30 June 2012

Draft One: Done!

I have typed “The End” (and then found a lovely lyrical font for those words), and I’m calling myself done. I don’t think I have any more story to think up!

I suppose I might be cheating a bit in saying the first draft is complete, because I know there are words yet to be written. In the process of completing the story I have discovered more about it and my characters, and I have made notes on extra bits and pieces I need to do to make it richer. There are also scenes I know I’ll need to re-work, whether that’s filling them out, deleting text (such as unnecessary backstory), or both. But what I have done is, I hope, complete the story from beginning to end. That is, I know what happens, and the order of all the scenes. I am at a commercial word count (circa 80,000 words).

The only thing I feel a bit nervous about as far as story structure goes, is that the first act is probably too long, and the last act is probably too short. But I’ll need readers to let me know if it’s noticeable. And I’m not ready for readers yet – I still have a lot of work to do.

So how long has it taken me to pound out this draft? Well in purely calendar terms, I began planning to write the draft in October, not doing any proper writing until November (for NaNoWriMo). I’ll admit I did a few cheeky scene notes in advance, purely so I wouldn’t forget key phrases or ideas. I got to 40,000 words at the end of the month, and then to 60,000 before we went on our big trip at the end of February – over Christmas and the rest of summer quite a bit of my time was spent planning for said trip, and I also went through a period of being stumped. Then I’ve plugged away slowly but surely since April, and here we are.

Where are you at with your current WIP? How long does it take you to complete a draft?

24 June 2012

Scene Synergy

I'm still in the process of finalising my first draft: working through my scenes, putting them in order and adding or removing bits and pieces. I've been a bit stuck this week on the second half of act 2 - when the action really ramps up and all the different character arcs collide. It's been a challenge sorting out the order of these important scenes to ensure each one leads on to the other, and each character isn't left without anything to do for too long. I also need to make sure they are communicating with each other in a timely fashion, and that the consequences of their actions, both together (I mean the hero and heroine) and separately make chronological sense.

You'd think this would all flow rather organically, but alas, it hasn't. My scene notecards were helpful to a point, but now I've put a spreadsheet together which details the scenes in each chapter, including word count, point of view and synopsis. It's only when I break down all the bits and pieces I've written into chapters that the pictures is clear enough to me. I can then see that my hero has too much screen time at once, for example, or that it doesn't make sense for the antagonist to react in a particular way until later in the story. Then I just have to literally jot down different scene orders to see how to make it work.

I'm happy to say I think I've figured it out today, but it's taken quite a lot of moving things around, and splitting up a couple of scenes to delay some consequences. Now I need to make sure it actually flows when I read it - I'm sure there is plenty of further tweaking to be done! I hope beta readers will be able to tell me if it works.

It seems strange that a writer wouldn't know the order of her own scenes - does this happen to you? What's your method for sorting it all out?

16 June 2012

Pun Intended

This year the population of geese at one of our local ponds has grown exponentially. Here is the pond in question:

There are now too many geese. They have run out of food, are making a huge mess, and and hold up traffic as their huge gaggle crosses the main road in and out of the suburb. The council has decided to move them to a local farm. You can watch the local news story about the problems with "the gang".

We discussed this as we drove past the pond this morning. My husband pondered the potential difficulty in rounding them up. "It will be a WILD GOOSE CHASE," he quipped.

That did make me giggle.

07 June 2012

I'm Just Upside Down

In a digital world, the distinctions between the northern and southern hemispheres are brought into focus. Back when I was growing up, I'd never been overseas, and I could happily watch television series three years old without worrying about spoilers. Having British grandparents I learned some Northern cultural traditions (like tartan and reels), but I never really had to pay attention to the seasonal timings of life on the other side of the world.

It was only when I began to write stories set in England that I had to shift my mindset, particularly around the seasons, and also having to think about plants and animals that don't exist in my part of the world. It's a constant effort to remember whether it will be hot or cold, and it was a surprise to learn that the Season was actually in late spring rather than winter.

It was only when I was in Europe this year, ending a few weeks before Easter, that the penny dropped regarding the significance of the timing of some festivals in the northern hemisphere. It's autumn for Easter here. Seeing early spring in Europe, I finally connected new life = spring = Easter. Previously having eggs for Easter didn't make any sense, but too yummy to question. Now it makes sense to me, with the whole spring/new life thing.

It also occurred to me that Christmas breaks up the cold season nicely in the north. For us it's the beginning of the summer holidays (meaning time off, although I always try to work as much as possible in order to have a holiday when the kids are back at school in late January/February). We have a few other public holidays over the coming months, and we just had Queen's birthday... and now we have no more free days until Labour Day at the end of October. That means the whole winter without any national time off or festivals of any kind.... nothing to look forward to. If you can afford to, you either indulge in snow sports or a holiday to the sun in Australia or the Pacific Islands. Otherwise you just hunker down and wait for the cold to pass. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD, how ironic) is common.

Anyway, I just thought I would share some observations about living down under. And who's to say we are upside down... maybe the earth is the other way around!

The title of this blog was inspired by this song... enjoy!