Woot! PAR’s 1st draft is done! Got to the end last night and it felt goooood.
I’m also finding it bit cool that what felt like a 120K story idea came in at 110K. Close! (We won’t mention the thousands that didn’t make the cut.) I’m guessing it’ll get bigger in the 2nd draft because – as always – there are a couple of spots that don’t have nearly enough setting. Still, the fact this is a good first draft and not a scratch draft or a draft zero has me a-smiling!
Weirdly, I enjoyed this one right to the end. Yes there were the odd tricky bits and holes to be stepped in, but I was even a little sad today as my brain had no excuse to be in that world. I suspect my protag will be glad it’s over though… my goodness did I do nasty things to the poor guy.
I’ve been off writing – still on the PAR – and it’s progressed well! I’m about to hit 90k of decent words (we won’t talk about what’s been thrown out) and I think I’m about 15K from the end. We’ll see.
What’s been amazing to me and the daemon about all this wordage is that I’ve averaged 7k a week since the start of December(!) and while that’s probably only 5k a week on working weeks, I’m pleased. I’m also still in love with the story which is remarkable. Possibly means I will come to hate it in the editing stage, but that’s fine. It’s nice to still be excited and looking forward to picking up the pen each day.
Weirdly I’m still long-handing most of it too. And is it wrong that I can completely see a movie version in my head? I don’t know.
Okay, with a work in progress nicknamed ‘the PAR’ it was inevitable I would make that joke some time… 🙂
But yes, it is running to form for a novel of mine right now. I’m so far into the story that I’m having trouble remembering what I did in earlier chapters! Which is usually the point at which I start to create a chapter map.
I’m not sure if it’s partly because I’m back to working in a straight word-processor for this, but in reality that can only be a contributing factor; all my novels have reached a stage where it’s too big to fit in my head. Of course, because of my pantser ways, I can never be entirely sure which version of a chapter/scene I ended up doing!
Side note on being a pantser: Apparently Lee Childs is one. This gives me a weird sense of… community. It’s a bit lonely out here on the pure-panter edge, as most of my writer peeps are either pure planners or planner-side-of-the-scale plantsers.
I know I’ve talked about this before, but it’s been on my mind again after some of my bookclubbers asked me where the idea for the PAR came from. Considering my recent wordage was my excuse for not having read the book this time (!) I felt like I owed them a good answer. Luckily when it comes to the PAR the answer is easy…
I was watching a movie with a martial arts instructor who was a really interesting character, in love with a student, and I thought “that’s the kind of relationship I’d like to write”. This was partly his character in the movie, partly the idea of a relationship between two fighters and partly the extreme coolness of martial arts (I’m a teeny bit of a fan).
So my instructor became a sword fighter (because swords = cool). Then he needed something to be using the swords for (to fight beasties). Then he needed people to train (people surviving in a somewhat post-apocalyptic future earth). Then he needed a love interest I felt he’d fall crazy in love with (a highly experienced beastie fighter). Then I had to decide what kind of beasties and where they’d come from (accidental side effect of some research). Then I had to decide what the research was in aid of (finding a cure for a disease). Then I had to pick a disease and work out if it had caused the apocalypse or the beasties had (50/50). And then – the most fun part – I had to build an entire version of our Earth around the idea of an apocalypse with beasties.
Sounds simple when you lay it out like that, huh?
Funny thing is, Blurty had a similar start – a movie I was watching – but a totally different path and now it’s hard to see the origin point at all!
I think the writing daemon and I have got the flood-lights up around this black hole! It’s turned out nothing like I expected from my earlier ideas of how we’d get from this particular A to the upcoming point B, but that’s okay. At least we’re moving again.
Apparently the key to figuring all of this out was to add a plane crash. Who knew? I guess the daemon did seeing as he suggested in, but it was a revelation to me. Suddenly all the characters have reason to be running around doing things they weren’t doing before. Amazing.
I’m at 58K on the PAR. Happy dancing with the writing daemon has been occurring regularly since we hit 50.
Not that I know for sure, but I think that 60 will be the half way mark.
The only downside to all this volume of new words, is that my pen ran out on the train again. Thankfully I was close enough to my stop (and a newsagent) that there was no anguished cry to make my fellow passengers nervous. There are two spare pens in my bag now!
I am also about to start a new notebook, which just goes to show that this project wants to be hand written in the first instance. The original 30K I threw out was all hand written and about 80% of this draft has been. Which means the electronic draft is looking much more like a 1st draft than a draft zero and that’s nice too.
In the past two months I’ve had a similar conversation with a couple of writers I know and the topic has been “characters who do unexpected things”. It seems a lot of people are have had to break out the whip and chair, circus lion tamer style, to get their characters back in line.
Or not. If we’re honest, we sometimes have to let them wander off and do those unexpected and frustrating things, because strangely they seem to know more about their story than we do! Just to prove that our conscious minds are not as in control of things as we’d like to pretend.
Of course this isn’t limited to characters. A friend complained recently that she’d put a ring in a story, just so a character would have something to fiddle with in a scene, and now the ring is looking for its own series! Oh yeah, it happens.
My characters have been doing a bit of this in the PAR (mostly they’ve been a bit more amorous than expected), but they had been pretty well behaved until yesterday. Then it turned out one of them had been married previously. This I did not know! But I’ve forgiven them for up-ending a subplot. Well, mostly forgiven…still harbouring a little resentment.