War of Nytefall: Eradication had something fairly unique among all of my published stories. There was a big plan, but a key component of the story was trapped in a bizarre state of uncertainty. I knew there would be a secret and who it entailed, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. The major points of my books are typically known to me and I use them as guidelines. It wasn’t the case here for a few reasons:
- I was writing the book in the midst of the divorce. Yeah, I keep mentioning this, but it was an emotional and mental influence. My mood wasn’t as consistent as it used to be and that made me rather fickle.
- There were major gaps in writing times. I went weeks without writing at times, which meant I didn’t have the previous material clear in my head. Tiny details weren’t remembered because they were spur of the moment at the time. I tried to read through it all, but found that it would absorb all of my writing time and then I’d have to wait longer before I got back into it.
- My notes weren’t very clear on this one. I’d tinkered with this story a lot right up to the first draft time. So, I had pieces of various plot points in regards to this major event, but they didn’t always match.
I’m probably harder on this book than I should be since I did very careful editing to make things match the reveal I actually picked. The memory of the ‘twisting idea’ is still fresh because I’m seeing it happen again with War of Nytefall: Ravenous. It’s a lesser extent, but I can already tell that I have to change course on something and rethink the next volume. This is definitely more pantser than plotter, but I’d be in terrible shape if I stayed exclusive to one school. Creating a style that has aspects of both helps to get me over this kind of hurdle. It only leaves me with a level of doubt and worry, but when am I not like that. Can’t say more because it’s a big spoiler.
When it comes to twisting ideas that repeatedly jump off the rails, I think you need to step back a bit and examine. There’s the belief that your subconscious knows better and you should follow the new path. Yet, this is the same part of your mind that can birth paranoia and ask you what bedbugs were called before beds were invented as you try to sleep. Not the most reliable guide. You can take a lot from the detour because it stems from the original story, but you have to make sure that you don’t deviate so far away that everything falls apart. The twisting idea is fun and exciting in the moment, which doesn’t always translate when a person is reading it. They could easily wonder what you’re trying to do because they don’t see the connections. Absorbing some of it and refining the overall combination with editing is my personal choice.
So, what do you do when an idea gets twisted from the beginning?