Friday, October 30, 2009

Plot problem solved and the end creeps closer

Me again, who else would it be? I am going to try and post on a Friday and a Monday from now on, so those of you that are regulars can know when to expect an update. The Friday post will talk about my week's work; how I've progressed and what challenges I've faced. The Monday post will mention any ideas I have and what I expect to achieve.

This week started off badly, I have been writing this novel mostly in sequence. Occassionally though I have woken up and just had to write a scene or get down a piece of dialogue (you may recall my inspiration one night whilst washing up and just having to stop and write the final scene of the story.)

Anyhow, this week I reached one of those said scenes, where I had already drafted quite a lot of dialogue. Rather than make things easier though, I found the process extremely difficult. The problem was that the scene I had written months ago, did not exactly fit the story. Characters were discussing stuff that I had already resolved or decided to omit altogether.

No problem, I thought to myself, I will just incorporate the bits that are relevant. I then found myself writing the chapter to fit the scene that I had already written. It was tough going and felt forced.

I was in two minds, some of the dialogue I had written was really good stuff but trying to include it was making the chapter suffer. I had to decide whether to carry on regardless, or scrap the material I had already written.

In the end I did a combination of both. I started the chapter from scratch and used snippets of the dialogue.

One other thing that had been bothering me was in some point of the story, one character had to find out something about another character. I could not for the life of me work out how to do this and then have the character magically appear on the other side of the land in order to interact with the third character (confused? Try writing it!). Like all great problem solvers, I have been ignoring the problem hoping a solution would present itself. This week, I thought of an excellent solution. It is so simple and makes perfect sense in the context of the novel. I am so overjoyed with it that I have just started the scene tonight.

Word Count 88,000

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Keep on writing.

So last week I continued my ultra productive writing and got over 2,000 words writing on Thursday. The trip to Sheffield actually turned out as a great opportunity as the predicted 3.5 hour journey actually turned into a 5 hour journey thanks to point issues and signal failures, what have you - you've got to love the english trains.

As planned I took as long weekend off, took my lovely wife shopping and just generally recharged (well as much as you can with a fully crawling 8 month old baby who is interested in everything running a muck, even as I type this he is trying to bash the keyboard).

However, then a strange thing happened. Like the thousands of other bloggers whose blogs malfunctioned last week, so did I. I returned to work on the Tuesday and immediately went on a training course, Wednesday was back in the office to face a plethora of problems and 106 emails and before I knew it I had come home both nights and not in the mood to write.

Suddenly a week had gone by and I hadn't written a single word. I was filled with doubt, was I losing my rhythm, now I was approaching the first bend, was I losing my momentum?. On Thursday, I awoke determined to write at all costs. I wrote at lunch time and as soon as I got home, Friday I did the same. The week wasn't as productive as the one before but it was still o.k. The important thing is that I am now back and writing hard. This weekend I have also sorted out a couple of plot points that had been plaguing the novel (GRRM eat your heart out).

I guess the big thing I have learnt is that it is so important to keep writing every day. It is so easy to get out of the habit and all of a sudden it feels like a chore. It should never feel like a chore. I don't write at weekends but that is just me, I thoroughly recommend you find a writing tempo that agrees with you but make sure it is regular.

Word count: 82,000

See you soon.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

18 down 12 to go

Yes the title of this posts relates to chapters. I have slotted into a nice writing rhythm now. I write Monday to Friday, give myself the weekend off and then carry on the next week.

The weekend off gives me time to formulate ideas and evaluate (not edit) where the plot is going. I usually give myself a rough target of 1,000 words a day. This week I have been well above that:

1,255 words on Monday
2,278 words on Tuesday
1,108 words today.

Tomorrow I have to travel to Sheffield for a meeting. The journey takes roughly 3 hours, so I am going to take my laptop and write on the train. With any luck I will get quite a lot done.

Yesterday (the 2,278 word day), the muse just flowed. I was only intending to write a brief scene of how some characters got to A and B and as the story told itself I ended up writing a really good action sequence. The only thing downside was one of the characters had a complete personality transplant from his appearances earlier on in the novel. So last night I went back and planted seeds that explained nicely why he behaved like he did.

So with 3/5ths of my novel completed, I am aiming to finish it before the end of the year. If I carry on at this rate I might even finish it at the start of December.

As Robertsinferno said, time to start promoting myself.

Word Count: 76,000
Mood: Buzzing.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


I've reached 70,000 words!!! This was always the personal milestone for me. My book is no where near finished yet, but I will come on to that in a minute and before you say it, now that I am writing the book, I am not concerned with the word count, the book will be as long as it needs to be. When I was considering writing this book, I also did a ton of research, because I really didn't know what was involved in the process i.e. once I had written the story, what was the next step.

The key thing that stuck in my mind was that generally, a publisher would not consider any manuscript from a first time author that was less than 70,000 words or over 120,000 words in length. There are obviously exceptions (if your story is good enough, it is good enough), but this is what really stuck with me. I thought to myself, "If I could just get over that 70,000 word limit I will be a happy man." Today I did just that.

This book might never see the light of day, it might be considered the worst bit of literature of all time but at least it will not be dismissed because it is too short.

Having said that, I am now experiencing my own dilema, or Meerenese knot as Mr Martin what say. I have reached a point in the story where a big event has happened, the majority of the major characters are dealing with this and it will build towards a conclusion. However, there is also a another strong thread that culminates in a battle. I had planned to include it in this book as part of a thrilling conclusion and tying up all the loose ends, however, the more I think about it, the more I am inclined to push it into book 2 (yes there will be a sequel). I could then concentrate on developing one of the characters involved in the battle. The only problem that this presents is how the battle will take place in book 2 given the ending I have planned with the other thread. I guess I will just carry on writing and see how the story fares. Maybe that will give me a better idea and I can ascertain from the pace of the story whether it needs the massive battle at the end.

George updates us on Dance.

George R R Martin has updated his not a blog this morning. No he hasn't finished the book but he is definitely making progress. He states:

"Finished a Jon Snow chapter, and have just passed the 1100 page (manuscript pages, the page count in the final printed book will be different) mark on A DANCE WITH DRAGONS. That's counting only finished chapters in something close to final form. I have considerably more in partials, fragments, and roughs.

Even with just the finished portions, DANCE is now longer than A FEAST FOR CROWS and A GAME OF THRONES, and I'm closing in on A CLASH OF KINGS. I do hope I can wrap things up before I approach the 1521 page length of A STORM OF SWORDS.

Making a new run at the Meereenese knot, but maybe not tomorrow. I think I'll hang around at the Wall a bit longer, and maybe visit Winterfell."

This is excellent news, I simply cannot wait for this book. It could be still several more months until it is finished, but I think we can all safely say it is months rather than years now. Good on you sir.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Big scene done!!

Finished the pivotal scene at lunch time. Do I love it? Kind of! I like what I've written but I know I will have to revisit it in the editing stage to tighten up. I am however, extremely please with some of the ideas I came up with whilst writing it. Some of them are pretty cool I can prmise you.

This marks a massive landmark for me. I am now over half way in my novel which is great on so many levels. I can now deal with the fallout and most importantly build towards the end.

It also means I feel really good. I have finished climbing the mountain and am now making my way back down the other side.

Hopefully I'll finish the first draft by Christmas. I can then enjoy the winter holiday with a view of editing in the New Year.

Mood: Excited.