Playing In Coventry

I don’t think I’m a very morning writer.

Everybody else had left the house this morning by about 9am. I went for a shower, got something to eat, put some washing in the machine and then sat in front of my computer ready to go. I was then overcome with the feeling that if I started now then I’d be here all day and I wouldn’t have really moved from this spot. I stared at my screen for a few moments, put my jacket on and walked to the local coffee shop for a cappuccino. I was gone for about an hour before returning and rewriting another chapter.

The question I’d have is what exactly do other writers work on first during the initial rewrite? I’m currently more concerned with structure rather than any of the finer details. These first few chapters contain all of the character introductions as well and because I have a better idea where they end up it’s much easier to give them a better introduction. There is still some awkward  dialogue going on but I’ll be going back and cleaning that up later.

For now though progress is good and there’s certainly a book emerging from all of this.

She Makes Good Shortbread

Observation so far.

It’s a hell of a lot easier taking blocks of text from the old draft file, pasting them into the lovely new one (that actually has a spell checker) and then cleaning them up from there rather than trying to come up with something from scratch. The blank screen is still there but with a couple of clicks you’re thinking that three thousand words have just landed and now you’ve just got to pick through them.

To be honest the opening chapter is…not that bad actually. It’s clear that I was rushing headlong into this story at the time of writing and wasn’t worried about story structure, word counts or themes yet. It’s pure and simply an introduction to one main character and her reactions to a town she used to know. Much like my alien the actual town itself didn’t have a name in the opening of draft one but it does now. I’m trying to make the effort to put as much of my small town Scotland experience into the town of Auldrigg. Reading parts of the initial rewrite now I imagine my Mum reading it and getting where all the references come from.

How Not To Use A Jetpack

I was really worried that I was falling into the same rut I did last year. It seemed to take me ages to get started on this rewrite and considiring that last year the entire thing ground to a halt when the clocks went back there was a certain concern the same thing was going to happen.

But I’m back up and running now , starting with the prologue. Yes, the same prologue that might be cut completely in the end yet for now it stays. It’s probably a good starting point to settle in though seeing as the original version is only 200 words long.

Here’s the original version from draft one.

From the ground, staring up into the cold night’s sky, it could be mistaken for a rock. From the dark space above it had drifted into Earth’s pull and had begun the journey towards the surface. The heat of the atmosphere had begun to scorch the outer shell causing the blistering flames that left their own mark. It had completely succumbed to gravity once it had passed through the cloud cover. What minutes ago had been a large orb floating in a cold nothing now had patches of green separated by open blue.

Closer still and the mountains came into view with their white summits. The wind whistled around the rock. Small lights took form, some stationary and yet some moving in pairs. The moon hung high in the sky bathing the planet in a cold blue light.

The rock completed the last part of the descent within a few seconds. Splashing through the surface of the water it slowed before gently settling on the bed of the loch. The last remaining heat in the shell fizzed through the cool waters. The ripples of water on the surface spanned outwards, touching the harbour before gently lapping against the wall. The boats bobbed slightly before returning to their still silence.

Yet nobody noticed.

Urrggghhhh…

It’s horrible isn’t it?

I wrote this eighteen months ago and it’s pretty obvious that I just wanted this bit out of the way so I could get on with introducing characters and the main parts of the story. The description of entering the atmosphere is probably lifted from the relevant sequence in No Man’s Sky on the Playstation 4. Also, there’s no reference to the character who is aboard this craft at all simply because I had no idea what it looked like at the time nor what name it was going to get if any.

True fact, when I first came around to deciding how my alien would look I imagined him being like a tree with bark all over him. I was pleased as anything with this for about half a day until I was having dinner that evening and realised that I was imagining Groot from Guardian of the Galaxy. Changes have been made, I have no desire for Marvel’s legal team to pay me a visit.

That final line is trash as well. If nobody noticed it then who the hell is describing all this?

Anyway, here’s the second draft rewrite. Be warned that I haven’t had a chance to spell check this yet so there’s probably something really obviously wrong with it that I’m missing.

Never leave the legion.

As control was lost and systems readouts began to fade from the central command console those words set themselves to repeat in Pilot’s head. He and everybody else around him had always been told that you flew alongside all the others until either victory had been achieved or death had come for you. You did not leave the legion.

Pilot had lined up alongside near a thousand others in a battle formation. The gargantuan battlecruisers of the enemy had floated into view and the command had come through to remain firm. A huge ray had burst out, carved its way through the black space and torn through half of the ships positioned to Pilot’s side. For the first time in his entire life Pilot had felt what he had been told was fear. As a vast section of other ships had burnt out and fell from view he had taken the opportunity to flee. He had no idea where he was going just as long as it was far away from this battle.

He hadn’t got too far until the garbled messages from his command unit began. He’d only got slightly further when they’d cut his engine and life support. If the enemy didn’t kill you then they’d make sure they did the job themselves. He clicked on every single part of the panel in front of him with his white, plated fingers but nothing was operational. He was falling though space at a dizzying rate, revolving, twisting and aimless until he felt the entire ship sink in a constant direction.

He was falling rapidly towards an unknown planet. Checking the viewfinder only gave a blurred image of various shades of blue and green merging together rapidly. The smooth, shining walls on the inside of the craft began to glow with the intense heat of entering this atmosphere. Parts of the ship began to smoke and fizzle. Pilot gripped into the flight controls to ready himself as he tried to get a better view of outside.

There seemed to be only one sun here, it was currently moving towards the other side of the planet. There were vast stretches of blue with great carved out sections of what he assumed was land. Pilot thought of himself as quite fortunate, the chances of him hitting liquid were good. What he didn’t know was if it was going to be shallow or even poisonous yet.   

He was close enough now to see small dots of light gathered in small bundles across the land. His path led straight towards a small chunk of land separate from the rest. As his descent gained pace he could see that he’d be just about avoiding the larger collections instead nearly hitting one of the much smaller ones. He gripped tighter to the steering column, as he did so his skin began to crack. Even before impact it seemed his body might not make it. An almost deafening whistling noise echoes around the cockpit as the air rushed past the out shell. Pilot closed his eyes and wished he’d just stayed home instead of counting his last moments before careering into the surface of some distant planet.

With a deep thud the ship plunged through the liquid surface. Pilot was flung headlong across the entire cockpit, landing in a heap at the other side. The intense heat was quickly replaced by angry bubbles that hissed along the hull. The descent slowed as the ship floated down onto the surface before bobbing to a gentle stop at the bottom.

Pilot picked himself up. One of his arms had shattered almost completely in the crash landing. It was still on the floor on the other side of the ship twisting and moving along the floor before finally curling up. Pilot wondered if he would be able to find another body on this planet, perhaps one more suitable for the environment he found himself in.

Just as he was about to enjoy still being alive for now he heard the first drips of liquid seep through the front viewfinder.

A bit better, more from the perspective of being in the ship itself rather than watching it on the ground. Pilot gets a few references to make sure it’s clear he’s not of this Earth. I’ve been careful not to use words like ‘sea’ or ‘cities’ because he won’t know what they’re called yet. It reads way better even though it’s a bit longer than I maybe would have liked.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to do comparisons for every single chapter. I’ll leave you all alone after this.

Four Spice Chicken

My wrestling article is finally finished!

(Incidentally if 90’s WWF shows are your thing then you could take a little look should you so wish )

This clears the decks for the second run through of ‘The One Who Left’. I wanted to take the time to get a little few others bits done and out of the way so I can have a good clear run at this. I’ve spent a bit of time going down the chapters in order and I’ll be posting the entire list on here with a brief run down about what happens in each in the very near future. After that it’ll be a case of deciding what stays and what goes. It’ll probably get really deep into the workings of the story and what direction it’s taking. If that’s your thing then we’re all cool but I can perfectly get with it if that sounds completely boring.

The first question I’m already tackling is the prologue. Whilst I’m not really a fan of prologues in books usually I put one in here because it was the first hint that something alien was happening. The alien itself is not named at all in the opener and it’s simply a description of his craft falling through Earth’s upper atmosphere before plunging into the sea just off the coast of Auldrigg, my fictional Scottish fishing town (you’ve no idea how many different Scottish sounding place names I had to Google until I got to one that didn’t exist in real life). The version of the prologue currently in place is pretty vague on detail of who exactly this crash landing person is because I was far more interested in keeping him in the shadows until about halfway through the book. The core of the story was the daughter’s disappearance so keeping an alien being on the sidelines for the opening parts of the story seemed to make sense.

Now I’m not so sure. Perhaps the prologue doesn’t have to be there at all but I’ll still have a crack at rewriting it with more detail on the character and why he got there.

The Revolt Against The Management

I haven’t been back to the book for the last couple of weeks. It has remained closed since I wrote ‘The End’ on the final page. The main aim was to get some other work done that was outstanding before going forward with it. I’ve done my last game review for Orange Bison so that’s now filed and waiting for them to upload it. There’s also a wrestling report for my own podcast The Conquistabores to get done but that’s not far off.

Once the decks are cleared then it’ll be game time. I’ll be starting up another text file and then porting over all the rewritten chapters one by one onto the fresh slate. I figured this would be better than just cutting and pasting the whole thing over first and changing it all from there. At least this means the fresh versions will be on the new file from the get go.

It’s looking like I’ll be doing a chapter run through on this blog very soon followed by showing the first chapter both before and after the rewrite.

Hopefully that should be interesting.

Programming Goats

I’ve woken up this morning with a genuine clarity of mind. It has in turn made me feel really good within myself. I think it stems from the first draft being finished last night.

Often during the process of having I writing project on the go I’ll feel guilty about doing the stuff I enjoy. There is always the inner voice asking why I’m not hunched over the keyboard right this very minute. If I want to be a writer so bad and for that to be my main job then why am I not writing with every spare second I have free? It can get really miserable and means that I stress about going places or doing other stuff.

‘I’m getting older and need to crack this writing thing now!’ I will think to myself somehow of the strange belief that every newly published author is below 25.

After writing ‘The End’ last night I made a cup of coffee, laid out some biscuits and watched some wrestling on TV. I’ve done this before over the last eighteen months of this book project but that feeling of this act being frivolous vanished last night. It felt wonderful and probably contributed to the clear headed feeling I had this morning.

I’m off to Manchester this weekend for a Doctor Who fan convention. It’s been booked for a couple of months but I had the usual worry about it beforehand. Thinking about it this morning gave me a much more enjoyable angle on it.

Whilst the book certainly isn’t ‘finished’ it has passed that first major hurdle. Psychologically it’s been more beneficial than I ever thought it would be.

551 Days

4th March 2017 to 6th September 2018.

That’s 551 days.

It’s the period of time it has taken me from writing the first word of this book to, five minutes ago, writing ‘The End’ on the final page if the first draft.

It reads horribly, I only did notes for nineteen chapters at the beginning yet seem to have run it up to thirty five, one character changes age halfway through because they were far better being older and the town itself only gets a name from about two thirds in. This is just the beginning of the problems this thing has.

Also this time scale would have been far shorter had I not been plagued with a severe case of not being bothered by it between September last year and February this. I think the initial rush of writing about these characters left me and the stark reality of having to do something with them set in. For many weeks I was avoiding doing anything for fear of having to sort all this out.

But the crucial part is that it exists as a whole project. I’ve partially broken Open Office doing this but I’ll fix that later. For now I have some wrestling articles I really need to write up. The first hurdle is done though and that’s the best feeling.