Add The Strange Stuff

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.

Phoney Beatlemania Has Bitten The Dust

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.

The Sound A Zebra Makes When Spotting A Lion

I’m being too visual again. Part of the problem with this whole story starting as a film is that I’m occasionally skipping past descriptions of location with the mistaken assumption that the reader can see it already. It results in underwriting certain scenes. As a rather good example this evening I’ve managed to take one sentence and up it to two paragraphs.

I’m not saying those two paragraphs are any good though, just that they describe the surroundings in a far greater manner.

It’s also the only section I’ve done this evening. Whilst minimal it’s certainly better than nothing at all.

3-2-1 Let’s Jam.

I’ve developed something called the ‘three location rule’. When this book was going to be a film it was quite possible for one character to move from one location, to another and then a third fairly quickly. When I tried to write all that into a chapter it came across as really cramped.

It read a lot like ‘Arrive at location one, write description, action, move to second, describe surroundings, action, move to third…’. As such it was terrible so the new rule is a maximum or two locations in any one chapter.

I originally had the Mother in her house realising that her daughter had not returned home after many hours, she then went to the local pub to ask around and she then ends up at the police station reporting it. Now it’s just the first two, the police interaction will be another chapter. This does mean I have a whole ream of text currently homeless and floating around the file but we’ll patch it in later.

The next two chapters were ones I’d already built up from scratch in the last rewrite and they’re not too bad as a result. With this in mind, as of this afternoon, I’m about a third of the way through this rewrite.

I might watch some Doctor Who tonight as a celebration.

Midnight In A Perfect World

I’ve been on holiday from work for the last week or so and as such I seem to have reverted back to my old writing time frames. Nothing during the day, only getting underway after 9pm and continuing to past midnight. It’s short blasts, tonight with some video game music in the background and it’s proven to work really well.

I don’t think I’ll be going as full on as I did when I was a teenager though. During that time I could quite easily be up until 5am writing, often falling asleep at the desk with the radio still on softly in the background. I’m not sure the family would appreciate me being in bed well into the next afternoon these days.

I’m going to stop for the night now as it’s just past midnight but I’ve read back the stuff I’ve done this evening and it’s good.

My only wish would be to be able to keep that timescale going but I’m back in work on Thursday.

You Can’t Buy Valour From A Vending Machine

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.

Twice The Amount Of Stars Than Usual.

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.

Reluctantly Crouched At The Starting Line

Not much rewriting done over the last few days. This is mainly due to the sudden realisation that Christmas is upon us and I hadn’t started any shopping yet. Rather than staring at Word I’ve instead been online shopping. I might be able to fit a little bit in tonight if I can tick some more people off my list of ‘to buy for’.

In the meantime though I thought, seeing as it got rejected, I’d put up the 500 words personal statement that I wrote to apply for the mentorship scheme. Was it far too over the top? Was the metaphor strained and not really needed in the first place? Did I come across like a raving mad man? Dear reader, all these questions are for you to reach your own conclusions on.  

It’s almost like the feeling of accidentally getting off the train at the station one stop before the one you intended. You know where you want to be, you’re on the right line to get there but you’ve somehow ended up in a place that wasn’t part of the original plan.

I was fourteen when I decided I wanted to be a writer.  During a meeting with the careers advisor at  Annan Academy I’d brought it up as a possibility and was quickly told that there wasn’t much call for that in Dumfries and Galloway’ before being handed leaflets about working in Chapelcross Power Station.

I didn’t give up.

I left school and went to study Media Production at Carlisle College of Art and Design (later renamed Cumbria Institute of the Arts). Whilst there I wrote short films and held screenings in local venues due to a lack of YouTube at the time. My final project on the degree course was a film about a self-help group who meet over the internet. It was nominated for an award in 2004 from the Royal Television Society. It did not win.

I didn’t give up.

Upon graduation and realising that fame and fortune wasn’t coming to me the instant I left college I got a job working in an opticians.What I thought was going to be a line of work I’d be doing for about six months has ended up being thirteen years. Whilst ordering contact lenses and measuring varifocals during the day I have continued to write at night. Projects done during this time have included a short play which was performed in a theatre bar in Carlisle and a short film that was screened around Europe including at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013.

I haven’t given up.

My latest project in a science fiction book based in smalltown Scotland (being from Gretna I have a fair bit of experience in small town Scotland). Beginning in March 2017 I’m now onto a second rewrite. This is also the first time I’ve ever tried to write a book. A mentorship would enable me to work towards getting the book into a far more presentable state. I would certainly benefit from the guidance and advice on offer so I could move further towards completion and then publication. Having spent all this time working onit alone it would be great to get another angle on my work so far.

All of this would hopefully help me move further down the line and off the station I seem to have found myself at in the last few years.

The Fundamentals Of The Spectrum Keyboard

Was I not writing the other day about not getting bogged down in writing new chapters from scratch during this first rewrite? What have I spent most of today doing?

Indeed dear reader, I’ve been doing a new chapter.

Well it’s not completely new, it’s the second half of the chapter I split up the other day. It’s the first major description of the alien being (who still had the tree references remaining until I removed them today) and as a result of this being half a previous chapter it didn’t feel anywhere near long enough so I’ve been adding bits to it with descriptions of his body and voice. When we meet him here his body is beat up after a crash landing and he’s breaking apart on the beach. It’s fine though, he’s about to get a brand new one.

Occasionally it’s a matter of working outwards from what I’ve got and I got really into this one today so stuck with it. Anything else I’m going to come back to later has a red font running through it. Currently the draft looks like something I had in school as a result.

I’m waffling now and it’s getting late.

A Bacon Roll From Up The Road

I managed to get started fairly early today (and by early I mean around 9am as opposed to the usual ‘just after lunch’). It means I’ve got another chapter down for the second version. I did indeed skip writing the newer one for now so that progress won’t be held up.

There are still bits that appeared later on in the first draft that I’m now trying to retroactively add the beginnings of in the earlier parts of this one. It’s smoothing the whole story out a bit more.

I’d actually had a fair chunk done before I ended up going up the street for a bacon baguette from the cafe. It was probably the best one I’ve had for a while.