July 17, 2013

The Evolution of a Story

pinterest: tempus regina
Most of you are already aware, which makes this post slightly anticlimactic, but...

The first draft of Tempus Regina is now officially, unofficially, and every other type of finished. 

I have been writing this novel for about nine months, not taking into account the 14,000 words written before I began NaNo last year.  Nine months.  It seems like a week compared to the laborious year and a half spent on the two novels of the Sea Fever series.  Joy commented on Facebook that it feels like I only announced the story's beginning yesterday - which for Scribbles' readers is more nearly true, since I was late in mentioning it.  It appears that since then I've talked about and around it a good deal, but not having posted many snippets, it feels somehow more private than The White Sail's Shaking.  That may, however, just be Me.

At any rate, as I contemplated which question from the Curiosity series to answer this week, I thought I would go ahead and do Joy's on Christianity in Tempus Regina.  But that demands a great deal of organization and care and thinking, and at any rate, it didn't seem to be an appropriate way of announcing the first draft's completion.  Instead, I decided to take up Bree's questions and trace Tempus Regina's evolution from that date in - what was it?  September? - when I put down the first words of the first chapter, to this past Saturday when I put down the last words of the last chapter.

what originally inspired Tempus Regina? 
is the current TR anything like what the original was to be? 
was it one of those books that other younger works...sort of worked up to, or does it stand on its own?
 [bree h.]

What inspired Tempus Regina?  Well!  That is the question, and I'm not positive of the answer.  I've mentioned before that Jenny began a story many years ago about lost kingdoms that sparked my imagination - and annoyance, because she never did finish it.  I don't think that consciously affected me, but I'm sure it did underneath the surface.  As far as a clear knowledge of Tempus Regina's origins goes, I am fairly certain that the title came to me first of all, and then maybe pocket watches, and after that I had to fit together many disjointed pieces like a jigsaw puzzle.  

Like The White Sail's Shaking, Tempus Regina is very much its own story.  I can't remember writing even a slightly similar idea years ago; I typically don't write anything down unless I am set on spinning it into a proper novel.  Wordcrafter is the only one, as far as I can recall, that departed from this norm (which it seems to have done a great deal): Justin and Ethan were characters whose origins go back long before the day I jotted down a scene for Wordcrafter on a church bulletin.  Regina and the Assassin, the White Demon and the Fisherman and Morgaine, were much more spontaneous, as it were.  Only the Time King might have ties to a character from a story that never got off the ground, but even then, I'm not sure how conscious I was of the relationship.

In point of fact, so much of this story developed during the actual writing process that it is difficult now to remember what I had in mind at the start; that is probably a common feeling.  However, I do know that the finished draft has a more marked similarity to the original than the Sea Fever books did when I put the last touches on them.  Certain parts of the book were very clear in my mind: the very first chapter (despite beginnings being absolutely loathsome); the end; and elements of the climax. For the most part, though, a mere comparison of the excerpt posted way back when and this draft's version will show the evolution this novel has undergone.  

"Evolution" is, actually, perhaps the best term for it.  It has gotten bigger and bigger, and complicated and more complicated, until I feel as though I can hardly keep the threads from flying out of my hands and the whole tapestry from going kaput on the floor.  Beginning early on in the writing there have been occasional flashes of despairing horror at the size of this thing.  Not that the book itself is terrifically huge: a mere 177,000 words, sure to be trimmed in the editing.  But, confound it, time travel is complex!  

do you set daily writing goals for yourself, or do you just write, write, write, until you feel sufficiently expended?
[bree h.]

I have this vague idea that I used to write a lot more in a sitting than I do now.  I'm pretty sure 2,000 was once a good day for me.  Now 1,000 is a splendid day, and 2,000 is out of this world.  I am, comparatively speaking, a slow writer, and since I get headaches and achy wrists if I push myself too hard, I don't tend to set hard and fast goals.  Except during NaNo.  But that's another beast entirely.  

Nowadays, I tend to shoot for a page or so when I sit down to write.  The way my documents are formatted, two pages is roughly 1,000 words - and getting there can take an entire (interrupted) morning.  I do this only rarely, but I can sit down for an hour or so nearly every day and write, which is much more than many people manage in their busy schedules.  Also, since I write each chapter individually (unless they go together so intimately that splitting them into separate documents breaks my train of thought), I have a half-formed goal of finishing one every week - or every other week.  

So you see, my goals aren't terribly coherent.  But one way or another, I do seem to get the thing done! 


  1. First off, a hearty round of congratulations for finishing Tempus Regina! 177,000 words in nine months or thereabouts is no small feat — I look upon thee in awe.

    Original inspirations are tricky things, especially when one is called upon to remember them. My own ideas tend toward snowballs: they begin with a small catalyst that first gets them rolling, but after that, they keep barreling along, picking up anything and everything they happen across, until the end result looks nothing like my first idea (which is quite often a good thing). These snippets of Tempus Regina that you've been sharing with us hint at a plot that has been continually expanding and rounding out, and I'm all the more eager to read the book in full. If you ever feel the need for beta readers . . . ;)

    I fit in an hour or so of writing when I have the time, but it doesn't happen every day. I see that when one is plugging along diligently and writing a bit every day, it doesn't take long for the words to start adding up. As I mentioned to Jenny a week or two ago, I'm hoping to reach the same point myself, but I'm also accepting the fact that between work, teaching, and other matters, my schedule is especially busy at this point. I love the idea of a 500-word stint — that's certainly manageable, and once you write 500 words, it's easier to push out 500 more. So thank you, as always, for the much needed encouragement. :) You're a tremendous example of one daily moving further up and further in.

    1. People often ask what "originally inspired" such-and-such a story. I begin to wonder if they don't think I stood in a specific corner and chanted until the idea came to mind - and if they don't think they might get a new idea by doing the same. I sometimes wish it were that easy!

      I expect my writing will have to take a backseat as I adjust to the college workload. It's nice to be able to sit down and write a sizable chunk every day, but in some situations it just isn't feasible. Spare time does not necessarily mean adequate brain power, and I do hate forcing out words when I know they're complete rubbish.

      ...though I don't object at all if they are and I'm ignorant of it.

  2. Congrats, congrats, my dear girl! A mere 177,000 words? As Elizabeth Rose put it, that is no small feat to accomplish even in the prolonged length of nine-months (a whirlwind of speed for me on such a complex tale!) *wanting to engulf you in a big bear hug or in a happy jig but obviously that is being silly*

    "Evolution" is, actually, perhaps the best term for it. It has gotten bigger and bigger, and complicated and more complicated, until I feel as though I can hardly keep the threads from flying out of my hands and the whole tapestry from going kaput on the floor."

    I smiled at reading this part of your post simply because I can often feel that way when any one of my stories or novels expand and grow like gossamer threads between my pen around midway in the story, till the intricate web is so large it fills beyond one's sight of the horizon. It is such a immense but fun jigsaw puzzle! But, with God's help, you got through it and I am very excited, inspired and thrilled in turns by your finishing Tempus Regina! I can 't wait to read it to be sure ^_^.

    Every writer has his or her own suited work-method and goals to suit their circumstances. I hardly think you a slow writer at all, Abigail, or if so - you are definitely a diligent one! Your writing goal of attempting to finish about a chapter in a week or two is quite a capital idea which strikes my fancy immensely: that and the 500 word challenge Jenny's been talking about it. Truth be told, I count myself fortunate even when I write a paragraph or so a day (though, joy! it is such a nice feeling to have a few hundred words under one's belt daily if possible)... :).

    Thanks for sharing about the origins and 'evolutionary' beginnings, the seeds that formed your novel. It was fascinating and intriguing :). I look forward to the post on Christianity in Tempus Regina but I can understand how this can be a slightly time-consuming and more in-depth sort of post so I will wait patiently :D. God bless, Abigail!

    1. I'm sure I'll get around to the Christianity post one of these days, along with the rest of the Curiosity questions. At the moment I'm in over my head with edits (too many! too many!) and am eying Tempus Regina a little jadedly, though this too shall pass. The series will (eventually) continue!

      Even a few paragraphs every day is something. I don't hold to the rule that one must write a little on a daily basis; life often intervenes. But it is nice to have goals - Jenny's 500-word plunk, or a chapter every other week. I like working within parameters, so it suits my methods. As you say, though, we all have to come up with our own!

  3. Congratulations on finishing Tempus Regina! It sounds like such a captivating story. You have successfully piqued my interest with the little tidbits you've posted...I can't wait to read the novel in its entirety!

    On a slightly different note, I have to admit, your answer to that last question was very encouraging. I thought I was the only one who could manage little more that 1,000 or so words in a sitting. I'm afraid I've been obsessing over how painfully slow I am and failing to see that it is not speed but constancy that will ultimately contribute to my success or failure. Your response to Bree's question really put that into perspective for me. Many thanks!

    1. Oh, thank you! I'm glad I've managed to stoke your curiosity. One of these days the novel will be tidied up and properly finished, and then...!

      You are definitely not the only one when it comes to "slow" writing. It baffles me how I can plod away at a story all morning and just barely cross 1,000 words. However, perseverance and constant labor are the important things, even if they aren't exactly dashing. If a writer works a little a day, or sets some sort of helpful goal, the story will be told in the end. It just seems to take a dashed lot of time!


meet the authoress
I am a writer of historical fiction and fantasy, scribbling from my home in the United States. More importantly, I am a Christian, which flavors everything I write. My debut novel, "The Soldier's Cross," was published by Ambassador Intl. in 2010.
find me elsewhere
take my button


Follow by Email

published writings

The Soldier's Cross: Set in the early 15th Century, this is the story of an English girl's journey to find her brother's cross pendant, lost at the Battle of Agincourt, and of her search for peace in the chaotic world of the Middle Ages.
finished writings

Tempus Regina:Hurled back in time and caught in the worlds of ages past, a Victorian woman finds herself called out with the title of the time queen. The death of one legend and the birth of another rest on her shoulders - but far weightier than both is her duty to the brother she left alone in her own era. Querying.
currently writing

Wordcrafter: "One man in a thousand, Solomon says / will stick more close than a brother. / And it's worthwhile seeking him half your days / if you find him before the other." Justin King unwittingly plunges into one such friendship the day he lets a stranger come in from the cold. Wordcount: 124,000 words

Bookmarks In...

Search This Blog