The hardest part of writing is figuring out your process. Some of us like to plot everything but dialogue, and some of us can’t work like that. There are hundreds of moving parts, and the process is different for everyone.
I’m halfway through the Balphrahn series (I think). Like all the other novels I’ve written, it’s been an uphill battle because, unlike every other part of my life, I can’t plan much. Compulsive long-term planning doesn’t mesh with my creativity, so I muddle along through the first (and sometimes second) draft before going back to completely retrofit what doesn’t work. It’s messy, and I disapprove, but there it is.
Several months ago, I heard someone say, “The villain drives the plot*.” It was an epiphany but it took some time and thinking about how to implement it. Last week, I figured it out. Book 1 was diagnosed with Weak Villain Syndrome and the person who pointed it out also had thoughts about how to fix it.
The short version of the story is I have to start with the villain. Story ideas are all well and good, but they’re a walk through headspace without the villain. Of course, they’re the hardest part for me, which is probably a better reason to start with them.
It’s still an uphill battle, but if I can nail this, I can do it again. If I’m right about the process, I’ll be able to write better and faster.
*Google says that quote is attributed to Gayle Linds, but she’s not who I heard say it. I think it might have been Shawn Coyne on the Storygrid podcast.