Sara Creasy is the author of Song of Scarabaeus and the newly released Children of Scarabaeus. Today she’s guest-blogging about plotting. Below the book info, you should find the guest-blog, as well as a special giveaway for those of you with an Australian snail-mail address. Read on!
Song of Scarabaeus (Scarabaeus, Book 1)
HarperCollins Voyager (CA: 12th April 2010; US: 27th April 2010)
Buy (US) Buy (UK) Buy (CA) Buy (Worldwide)
Trained since childhood in advanced biocyph seed technology by the all-powerful Crib empire, Edie’s mission is to terraform alien worlds while her masters bleed the outlawed Fringe populations dry. When renegade mercenaries kidnap Edie, she’s not entirely sure it’s a bad thing…until they leash her to a bodyguard, Finn – a former freedom fighter-turned-slave, beaten down but never broken. If Edie strays from Finn’s side, he dies. If she doesn’t cooperate, the pirates will kill them both. But Edie’s abilities far surpass anything her enemies imagine. And now, with Finn as her only ally as the merciless Crib closes in, she’ll have to prove it or die on the site of her only failure…a world called Scarabaeus.
Children of Scarabaeus (Scarabaeus, Book 2)
HarperCollins Voyager (CA: 14th March 2011; US: 29th March 2011)
Buy (US) Buy (UK) Buy (CA) Buy (Worldwide)
Edie Sha’nim believed she and her bodyguard lover, Finn, could find refuge from the tyranny of the Crib empire by fleeing to the Fringe worlds. But Edie’s extraordinary cypherteck ability to manipulate the ecology of evolving planets makes her far too valuable for the empire to lose. Recaptured and forced to cooperate – or else she will watch Finn die – Edie is shocked to discover the Crib’s new breed of cypherteck: children. She cannot stand by while the oppressors enslave the innocent, nor can she resist the lure of Scarabaeus, the first world she tried to save, when researchers discover what appears to be an evolving intelligence. But escape – for Edie, for Finn, and for the exploited young – will require the ultimate sacrifice…and a shocking act of rebellion.
Plotters vs. pantsters – it’s a common question writers get asked, and most of us know the answer. Me, a plotter, definitely. I think. Maybe.
Looking back over the writing process of my first two books, it seems like the experience of writing each one was very different. I’m sure I would have called myself a plotter even before I started Song of Scarabaeus. That label suits my natural inclination to make lists and keep things organised. But now I think about it, there never was an outline for this book.
In its earliest incarnation, it was the story of a girl from a low-tech society who runs away to the big city, where she has to find her place. This ended up being Edie’s backstory. The kidnapped-by-space-pirates plot line only emerged after I’d combined several other ideas. These included a “slave” leashed to a master who is able to punish him with a thought; a technology that can terraform entire planets at the genetic level; a girl rebelling against her work for the government; and a rag-tag crew on a grimy ship, going about their questionable business in space. Everything fell into place when I meshed it all together.
During rewrites, I chopped off the first three chapters, added some drama to the “saggy middle”, and changed the ending to give Edie’s adventure more impact. Subplots were added and removed as well. This entire process took years. I started writing in mid-2000 and finished the final rewrite for my editor in mid-2009. Because it was such a choppy process, in truth I can’t really say I ever planned this book in advance.
Children of Scarabaeus, however, was planned quite meticulously. I wrote an outline and stuck to it…for about ten chapters. Then I dumped the whole thing and started again with a new outline. This changed many times over the course of writing the book. I’ve come to realise that I have to let go of my outlines! I like to plan ahead, but apparently it’s not really the way I write. I feel like I’m fighting my natural inclinations all the way.
There is a certain freedom to writing without an outline. I’ve done it and loved doing it. Initially, it’s a lot more fun. The story unfolds as you create it. It’s like watching a movie for the first time and writing down what you’re experiencing. However, it’s a movie without a script or a director. Things can go off the rails rather easily, and if it takes a while to notice, you could end up with a lot of pages you can’t use.
Evidently, a compromise is the way to go for me. For my next book, I have an overarching plot that (I think) I will stick to, but I’ll let the chapters unfold a bit more on-the-fly. I’ve done background research. I’ve written notes about the characters and their world. I’ve made a lot of lists. So those bits and pieces should fall into place as needed.
I hope. I think. We’ll see…
AUSTRALIA-ONLY GIVEAWAY: Which awesome sci-fi/futuristic novels would you recommend to dear old Tezzy? Ones you think I might like; not just the ones you like 😉 Comment below with your recommendations, but do so before Thursday 14th April, 11:59PM (Melbourne time). The winner will receive one signed copy each of Song of Scarabaeus and Children of Scarabaeus. I’m jealous! 😉