Posted tagged ‘characters’

This Writing Endeavour

December 31, 2008

The year has reached its end and I sit with a finished first draft on my desk that I hadn’t even considered this time 365 days ago. It’s a good feeling. I have printed it out to read through in the new year, making whatever notes and adjustments I deem necessary before letting it out into the “wild” and sharing it for feedback from others. If you’d like to be one of those others, drop me a line or leave a comment here and I’ll add you to the list. My aim is to have it ready by the end of January at the latest.

The story stands on its own quite well, but as I went along it became clear that it was only the first part of this character’s journey. I can envisage this first book as the start of a trilogy, which may well lead to other places – I can think of at least two other stories beyond that point. There are links to some of those in this first story – hopefully some will come to fruition in future books, depending on how this one is received.

The third part of the trilogy is a direct follow-up to the first story, but the second is still fairly open to explore the main character’s new-found ability, possibly even being a collection of short stories set throughout this universe. I’m not entirely sure how it will all fit together and may even need to complete planning on the third book before starting the second. Or….

The Writing Endeavor(sic) is a less stressful offshoot from the NaNos I’ve been involved in over these last two months. The aim is to come out after a year with a range of writing experience working to various different types of target. It starts on the 1st of January, with a 11,111 word count target on a piece of new fiction. I have three possible ideas bubbling away that I could use.

  1. Short story about the ‘Benefits of Hindsight’ main character – this may end up being the basis for either the second book OR simply one short story within the book
  2. Short story about a ‘Benefits of Hindsight’ supporting character – either the MC’s wife, his neighbour (the unexpected mentor character that I mentioned a while ago) or another character – that would be included as part of the book 2 collection
  3. Stand alone short fairy story aimed at children, but with an adult perspective

I have set these choices up as a poll – vote for the one you’d like me to go for!
[UPDATE: Poll now closed – thanks for filling it in!]

All the best to you heading for the new year – 2009.

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Unexpected Symmetry

December 6, 2008
NaNoFiMo

I’ve almost hit the 60k mark and have my final chapter still to write. That’s not going to take me to the 80k FiMo target, but there is still the epilogue as well as some detail to add to an earlier section of the book that I skipped through at the time I wrote that part.

What I found interesting in my last chapter was that a character from earlier in the book made an unexpected reappearance which saw me through a gap in the story that I had not otherwise thought how to explain within the narrative. It gives the story a bit more symmetry, having met this person at the start of his journey and now as he comes to the end.

NaNo Update

November 20, 2008
NaNoWriMo Participant

My wordcount is now over 34k (probably around 37k according to the official count) and I’ve just passed what I think is probably my biggest plot hurdle.  Writing a funeral as seen through the eyes of somebody who has lost his true love turned out to be a quickly-flowing, but quite harrowing process.  The whole thing just about wrote itself, but I found myself coming across some unexpected emotions in there that were even more powerful than the sense of loss.

The difficulty I knew would come in following on from the funeral, just as it is difficult to adjust to life after your world has been turned upside-down, how do you write about the slow process of the main character coming to terms with the new status quo without boring the reader?  I’ve now had him take those first faltering, and in his case, alcohol-filled, steps which let the second act of the novel begin.

The next chapter has to deal with a span of three years before the story picks up, so I’m expecting it to be another tricky one to write, with the lead role effectively spending years in an alcoholic haze before the catalyst strikes to set him back on the road to redemption.

NaNoWriMo08 Ch2 Excerpt

November 10, 2008
NaNoWriMo Participant

I’m still falling behind target, made worse by being out on Saturday night and doing very little, but made up some ground last night, well into chapter 3 which has turned out to be twice as long as the first two.  I’ve been having difficulty moving the story on at a couple of points because of the structure of the plot which requires some pointers to be dropped in early on which become of more significance later on, and I’m trying to make sure I have them in place so that I don’t run the risk of the plot becoming totally illogical.  Having the timeline finally settled is helping this, though it is still being tweaked occasionally to make sure I get everything lined up further on down the line.  I’m starting to get a better handle on two of the main characters, which is making writing their dialogue run a little more smoothly.

Here’s a little bit from chapter 2, where things are starting to deviate from the norm…

When I awoke with a start it was not upon touchdown, but at the first stop on the train.  I didn’t know where I was.  I certainly didn’t know how I had got there.  One moment I was on a plane, the next on a train.  Somehow I had managed to get off the plane, through the airport, down to the train terminal, buy a ticket and board the train without being able to recall a single second of it.  I would say that it was a similar feeling to travelling a familiar road and becoming aware that you’ve covered twice the distance expected, or getting caught up in a piece of music so much that you get to the end and realise you didn’t sing the chorus like you normally do.  Yet it was more than that.  It wasn’t that I hadn’t been paying attention.  I simply had no memory of doing any of those things over the previous hour and a half.  I felt myself shaking and wishing I had brought my hip-flask.
By the time the train drew into Liverpool Street, my nerves had returned to normal, but I helped them along with a double shot of espresso from one of the coffee booths in the station, before making my way out on my usual route.  As I passed the tramp and his dog he seemed to catch my passing glance and stare back, which just made me laugh, as it occurred to me that I was still sufficiently visibly shaken by my missing period of time that somebody in his state of disarray should do a double-take at the way I look.  He is usually too drunk to do much more that curse or mumble at anyone passing within his line of sight.

Hitting Target

November 6, 2008

NaNoWriMo08 ParticipantHaving slept on last night’s progress and had a bit of a think about timelines over this morning’s coffee, the plot has taken a bit of a turn. I now have the full plot written down very briefly from the perspective of the main characters and have started to use this to populate a timeline. This is just a simple OpenOffice spreadsheet with a colour-coded column for each main character and time moving vertically down the page. This should make it easy to insert new events. I have also used coloured fills to show where characters interact which I’m hoping will help me keep everything in a logical order. I’ve filled in a couple of scenes, so still have a bit of work to do on it.

I know now why my character is having blackouts, but it’s not the reason I originally thought, and it does take the story in a completely different direction, although my original synopsis still stands true. The changes have made the whole story not just an interesting plot, but (hopefully) a relatively original character study.

Finally, having done a little bit of a recalculation around my wordcount I have realised that at the current rate of around 2000 words per day I should hit the 50k target at the end of the month, so technically I don’t NEED to play catch-up. However, I have set myself the goal of 3000 words per day in order to give myself a bit of breathing space and the occasional day to take a step back and make sure it all makes sense.

Writing has begun

November 6, 2008
NaNoWriMo mug Logo

I didn’t manage to hit the word count target today, let alone catch up with the days I’ve missed, but I did spend some time working on the key characters. Mainly their attributes and background history, but also some consideration of their timelines through the story. I will have to go into more detail with these in the next day or two, because it’s going to start getting complicated fairly soon and I don’t want to worry about losing my way as well as not meeting word counts or writing a boring story.

I’ve started writing the first two chapters simultaneously, mainly because they have a repeated structure. The first showing the normal routine of the main character, introduces the main players and sets the scene, whilst the second shows the start of the changes that trigger the main plot. In both cases the first scene describes the journey from rural Scotland to the centre of London that is made by the lead whilst the second relates the phone conversation between him and his wife at the end of the day. The key differences between the two chapters will serve as clues to what is happening.