I love it when a plan comes together

The world is full of dichotomies.  Introvert vs extrovert.  Sensible vs stupid.  Plotter vs pantser.

Of course this is a simplification. In reality we all exist on a sliding scale.  We are mixes of introversion and extroversion, we have moments of great wisdom and moments of equal idiocy.  So it goes with the plotters and the pantsers.  Some plot a little more, some a little less.

That said, there are those people who live at the extreme ends of any spectrum.  The oddities and the outliers.

That’s me with plotting.

I love to plot.  My process for plotting is long, convoluted, and clearly at this point, a little out of control.  But I love it.

“What do you mean, overly convoluted?”

Natania on the other hand tends towards the pantsing end of the spectrum.  However, once we decided that we wanted to write a collaborative novel, we also rapidly decided that a plan would be pretty important for keeping us both on the same page.

Welcome to my world, Natania.  Welcome to my dark, depraved world.

The process so far has been thus:

  • Have Natania set up a sweet, sweet pinterest board
  • Stare at all the pretty
  • Realize we have to do some work, so grab a few images we find inspiring and write down a scene fragment, just a few hundred words. These help us come up with story ideas, get a feel for tone, and explore characterization
  • Talk a lot about the setting, and Aztec mythology, and world trees – between these and the scene scraps a plot started to emerge
  • Eventually we had the rough workings of a plot.  At least a few sentences we could use to describe the shape of the whole
  • Then we stared sadly at all the gaping plot holes
  • So I started peppering Natania with questions.  How did this happen?  What does this place look like?  Why did so-and-so do that?  How can that be achieved?  And with each answer more questions arose, but also the plot came more and more into focus
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So much pretty

So far, the collaboration has been going really well.  Natania has had ideas that have challenged my assumptions about how the plot will work, and each time she’s done it we’ve ended up with something stronger. I think we’ve both forced the other a little out of our comfort zones and that’s a really great place to be.  This feels exciting and different.  After writing four books all set in the same series, it’s really nice to be stepping into the unknown once more.

And now, here we are, a week away, and we have a story that feels pretty solid.  There’s still more to be done, of course.  This week we’ll be trying to make sure that the overarching plot and all the subplots fit into a 7-point plot formula.*  Making sure we’re poised as best we can be for trying to write 100,000 words in a month.  And we both know the plot won’t be perfect.  It can’t be.  But we’re just trying to get as close as we can.  Right now, it feels a little bit like Icarus building wings, watching the sun slowly rise.  Both scary and exhilarating, and knowing it’s going to be a hell of a ride.

*More on 7-point plot, later in the week.


In Begins… With Spiders and Dark Cities and Disembodied Voices

The image of the the writer toiling alone behind reams of research and bent over the keyboard, talking to herself, may be rather representative of the whole… but not in this case.

Jonathan Wood and I have been friends since early 2008, when the boom of Twitter brought us together across the digital expanse. In the ensuing years we’ve shared a common appreciation of action movies, weird fiction, Dragon Age, and roleplaying games.

Over the years we’ve done our share of publishing, and even shared a few TOCs.

I’ll be honest that our workday conversations have been some of the strangest, but most appreciated, during some really challenging times. When we finally met in person in 2012, it wasn’t weird. I mean, it was weird, because we basically had the same kinds of conversations we’d been having over chat for the previous four years. We talked at length about the impact of Bioware on our writing, and our hopes for immersive games. We swapped stories about our kids. We caffeinated.

In what’s common by now, I had an idea. I sat it on it for a couple of days, and then finally asked Jonathan. What if… what if we did NaNoWriMo… together. What if we took a break from everything else and worked on a collaborative novel. Something weird and dark and not at all to the market. Something… fun.

That’s where this project appeared. Cry Blood in the Silent City is our first collaborative adventure, a spiderpunk weird adventure that takes place far, far away. We’ll be updating periodically here at Two Brain Space, and sharing exclusives behind the scenes into our collective madness.

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