 340k words, which makes it the longest single story I’ve ever written. And boy, it’s been a pain in my arse. I thought I had it in hand, I thought I’d plotted the entire thing out perfectly - who doesn’t like globe-trotting adventures fighting bad guys and hunting ancient relics, right, this thing writes itself? It does, but it don’t write itself short.
Which is the satisfying thing about writing fanfic, aside from using it to blow off steam and being creative without being self-conscious: it’s still a great learning experience. There are lessons I will take away from this in being more flexible in my planning, and, conversely, in planning the characters’ personal arcs more in-tune with the plot arcs. And making sure the former feed the latter. I sent the gang to Portugal and at the time of writing, the Portugal plot’s only purpose was to Provide Next Plot Clue. ‘Go to Portugal. Meet Reynald de Sablé.’ Oh, and get the characters proven not-dead.
It’s gratifying when you get to that kind of sequence and find the characters can bring more to the table, and it turned out to set up the Matt/Selena story which will feed into later events nicely. So on the one hand, shine on, crazy writer, your characters will take care of themselves! On the other hand, Portugal does kind of grind the pacing to a halt, and if I had my time again I would probably just incorporate a lot of the progress from there in with the Ager Sanguinis sequence, and cut it.
It has also been a lesson in not packing six characters in like sardines. Six characters all with very nuanced and complex personal arcs, and when they’re all in the same physical space as each other and the plot, they all have to have a reaction when something goes down. So it became a bit, “Do action scenes, stop for every single person to flail/react/develop”. This compares unfavourably to writing the Anguis series, or even Ignite, where the physical space between the characters allowed me to pick them up and then put them back down for a bit, and still felt natural.
I charged ahead to get this story done because it was in my head, and because it wouldn’t shut up, in that way stories do. I have other projects, ‘better’ projects to get on with. Book 2 of Echo needs to be released in October or I need a kick in the face, and now I can approach it with a clear mind, unburdened by other stories whining in my head.
But it’s a good reminder that I never need to feel like I’m wasting my time if I’m writing this fanfic. Even aside from the pleasure of writing for an audience with whom I have a more immediate connection and more immediate communication, if I’m taking a lesson from it and improving as a writer, it is automatically not a waste of time.
So, onward to publishing more Echo, and onward to posting the rest of Starfall over the next couple months.
And I’ll worry about the last in the Stygian Trilogy when it starts screaming in my head.
'Cause it's Bioware.