I’m a person who likes preparation. I’ve always said my superpower is research. It comes from my curiosity and imagination–two things essential for any person, but especially a writer.
This past weekend I attended a writer’s conference for fantasy and needless to say I was underwhelmed. I spent months preparing. I researched the speakers (where possible because the panels weren’t announced until a week before), I printed out marketing material for my current book, A Smuggler’s Path and for my upcoming novella, The Cemetery Circle (unrelated to my Path series), and ordered a box of my book to sell at the consignment table.
The night before I packed and made sure everything was ready both for my conference and at home. And it was… well…
I was a great student. I don’t say that with any conceit, but it was something I was really good at because it was the culmination of my all my strengths–preparation, curiosity, and imagination. I knew that if I worked hard, I’d get good grades and inevitably praise from my teachers. Sadly, I’ve discovered that’s not how writing works. All the plans in the world does not guarantee that I’ll be either praised or noticed. Not an uplifting thought, but a true one.
That got me thinking about villains. Have you noticed that they’re the one’s that make plans and prepare in fairy tales. The Evil Queen didn’t just wing it and poison Snow White–that took planning! You think Rumpelstiltskin hadn’t run that “straw into gold” scam on some other desperate waif? He was way too practiced for that. The angry fairy in Sleeping Beauty had weeks to seethe about not getting an invite. Girlfriend had a plan! It’s why they end up monologuing–they need to share all that hard work with someone.
Only heroes get to make it up as they go along. They’re saved because of good looks or charm. They show up with skills, but no preparation.
So where does that leave me? With twenty unsold books and wondering if plans are really the way to go. Or maybe it gives me a little insight into the mind of fairy tale villains. When so much planning goes into an idea, is it any wonder they go a little mad?