Tag Archives: writing methods

‘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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Aniki

As if by some strange miracle I actually managed to get to work on the book before 10am this morning so had a good blast at it for a couple of hours. I’ll need to go and wash the breakfast dishes eventually but I’m now over 34,000 words. At around the 25,000 mark I was thinking this story might peg out before the 55-60,000 I wanted to get to. Now, with about 20,000 to go, I’m worried I won’t be able to wrap it up in time. It’s a much happier problem to have though.

I’m becoming more and more concerned with how I’m handling time shifts in the story. It’s very much a 50/50 split between the events of ten years previous and the girl’s initial disappearance and what happens after her return. It’s sometimes feels hard to piece all this together without seeming like it’s terribly confusing being as it features the same characters. I’m finding myself laying down markers with scenery and parts of the actual town itself changing. Heck knows if this is working or not.

But progress is good and I’m feeling a ton better about it than I was even a month ago.

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A Warrior’s Dreams

About 2000 words done in the last few days which is fairly good progress considering the complete standstill this book was at just before Christmas. It’s been a gradual process of getting back into it by doing a couple of hundred words here and there.

A thought occured to me that suddenly made this part of the process make sense. What I’m writing at the moment certainly needs a rewrite but that’s adding colour. This part is just the pencil outline. I should hopefully be able to see where the colour needs to go as I reach the end.

With 33000 words done now it has only just sprang up in my mind that this is more than halfway.

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Content Generator

If I had a publisher then they’d probably be yelling at me down the phone right now. They would tell me to put down the car wash sponge as the car was only a little bit dirty and it’s about to rain anyway. They would tell me to stop filing my nails down. They would tell me that the list of video games I have made that I think need completed by the end of 2017 isn’t really the most important thing in my life right now.

There would then follow a long talk about how it’s coming along gradually and that the chapter I was having so much trouble with has now been finished. The completion has brought with it a complete red herring as far as the police officer’s investigation is concerned and a brand new character who will only remain in the story for another chapter at the most.

We’d then move onto how the final phase of the book currently tilts between and ending which will be fun to write but doesn’t make much sense and another which is the polar opposite.

Then we’d laugh and laugh.

Promising to do this all again next week before hanging up.

I’m quite glad at this stage that I don’t have a publisher.

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It Is After All A Wonderful Place

As you might have noticed the book has slowed down to a pitiful grind in recent weeks. In fact I think it might well have been around a month since I last put a word towards the thing at all. This is for a multitude of reasons, some of which will actually go into the nuts and bolts of the story so have a spoiler warning for something that doesn’t even fully exist yet if that kind of thing really bothers you.

It’s mainly been down to a moment of truth between two characters. The story has turned into something of a time slip. Half of the book is set ten years previously when the young girl actually went missing in the first place and the other half concentrates on her return a decade later. It’s been a bit of an effort to separate these two time lines and sometimes certain characters can have completely different opinions of each other within a few pages because we go into a new chapter and events have taken hold in the years between. I’ve made certain lengths to not put the same characters in joining chapters for this reason but it sometimes feels like I should because it would be best for the story.

There’s also the issue of giving correct signifiers of which time frame the story is in. I have buildings that thrive in the town of 2007 then crumble in 2017. There’s a cinema in the main street that two of the characters walk past in the earlier time line, it’s an empty husk by the time the modern events occur. I’m not sure if it actually makes any kind of difference and I think I might well be running out of examples to use. With this story originally being intended as a ninety minute film with minimal locations it’s becoming quite regular that I find myself describing somewhere I’ve already given details of a few chapters before.

The chapter I’m currently writing has the male police officer receive the report of the missing girl from her Mother. The Mother is obviously panic stricken so she spends the first few pages almost babbling at him. He’s the calm one, insisting that it’s probably nothing and they’ll find her fairly quickly. It’s two obvious, opposing ideologies at play and it should work better that it currently is. Reading it back now she just comes across as hysterical and he sounds like he doesn’t care.

I was reading something about police investigations on missing people and something really stuck with me. Apparently there is always a reason why somebody goes missing. Nobody just vanishes without a reason. The first thing investigators do rather than go out physically looking for the person in question is search their home/room/office/car so try and find something that would lead them to run away. With this in mind I have the police officer insisting on searching this girl’s room rather than go down to the harbour where she was last seen. Her Mother cannot see the point in all of this and protests as such.

But then the issues come up of what exactly would he find there? This girl has gone down to the beach, found an alien life form, had an alien parasite placed on her and then given back after ten years underwater. There’s really nothing he could possibly turn up under her bed that would lead to this conclusion.  This begs the question of what the point of this part of the story is. I’ve written about 500-600 words on that chapter, looked at what I had so far and wanted to delete the whole thing. It’s the first time I’ve felt that way about anything I’ve written towards this story.

If I’m getting rid of this thread then I’ve found it really hard to think of what to replace it with. Do I just have them go down to the beach and scrap the more ‘realistic’ aspect of a police investigation? Would the mother refuse police help if she thought it wasn’t really going anywhere? Is it possible to make him come across as calm without making it sound like he doesn’t actually care about what happens to this girl?  There’s a certain level of inconsistency at the moment as to why these characters are doing what they are doing which is undermining the whole thing.

Wider ranging questions have been brought up regarding the story also. Why exactly has the Mother come back ten years later? Does she seek closure? Does she seriously expect to find her daughter in the town she left? Is she chasing a much happier time in her life? Is she driven by a wish to change what happened in the aftermath of this event? When reading back the text so far she seems like she herself doesn’t truly know and it makes her sound less of a fully rounded character and more of a floating emotion minus heft and weight.

The current word count is halfway towards what I consider the finish line to be (as far as a first draft goes, they’ll be a heck of a lot of editing to do once I get there). I’m spending a lot of time looking back at what I have so far and wondering if it’s actually a worthwhile investment of time. All kinds of doubts have crept in and are starting to take root. This fundamental disconnect between two main characters is not helping matters.

There’s a way back in there somewhere and I’m glad in a way to have had some time away from it so I can view it from a much wider angle but time is ticking onwards. I started the book in March 2017 just before the clocks went forwards. Now I’m here, in October, with the clocks about to go back again and at the stage when I really thought I’d have a full draft by now. There’s a long winter ahead.

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Good People Making Cool Things

The more I’ve got into writing this book the more I’ve began to appreciate and be inspired by others online who are trying to get their dreams and ideas into reality. I’ve usually never met these people (but would certainly try and say hello if I ever did) but their individual stories do remind me that, when ploughing through another thousand words or so, there might just be something really special at the end of all of this. For the last few weeks I’ve been thoroughly addicted to watching Games As Lit 101 on YouTube in which Samuel Gronseth casts a critical eye over interactive media. I’d been watching a lot of his videos (drawn in mostly be his remarkable analysis of Bioshock) when his latest video describing his personal circumstances landed.

Rather than waffle on about it myself I’ll just put the video right here.

Once again I’ve never met Samuel nor ever spoken to him but I wanted to go right ahead and sign up to his Patreon because I really enjoy what he’s doing and want to help him advance it to the stage that he obviously reckons he can. There have been so many times whilst watching his videos that he’s introduced completely new ideas regarding games I long since thought I knew everything about.

I’ve signed up to $4 a month which isn’t a huge amount (does four bucks buy you a coffee and doughnut over that side of the Atlantic these days?) but I hope it goes some way to getting to his target. If you like video games and don’t just regard them as junk, throw away entertainment then I’d certainly recommend chucking Samuel some money so he can expand his show and bring his ideas to life.

Also, he likes cats so that’s an automatic thumbs up from me.

Now I need to go and write more words.

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84p

My parents have taken my son and his cousin away for the day today so after doing some cleaning around the house this morning I’ve been able to sit down with the book today and get some more of it done.

In fact about ten minutes ago I broke the 30,000 word barrier. I am oddly happy about this. Yes, the story is wobbling in places and I really need to go back and clean up major parts of it but the main thing is that I reckon I’m about halfway there. I’ve tried to drop the obsession with having a finishing wordcount over the last few weeks. When I first started back in March I was aiming at 75,000 for the only reason that the number seemed like a ‘proper book’ number of words. As I’ve gone on I’ve remembered that this is an idea originally designed for a 90 minute film and so therefore I might be better aiming for a bit less than that so as to not end up stretching the story out. One of my favourite books is Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy and that clocks in a 55,000. It’s a fairly concise and great story because of it so that makes me a whole lot more confident in the long run.

With the pressure off a little in that regard I’m writing whilst feeling I can be far quicker with the story and not have to pad just to get more words in. As such it’s possibly reading a bit better.

In the meantime I’m going to make a burger to celebrate.

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All Things Legendary

I went for lunch with a work colleague yesterday and happened upon this poster in the bookshop we passed by.

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I’ve never been to Fisher Street Galleries before yet I know where Fisher Street is so that’s not a big problem. I work during the day most Mondays in Carlisle so it would be fairly easy to just take a change of clothes, grab something to eat somewhere and pitch up at 7pm. My car parking permit runs 24 hours so that’s not really a problem either.

The £35 is affordable.

I’m not sure if they’d want me turning up with half a novel written and a few notes though. I’m liking it from the perspective of meeting other writers for a five weeks spell. The last time I did something similar to this was when I was in school years ago (I think I was about 17-18) and it was something of a disaster. Obviously I’m a grizzled 36 year old now with stubble and everything.

I’m currently mulling this one over.

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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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