It’s hard to write the second half of a story when you’ve only ever written the first half. Extraction is done, and I’m working on its sequel, which I’ve tentatively titled The Incoming Tide. Drafting The Incoming Tide is a completely different experience than rewriting Extraction—as I mentioned in this post , Extraction brewed for years and was the fourth completely overhauled draft of the book. Extraction was a matter of writing the same story over and over; I knew what its themes were, and I knew where it needed to go before I ever sat down at the keyboard this time around.
The thing about The Incoming Tide is that it’s only ever existed as sketched-out worldbuilding notes. Because I’ve written past this moment in Aerdh’s history (notably in Ariah and sections of Sound and Song) I know how the story ends. And I have a fairly detailed outline worked out already. I know what I’m writing, but writing it the first time and writing it the fourth time are different experiences.
Since The Incoming Tide is yet in its infancy, it’s a strangely reflective process. According to my writing log*, I started The Incoming Tide on Halloween, which means I’ve been working on it for about three weeks. And I’ve made progress:
16k words in three weeks is not bad at all. Three chapters in as many weeks is nothing to smirk at. So, the writing is clipping right along. The thing about it is that I’m trying to work how how to write the story right along with what the story actually is. This two-headed discovery process characterizes first drafts for me, and sometimes it’s thrilling and sometimes it’s unnerving. This time, for whatever reason, it’s unnerving. I’m second-guessing everything—are these the right viewpoint characters? Is the pacing alright? I think I have to many plot threads going already and need to scale back; Extraction really crystallized as a book when I pared it down. Right now, the draft has two storylines working in parallel, and I think they could feasibly be split into separate books. But I like writing the characters in both! Argh.
The solution is simple, but it’s not all that easy: just keep writing. Just write it all and sort it out in the rewrite. Just write and write and write some more and get some fresh eyes on it to get it where it needs to be. Something about moving from a final iterative draft of Extraction to this completely new initial draft of The Incoming Tide has me doing something I haven’t done in years—it’s got me trying to approach a first draft like it’s the final draft. 16k words in and I’m still struggling to change my internal frame of reference.
*Spreadsheets for everything! It even has aggregation formulae and shit embedded in it!