Tag Archives: Chapter 12

February Status Report

I have become some sort of writing machine!

I was very happy with my progress in January and now I am feeling goooooood about February.

Last night I finished chapter 12. And I love the way it ended.

It was a peculiar chapter because I took Crystal through 3 different scenes and settings. I don’t normally move through that many scenes in one chapter, for no particular reason other than its just how I write.

I’m a faithful user of the three-little-star scene-breaker punctuation device… Oh it’s just easier to show you; like this.

*   *   *

I learnt it from Robin Jarvis – my favourite author! (You must read his latest books Dancing Jax and Freax and Rejex, you simply must faithful reader! I promise they will not disappoint!) The first series of books that ever affected me were his Tales from the Wyrd Museum and if I ever had the pleasure of meeting him I would tell him just how much his writing means to me.

dancing_jax_35116

I like my scenes to have an end, and that end to have a little beat or cliff hanger, not dissimilar to the way a scene ends in a TV show.

Sometimes the chapters I find the most difficult to write tend to be the ones with lots of scenes.

It’s almost a sign that I’m struggling with a chapter when there are lots of scenes. Like my fingers are dancing these characters around to try to get them where I need them to be.

But the strange thing is, these chapters somehow end up being my favourite.

In the last book I wrote I was stuck on Chapter 8. And when I say stuck, I mean stuck for months! Val came to my rescue there with some amazing insight into one character that sent me off in the direction I was aiming for but didn’t know how to get too.

Funnily enough, chapter 8 in this book saw me struggle too. Both were natural pauses in the story which is a strange coincidence, and whenever I go back and read either of them I am filled with that “oh I remember you” feeling.

The scenes in Chapter 12 were difficult in a way because there was a lot of exposition to get through. And whilst I knew what the exposition was, telling it neatly and clearly was always going to be a struggle.

But I like it. It’s the scene that I talked about in an early blog that I had to move to the hobbit-type-hole; Leo uses his mobile to do his research. And the humour I had planned works quite well. I’ll be interested to see if others find the funny funny.

Then there was the Goosebumps moment (Yay!) and it was quickly followed by another difficult scene.

It was time for Crystal to speak to her aunts. She had been stubborn and silent for long enough. It was time to let them back in slightly, and get the house talking again. But this time there’s no secrets. Crystal starts a conversation that only briefly touches on what the aunts kept from her for so long, but it was enough to start the ball rolling and opens the door for more communication in subsequent chapters.

I’m happy with it. I’m also happy with how it leads into the the final scene of the chapter; Crystal meets the Collector. And it’s such a brief meeting.

So few words are uttered but so much meaning is implied. Or at least if I’ve done my job right, then that’s what will come across.

Fantastic to have a new character to write for. And such an ambiguous character too. Delish!

So that’s where I am. Two more chapters done in another month. If I keep this up I’ll be on track to meet my deadline of January 2014.

I’m factoring in a lot of time for editing. I remember how long the last book took… And how painful it was.

Goosebumps

I love it when a plan comes together.

My style of writing is to block out the bare bones of a chapter and then when it comes to actually writing it, allowing my fingers to their own devices and indulging in a bit of creative embellishment. Really, its 1 part thinking to 2 parts doing.

1 Part Thinking:

Plan. Write a brief, brief, brief synopsis for the chapter considering the important plot points and really just mapping out the beginning, middle and end. More often than not, I have a place my main character has to end up, and I just plan the steps they take to get there.

Doing #1:

Take a first pass at the writing which is really just turning the synopsis into prose. This doesn’t always feel like you are a competent writer, or even that what you’ve written is particularly good, but it does get the story going. Mostly, my first pass is speech. Getting the talkie bits in gives you a framework for the rest of the chapter.

Doing #2:

Now this is the bit that I love; the heart. This is where I make the story feel. Difficult to explain. I make sure that the chapter is coherent and consistent when it comes to perspective, and try to ensure that I refer back to my main character as much as possible. I also embellish the speech.

I heard a brilliant piece of advice once, when it comes to a character’s dialogue. Basically, if you don’t love every single word that each character says, then cut it. For me, this makes the dialogue easier to write. If it’s half-hearted and just ‘serving a purpose’ then change it and make it right for that character.

It’s also where I feed the descriptions with some much needed adjectives. Pass 2 is all about making the chapter sit in its rightful place in the book and in the landscape that you’re writing about. Describe the scenery, enhance the mood, make the surroundings matter as much as the characters speech and thoughts and feelings.

Of course, this is an extremely general simplification of the process. The ‘1 Part Thinking’ is actually the culmination of years of characterisation, plotting, figuring out twists and turns, back story, research… I could go on!

But what I really love is when in doing the second pass, I write something and connect something that I didn’t know was there, at first. I’ll try and explain…

It’s the goosebump moments. Those rare times when the facts and research and plotting and sub plotting and characterisation and dialogue and setting all merge to create something special.

the_writers_tale

I always thought that Russell T Davies was very clever in his plotting – and he is! He writes things in that don’t seem important and end up being massively important. He has a fantastic way of linking things that you didn’t realised were linked to begin with. Pockets anyone?

He’s also very good at using the information he has already established to his advantage. So, when it comes to making that link, he looks incredibly clever, like he had planned the link all along. When, in reality, he probably discovered the link was there half way through writing it – “Us Smiths have to stick together!”

Am I making sense?

The reason I bring this up is because I just linked something in my novel which is really nothing more than a happy accident. A fantastic play on words that hopefully, if you ever read it, you will think I was so clever and had planned it all along, when in actual fact, it happened by accident through a bit of research and using what I had already established.

This makes me so happy! For a brief and shining moment, I felt like a proper writer. I even had goosebumps.

Then I read it back, and I gave myself goosebumps again!

It’s these small and clever times that spur me on. It can be awfully lonely and quite isolating working as a writer. You can doubt yourself 300 times a day, and only feel like you’ve done good maybe twice a day.

This is one of those times! I pat myself on the back.

Chapter 11 is finished and I am half way through Chapter 12, as of yet untitled. I hate giving a chapter a title if it doesn’t naturally come to me. That will be next now, I’ll spend days agonising over the name of this chapter instead of writing it.

So to save myself the bother, I’ll name it now: lets call it…

Words Written in Red and White

It’s a working title. But I like it!