Whilst going through the last stages of this rewrite I’ve noticed a shift in a particular character has appeared almost out of nowhere. The decision will certainly have to be made soon as to if I carry on with this and be forced to alter everything that change affects or try and force it back to the original plan and limit the damage.
I’d image this is something all writers come across, let me explain the exact details.
In the very first plans of the book my alien being had landed on Earth after being separated from his cohorts in the skies above. He was part of a squadron who had been bombing other planets, rendering once glorious landscapes into flames and dust. When he hit Earth he found himself alone and without a clue of what to do. He was supposed to be a warrior without a war to fight and a large part of his story was him learning about this whilst trying to get back home. He was an aggressor but it was done only because that was his usual mode of operation and not because Earth had any particular plus points for his race. As a result of this his character was eerie, unpredictable and certainly not to be trusted.
The chapters I’ve written about planets burning are never really pinned as to who is on what side. As I’ve carried on I’ve noticed that I made this alien being really confused about life on Earth and how he goes about not being identified. It’s then led to another ‘what if’ idea.
What if, rather than him being part of this all dominating army, he was a victim of them instead? He’s not a warrior, he’s a refugee. This change has occurred somewhat naturally and has made him more interesting to write and far more three dimensional. He’s little bit more sympathetic as well.
The second option would involve a lot more work as it means rewiring the end few chapters a fair bit and possibly adding a few more section so his background is made a lot clearer but it’s probably going to be better in the long run.
It was experiment time.
My wife is a nurse so she’s been going to work during all of the Coronavirus pandemic happenings. This means that I’m at home as much as possible with our son, the dog and the cat. Without any kind of routine in place it can mean that both the humans in the house end up watching Youtube all day. In order to combat this we ended up doing a lot of work for our joint video games blog site. It’s been a lot of fun so far with us reviewing games and talking about what we’re playing during the lockdown. It has taken away from the book writing time though and I thought I’d try to get that sorted tonight.
After dinner I thought I’d sit and blast through for just one hour between 8 and 9.I didn’t set a word count or say I was going to do ‘X chapter’. I just started editing and rewriting.
I got a fair piece of it done this way and it might be good to do this going forwards if I don’t get a chance to sit and write all day.
Is this something anybody else has tried?
I haven’t really found somewhere to write in the new house yet. At the moment I’m sat at the kitchen table which is very much a similar idea to the breakfast bar in the old place. There’s a sunroom next door but, being January and about 3c outside, that’s not the most comfortable place to sit right now.
I opened up the file for the book today for the first time in what seemed like weeks. Word tells me that the last time I did anything with it was October 20th last year. Even the small bubble on the sidebar that usually takes me straight to the point when I had stopped before had given up. I was back at page one, chapter one having to scroll down to find it. November was taking up with house moving, December was Christmas and some vague sense of normality has returned in time for mid January. My writing momentum has been shot though and trying to get started today proved something of a nightmare.
There isn’t that much further to go though and this version of the book will be done.
I haven’t vanished to be never seen again. I have done something that feels like that by moving house. We’ve been in the new place for about four weeks now and most of the boxes are away but some remain resolute in the corner of the spare room.
Our old house was on the market since March so the need to find a buyer has been hanging around all that time. I’m very glad to see the back of it.
No sooner did we have something resembling order of things then Christmas had to be prepared for. Writing has been pushed aside for a while. I’ve also yet to pick somewhere in the new place to sit and write. The previous house just had a view of the surrounding homes, this one has a hill at the back where the sun sets.
In the new year we resume.
Morag has been too compliant.
It’s taken me weeks to rewrite this chapter. Perhaps it’s because writing opportunities have been a little bit limited recently with a house move imminent. Maybe it’s the fact that this was the chapter where Mother and Daughter meet again for the first time in a decade and it was always going to be emotionally heavy. I think I spent a lot of time running from this one, unsure of where to go with it and what to do once I got there.
In the first draft Anne (the daughter) found her Mother Morag in staying in the local bed and breakfast. I had a lovely scene in which, after the initial shock, they bonded together like nothing had happened and went on the merry way to finding our police officer and telling him that everything is okay now thank youverymuchthere’sreallynoproblem.
This is of course trash. Grade A, stinking trash.
Morag’s entire character just whisps along with everything placed before her and this exchange just underlined such behaviour. She runs away from the town in the first place because she feels everybody has turned against her and only returns when she assumes most of the residents will be senile or dead. Bar one scene in which she punches the first person to suggest she killed her own daughter Morag displays nothing of any kind of backbone.
So here’s the first major plot change in this draft. Rather than skip off out of the breakfast room of a fishing town B&B Morag does not believe the girl in front of her is her daughter. I’m building it up to the moment with some nice daytime soap opera stuff and then breaking it at the last possible second before ending the chapter there.
And by the gods it felt good.
Anybody else find that time seems to shift much faster when they’re trying to write?
After going to the supermarket this morning to get some food shopping I’ve been sat in my kitchen since around 11am trying to get some more of the book rewrite done. It’s 4pm now and I cannot really fathom where that time has gone. I’m consoling myself with the fact that the small progress bar down the side of the screen is firmly at the 75-80% mark. It’s getting done, just not maybe that fast.
I think one of the main methods I’m using right now is to keep another tab open alongside the text file of the book so I can flit to that and write something else if I feel progress is grinding. Today the reserve writing project was a game review so I’ve been darting back and forth between ‘aliens in Scotland’ and ‘The Legend Of Zelda’. Oddly it works okay.
I think I’m starting to go back over all the bits in the book that I patched over the first time around. There’s also he recurring problem of this story originally being thought out as a low budget film. I’m still using the same four or five real world location and not really appreciating that I can go absolutely anywhere when I’m just writing it as a book.
A fine example was today’s chapter in which my missing girl, who has returned to her home town after ten years, is trying to track down her Mother. In this first run through I’ve had her bumping into a random character who isn’t named and is never seen again. All he ends up doing is telling her where her Mother might be. It’s awful, clunky and seriously needed to be chopped out.
Considering she has something of a alien power about her now I’ve made her warp through memories of some distant planet just before it is destroyed completely before she is able to find her Mother by having a natural link to her regardless. It’s a chance to put in all the strange stuff I wanted to and to move away from the ‘real world’ descriptions that have been in there a fair bit now.
I’ve discovered I really like going crazy with the mad alien stuff.
As a side note I’ll hopefully get this draft done by Christmas. It seems strange to be talking about the end of the year in September though.
I’m still thinking about other, smaller writing projects I could do after completing this draft of the book. One of the slightly more off the wall ideas was wanting to do some live poetry. Perhaps it was a reaction to spending the last two and a half years just working on a book alone that makes me want to do shorter writing passages and perform them to get a real time audience reaction. Whatever the reason it went down on the list I made during the glitch I was having last month.
The slight problem is that I’ve always been terrible at poetry. This is something I’ll certainly have to overcome.
I’ll go on Youtube and just type the word ‘poetry’ and it comes up with some wonderful examples of the craft which are all very thought provoking and good to listen to. Anything I try and write never seems to get beyond the ;thrown together words’ part.
There’s a spoken word night every month in Dumfries at The Stove Network which might be a good idea to do. This might only be a viable option if I’m actually able to write something I’m happy with though.
Which may take a while.
There’s a feature on Microsoft Word that has become something of my nemesis. It’s the marker that pops up when you restart a document and it asks you if you want to go back to where you left off. Usually it gives the date when you last touched it. This morning this confirmed I hadn’t done anything with the book since July 3rd.
So cheers for that.
I did manage to get two chapters down today though but not quite to the levels of which I’m happy with it. One of my characters seems to suddenly be behaving the opposite way to how he’s been operating from the start. My police officer has a house that’s a bit of a mess, I’ve gone into plenty detail describing how his kitchen isn’t in the least bit organised. As part of the story though he’s put on his uniform and is being a stickler for procedure. I can’t decide if this is okay or not. I’m running with the fact that there will be plenty of people who will be organised in their jobs but a complete mess at home.
At least for now.
It was going fairly well. At one point in the first week of July I was rewriting a chapter each day. Then I got into a complete funk for a few days in which I wasn’t in the mood for anything other than watching Chill With Bob Ross with the lights off. Battling through this book was off the agenda because it felt exactly that, an uphill battle with no guarantee of anything at the end of it. Whatever it was it gnawed a big hole in my confidence.
I bought more notepads the other day. I probably didn’t need anymore but I wanted to write some stuff in my biggest notepad and found some written stuff from around 2009. It was a ten year echo from what felt like another dimension. There were notes about sending emails to people I can no longer recall, scripts that were dead ended long ago and half finished character profiles. I didn’t want to write anything else in that book as it just felt like adding to previous failures. A fresh one has a better outlook.
I’m thinking I might start working on a couple of short stories just to have an outlet that won’t be a massive fifty thousand word mess. It might prove to be a stupid idea in the long term as it’ll take even longer to get the book done but when was I ever in a rush?