Tag Archives: Scotland

What You Need Is Someone Strong To Guide You

Another 1000 words today in about a three hour stretch which takes the total overall up to 43,000. With that 3000 in the last few days making it the best run at this book since before Christmas last year. Most of what I’ve written seems like horrible garbage when read back but that’s for the edit later. The best thing at the moment is that I think there’s momentum back to it which I haven’t had for a long while.

I’m finding myself a little bit restricted as far as story goes by the fact this was originally intended to be a 90 minute movie. With that fact in mind I cut down on locations and characters and kept everything as small scale as I could. If this had any kind of a chance of getting made then I was very much writing on the cheap. I spend eighteen months of my life writing a historically accurate account of witch burnings that would be massively expensive for anybody to make to a presentable degree so I was trying to get this one a little bit more on a leash.

But then I had to go and change it to a book. It’s not something I regret mainly because when I do finish it it’ll be in the final form rather than needing to go off and film it. It has meant that I’m very much stuck with a certain reality though. When I’m writing about distant planets, spacecraft and crashed aliens under the waters on Scotland then it feels quite good. Then I spend the next chapter writing about a Mother’s loss as her only child goes missing and I find it really hard to convey that emotion without it sounding horribly twee. The two halves of this also sometimes don’t seem compatible with each other either which causes another problem.

Some moments though, only some, I can see it hanging together like the Twilight Zone episode I hope it’s going to be.

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Toasted Parmesan

Well that was a bit of an effort.

Today has been bright and sunny and I managed to get a bit of a sleep in today. The main aim was to finally haul this book over the 40,000 word mark and I’m happy to report that as of five minutes ago this was achieved. It has felt like absolutely ages.

I remember celebrating the 10,000 word count last year but I have to recollection of doing anything special about the 20k or 30k. Guiding the story for the last ten thousand words has been a slow process. Through a combination of other stuff going on and my own laziness it’s been going on since Christmas. I’m really happy about entering what could well be the final third. I think once I get to 55,000 then I should be just about okay. That feels like a decent first book length to work with.

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‘Without A Partner To Annihilate’

From starting at 9am this morning I’ve just this minute finished an entire chapter from start to finish. It was quite an important one with the meeting between the mother and the presumed missing daughter ten years after the initial events of the book. I was so worried about getting this right that I’m glad I’ve had the time today to simply blast through it from start to finish in one sitting. If I had done it any other way then I’d have spent the time away from the keyboard fretting about tiny details and not getting it done.

It actually reads back quite well. Some obvious tweaking here and there will need to be done when I go back over everything after getting to the end of draft one but it’s the first time in a long while that I’ve examined what I’ve written and been pretty pleased with it. Perhaps it’s because it’s one of the strongest character beats in the book or perhaps it’s because there’s been quite the build up to this happening. Either way it’s not playing out as totally awful so it’s a good start.

 

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Yiga Clan

I seem to have one character who I wanted to have a laid back personality but this seems to have made him come across as a complete arse due to the circumstances involved in the story.  Sadly he’s one of the main ones and the person he’s being a complete dick to is the other main character.

I have the Mother is the missing girl fresh from discovering her daughter has not returned home one evening alerting the local police officer in this sleepy Scottish village. She’s obviously in a major panic but he insists on taking her to the station so she can give him more information. I suppose the idea is that he takes his job seriously but hasn’t really ever had to deal with missing children in his career so far. Reading it back though it seems like he’s blindly following protocol until the mother actively speaks up and accuses him of wasting time.

When I was planning this story I originally tried to add in a suggestion that it was the police officer that killed the child. I almost wanted that to be the red herring for most of the story but then it dawned on me that I wasn’t writing a murder mystery so this whole thing was completely unnecessary and that aspect was dumped quickly not long afterwards. He’s therefore gone from possible killer to guy who means well but whose intentions are sometimes misplaced really quickly.

The difference between the two gives a certain tension to a scene but there’s still currently something really ‘off’ about the relationship between my two main characters.

Still, another 1000 words down today.

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Spitting Rainbows

Speeding past the 27,000 word marker and feeling that I’ll probably be around halfway once the 30k marker goes past so not that long. I started this whole thing in early March 2017 thinking we’d be looking at getting a first working manuscript in about six months. This original plan also had a target word count of 75k. If I hadn’t revised that slightly I’d now have about a month to write 55,000 words.

I would currently be going completely round the twist.

I’m also noticing that the book is split down the middle as far as quality goes. When I write about the strange stuff, the aliens, the other worlds, the shifts in time then I think I’m doing okay. When I write about the ordinary events of a tourist town in Scotland then it comes across as really dull. I could really do with ironing this out.

I might do a post soon giving examples just so you can see what I mean.

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Wrestling With Werner Herzog

24,000 words.

An amount which seems like so much but also, at the same time, seems to little as well. It’s not even halfway.

I am firmly at the stage right now when the whole thing seems like a complete misadventure. If I’d have written this as a ninety minute script then I’d probably have done a first draft by now and be onto rewriting a second version. I’d have typed THE END at least once. It would have existed as a full text. I would currently be thinking about how to pitch it as a small, easily made sci fi movie.

Instead I am far too deep in to quit now, I’ve already described all the locations we’re going to visit (a symptom of this story originally being designed to be an easily filmed ninety minute sci fi movie) and I have one character who was only added to the planning stage to provide a small chunk of comic relief actually now having a fully blown part of the story that does seem to make him the most human of all the characters.

Also, if I’d made the script then there would be no guarantee that anybody would pick it up. At least as a book I can publish it myself if needs be. Trust me, the outside world is getting the chance to read this one somehow.

Which is strange because he’s almost all alien.

Such are the people I’m dealing with here.

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A Mythological Enemy

The chapter from Hell is over, long live the next one.

Finally I’ve reached the end of a chapter that will probably be first on the list for future rewrites being as I was bored writing it so heck knows how dull it would be for anybody to read. On occasion the fact that I had originally thought of this as a feature film comes through and it results in sections when it all feel a bit too ‘visual’. Whilst this kind of stuff would look great up on screen, perhaps with some music over it, it doesn’t translate well to fiction. Having the character of the missing girl’s Mother return to the house she lived in when her daughter vanished is great in theory. I wanted her to go in thinking that she would connect with happier memories contained within this building. As her time there goes on however she discovers that the building is now in a state of near ruin and is covered in graffiti referencing the fact that most the townspeople had an idea she had killed her own daughter. The word ‘Murderer’ in painted across the front door in red letters.

Now comes the turning point of the story so far. In various dark corners of the house there are patches of what might look at first glance to be spider’s webbing. It contains small stone like pods in it though. Her Daughter, who unknown to her Mother yet has returned, has a small ring of these things just underneath her skin. The chapter kind of snaps into alien stuff fairly quickly.

In fact, here’s what I ended on.

Morag had to leave. She about turned and paced across the landing towards the top of the stairs. She gingerly went back down the steps, taking them as quickly as she could before putting her feet back in the hallway and pacing out of the front door. She navigated her way through the long grass of the front garden before taking a sharp turn out of the gate down the street. She didn’t want to look back any more, she warned this house to be forgotten now. If it crumbled into dust tomorrow, taking everything with it, then she’d need to prepare herself not to care.

In a dark recess under the stairs another pile of dust landed in the webbing below. If anybody had noticed it they would almost certainly have thought it could have been a spider’s web. Perhaps then they would have investigated further and discovered that the web was nothing like the thin, delicate thread of any arachnid. It was thicker and faintly blue. Gathered amongst the network were small, hard, light blue stones. Each of them pulsed and throbbed to an unheard of rhythm. One of the stones then fell from the strand it was held in and landed on the bare wooden floorboards. It then liquefied, oozing outwards as if reaching out for help. Before long it was like a tiny star, arms reaching out and pulling itself along bit by bit.

A second one soon followed.

Well it had to end on some kind of intrigue didn’t it? A woman wandering around a derelict house wasn’t exactly going to provide such kicks.

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When The Blight Is Heavy

I’ve been occupied elsewhere recently, the book hasn’t had a lot of a look in for the last few days. I’ve either been working or preparing for the recording of a podcast episode we’re doing this Tuesday. Not helping this situation is the fact I seem to have a heavy cold for the past few days which I hope is in the process of leaving me alone now.

I’m grinding my way through this chapter whilst constantly thinking there will be far better on the immediate horizon. The character of the girl’s mother has no clear reason to return to the town. If her life was going so well in the city she moved to then why on Earth is she spending these few days going back to the place she couldn’t wait to see the back of. When I was planning all this at the start of the year this detail felt inconsequential but it’s become ever more critical the further I get into it. As such she’s currently just walking around the town and revisiting old places. It’s great by the fact I get to write about her memories and give a backstory that way but it’s also really bloody dull in places. It’s reflecting really badly on her character as well. She’s a pain to write at the moment and it’s part of the reason why I’ve stalled a bit.

I’ve done another small chunk tonight (about 200 words) which I started at around 10pm. I’ll get some more done tomorrow night as well but then it’ll be Thursday before I can have a good swing at it through the day.  It’s time to get back to work.

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Cave Monks

I’ve been looking back over the book in the last couple of days. Nothing as far as a serious edit goes so far because that’ll probably come at the end. I am however struck by one thing right now.

It’s obvious that I was thinking about doing this as a film before it became a book. Everything is broken up in ‘filmable’ parts.

One of the best things about writing fiction again after many years of writing scripts is that I’m not worrying about how a producer would be able to get whatever it is I’ve thought of up on screen. If I have something in mind and I can describe it then I’m good to go. As it happens so far though I’ve still restricted myself to only a few locations and not many action sequences (the last chapter with our policeman character discovering and running away from a very strange presence coming up from the sea by the beach is an exception). Perhaps it’s good that it’s a fairly tight story in that sense but it does feel like I’ve been describing the same three or four places for a long time now. Two characters are about to have coffee and a frank discussion at the aforementioned American themed diner in the town and that’ll be a totally new location so at least that’ll be a change. I have a strong mental image of these places almost to the detriment of going anywhere else.

I didn’t originally have a location for this story. I knew it was going to be in Scotland but I wasn’t sure where exactly. This was until I went on holiday last summer to a small town in Fife called Pittenweem. We stayed in a flat that had a view down the street towards the harbour and out to the sea beyond that. There was a brilliant feel of a small Scottish town alongside a rich vein of strangeness. I spent a couple of nights walking around alone once the sun went down as Jamie the policeman does in the book. It’s this place that I’ve got in mind when I’m writing such location as the harbour and the beach.

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This was the view from the living room window.

The only problem at the moment with the location is that it doesn’t yet have a name. Every single ‘Scottish sounding’ place name I’ve thought of seems to already been taken.

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All The Way To The Moon.

The end of the difficult chapter, the proper introduction of our alien being and a tap on the shoulder when one character is least expecting it. Chapter ten is now in the book.

Well of course it’s in the book…

…you know what I mean.

I’m currently still messing around with timelines. There’s two in the book covering events from ten years previous and the girl’s initial disappearance and then the present day with her return. I’m using the same characters but flicking back and forth between the two. Sometimes the same character will visit the same location but ten years apart from each other. Certain character’s recollection of past events might differ from what actually happened. I’m trying really hard not to make it a complete mess of confusion but it seems okay so far. I’m trying to lay down markers that determine time such as buildings changing.

We’re up to 17,200 and still knocking on.

In the meantime, a view from the desk. That’s the moon up there somewhere.

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