Thursday, March 12, 2015

Not The Disenchanted Wizard

Back in November I got myself involved in the NaNoWriMo competition which requires you to write a 50,000 novel in a month. I wrote about doing this at the time, when I was still only some 38345 words ahead. I finished the 50,000 words, but some of them were the scruffiest words you can imagine...which is not surprising if you're trying to write a novel almost from scratch in a month.

I know some people can write quickly and confidently. Some claim that their first draft is the only draft, and usually only needs tidying up. (Stephen King claims this is the way he works: comes back to it after a couple of months and removes all the excess adjectives and adverbs.) Some have a gift for storytelling that just seems to pour out of them, and though those works may have some flaws, they carry the reader along all the same.

My certificate, though the
book's title has now changed
There were some good things in my story, some interesting and fantastical events, and I knew where I wanted to finish up...roughly. But when I'd finished the 50,000 words (which included a lot of notes about what I was writing, which is how I write anyway) I had a big hole between the first two-thirds and the last couple of chapters. In fact, though I tried to write those last chapters, they were awful, because I wasn't sure how the characters had actually got to that point.

So over the last month or so I've been working at the story again, first by going through it and making lots of notes (yup, that's how I work), and then trying to work out some of the problems, and then trying to figure out a structure and then discovering, over and over, that if I did such and such then I'd have to answer the question as to why such and such...if you get my drift.

A few days ago I tried working backwards from those last chapters to try and figure out how things got to that point. Copious notes ensued. Copious notes, and oodles of questions. I'm getting sick of my inner editor asking, But why...? like a nauseating two-year-old that someone's left on your doorstep and you have to look after for the afternoon. (Having been through the two-year-old questioning stage at least five times, it's not a period of life that I find quite so endearing as I once did...)

Anyway, today I feel as though I'm making progress. I'm now in the position of being able to go back to the beginning to sort out the structure again, this time with a lot of the reasons for things happening already in place, instead of being guessed at. Of course there are still questions (Be quiet you nauseating child!) but we're managing to work things out.

As I said in my last post this is a prequel to Grimhilda! the first book in this series of children's stories, and explains, amongst other things, how the Maps came to be the Maps, and who they are (something I thought I knew back in November - I was proved wrong and had to give the original couple their dismissal notices).

The big climax was to have taken place in a different country altogether to the rest of the story. I finally realised late last night that this was just adding to my burdens, and ditched the whole idea, along with copious notes and things copied off the Net. Much more straightforward for the storytelling to keep the thing in one city; it's the third city to appear in these books. The first two were unnamed, but this one has a name, though whether it'll actually appear in the book is another question.

Anyway, at this point I don't have a deadline for finishing the story, but I think once I start writing the next draft, I'll get an idea of how from publishing it'll be. As long as characters don't keep wanting to change their motivations and backstories and refusing to do what they're told.
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