I’m not that far up the writing career ladder but I think it’s still important that writers give support to others when the time comes. With that in mind I bring you some local news of a retired policeman from Dumfries and Galloway publishing his first children’s book.
‘Community Cop Colin: Keeping Safe’ by Martin Greenlees is published on the 28th of July and follows the story of two friends, Libby and Connor, who get separated from their Mothers whilst out shopping. The pair remember the community police officer who visited their school and told them to always think of the word ‘Uniform’. The search begins to find a safe stranger to help them become reunited with their worried Mothers.
The book is a really good way of encouraging kids to stay safe and to understand that the community police officers are there to help them.
The book can be purchased from Amazon and Waterstones.
Each night, if the mood takes me, I’ll sit down with a big pad of paper and my laptop and work through the current version of the book chapter by chapter to see how it’s working. The disadvantage to pressing on with any rewrite and never looking back or stopping is that some of the ideas contained in the early going have since been scrapped completely later on and now mean nothing.
There has been one instance of removing a sentence in one chapter which felt like an easy decision only to find that it means that half of the next chapter is now redundant.
It’s has shaken me a little bit. Whilst the hardest part is done and I no longer have to deal with any blank pages it does mean that I’m discovering all the bugs. Certain characters change mindset on a dime right now and it’s those sort of problems I’m trying to iron out.
Momentum is important though.
Does anybody else start a brand new, blank file when doing another rewrite? I don’t like going back into the original and just changing everything about on there. Instead I’ll use a fresh file and just cut and paste chapter by chapter. That way the progress is obvious.
I’ve yet to sit down and go through the latest draft bit by bit and work out what’s staying and what is hitting the road. My last blog entry detailed how I’d rewritten the first chapter. I then followed up with the second one being polished up a little. I don’t think I can go much further without sitting down with my laptop, pad and pen and then working out what each part is supposed to do and how well it actually does it. Once that’s done I can crack on with this (hopefully much easier) rewrite. After that I think it may actually be readable to the outside world.
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?
A few months ago I found myself wishing that the world would just stop for a bit so I could find the time to get this draft of the book finished. The original March 4th deadline aim had completely gone by and progress was scrappy again.
Then the world suddenly stopped, the government told everybody to remain indoors as much as they can and my work sent me home for the next six weeks on full pay.
If I can’t get it done now then it’s really pretty hopeless isn’t it?
I’m down to the last twenty or so pages as of today anyway. Once that’s done it’ll be going through each chapter and polishing it up as far as dialogue goes and seeing if at all hangs together okay. At the moment the engine is in place, the body work has nearly done being put on top but the paintwork needs a going over.
Nearly there though.
Scanning down my Twitter feed (@cripleh if you’re interested) I see that’s it’s just over one year since I started this rewrite of the book. I reached the middle of Chapter 27 today, there are 36 in total and I’m thinking we’re on the home stretch.
The home stretch of this lap anyway.
I’m getting back to the parts I patched together though. The chucked in, nonsense, half baked stuff that is really just there as a place holder until something better comes along. Now is the time for that ‘something better’ and it involves a lot of rewiring. It’s a tough thing because now I’m reading parts back and asking myself if I’d be happy reading this out aloud in front of people. I have an odd dream of being at a book event, one of those ‘Meet The Author’ things and being asked to read a section to the gathered audience. Currently there isn’t really a stretch in the book that I could do that with confidence. I’m aiming to sort that out on the next spin around though. This turn is all about getting the plot in the right order and the right pace. All the colour comes next and then we might have something approaching a readable story.
The aim is to have this run through done by Christmas and then possibly have the next finished by March 2020 which would mark three years since I started it.
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.
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.
Three weeks off wasn’t something that I intended to happen but it did. Upon reaching the halfway point in the second rewrite I just seemed to have stopped dead and through various reasons I haven’t been able to get back to it until the last couple of days.
There have been a couple of changes that seemed small on the surface but have caused a few ripples to turn into waves throughout the wider story. It’s been a problem having to delete entire chapters from the middle of the book and rebuild them from scratch. It makes it feel a bit like walking through treacle again and this was the reason the writing shut down in the summer of 2017 during the first draft.
I’m starting to warm it up again bit by bit to avoid that complete shutdown again. It’s just about working but some chapters I’ll have to come back to later and fill out.
Have you ever done that thing when you spend an hour rewriting a chapter and getting everything in the right order before realising that you might just be better off dumping the whole thing in the bin as it’s incredibly dull?
I just have.
A chapter having the Mother in this story return to her old house in the dilapidated state it’s in seemed like a cracking idea but even after some cleaning out it still reads horribly. It’s also the second chapter in a row with no dialogue of any kind either. Added to this it really doesn’t help my problem of having this character do nothing but mope around the town by having her mope around a house instead.
It’s standing at the moment but I might get rid of the thing.