As you might have noticed the book has slowed down to a pitiful grind in recent weeks. In fact I think it might well have been around a month since I last put a word towards the thing at all. This is for a multitude of reasons, some of which will actually go into the nuts and bolts of the story so have a spoiler warning for something that doesn’t even fully exist yet if that kind of thing really bothers you.
It’s mainly been down to a moment of truth between two characters. The story has turned into something of a time slip. Half of the book is set ten years previously when the young girl actually went missing in the first place and the other half concentrates on her return a decade later. It’s been a bit of an effort to separate these two time lines and sometimes certain characters can have completely different opinions of each other within a few pages because we go into a new chapter and events have taken hold in the years between. I’ve made certain lengths to not put the same characters in joining chapters for this reason but it sometimes feels like I should because it would be best for the story.
There’s also the issue of giving correct signifiers of which time frame the story is in. I have buildings that thrive in the town of 2007 then crumble in 2017. There’s a cinema in the main street that two of the characters walk past in the earlier time line, it’s an empty husk by the time the modern events occur. I’m not sure if it actually makes any kind of difference and I think I might well be running out of examples to use. With this story originally being intended as a ninety minute film with minimal locations it’s becoming quite regular that I find myself describing somewhere I’ve already given details of a few chapters before.
The chapter I’m currently writing has the male police officer receive the report of the missing girl from her Mother. The Mother is obviously panic stricken so she spends the first few pages almost babbling at him. He’s the calm one, insisting that it’s probably nothing and they’ll find her fairly quickly. It’s two obvious, opposing ideologies at play and it should work better that it currently is. Reading it back now she just comes across as hysterical and he sounds like he doesn’t care.
I was reading something about police investigations on missing people and something really stuck with me. Apparently there is always a reason why somebody goes missing. Nobody just vanishes without a reason. The first thing investigators do rather than go out physically looking for the person in question is search their home/room/office/car so try and find something that would lead them to run away. With this in mind I have the police officer insisting on searching this girl’s room rather than go down to the harbour where she was last seen. Her Mother cannot see the point in all of this and protests as such.
But then the issues come up of what exactly would he find there? This girl has gone down to the beach, found an alien life form, had an alien parasite placed on her and then given back after ten years underwater. There’s really nothing he could possibly turn up under her bed that would lead to this conclusion. This begs the question of what the point of this part of the story is. I’ve written about 500-600 words on that chapter, looked at what I had so far and wanted to delete the whole thing. It’s the first time I’ve felt that way about anything I’ve written towards this story.
If I’m getting rid of this thread then I’ve found it really hard to think of what to replace it with. Do I just have them go down to the beach and scrap the more ‘realistic’ aspect of a police investigation? Would the mother refuse police help if she thought it wasn’t really going anywhere? Is it possible to make him come across as calm without making it sound like he doesn’t actually care about what happens to this girl? There’s a certain level of inconsistency at the moment as to why these characters are doing what they are doing which is undermining the whole thing.
Wider ranging questions have been brought up regarding the story also. Why exactly has the Mother come back ten years later? Does she seek closure? Does she seriously expect to find her daughter in the town she left? Is she chasing a much happier time in her life? Is she driven by a wish to change what happened in the aftermath of this event? When reading back the text so far she seems like she herself doesn’t truly know and it makes her sound less of a fully rounded character and more of a floating emotion minus heft and weight.
The current word count is halfway towards what I consider the finish line to be (as far as a first draft goes, they’ll be a heck of a lot of editing to do once I get there). I’m spending a lot of time looking back at what I have so far and wondering if it’s actually a worthwhile investment of time. All kinds of doubts have crept in and are starting to take root. This fundamental disconnect between two main characters is not helping matters.
There’s a way back in there somewhere and I’m glad in a way to have had some time away from it so I can view it from a much wider angle but time is ticking onwards. I started the book in March 2017 just before the clocks went forwards. Now I’m here, in October, with the clocks about to go back again and at the stage when I really thought I’d have a full draft by now. There’s a long winter ahead.