Today, I want to share a guest post I once penned for author J. Scott Sharp.
The Best Laid Plans
Today, I’d like to speak about plans that don’t quite work out … as planned.
Before focusing on writing, I spent fifteen years working for a global pharmaceutical company. The last dozen years were spent in training and development efforts. One of the most important concepts I learned during my professional career had to do with understanding the difference between intent and impact. It’s a critical component of leading effectively, although one needn’t be in a leadership position to benefit from understanding it.
The basic premise is simple: when it comes to actions and behaviors, there can be a wide gap between an individual’s intent and the impact of that individual’s actions or behaviors.
For instance: person A shares a joke with person B. While person A’s intent may be to share something humorous … the impact on person B can be quite different; he/she might be humored, but might also be offended, angered, sickened, etc.
We see it all the time around us, whenever a public figure says something that unexpectedly creates a firestorm of controversy. Part of that person’s apology typically includes the rationale that he/she never intended anything negative.
Of course, this concept of intent vs. impact doesn’t have to include something as noteworthy as a public faux pas. It can happen in other, less visible, yet equally unexpected ways.
I’m dealing with the outcome of it right now.
When I wrote the first draft of what would eventually become Væmpires: Revolution, my story was much different. Entitled Hunted: Væmpire’s End, Book 1, the tale was set more than a decade later, in a world where the væmpire revolution was long over. The victorious væmpires had eliminated humans and were systematically killing off all vampires. The protagonist, Daniel, led a ragtag team of vampires against the væmpire overlords, while searching for his long lost love, Cassie. Cassie had been captured by the antagonist, Vielyn, on the day of the uprising and had never been heard from again. Daniel’s best friends, Linq and Ray, were mentioned as having been killed many years earlier, during the early part of the war.
The book had so much backstory that my editor urged me to begin at an earlier time. Thus, I set the second draft five years after the revolution. Daniel was again the protagonist—this time he was part of an official rebellion—and he led an assault team on an incursion into the væmpire-held capital. No surprise: he was looking for information on the whereabouts of Cassie. His team included Linq and Ray, neither of whom survived the novel’s final battle.
In both drafts, Cassie was briefly glimpsed in a prologue in which she was taken prisoner by Vielyn.
Now, in draft three, my intent was simple: expand the prologue a bit and clean up the rest of the novel. Unexpectedly, the prologue kept growing and growing—becoming much too long to be a prologue and eventually becoming the entire first book of the series, Væmpires: Revolution. In this book, Daniel and Cassie shared the spotlight, while Linq and Ray played supporting roles.
I released Væmpires: Revolution and then quickly followed it with Væmpires: White Christmas, a novella prelude that offered a glimpse at life before the revolution. I spent some time supporting the releases with book tours and other promo activities, before returning to the business of writing.
I sat down to write book two, fully intending to return to my original storyline. It would take place five years after the revolution, with a cast of previously developed, but not yet introduced characters.
And that is where intent vs. impact occurred.
You see; I didn’t anticipate Cassie becoming such a hit with readers. I didn’t anticipate Linq and Ray having fans, either. I had been so focused on my own intentions that I failed to consider the potential impact.
Luckily, it wasn’t a situation that required a public apology or some other form of damage control. It did, however, require some major rethinking, reorganizing, re-planning, and otherwise general scrambling on my part.
The good news is that Væmpires: Zombie Rising, the first step on my road to recovery, is complete and will be released in October.
The bad news is that intent vs. impact is bound to derail me again … when I least expect it. It’s often said that forewarned is forearmed, but I’m not convinced. Either that, or I’m a slow learner.
Nevertheless, I vow to enjoy the journey. I hope you’ll join me.
Posted on Wed, February 19, 2014
by Thomas Winship filed under