Learning My Own Process
The first novel I ever wrote, I didn't have a process. Well, none to speak of. I dove head first into NaNoWriMo and made everything up as I got to it.
Name? Agonize over it for a minute or ten, then throw it on the page and keep going.
What was that name again? Scroll up to the part of the story where it was introduced and play a game of ping pong with details as I went.
It was insanity.
It had to be insanity, because I kept doing it that way.
When I got to Elemental, I'd learned a few things from my mistakes. I still dove in head first, but I took notes. I planned ahead on some of it by creating a small cast of characters. If I needed someone else that might get used later on, I wrote them down, too.
The original cast of characters to the right ended at Ysili Ronar when I started writing. Naran was added a few days later, and Master Kavidrian didn't get put into the cast of characters until he was reintroduced half way through the story.
Agrad's parents didn't even have names before I killed them off. Yes, I'm a bad, evil, horrible person. Authors often are.
If you're one of the very few people who got to read my rough draft, you'll recognize Sanin Goreb. But I think Sabrina is the only person who has ever even seen the name Bael Nathander, because he never made it into the story. I love the character, but he never managed to find a place in Elemental.
This file grew into so much more than just a cast of characters by the time I was done with the book. Every draft I'd add more information I'd forgotten or inserted as the story evolved. Holidays, currency, locations, the sphere of influence of all the gods, who the original wizard was in each country...if there's a chance I could forget it, it's there.
If the book's done, why do I still have it?
Well, because I'm not done with that world yet, for one. Years ago, for NaNoWriMo again, I wrote a prequel. At the time it was just a writing exercise to help me keep the background of Elemental consistent. But...it's a better and more interesting story. The characters are interesting, and they go out and change the world! They don't just survive all the crap that's thrown at them. They make the gods their bitches. And kill them.
Bael Nathander didn't make it into that book, either.
But he's still there. He's still in my notes. And I'm not done with that world yet.