Since I’ve published Nightblade, one of the most frequent questions I’ve been getting from readers and friends and family is what motivated me both to write the story and to publish it. The story about deciding to publish is probably a post of its own, but I’m excited to share a bit of the backstory behind the writing of the book.
As I’ve mentioned in a few places, I’ve been writing since I was a young child. I wrote silly action and adventure stories that were more or less copies of what I had just read or watched. They were fun and embarrassing, and if I can find them I’ll post them someday here on the site.
Since high school I’ve been attempting to write a novel. Like many wannabe authors, I probably started over a dozen different stories, or started the same story a dozen different times. I never got more than a few thousand words in before I realized it was crap and would tear it up.
That all changed in 2011, when I discovered Nanowrimo, National Novel Writing Month. Nanowrimo is an event that happens every year in November when aspiring authors set out to write 50,000 words in a month. I didn’t actually participate in Nanowrimo, but as I researched the event I came away with two revelations:
- All first drafts are crap.
- It’s better to write and get the story down on paper than to wait for the perfect phrase.
Not exactly earth-shattering revelations, but it released me from my own self-designed prison. In 2011 I committed to writing 50,000 words, whether I liked them or not. I sat down and started writing every day. When 2011 ended I had my first novel, which is untitled and will probably never see the light of day. It was a horrible, horrible mess, but it was 65,000 words, and it was a novel.
In 2012 I sat down to the keyboard again. I’d proven to myself that I could write a story, and now it was time to see if I could write a good story. I set a daily goal of 1,000 words and went to work.
I finished the first draft of Nightblade in October of 2012. The first draft was a sprawling 160,000 words, far and away the longest piece of fiction I’d ever written. The first draft is pretty different than the version published today. Many of the changes take place in the ending, and I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but there were other substantial changes.
- In the first draft, neither Akira or Orochi had any chapters or scenes dedicated to them.
- I also had an introduction to each chapter, describing the Three Kingdoms in a bit more detail. I liked the introductions, but they didn’t work in later drafts.
- The ending was quite different, something I may write about someday.
When I wrote Nightblade I wasn’t sure that I would publish it. I was proud of my draft, but several more events would have to happen before I was convinced publishing was a good idea.
I’ll share more in future weeks!