I love file cards. I use them to write out story ideas, notes on process that I glean from writing books, to play with scenes, record dialogue fragments, even make lists of books to read and websites to check out.
Tonight I found the final card in a series titled ‘End.’ I didn’t recognize it, but knew from the description of winter that it belonged to the novel I’ve gone back to. It’s probably the story I’ve worked on the most, that has the highest word count.
Actually, there are two in those ranks, though I’ve never actually compared. Their first drafts are the closest to done, hovering there waiting for me to slam them shut with a satisfied sigh (before going back to hack them to bits in revision). They are the ones that should have been most difficult because both are in worlds that I have created. This one at least takes place here in the ‘real’ world, though in a town I created, with its own history and traditions, a place I visited in a novel I started as a teen ager.
I think that worlds of your own creation are most difficult, because you have to know how it came to be as it was, at the very least the highlights of local history. Even if you look at it with a stranger’s eyes, you must be as intimate with it as your own bathroom. Then you have to make them as real real to the reader as the condensing water on your toilet tank, the annoying drip in the sink.
On top of that, there is straightforward research that may need to be done. This one led me to quantum physics and time travel. And the boreal forests where the town is hidden, past and present. Native history for the area where I am anchoring the tale.
So easy to lose yourself in research.
I dug around, found the first three cards for that ending. They stopped my breath for a moment, they were so perfect. The ending isn’t there yet, and I may not use it in the final draft, but it helped me see where I had been going, where I might still go. I’m more excited than ever to get there. I want to breathe that lung-snapping winter air with my characters, I want someone to read it and feel the same thing, if just for a moment.