Down To The Wire


I’ve been so preoccupied with trying to get The Blood Contract out the door (not to mention dealing with RL), I nearly overlooked the fact NaNoWriMo season is upon us.

Yes, it’s that time of year once more, where writers and authors and wannabes strive to hit the goal of at least 50K words in the month of November. My past experiences with NaNo have been a mixed lot. I’ve only beaten the goal once (with The Shadow Without a few years back), but every year has proven to be quite an experience. Even the weeks leading up to the event are typically quite hectic (mentally, at least) while I start organizing the flow of the story I’m to work on.

This year, however, I found myself staring at the clock last night as it approached midnight and I realized I still had no idea what book I wanted to work on.

Months ago, I settled on a fantasy I’ve been wanting to write for over a decade. I thought it appropriate since I once called myself a fantasy writer, yet I’ve never actually published anything that resembles fantasy in the proper sense. I had put it off all these years because I just couldn’t settle on a title. Yes, that’s all it takes to derail me. I know the characters, major plot points, the beginning and the end, even ideas for future books…but without a title, I just couldn’t get started on it.

I have a title and was raring to go.

Then strangely, another story crept its way into my mind and took hold. It was an idea I had some time ago, though I never really did anything with it. I had just the vaguest idea of a plot and that’s it. No idea about the characters or really where it was all headed. But I had a title. And, strangely, a theme song (my guitar playing sucks but I’m pretty happy with the tune itself).

As November approached, ideas started filtering in. While the characters are still nameless, little details began to form. What was a concept became an idea, which in turn evolved into a plot. It was still very much in what I call the liquid form of writing (that is, when it’s still unformed and easy to manipulate), but it was fast taking shape. I even had the opening few paragraphs down, which is often a difficult feat for me.

It was everything I could want from a NaNo book. Brand new and full of potential.

Yet I couldn’t escape the feeling I should press on with the Only Human on the Block series. After eight years, I’m finally on the fifth and final book of the series, AfterLife. As much as I enjoy using NaNo to work on something completely different, I was fully enmeshed in this world, having just spent the last several months working on the previous book. I’m raring to finish up the series and must admit I feel a sense of responsibility to those readers of mine who have been waiting patiently.

So when my lunch time arrived and I still hadn’t figured out which book to work on, I started typing the first thing that came to me. An hour later, I was 1410 words into AfterLife.

I wrote the rough draft for The Four-Year-Old Guardian (conveniently still free on Kindle through Amazon through 11/2, hint hint) in the span of a month. Bravado/Dramatique and Together Alone took a few months each. Even though I didn’t write them for NaNo or any such contest, I was able to accomplish this because I was passionate about the story and just let it flow out. By the time I hit the fourth book, The Blood Contract, I slowed down severely. Although I’m quite happy with how it turned out, it was more of a laborious task, taking me over a year to write most of the rough draft before I shelved it and focused on publishing.

I was afraid once I hit the section I had stopped at years ago, I’d find myself back in the rut, but it turned out to be the exact opposite. By the time I got to the new stuff, I was on a writing high, excited about the story and characters once more. I feel like those last several chapters worked rather well, and I want to capitalize on this feeling by continuing to work on the series. If I can keep this momentum going, the final book should have a much shorter gestation period.

And that, I believe, is better for all of us.

Thanks for reading,

S.L. Madden

1410 words and counting….

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One thought on “Down To The Wire

  1. Excellent choice! Of course, I would’ve said that if you’d gone with the new story instead – long as you end up writing another book, I won’t complain. Happy writing!

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