Discovering the story

I spent most of this month wrapping up the sixth story arc in the series, Zealots and Ascendants. I won’t say too much about the story, except I had a blast writing it.

I’ve tried a number of different ways to write stories over the last couple of decades that range from planning every detail through to not knowing anything ahead of time. As I’ve gained experience, I’ve learned what works for me and what doesn’t, and on this story more than any other I leaned into discovery writing.

That is, simply writing without really knowing where the story is going. It was a lot of fun, and I think the results are much better than they would be if I’d tried to guess (call it plan if you like) what would happen throughout the story before I’d written any of it.

Several of the stories in Cogs were originally published as books (arcs 2 and 5, and four more that will probably slot in somewhere after arc 7), which means I already know a lot of the events that are coming, the backstory and history of the world, and where it’s all going. The thing I don’t really know, but I’m having a ton of fun discovering, is how we get from here to there.

This is the first time I’ve started writing a story in the series with nothing more than a very vague idea about what the story should be about.

I knew where in the bigger sequence of events this story fits and the probable outcome of the story but nothing else. It’s a bit daunting working this way, but I needn’t have worried as once I got started, the story came, I was excited by new discoveries I made about the world and the twists I didn’t see coming. There’s some mythology that makes complete sense given everything else in the world, but it hadn’t occurred to me until I started to write about the relevant scenarios.

As Zealots and Ascendants won’t appear on the site until June 2021, I’ll save everything else I have to say about it until then.

The final episodes of Malicious Designs went out to subscribers this month, and they are now receiving episodes of Discarded Gods, the second arc, right to their inboxes. Even though I know what the publishing schedule is ahead of time, that seemed to come around quickly, and there’s something really cool about seeing the episodes stacking up on the site.