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.
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.
Well, I didn’t get anything done last night as far as the book went because I was in town during the day trading in some old video games. It gave me £55 to spend on new stuff so I bought Yakuza 0. Essentially I spent last night slugging it out with muggers on Japanese streets. It was fantastic but didn’t get me anywhere with this story.
So tonight I thought I’d blast it through between 8-9pm and see what happened. As it turned out I got 500 words done. We’re deep into Chapter 2 now (that should have been Chapter 3, keep up) and it’s the first point during this book that I’m writing something thinking I’m certainly going back to change it later. It’s the introduction of my local police officer who headed up the original investigation into the girl’s disappearance ten years ago. He comes across as a complete tool right now, far too removed from everything like he doesn’t care. His opening action is to go to the local shop and buy cigarettes which is probably a really boring thing for a character to be doing.
It’s probably a good thing that I’ve already identified something about the book that’ll change later on. As with the scripts in the past I’d be more worried if I was getting to this point thinking it was all brilliant.
Into Chapter 2, breaking the 3000 word mark as we go. I didn’t look at my chapter running order before I started this one. Only referring back to it tonight revealed I’ve begun what should be Chapter 3. Maybe this order just felt more natural and I was subliminally telling myself that.
There’s a fair bit of settling in to do currently. Mostly it’s all concerned with Character A, then the next chapter will be introducing B. There’s no real interaction between anybody right now but it’s coming.
No words today.
I have an excuse though, today was my 36th birthday and my evening after work was spent watching a movie with my wife and son. We went out for a meal last night too.
The book stands at the end of Chapter 1 and needs an opening line for the second. I was thinking about that all day today. Once I get home from work tomorrow I’ll have worked something out.
Over the last couple of days I’ve pretty much been writing in 500 words chunks. I’d like to be able to be the type of guy who blasts out 5000 words a day but with work, family and needing to have some free time to do stuff to chill out it’s probably much better this way. I’ve added another 500 words today which has taken me to the end of Chapter 1!
Cue small fireworks display.
It still reads a little bit too jokey at the moment but I’m not sure if I’ll tone it down. There’s a final line which brings us right back to the ground with a bump as it reveals the reason why my main character has gone back to her home town after a decade of absence. I’ve spent a lot of the time beforehand describing the terribly ran Bed and Breakfast house she finds herself staying in. The taxi driver who brings her there and the owner of the house are almost comedy characters who won’t really be taking much more of a part in the grand scheme of things than this so perhaps it’ll be fine. It just seems odd to be talking about the broken grandfather clock in the hall one moment and then mentioning the fact her daughter went missing and never returned in the town ten years before. Maybe it’s a little too much of a culture shift, maybe it sets a nice contrast.
You may also have noticed I’m updating this blog a bit more as a result. I’m mainly using it for cooling down after having an hour’s blast at the book. It’s working quite well at the moment I think.
There are sometimes those moments when you realise progress has been made but it wasn’t obvious until now. Today I was asked about the book’s plot. A workmate wanted to know what he might be letting himself in for.
I kept it fairly brief, giving him the first few beats. As I was speaking it dawned on me that I was talking about this story in a confident manner. There were no ‘and then something happens but I’m not sure what yet’. It felt fantastic, especially as before I’d have said it wasn’t ready. An unofficial, relaxed pitch session has told me it bloody well is.
This story is tired of waiting for me.
So let’s get to it.
For absolute curiosity I typed ‘How to plan a novel’ into Google and the first thing it chucks back at me is The Snowflake Method. Despite being aware of the current negative use of the word ‘snowflake’ on the internet I read the article through. It’s actually provided me with a lot to think about whilst getting the structure together for the novel.
For those not wanting to go through the full depths of the link above the basic method is to start with a fifteen word sentence about your story and then work outwards. Taking each section of expanding it bit by bit until it grows and fills any gaps you may have had to begin with. It’s apparently the same method as writing software programmes. I can only imagine the bug testing that might have to go on afterwards though.
The start of the process, writing the one sentence summary of your story, took me about three attempts until I got something that I felt comfortable with. For the last couple of nights I’ve been writing up the three main characters. Having a full page in a notebook with their goals and obstacles clearly marked is something of an eye opener. Once again I fear I’ve fallen into my trap of having a cracking premise for an opening but not really knowing how to end it all in a satisfactory manner. I’m knocking through it though, there’s certainly something there.