The Awkward Conversations

A blast through the book today with the awareness in the back of my mind that the schools are off for the next two weeks as of today so therefore getting anything done in the daytime might be really difficult with my son being around. I’m not a big fan of just ignoring him whilst he does his own stuff.

This does mean that I’ve got 1000 words done today and this takes the total up to 8052. This featured the first meeting (as far as the actual plot goes) of the Mother of the missing girl and the town police officer. It’s a reunion of sorts as both characters meet for the first time in ten years and after the investigation into the daughter’s disappearance turned up no body. She went missing on the beach by the town so it’s always been assumed that she was swept out to sea never to return.

I always knew I was going to find this bit slightly awkward as these characters have a fair bit of friction going on. On the night of the search the police officer told the Mother that he find her daughter. She still holds him to these words. There is a moment in their conversation when she softens a bit when they begin to talk about her daughter as a person and not as a missing case file and I’m not sure if this represents far too much of a mood swing for her. I was also unsure of what the police officer’s first line should be. It was hardly going to be something like “Hey, long time no see! Whatcha been doing?”. In a way, this fumbling around was perfect as it exactly replicated how his character was feeling about it as well. In the end I (and he) went for a simple “Hello” which is initially met with a stony silence.

He also expressed a concern at one point that they should both ‘get out of this wind and go to McDuffs for a coffee’. It’s a completely, on the spot line I made up and I’ve given a coffee joint the most stereotypical Scottish name ever but it might end up being a whole new location in the story. These two characters might well end up going for a McDuffs coffee real soon. I’m picturing it as one of those seaside resort places in the UK that tries and fails to replicate an American diner. The decor won’t have been updated since the 80’s, the jukebox will still have vinyl records in it and the price list will be on one f those black plastic boards where you pinned the white lettering into.

Sounds bloody great actually.

Shoulder Blades

I didn’t stop at 800 words. This is a very good thing.

Monday night is trampoline night. For the last couple of weeks I’ve taken my son to the local trampoline park so he can bounce around for a bit. Parents are actively encourage to join in. I’ve discovered in this time that bouncing around for an hour kills off my shoulders the day after so I’ll be looking forward to that tomorrow.

I left my computer on whilst we were away though which meant it was really easy to get going again once we were back home. I’m up to 7151 words. It actually doesn’t sound like much but I’m approaching the same word count I had for my Media Studies dissertation about 13 years ago. I recall that feeling like swimming through treacle at the time. Once I break 10k I’ll be over the moon with glee.

I never got around to sorting out the Doctor Who DVD collection.


Natural Gaps

A good blast at the book this morning makes up for the disappointment of last night with around 800 words down. I think I’ve worked out that I can’t really be one of those writers who is sat at their desk ready to go at an early time of morning. I dropped my son off at school this morning and then met my Mum outside. This resulted in walking back to my parent’s house to have a cup of coffee with her and catch up. I then walked back to my house (about ten minutes across a field) before thinking I needed to put a load of washing on as the weather is actually quite good today.

Only then, at around 11am did I get sat down and blast through some writing. I hit something of an unplanned chapter break in proceedings. The part I was currently writing involved the local police officer who was in charge of the search for our missing girl ten years beforehand. He still lives in the town and is having a conversation outside his house about the rumour going around town that the girl’s mother has returned. I was going to have him then bike down to the beach before having an entire conversation between these two main characters mostly from his point of view. Having him leave the company of the local town gossip though just felt like it was a natural end to the chapter. He knows where the mother might be so is about to set off. Starting the next chapter from her point of view as she walks across the beach feels a lot better. The police officer will come into view in a short while and then they can have the talk they were always going to have. It means chapter four is a fairly short one but there’s not really any harm in that.

Having done a fairly decent word count today I’m thinking I’d better get on with other jobs around the house. There’s hoovering to do and my Doctor Who DVD collection is currently well out of the usual broadcast date order.

Look! They’re all over the damn place!

Also lunch…

Food is important.

Revelling In Carnage

After getting around 1000 words done on Thursday the weekend itself has been a bit of a grind. I gave it a rest on Friday as a result of the good result the day before. I never got around to doing anything with it on Saturday and tonight I’ve only managed to get around 250 words done. By the time Tuesday rolls around I had been hoping to get to the 7500 word mark which would be 10% of the overall target. It may still happen but it’ll take a fair bit more effort on my part.

I’ve become a little obsessed with word counts overall actually. How many words make a ‘book’? At one stage can it be considered a fully weighted, all grown up novel? I went for 75,000 because that’s the rough word count for the first Harry Potter book. Googling ‘Word Count For Famous Novels’ does give some surprise results. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory clocks in at 30,644 but I suppose that can be filed under a children’s book so the lower word count would be acceptable. Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5 weighs in at 49,459 which seems strangely minimal for a book considered a great classic.  Lord of the Flies stops at just under the 60,000.

The more I think about it the more I reckon I’m probably placing too much emphasis on this whole thing. Perhaps the story is done when the story is done.


The Transition

Remember what I was talking about earlier? The ending of Chapter 3 and the start of the 4th? Well I couldn’t cut and paste them at that time because I was away from my computer but here they are for you know, raw as hell, full of mistakes and completely first draft and therefore really shaky. There will probably be spelling and grammar errors in this as well but I’ve spent an entire day staring at it so it’s all blended into one for me.

To get you up to speed, ten year old girl is walking home and has found what she initially thinks might be a human on the beach who seems to be struggling. She’s slowly got closer for a better look and the thing has grabbed her.

Do you need help?” she asked as she leaned forwards. It tried to move again but only managed a small lurch forwards. Plucking up the courage to move forward Anne held out a hand. “You probably need to move from here, the tide will be coming in soon”. The creature looked up to see Anne’s outstretched arm then, with a whip like quickness, the elongated fingers grew outwards and wrapped themselves around her ankle. They constricted as Anne lost her balance and crashed towards the surface of the sands. Tiny thorns on each of the appendages dug into her skin, drawing blood. Anne hammered her closed fist down into the arm, chunks of the wooden flesh snapped off but the grip remained tight. Before long the creature had raised its other arms which wrapped around Anne’s shoulders. With a heave she started to be dragged towards the creature. Anne screamed for help as loud as she possibly could yet there was nobody around.

The creatures slithered towards the sea with Anne still on tow. She kicked as best she could as the sea foam washed up around her legs. Within seconds her assailant had vanished into the waters. Anne took a final gulp of air as her head went under too. The sound of the seagulls flying overhead became muffled and then fell silent. As she was pulled further in the sunlight faded, giving way to the darkness.

Which then links straight into…

Chapter 4

Jamie looked down at the body. There was a gaping hole where the ribcage used to be. The neck was twisted around to such a degree that the head was almost facing the wrong way entirely. Droplets of blood were splattered across the face and all the way down to the feet. The eyes had been scratched leaving only wounds where the sockets should have been.

The feathers lay everywhere. The beak was missing.

The cat perched on top of the fence pole, licking its paw before rubbing behind the ears. It thought little of Jamie’s attitude towards the carcass on his front door step.

Are you quite finished with this?” he shouted across his garden, pointing towards the ground. The cat looked at him, narrowed his eyes and jumped off the fence to wander away.

Does that work? The bird death becomes a little more important later on, I’m trying not to just make it a throw away thing just to open a chapter. Perhaps the jump between child death and bird killing is a little too trivial.

Maybe I’m worried about stupid details far too early in this process?

Film, Food And All Things Wild.

I’ve never really written a full book before. I say ‘never really’ because I did manage to write a full book whilst in primary school. It was a breathless, full of action scenes, spy caper in which the final battle took place on jet packs. From what I recall it was appalling and lacked any character depth whatsoever but I managed to finish the thing regardless quite simply because I was oblivious to any criticism at the time.

Another small point to consider is (and I always feel a little ashamed to admit this) that I don’t read that many books. My wife will probably read two or three books a month. She’ll sit up before bed with the light on reading. For me though it’s the competition they have with video games. If a book grabs me straight away then I have no problem finishing it. ‘American Gods‘ by Neil Gaiman was initially daunting for me as it clocks in at over 400 pages. I honestly thought I’d have to give in after the first two chapters. Luckily American Gods is, as we say in Scotland, an absolute belter and I carried the book around with me for weeks, reading a few pages here and there. I got to the end in about three weeks. The same thing happened with ‘The Damned United‘ by David Peace, a fantastic book about Brian Clough’s 45 day reign as the manager of Leeds United Football Club in the 70’s.

In short, I don’t have much basis for reference when books are concerned. I spent my youth watching movies and playing games.

This also means that there are parts of this process when I want to do things with the writing that I’m not sure work in a book format.

The latest example occurred today whilst writing the next chunk. I’m now reaching the end of Chapter 3 and it’s the moment the young girl goes missing. Whilst walking down the beach next to the town she finds, crumpled in a heap, the alien life form that landed in the water a few months previous. This being ends up dragging her into the water where she remains for the next ten years. In effect I’m describing her death yet it won’t be her final days as she’ll come back to the town later.

The start of Chapter 4 will see our police officer walk out of his house in the present day. His cat has killed a bird which sits on the front door step. I was going to open the chapter by describing the carcass but waiting a few sentences before saying anything about beaks or feathers. Essentially I want it to be a continual description of the two linking the two chapters together, like when movies cut between similar subject matter for two adjoining scenes.

I’m just not sure this works in the context or if I’m mistaken for thinking this will be a neat trick. Will it actually add anything to the story overall?

I’ve done the 500 words today but I’ll probably try and write a little bit more tonight just to make up for the last couple of evenings spent on the Playstation. I might cut and paste it and post it on here so you can see what I mean.

The Sleep Of The Just

It’s 11:16pm, I’ve been at work today and I’ll be back there tomorrow. It’s dark outside and the sky keeps spitting hailstones down. The cat has only just worked out that inside might be good yet he’ll probably want back out around 3am. After getting my Son to bed tonight it was around 9:30. I ended up watching some video game related stuff on Youtube. Around 10pm I figured I’d fallen into to rabbit hole and I’d spend the rest of the night watching combat tutorials for ‘Zelda-Breath Of The Wild’.

I opened the file for the book figuring that even writing one sentence was still progress. As of a few seconds ago I’d done the usual 500 word chunk. Victory from the jaws of procrastination!

Keep the train rolling.

Tug Of Love Baby Eaten By Cows

4505 words.

Not a mighty total, nothing to get greatly worked up about and certainly far less than many others have perhaps done in a similar time. My only yardstick is that I can sometimes write pro wrestling reports n a day that knock on the 5000 word mark but for those I’m just detailing what has happened not making it up as I go along. By the end of this chapter each character will have had a little bit of the limelight, we’ll have had nearly all of the locations, one of the chapters will have been the first flashback of the collection and we’ll have had our first instance of something ‘not of this Earth’ happening in the water around the town. For this reason we can leave behind a lot of the clunk and just get on with telling the story. After this point we start to clank these characters together and see if they can rub each other up the wrong way.

The strange thing about the last couple of weeks doing this is that it’s become something of a small scale addiction. I’m not yet seeing the book as ‘work’ more just having fun with it and therefore I’ve been wanting to do it. As a result of this I’ve felt far more comfortable with the tag of ‘writer’. How often, when describing yourself as that, does it feel slightly stupid? It feels like something you just dabble in, like you have no right actually comparing yourself to anybody that does this for a living. Well this past two weeks I’ve been writing, taking it seriously and getting some progress out of it.

And it’s felt great.


Honorable Viking Blood

I’ve been going just over a week and I’ve hit the end of Chapter 2 (which is really weak and needs filled out a bit come editing/rewrite time). It’s also standing at 4000 words. That’s about 5% of the overall aim for a final word count. I’m not sure if that’s good process or not but it’s process anyway so I might as well take that. At this rate it’ll be 20 weeks until I get the full thing going, just under six months.

Chapter 3 is the first flashback. I’m rewinding ten years into the past to the night of the young girl’s disappearance. I’ll be breaking up the running order with these chapters every once in a while. I’ve tried to make it a rule to not write ‘2007’ across these pages so I’ve been looking for other indicators of the time difference. In my opening chapter the Mother returns to the town after ten years away and she notices the cinema has fallen in disrepair. In this chapter, which is the introduction to her daughter, the cinema is fully lit and accepting customers.

It’s now occurred to me that I’m trying to write with the point of view of a ten year old girl. I originally picked that age because my son is ten years old so I would be used to the language and the concerns. I actually deleted the first few lines I kicked off the chapter with because she was asking her Mother for money so she can go to the shop for sweets. It made her sound needy and a pain in the arse to be honest. Now she’s turning out her piggy bank and finding she has enough. She’ll probably still argue with her Mum about something before she leaves the house though.

Anybody else struggle with writing for people different ages to them? Do let me know in the comments below.