Mary E. Pearson

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Is the Remnant Chronicles a duology?

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It’s a trilogy.  The second book, The Heart of Betrayal, comes out next July, The third book, not “officially” titled yet, will be out the following year.

How do you know when an idea for a book is "The One"? How can you tell it's worth pursuing, that you won't tire of it halfway through?

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Dear Anon:

Well, the sad truth is, you probably will tire of it—right about half way. Or hate it, or doubt it, or think you have SCREWED THIS ONE UP big time because you don’t know what the heck you’re doing.

The other truth is, right around halfway is when so many new writers abandon their manuscripts because they are sure it is going to be a big mucky mess, and hey, that new idea that has come flirting with you is so much shinier and cooler, and it keeps winking at you and whispering in a sultry voice, “Come hither.”  Yeah, that must be the one. 

It isn’t.

You reach dry, bone-parched valleys in the process of writing all books. I have never spoken to a fellow author who was exhilarated through the entire writing process. Novels take a long time. It’s a commitment. Sometimes it’s down and dirty work—showing up and just doing it. And yes, a mucky mess. When I’m in that mucky mess (for the umpteenth time) and bemoaning my progress, my very wise writer friends remind me, “Just get it down. You can’t revise a blank page.”

And that of course is key.  Revision.  When you finish a draft, it will still be crap, but you can fix that.  You can’t fix a blank page.

With all that said, when a shiny new idea comes knocking (with their seductive little smiles) I always tell them to wait.  If they are worth spending a year or more of my time with them, they will still be waiting for me when I finish my current project. If they are still needling and poking me at that time, I might examine them a little closer to see if they have legs too and not just a smile. I might jot down a few more ideas about them, an opening line, some fuzzy thoughts, search out the character a little more deeply.  And then at some point I know, I CAN’T ignore this story. It’s latched onto me. I have to write it because it’s not going away.

I highly recommend reading writing books on craft. Lots of them, because no one writes or thinks exactly the same way you do, but you can pick up a few tools from each book—ones that fit your hand and your style—and those tools will help you when you hit the valleys that play with your confidence.

Another little trick I use that helps me through the muddle, is a little post-it note that I plant somewhere on my desk.  I answer the question, what is the point?  Because seriously, sometimes when you are knee-deep in the muddle, you can’t remember! Though there are lots of points and layers in a book, what is the overarching point?  Redemption? Belonging? Justice?  What does your main character or the world they live in desperately want or need? Sometimes a few words on a post it can be a much needed beacon.

Good luck anon.  Power through.