Thoughts on Starting a Novel
by MW Cook
The Shadow’s Daughter is done. A couple beta readers are pouring over my final revision and I can’t wait to deal with their considerations, but for now, it’s done.
When I started The Shadow’s Daughter, I had no idea where it was going. I was doing two strange projects at the same time. One was about a very typical rag-tag group of adventurers off to find a mystic artifact (blaaaah). The other was a series of romantic serials I was writing for my wife. Both those stories died, and from their ashes rose The Shadow’s Daughter, first book of The Chronicler and the Bard.
Yay, and stuff.
So now that The Shadow’s Daughter is done, I turn my eyes to the next installment.
I had forgotten how it felt to start something new.
I once heard that writing a novel is like walking through a dark wood with a lantern. You only get to see a couple steps ahead of you, but you can get through the whole forest that way.
Whoever said that didn’t mention the most obvious characteristic about walking through a dark forest with only a lantern.
It’s scary as hell.
Seriously, what if you get lost? What if you lose the path? Worse, what if the path is so well travelled that there’s no point in walking it? What if you’re going the wrong way and you never should have entered this stupid forest and why didn’t you wait until daytime and OMG I’M FREAKING OUT!
So, there’s that.
It’s also lonely.
You don’t get to write novels in tandem. And when you try to talk about an unborn novel, it never goes right. People look at you as if you don’t know what you’re talking about. Because, frankly, you don’t. Not yet. You’re still wandering around in the woods.
Scary and lonely.
Which is why I’m glad I believe in muses.
The muse is that strange spiritual critter who tells you the story. She’s the lantern you’re carrying as you wander through the woods. She’s Navi from Zelda who keeps saying “Hey, listen!” And while she may annoy the hell out of you sometimes, she knows the way. She knows the story that she wants you to tell.
She’s the one who won’t let me get side-tracked or lost. She’s done this before, too. For a jillion years her and her kind have been whispering tales into our ears. She knows what she’s doing. And that’s nice.
So here I am, just entering the woods again. I’m holding my lantern high and peering into the darkness. I take a step forward, and the lantern’s light stretches a bit further. It’s going to be okay. No, better than that. It’s going to be freaking awesome.