After starting my third Russian novel on 5 November, I’m already closing in on the 21,000-word mark and am up to Chapter 4. This is the kind of book I write best, a sweeping, intricate historical saga with lots of characters and storylines, and playing out over several different settings. Like I’ve said, I think the only reason my Atlantic City historicals tend to be so short is because they’re interlocking series books, like a long saga broken up into serial installments.

While I have my original outline/notes from 2001, plus the basic outline and events memorized backwards and forwards in my head, so far I’ve mostly been writing organically. While I like to have an outline in mind while I write (either physical or in my head), everything else tends to be written in a very organic, natural style.

It’s so fun to see what happens and what develops as you’re filling in all the blanks. Ideas come to you for additional subplots and storylines, and people you intended as minor or secondary characters sometimes assume more importance. You never know what’s going to happen, so you keep an open mind.

A number of storylines in the sequel were never planned at all when I was gathering the bare bones outline in my head back in ’95, nor when I finally outlined it on paper in 2001. Like, secondary character Lena Yeltsina, a very young unwed mother who has a child (through rape) by villain Misha, gets a love story. Lyuba’s former friends Anya and Alya play a more prominent role in the story than I’d planned. The younger son in the Siberian family who saved the life of Lyuba’s stepsister Lyolya goes with her to America in 1928, and ends up falling for Lyuba’s next-youngest stepsister Natalya. Daniil Karmov, the vice-president of the iron factory union, has a love story with Lyuba’s stepsister Alla.

I’ve decided I’m going to use my Friday posts to talk about various writing topics—how to pick character names, fonts, third-person omniscient, tense and POV choices, why I’ve ultimately decided my kind of historical writing doesn’t really mesh with today’s concept of YA (even though many of my historicals are about young people), that sort of thing.

One thought on “ROW80 Update—Full Steam Ahead

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