Since I’ve written about the rather strange way I write, someone may ask, Well, but does it work? I have published novels that testify to the fact that it does work. However, I must admit that it doesn’t always work. Sometimes something starts off very well but then goes nowhere. That jigsaw puzzle has too many missing pieces, and there are pieces that must be from a different puzzle because there’s no way to fit them into this one. I have false starts or starts that so far haven’t gone beyond that. Sometimes I even make it to the middle of something and then can’t finish because the story just isn’t working.
So what do I do? I just leave it, but I save it. And sometimes I go back to it much later and find that those pieces just needed to be turned a bit or tried elsewhere and I can fit them in after all to make the complete picture.
That happened with A Perilous Power, my second Arucadi novel. It started with an idea derived from a dream. The dream was about a young man named Trevor Dark who had magical powers but did not use them wisely and made a lot of terrible mistakes. I wrote a couple chapters, but I couldn’t make it work, so I set it aside. For several years. Then, after writing A School for Sorcery, which I had hopes for but hadn’t yet found a publisher for, I decided I wanted to write a prequel to explain why the School for the Magically Gifted was established and who Headmistress was. And I thought of that started and failed novel about Trevor Dark. I changed his name to Trevor Blake and while keeping him stubborn and over-confident and therefore prone to making grievous errors, I also gave him a deeper purpose. And then I worked in a fragment of another strange dream about a robot creature, and put it all together in a different way, and came up with a publishable novel. And a character named Lesley Simonton, who was Trevor’s best buddy, and for whom the School for the Magically Gifted would be named. It was a novel I couldn’t have written at the time I started that ill-fated original draft, but when the right time came it worked very well. The pieces that had been missing the first time around had magically materialized!
I have a few other false starts like that. And, if I’m lucky, those missing pieces will turn up eventually, too.