Writing to the unexpected

I was watching this video talking about RIPD. It’s a movie staring Kevin Bacon and Ryan Reynolds that people are just lucky they’ve never heard of. Having seen the movie, the video nails the problem completely. Nothing was unexpected.

So I decided when I was going to start writing the prequel to Kakotopia that I was going to embrace that mentality. I was going to deliberately write each scene to something unexpected and with no other planning. Writing a prequel to an existing story is an interesting set of challenges. Whether or not the reader reads the books in order, what happened in the first book is set in stone in this world. It’s not what happens that pushes the narrative but how something that already happened came about that is going to grip the reader. I’d set two different points in the existing book that only someone who has read the prequel will understand the greater picture, so I have to write to those two events. But other than those two issues, anything at all can happen.

Ever since I started to sell my paranormal work, I’ve always tried to write at least a scene a sitting. It’s something I picked up from On Writing and it really does work to keep the pace up. Whether it’s a seven hundred and fifty-word bridging scene of a three thousands of action, when I get to the end of the scene, the unexpected thing that happens either drives me to keep going or sets up tomorrow at a good place to start.

I don’t plan, I front load the beginning with so much stuff that if even half of it seeds an idea further down the story I’m happy. The other half that doesn’t may need some gardening in the next draft — any seed can be made significant or trivial in the rewrite.

I really like writing to a little bit of restriction inside a whole lot of freedom. I want how the characters who survive the prequel got to the start of the existing book to be more of a ride than the existing story, but also match all the spots of all the false starts that I’ve already written. The fact that I started the first attempt practically at the story’s climax meant I had to step back a long, long way to tell the run-up to the floating city of ramshackle buildings over a swamp that’s about to be destroyed.

But the protagonist has a very long road to get to be the character he was in it with almost no time to waste.

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