Fixing False Starts

I had written Slaves of War some years before, but it didn’t work for me as science fiction. I didn’t know how to fix it. I mentioned it on Facebook, and somebody told me that it sounded like space opera. I had never done space opera, at least not deliberately, but it seemed like that might have been my problem. I revised the story with “space opera” in mind, and this time it felt right. Darcy did a cover, and I published it.

A Thing Forgotten was another idea that had been brewing in the back of my head for years, inspired by dark music, a newspaper clipping a friend had sent me, a poster of a tragic heroic girl, and other things. The more I thought about it, the less I was able to do anything with it. It finally came together when I heard “The Hanging Tree” from Hunger Games. Inspiration comes from the strangest places, if you let it. It never comes if you search for it. I used a world that I had created for a different purpose, ideas about the fey which I had thought about for a long time in another context, and when the opening sentence came to me, it practically wrote itself. I found the image for the cover, did some work on it, and Darcy finished it perfectly.

I had written the first three chapters of what became The Gift and The Price, and another sixty thousand words which just stopped cold. It was like beating my head against a wall, and all I got was bruises, not progress. I finally realized, after six years, that I had been forcing my hero to go against his nature. I threw away everything except those first three chapters, and let my protagonist do what he really would have done, instead of what I was trying to force him to do. I had, as it were, stepped back from the metaphorical wall, instead of trying to force a way through, and saw a doorway to one side. Chapters and scenes came easily, to a very satisfactory conclusion. I did the cover myself, but with a lot of advice from Darcy.

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