In a full swoop, a delicate press of a key, another chapter bites the dust. The one thousand or so word stretch detailing the young girl walking down the beach and being captured by some alien being is now entirely redundant due to this process taking place in the town shop. The strange part is that it read through fairly well early on and there’s a few descriptions I’m quite happy with. It still goes though, falling down to the cutting room floor.
The latter half of the chapter has notes all over it saying that it falls flat on its face and never really gets back up. I suppose it doesn’t really matter now.
With the chunks of rewriting and creating an entirely new chapter in the early going to bridge a gap the word count has sprung up. My original 55k is, even after deleting that entire chapter, up to 56.700. It’s still going well.
I had a few days away, I meant to take my laptop and do some writing whilst I wasn’t home but it didn’t happen. I was staying with the in laws and it may have looked slightly rude if I just put my computer down on the dining table and ignored everybody else whilst I worked away.
As such I’ve only just got underway again tonight and, to my dismay, realised that I had stopped right before a really tough section. It’s the first meeting of the police officer and the Mother of the missing child ten years after the fact. There was a simple note from my read through right after all this that simply says ‘This conversation feels really forced’. In a way it’s supposed to as it’s both characters reacquainting themselves with each other but realising they’re still not seeing eye to eye even after all this time. The entire thing felt really exposition heavy though, as if subliminally I’d taken this opportunity to dump a whole ton of facts down.
Therefore I’ve carved it up and cut it down a lot. She is trying her level best to ignore him and he holds out an incredibly pathetic olive branch that he thinks might just save the situation. It doesn’t and she leaves the scene wondering why exactly the ever thought this town could ever change. In draft one they just seemed to be exchanging pleasantries.
It works better but I’m not quite deleting that note just yet.
Conjuring up entire backstories of characters and inserting them into chapters is probably the most difficult part of this rewrite. My police officer was causing a bit a bit of trouble by the fact it wasn’t clear how he had ended up in a small town rather than the big city he started with. What exactly made him leave? Why wouldn’t he stay among the big smoke?
The simple answer is blood.
Or rather his inability to handle it.
I’ve given him hemophobia and made sure that most of his first few jobs in the city involved gruesome murders. The sight of such horrors has made him vomit in the nearest sink. He was then packed off to a quiet job by those above him.
I’m not really sure if this works as an excuse for him being here, it seems to much like he’d just leave the police all together but I’ve found that all of my main characters are running from something so it fits into the overall scheme. I seem to have given them all strange little faults.
Questions I get on a few occasions lately.
“What’s the book about?”.
So I tell them. It’s usually followed by…
“What’s the ending?”.
To which I do not answer, instead suggesting they might be interested in buying the final thing if they want to know that badly.
This then leads to…
“So are you publishing this then?”.
The answer would obviously be ‘Yes’ but I’m not sure exactly how yet. I figured long ago that I’d be far better off with actually getting the book itself done before I started looking at avenues to bring it to an audience. I actually Googled ‘Self publishing a book’ tonight as I was making dinner and it’s been something of an eye opener.
The main thing I can gain from it is that every single result I seemed to clock on suggested that self publishing was the greatest thing ever, that traditional publishing as we know it is dead and that it’s the easiest thing in the world to do as long as you give them $60.
I don’t really think that any publishing house or agent will want to touch this book. It’s not because it’s bad but more because I don’t think many places deal with science fiction anymore. I don’t really want to spend years sending out manuscripts, then wait around more and then get rejected.
Self publishing seems the way to go but then a lot of that just seems to be throwing it into a huge pile over at Amazon and watching it sink in the quagmire at 99p a go.
It’s still early days and I’m really not in a position to make any concrete plans about it now but does anybody have any experience of going down the independent publishing route? Any words of advice out there?
Those were pretty much the only words that I had at the start of chapter four. In the original first draft my alien wasn’t really revealed until about 60% of the way through the story. Whilst this did mean there was something of a strange mystery running through the first two thirds it did border on being slightly ridiculous.
It pretty much went ‘Missing child, missing child, MISSING CHILD…oh yeah, aliens’.
Which feels ‘off’.
This chapter is the one that supposed to introduce this whole idea much sooner so it doesn’t feel quite as jarring. This does mean that the last chapter is very much set in small town Scotland before this one goes off into other planets. This also means writing out some rather wonderful sci-fi babble which is something I was trying to avoid to begin with. Thankfully it’s not that much and it’s not something that has a huge bearing on the story. It did mean I had to sit there and make up names for different star systems though.
The Tanzar Gate has a nice ring to it.
The third rewrite (or rather the first proper one as the last one seemed to have boiled down to just getting chapters in the right order and cutting some of the ones that just didn’t go anywhere) has begun in full. I would have got it underway last Monday but it was my birthday so other things came to pass.
With this has come the first major ‘baby to die’ situation. Up until now I’ve always had the young girl go missing down a beach, being dragged into the sea waters by an alien creature. It made sense because that’s where the ship has crash landed and I loved the idea of a ‘Creature From The Black Lagoon’ vibe.
The problem was actually getting my character there in the first place. She certainly leaves her house with her Mother telling her to get back as quickly as possible. She ends up meeting the shopkeeper who has something of an alien parasite in him and he convinces her to walk by the beach on the way home. This means she can get swallowed up and ‘kidnapped’ in time.
But it’s really awkward and clunky and less of a masterplan and more of hitting and hoping. It also means that in one chapter I go from the girl being in her house, to walking down the street, to the shop and then to the beach. It’s way too much and gets really dull.
Therefore I just decided she can still be taken by an alien presence in the actual shop itself. This previously human shopkeeper suddenly turns into something really not human and we go from there. Having just finished that chapter it does read much better and doesn’t quite feel as long and drawn out. It does however mean lobbing off entire sections of the later story which revolve around the beach location in a search for clues etc.
It’s something I’ll resolve once I get there.
It’s March 4th then. Two years to the day since I started to sit down and write an opening chapter about devil trees and a strange taxi journey through small town Scotland. Apart from a gap between September 2017 and March last year it’s been the thing that has pretty much taken up most of the time writing. It’s taken this long to get something of a second draft up and running.
As I said in my last blog entry I wanted to get a couple of other loose ends out of the way before I started another rewrite. I’m glad that I’ve managed to do both.
If you’re into video games then I’ve started doing a podcast with my son in which we sit in our kitchen and spend half an hour chatting about them. We’ve tried to keep each episode below 45 minutes just to keep them and it’s usually around playing some older titles and him smashing my rose tinted view of them. We’re two episodes in and the results are here. You can hear Kyle being really enthusiastic and me sounding like an old man in comparison.
I also write about wrestling as part of the podcast I’m involved with called The Conquistabores. My latest article is about Survivor Series 1998 and it can be found here.
Now that all that’s out of the way it’s time to sit down with a notebook in hand and check this latest draft.