Not Worrying Just Enjoying, First Draft: Start!, Structure, Endings, Beginnings, Tea Solves Many Problems

15 May

Imogen Shroud’s doing well this month, with twice the sales of any other title (ie six sales). Still just barely squeaking into the sale-a-day club. Remember when I said I didn’t worry about sales any more? It’s true that I don’t worry about them, but I still enjoy them. Checking sales is fun, just as long as you don’t obsess about it. I check two or three times a day, just when I think about it. Usually there’s no change but it’s always fun when there is.

Anyway! Started the first draft of Against Darker Days yesterday, exciting. Actually I suppose that technically you could say I started it a couple of months ago, doing all the character shorts, but I consider them to be kind of separate. 47,000 words of ‘separate’. Yep, this is gonna be a long one. The good news is that I got out 10,000 words yesterday and I’m through the fuzzy ‘not really outlined’ first part of the story and into woolly ‘kind of outlined’ country. Most importantly, I’ve got a hold of the characters and I’m enjoying spending time with them again just so much. Also, more good news, it turns out I don’t have to faff around sorting out all the different story threads at all, I just write a scene and then once it ends I go back to my outlines and switch to a different thread, figuring out ‘time’ as I go (nothing complicated like different character/plot threads occurring at different times here, I think my brain would explode if I tried something like that). It helps me to think of the structure as similar to a TV show like The Wire, where you have all of these different groups of characters, switching between them with each scene but always moving forwards in time. Then whenever I need to do a jump (to a couple of days later or whatever) I put in a chapter break. So far so simple, although it does get a teensy bit more complicated later on.

Figuring out these early beginning bits brought me back to something that’s been on my mind recently; endings and beginnings. I have no idea if this is true or not and I’m basing this on my own prejudiced observations and little more, but I feel that writers who don’t outline tend to favour beginnings and writers who do outline tend to favour endings. Stephen King, for example, is against outlining, claiming it stifles creativity, which could explain why his endings are, not to put too fine a point on it, terrible.

I’m firmly in the ‘ending’ camp myself, to me a beginning is just there to get you through to the interesting stuff–of course, a beginning has to be strong, it should introduce the character(s) and conflict as quickly as possible and start as close to the beginning of the ‘story’ as is reasonable, but it’s endings that I spend the most time on–not just the actual end-of-book-no-more-pages ending ending, but climaxes and resolutions and so on. There are some good ones in this book, if I do say so myself, and thinking about them gives me even more motivation to get the beginning ‘foundations’ laid as smoothly as possible. You need a good setup to achieve a good payoff. Rules have to be firmly established before they’re bent or interpreted in creative ways (but never, never broken; internal consistency is vital).

Anyway, Daughters are demanding Attention, and so off I must trot. Hopefully I’ll get some proper writing time today, maybe after a nice cup of tea.

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Posted by on May 15, 2011 in Of Writing


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