Remember the story you wanted to write…
Tired of female heroines who are week, helpless and must be saved by masculine creatures, I just wanted to write a story about a badass female heroine, Ane, using magical powers to kick some ass. So I let my imagination flow, and did so perhaps a little too freely. I would never have thought it possible beforehand, but the story grew in my hands like a fertilized version of Jack’s beanstalk. It has grown so out of proportions that I need to edit it with a chainsaw.
A Heart of Fire started out with the principle idea of three books. I was young and very eager when I wrote the outline of book one, and soon realized, at 90 000 words, that I had only written a third of what I wanted to. Three books grew into nine.
I originally started out with one storyline, told by one POV, Ane, in a parallel universe. Since book one was now ending in a really weird place, I thought it would be brilliant to round it up by a male protagonist who would get his additional own chapters. The story grew into two storylines. After yet another publisher turned it down, I thought about how to make it even better, and it grew into our own universe.
It grew and grew into ten POV with their own chapters, as if some vicious wizard had cursed me into believing that the story would grow better with each additional protagonist! Nine books might have turned into eighteen, had I not awoken from the ugly spell and pulled the emergency break!
“Agnete”, I had to tell myself in a very strict voice, “STOP ADDING TO YOUR STORY! It is time to edit… with BLEACH!”
There is no way I can fit everything I would love to write about into one series.
It is time to choose – such a hard, but such an important process!
I asked myself: What did I really want to write about? What is really the core of this story?
My amazing coach Jodi told me to go with my guts, to go with my original story, to polish it, rewrite it, finish it, accept it, and then to never change it again. In about two months, the Norwegian version of the story must be as solid a rock as if written in stone.
The thought of being finished is one of longing and of terror. What do you mean, never edit it again?
I’d LOVE to be done, but WHAT IF I suddenly read the absolute finished version, and I’m like:” Oh, no, NOW I KNOW how I should have written it!”
Well, I did some research, and this was some of my outcome:
What that wicked wizard told me was not true: I do not need 10 story lines. Alyson Noël, Julie Kagawa, Stephenie Meyer, Kerstin Gier, Amanda Hocking and Jennifer Estep: They all proved that one character telling the story is more than sufficient. I was irrational and overachieving again, trying to build a mini George Martin story for youth. But that is not what I originally wanted for A Heart of Fire!
I am brutally cutting nine of the POVs and all superfluous chapters. What remains is my awesome heroine telling her story, just as it was supposed to be all along.
If my female protagonist Ane would sit next to me now, she would nod at me approvingly. “That’s right”, she would whisper, not quite selfless; “remember the story you wanted to write.”
I will do my best.
Have a great week!
– A.J. Lundetræ