When I sat down to write the third Palladia book, I looked at a blank screen and a well-worn keyboard. The Word document had nothing on it. It was a white, fat letter-size rectangle that was bigger than the print-formatted files of already published books that I’d been looking at recently. Since 2016 I hadn’t actually drafted a new story, although I had published Bellevere House and done a lot of platform-building. All of my life, I had written stories. Every day—every other day—every month. I had never gone so long without writing a new story until the last five years. Last year I wrote 3 brief outlines--just broad sketches, without details, for books I planned for the future. But thinking about a story and writing it are absolutely dissimilar experiences. As I started letting the new characters of Palladia 3 take shape on that Word document, I felt so stiff. I had almost forgotten how to let words just flow out of me in a first draft for fiction. I wanted to edit every few paragraphs. Looking at that screen, I realized that though I had written and written for so much of my existence, I was actually RUSTY! Previously, I’d never been out of commission long enough to be rusty.
But once the story started, from the first page it developed a strong voice that quickly took charge of the narrative. For some of my other books, I drifted through the first drafts as I tried to find how they should be plotted. Palladia #3 burst out with a hefty dose of young adult angst and a protagonist with a pretty specific personality. Many details demanded a style of writing I wasn’t even used to doing—quite physical, visceral angst and fear, a lot of small details like shoes, raindrops on eyelashes, and italicized personal thoughts. The heroine starts out with her home being attacked and it grows into a personal journey for her from there. She's often panicking or angry or she makes poor decisions. Ordinarily, I want to emphasize dialogue and have the characters talk to each other as I hear their voices in my head. I’m an auditory learner. But this MC, Arielle, doesn’t listen to other’s voices very well. She notices physical details and physical things that happen to her. Which is probably fine, since Palladia is a YA series. This third one just took it in the angsty young adult voice direction right from the get-go.
I'd forgotten also how good characters and stories are when they act more like people with minds of their own than like cardboard dolls for an author to prop up, costume, and move around. In the transfer from my head to my keyboard, this book just got a lot more fun.
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Bellevere House has been featured on Ezvid Wiki video "10 Wonderfully Inventive Retellings That Interpret Classic Stories in a New Way." Click to see the video.