It has recently occurred to me that there is a general perception of what authors do that is wrong, and this realization only occurred to me because I realized that I was at a standstill with my story. I had a general idea of what the world was like, a general plot, the prologue to introduce my world, an introduction of the main character and what was going on, heck, I even drew a map of my fantasy world. But as soon as I tried to send my heroine out on her adventure, I found myself… stuck. I knew where I wanted her to go, but what would it look like? How would the people act? Were people prejudiced against a certain race there? How would her travel companions act? As all of these thoughts ran through my head, I realized that I wasn’t ready yet. I had always assumed that authors had an idea for a story, figured out a general plot and then started writing, letting the story evolve as they wrote. I was wrong; there is so much more to do before what is imagined can be put onto paper.
Since I am creating a new world, I am creating cities and societies that do not exist. Therefore, I cannot send my heroine out with only a vague idea of what those cities are like and create them on the spot. If I want my story to be more than a hodge-podge of ideas shoddily placed together, I need to do more. Her companions right now are just people who travel with her and offer conversation only pertinent to the advancement of the novel: no comedy, no companionship, just… a basic character, like someone you see every day but don’t know their name or anything else about them besides the fact that they get coffee at 8:00 in the morning at the same place you do.
So, I’ve sadly placed the actual writing of the story aside and I’m in the process of creating a world: basically, playing God. I’m deciding who lives where, what the customs of each city are, and what the city will look like. I’m writing a history to help give myself an idea of how the present came to be. I’m creating a character analysis for every character I have planned to place in my story as well as a back story so that it doesn’t seem like they have simply sprung out of the earth at their current age, ready to go. My plot, which was previously general, (more of a random placement of thoughts written down as I thought of them) is becoming more focused.
It’s a lot more work than I thought it would be. When I first fantasized about writing a book, I simply imagined myself spending hours on end writing this story. I didn’t think planning it was necessary. I now realize how naive I was. What I am doing is time consuming and is making me look at everything in a new light. I am reinventing my novel, evolving it into a more complex book. That way, when I finally get back to writing my novel I can do it with confidence, knowing how people will react and what places will look like as if they are placed before me.