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.
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.
You know, I wrote the title for this post and thought that’s actually a cool idea for a story! But no, I haven’t (yet) run off on another project. The black hole I’m referring to is a narrative one I fell into at the end of last week. Because there’s a gap in my story. A dark, deep hole that I’m still dangling a plumb line into to work out the depth.
It always strikes me as funny that the width of the hole can be quite small (I just need to get my character from here to there), but the depth – all the stuff you have to work out to fill in this gap – can be brain-bending!
The good thing in this case, is that I feel like I’m filling in a few further holes that were between here and the end as I go. How do I fill in holes, I hear you ask? I write out lists of questions like:
- If character z knows that the well is poisoned, then when did she find out and does she have an antidote?
- Could character p suspect z knows the well is poisoned? Could they be wrong?
Sometimes I scribble in an answer. Sometimes all the questions that follow indicate I’ve picked an answer. Sometimes they just stay as questions.
I don’t know if anyone else takes this approach, but I find it effective. It stops me from obsessing over finding answers before moving on to developing a new question and strange left-field things tend to pop up as a result. That or my brain suddenly goes “huh! that’s why we have the tame bobcat in the lake scene”.
It would be nice if my writing brain cells could put up hazard barriers or warning signs before I step into these holes, but then I guess the writing daemon and I wouldn’t be having so much fun thinking up new stuff!
My writing daemon is a bit put out at the moment. In fact both he and my craft daemon are giving me the frown. See they just don’t like this earning a living malarkey if it doesn’t involve them.
To their credit, they have gotten pretty good recently at time-sharing my attention. Gone are the days when one would lure the other into a holding cell and lock the door to stake out a few weeks or months of dominance. They do however, still resent the day-job and the part of my brain that likes what it gets to do at work.
It’s not like I’m completely neglecting them. Weaving is happening after hours and editing during lunch breaks, so I think they’re being churlish.
I have been trying to get an opening working and so far I’ve written five versions. It’s almost there now, which is a relief, but it’s been one of those iterative processes of going ‘oops logic hole/fix logic hole, missing info/add info, oops new logic hole/fix logic hole…’ (Note to self: please stop writing books set in space.)
This, I should point out, is my usual approach to openings. Usually it works a bit better. Well, faster – not so many versions.
I think I got a bit caught up in the mechanics of space, so I then took my eye off what I was getting my protagonist to do. She kept trying to tell me she wasn’t like that – wouldn’t think that etc – but I wasn’t really listening. Now I think we’re back on the same page, so to speak.
So now I’m going to drawer opening 5 for a bit and get on with the rest of the edit! We’ll see how it holds up in a couple of weeks/months time.
In the next chapter I get to introduce the somewhat dog-like pet I was angsting about a while back. Its name is Scuffa and no, it will not die.
This week I’ve been thinking a lot about how dark/gritty to make one of my current projects and whether giving my protag a pet throws that out the window because it’ll add a little humour and some undeniable sweetness. Not that fiction can’t be gritty, funny and have sweet moments, but as I steadfastly refuse to kill the pet off, I suspect it would definitely lighten the mood.
In the end I decided that this just wasn’t that dark a story and the pet wanted to be there because it suited the existing tone.
You might ask why was I looking to make it grittier in the first place… that comes from an excellent crit’er I know who really loves fiction full of down and dirty stuff. Personally as a reader I don’t need all the bodily fluids present in a book, or gruesome deaths, but I always take a moment to question whether I am making my fiction too ‘nice’.