How I Built The Summoning Fire
An author's confession of an odd approach...
This is the structure I used to outline and write the first draft of The Summoning Fire
In short, the story was built and written as a spiral, expanding outwards.
Why a spiral?
The idea for a "spiral structured story" occurred to me in August 2006, appealed to me immediately, and I refused to let it go. My original idea was to spiral *in*, instead of *out*, but the storyline I came up with seemed to work better exploding out from the center.
It took me a couple days to decide on the shape of the spiral, including the positioning of the little "spurs" that come off the main arms (which represent the stories of secondary characters related or tangential to the particular main storyline). And for some reason I insisted on having the shape visually balanced.
The vertical axis is time, with the past at the top and the future at the bottom. The horizontal axis is less well defined. I started out with the idea that the horizontal axis indicated "relevance" to the central event. But that's not quite it. And, frankly, the time aspect of the vertical axis got abused quite a bit.
Ultimately, though, it doesn't matter what either axis represents. I wasn't trying to create a 100% accurate representation of the story in 2D space. And I'm not even sure what that means. ;-)
So, once you get down to the essentials, this picture is just a graphic aid, a pretty diagram for a story with 4 main storylines that either converge toward or diverge from a particular event.
I liked the experimental, non-linear nature of the spiral.
I wrote the first draft of The Summoning Fire exactly as shown, with the exception of cutting the planned chapters #14 and #22. As I reached those chapters, they seemed redundant. I had already covered what those chapters had been outlined for.
The final draft, though, the story as it is now in paperback and ebook, was shifted a bit to make it less confusing (your mileage may vary
). Also, and perhaps more importantly/usefully, I added the simple phrases "Before the Fire" and "After the Fire" to each chapter heading. The "Before the Fire" chapters move backwards from the first chapter, while the "After the Fire" chapters move forward from the fire.