Writing right with author Annaliese Avery
Annaliese Avery shares her top writing tips and tells us the unique method she used to decide characters’ fates in The Immortal Games.
The Immortal Games is out now.
I always say that the way you write is the way that is right for you. Now, it’s taken me a while to figure out my writing process and to embrace the fat that it is chaotic. Over the years I’ve tried to plan and plot my stories but that just doesn’t work for me. I’ve also realised that while I have a few things in my process that I always do there are also element to my writing that change from project to project, and that is fine. Actually, changing things up is great for me because I am a discovery writer – meaning that nothing gives me more joy than finding the story as I go.
When writing The Immortal Games I knew that there were some parts of my process that I would be leaning into, I’d be collecting ideas in my notebook as I went along and I’d be writing an initial draft zero of the story that I would discard once done – I always write an initial draft that I think of as me telling myself the story and then I write the first proper draft, which is me telling the story to the reader.
Now, I knew that this story we had the 12 gods of Olympus plus hades, and that one of them was the Games master setting out a game – an epic quest – for the Gods and their tokens to play. The tokens I knew would be individually selected by each of the Gods based on a few requirements: they had to be mortals, they had to be aged between 13 and 19 and they had to be born under the star sign that had been randomly allocated to that God.
I knew that in the story the Gods would be playing the game from Olympus, they would be looking down on the board of the world, moving their tokens about, rolling and die to do so. In a flash of inspiration, I decided to play the game for real as I wrote.
I ordered myself a set of D12 dice and one of them had all the signs of the zodiac on it. The first thing I rolled for was to see which God would end up with which star sign, then once that was done I created the characters of the tokens, drawing inspiration from astrology and the perceived traits of each sign. Then I set off, writing the story and playing the game.
Whenever the tokens faced a challenge in the quest I rolled the die to see how each of the them would fair – who would be victorious and who would suffer greatly. I wasn’t always happy with the will of the fates, there was a point when one of my favourite character’s symbol came up while facing the Psammophis Hydras (deadly triple headed sand snakes with venomous bites) and I decided to roll again only to find another of my favourite characters came up. It was then that I realised that I liked all my characters, and this was only going to get more difficult. I also realised that I was tempting fate, I was trying to cheat. The rules I had set up at the beginning of writing was that all rolls held, with the exception of my main character Ara.
Ara is eager to be selected by a God for The Immortal Games because her sister was a previous contestant in The Immortal Games and perished. Ara is out for revenge against Zeus she knows that the winner of the games is rewarded with anything that they ask for and Ara wants a weapon that is powerful enough to kill a God. However, when Ara is selected as the Token of Hades, ruler of the underworld and the only god never to win the games it looks like the fates are not on her side.
Actually, Ara’s symbol did come up on one of the trials and although she didn’t die she didn’t have a fun time either!
I however had the most fun writing The Immortal Games, at times I did feel that my unusual and chaotic writing process had ventured into the ridiculous, letting the story flow with the roll of a die, but actually it ended up being the perfect way to write Ara’s story.
So the right way to right is always the way that is right for you and your story, the way that inspires and motivates you and even if that’s not the way everyone else does it it’s the way that you do and that is perfect.