A little while ago, I wrote about the first draft of Sigyn, how I was ready to start the rewrite, and how I’d finally worked out where I was going.
That turned out to be somewhat less than true.
Since then, I’ve been finishing up scripts for Footloose and Cherry, which was important work that needed to be done. And doing thesis corrections, which was also important work that needed to be done. And cleaning my room. And cooking. And teaching myself to draw full figures again. And going for walks. And visiting coffee shops. And watching an awful lot of Netflix.
It’s amazing how easily you can convince yourself that your procrastination is, actually, extremely necessary and unavoidable, thank you, and I will start writing once I’ve finished. Yesterday afternoon, it hit me that I’d been avoiding Sigyn for one reason and one reason only – that I was completely and utterly terrified.
Fine, I knew what my heroine wanted. But I didn’t know what I wanted. I had no idea how I was going to make the plot hang together. I knew what I didn’t want, and that was the entire second half of the story, which, I’d realised, was boring, awkward, and didn’t fit.
How was I supposed to write this story if I didn’t know how it worked? Who would want to read it if even I was bored of it? I spent most of the evening staring at the screen of my laptop, Netflix playing away merrily in the background, then shut it all down and crawled into bed in despair.
I knew I had to change that second half. But what could I replace it with? What would work? And if I completely changed the end of the story, I’d have to change the beginning, too, in order to set things up and make them hang together. And, dammit, I liked the beginning. Eventually, I fell asleep, my plotting brain still clicking and whirring away.
Most of the time, writing is a slog. But sometimes, just sometimes, the story gods smile on you. When I woke up, I realised the answer had been there all along, in the myths I was reading, in the characters I’d established, and, most importantly, in my precious first half.
That answer was: Giant Slobbering Werewolves.
My current second half was boring because it was both slow and rushed, and it was both slow and rushed because I’d had to set up a rival political power to my castle of Valhalla (when I’d only just barely established Valhalla itself), and then smush the two opposing factions together in a contrived and easily-avoidable war. I was trying to cram too much politics into too little space, and it just didn’t fit.
But the threat of the Big Bad Wolf – that’s primal. That’s archetypical. Everyone knows it. It’s the root and reason of so many fairy tales – be brave and fight hard, or the monster will eat you. (Or the sun. Or both!)
With Fenrir as the threat instead of a rival Jarl, the plot suddenly became much simpler – although I will add, simple doesn’t mean lazy. I’ve still got plenty of ideas to play around with and ways to make this myth my own (for example, purists may have noted that the original Fenrir isn’t a werewolf. To this, I tap my nose and give a significant nod, in an attempt to make it look like I know what I’m talking about).
The stultifying fear and boredom are gone. Excitement has taken their place. Now, I want to write this story. I can’t wait to share it with the rest of you.
Alice’s books are available on Amazon and Smashwords. Her webcomic, co-created and illustrated by Emily Brady, can be found at the Footloose website. Ally rambles about writing, feminism, and odd questions that cross her mind on Twitter and Facebook.