After the rather heavy output of recent months, my writing daemon decided to take a break. Without warning.
I don’t begrudge the break, but it might have been nice to know the blighter was about to do it so I could plan to fill my day with other things… still, it was more a surprise it had taken so long in coming!
He flitted off to wherever writing daemons go when not muse-ing and I sat around wondering how to spend all the extra free time. Then… he came back.
This may be the shortest break he’s ever taken.
Since his return we’ve been working on novella 3 of the series and it’s… well, it’s not exactly been flowing. This had made me think some more time off would be a good idea ,until found the source of our problem. The subplot is apparently turning into something mega.
Of course this happens from time-to-time and usually indicates that the subplot is in some way more interesting than the chosen main plot. I don’t think that’s so here… we will see.
To send off 2019 in good fashion, it’s entirely possible that I will be writing at midnight tonight as opposed to my usual themed movie marathon. Though, it’s also possible I’ll be asleep. Feels like one of those years where the decision won’t be made until much later in the day!
For all my writer-peeps out there – I hope 2020 is a productive year for you. For all my non-writer-peeps – I hope yours is satisfying in some relevant way. And, of course, a safe and happy one for all!!
For a few weeks now, whenever I’ve taken a break from writing/editing, I’ve been playing around with figures of rhetoric. This is a) because I have a cool book on them and b) because I’m looking for ways to play with language in one of newer novels.
The thing is that I write plain, sparse prose. That’s my natural style for fiction and I think it generally suits the type of sci-fi I’ve been writing. Just occasionally though, I play with dialogue. Usually because it makes no sense to me that characters from different planets all speak the same way. Sometimes I keep it subtle – like a character who never uses contractions – and sometimes I go the full Yoda!
But I’ve used up most of the simple approaches over my existing short stories and novels. So, now, I’m looking for new patterns that work in English to try out, which leads back to rhetoric.
The Ancient Greeks spent a lot of time sitting around thinking about language. They broke it down into all sorts of patterns that have different strengths and weaknesses and put a name to each one. Thus the title of this post, because honestly the names of the figures of rhetoric are almost harder to wrap my head around than the definitions!
You can tell I didn’t have a ‘classical education’.
My favourite for thinking “Yep, because that was totally obvious” is the pronunciation of zeugma (zyoog-ma) and for thinking “Stop with the syllables” was definitely epanalepsis.
Aside from struggling to pronounce and remember the names, the thing I’ve realised about many figures of rhetoric is that they work really well for applications where language is heightened, like poetry a speech, or types of theatre. They are a bit trickier to deploy in naturalistic fiction.
A lot of writers talk about how novels are ‘like a marathon’, but what I don’t often hear them say, is just how long novels can be with us. (And I’m ignoring here the ones that hang about for a decade or more!)
Now, I know a lot of novelists will get through a first draft in weeks and then maybe the edits also in weeks, so that they output multiple novels a year. Most writers I know, though, don’t get through them so fast – particularly not writers who have full time jobs.
Many of my projects span years. I’ll do a draft zero one year. I’ll do a first draft another. I might do second and third drafts in a single year because that is redrafting from feedback. As a result three or four years isn’t an uncommon lifespan.
It’s so common when I remember the year I started a project that it’s been five, or six years that I’ve started to think in “novel time”. I think it’s a bit like geological time, but for novels. (It feels like geological time compared to most things in my life!)
Of course, I also multiproject, so while I’m not working on one thing, I’m working on something else and all these projects end up overlapping.
Interestingly, I figured out that I’ve done seven scratch drafts, four first drafts, two second drafts, and two final drafts in the past five years, with a few third/fourth drafts along the way. From a productivity standpoint I’m fine with that.
And while I’m doing numbers (at least I didn’t spreadsheet it!) that’s about 541,000 new words including my screenplay. There’s no sensible way to work out the edits. Probably a good thing!
The other day, as I totted up my words to see if I was still on track for the WriMoFoFo goal I’d set myself, I realised something extremely exciting…
I’m going to run out of novel, because I’m close to the end of the Indestructible 1st draft (minor excitement). So I’ll need to swap back to working on Blurty’s Sister (also minor excitement).
That means that if – note the IF – I finish the draft of Blurty’s Sister by Christmas, 2019 will be the year I wrote two complete novels and a screenplay!!! I’m not sure I used enough exclamation marks there, so here are a few more..!!!!!!!!!!!
Not sure exactly how that happened and, possibly more surprisingly, how I didn’t notice before. Of course, I might screech to a halt on Blurty’s Sister…these things do happen… but even then, 2019 will be the year I nearly achieved it and that’s not shabby at all.
Now I just need to stop the gangsters in one project sounding like the 19C gentry of another project and my happiness will be complete…
Blurty – which I am currently proofreading – was never intended to be part of a series. Now it is!
Or I should say, it’s on the way to being so, as I’m currently working away on a sequel. It’s probably more fun than it should be getting back into the world of Blurty and I gotta say, I’m enjoying it immensely.
After picking at a start, on and off for quite a while, the past month has seen work commence properly and we’re now at 10K. Writing daemon is feeling very pleased with himself.
It’s also the first time I’ve truly multi-project-ed for a while. Blurty’s Sister (as I’m going to refer to it) is running in parallel to continued work on Indestructible (as this year’s other new novel is called). I’m flipping between them effortlessly, which is nice.
Just to mix it up, I also re-read PAR again! Mind you that’s so a friend and I can project swap for some unusually early draft feedback. I do need to take out some notes-to-self from the text before I inflict it on someone else…
I have had a productive winter.
I’ve been lucky enough to have a few extra weeks off since my Wales trip and normally I buckle-down to the current WIP in these non-day-job periods. Not so much this time. Instead, my writing daemon has been doing disconnected scenes that belong to a bunch of different narratives… all in my head.
What I like about running scenes in my head in this way, is that it has a satisfying energy to it. Daemon flits between between genres and ideas that interest him, without the burden of having to write what comes before or after.
Yes I’m feeling guilty that the WIP isn’t getting much love, but I’ve learnt over the years that the daemon needs to stretch his wings and get a little crazy sometimes. Refresh and recharge moments!
And the WIP hasn’t been benched. It’s gotten a little bit of love. It also got given a name, finally! Its nickname, anyway, is “Indestructible”. Which makes perfect sense if you read the book, but I acknowledge probably seems a bit weird otherwise.
I think Indestructable is going to be hell to edit, but I’m enjoying the writing quite a lot.
I’m really enjoying my nameless novel. It’s a lot of fun to write. Though, because I stopped to do a bit of back-filling /editing I am, amusingly, only 10k further on than I was in Feb!
And there will probably be a pause now, while I take a little holiday (I don’t tend to write when I travel).
The book continues to unfold delightfully.
Though, it felt like it was going to be about an 80k project. Then I changed direction and it began to feel like only 60k. We’ll see. I’m about to start killing characters, so the aftermath will determine the length I think. Me and my pantser ways!
Who knows, maybe while I’m away I’ll be struck with inspiration for a title…