Sunday, January 30, 2011

Grant year, week four: writing, researching and planning

Still going strong with the word count -- 20k so I'm managing to keep up with my 5k/week plan. There's a real temptation to just pound out the words on my writing day, but I'm trying to avoid that. Part of my grant pitch was talking about how I wanted time to do proper research and planning. As I've learnt from my reporting days, this can be a situation where you put in a lot of effort, chasing leads. It looks as though nothing is going to come of it, and then all of a sudden you're run off your feet.

And this is what has happened. I really wanted some firm background in tattooing, given that tattoos are such an important part of the book. So I've been chasing up various leads. And it seems like they're all coming to fruition at once. One of my Twitter friends, @blackvalo, put me onto Brunswick Ink Tattoo in the Valley. I'm going in tomorrow night to watch Davin do some tattooing. Earlier, I'd sent an email to Westside Tattoo over at West End, and they also got back to me this week. I'm going in on Friday to watch owner Matt do some tattooing. And an ABC colleague saw my tweeting and offered to share some of her insights. I gave her a call on Friday and we had a good chat, which was really helpful.

People have suggested that I get a tattoo and be done with it. It has crossed my mind. I've got a design in my head that I think would be rather cool, but I don't know if I've got enough of a canvas for them to work with. (People who know me will know what I mean). Also, there's the cash side of it. We're not flush at the moment so that puts me off a bit. Maybe I should make a commitment to get a tattoo when I sell the manuscript!

I've also been chasing some contacts to do some research on the SAS. Again, I want the segments involving the SAS to be as realistic as possible. I've read a few books about the SAS -- most recent SAS Sniper, by Rob Maylor (which is a great read, by the way). But I still have a few hypothetical situations that aren't covered in the books. Because my mind often drifts towards 'action', it would be handy having some solid military/special forces contacts. So I'm working to build some trust with people in the know.

The other really important thing I did this week was sort out a rough plan for the entire novel. Last year, even though I wasn't writing Skin Deep, I was thinking about it a lot. I'd think of cool scenes and jot them down in my Scrivener file. So I had a whole heap of scenes relating to Harry's working life, his relationship situation and tattoos, in no particular order. For some reason, I've been procrastinating about putting them in order. I think I was worried that when I actually sat down to plan the book out, I wouldn't be able to find a place for all these scenes. Which wasn't the case at all. There were only maybe three out of 30 that I think may get dropped. (That's not to say all will survive until final draft).

This is a big deal because I've managed to hit my word targets to date because over the past year I've done a lot of thinking about the opening scenes in the book. So I've been able to write this down so (relatively) easily. But to sustain this, I need to start thinking about the scenes coming up, so that when I sit down to write, I'm not going, 'Um, so what happens now'.

The other thing I've started to notice is the inner critic rearing his ugly face. I've been told that I 'write fast', meaning that I tend to race through the plot without giving a lot of thought to scenery, characters, what the characters are thinking etc. I think part of the reason I do this is that my inner critic convinces me that I'm boring the reader. So, I've told the inner critic to fuck off. I need to let Skin Deep unfold at its own pace. And if I get the pacing wrong in the first draft, I can always tweak it in the subsequent drafts. I would rather cut when I'm editing than write new material once I'm out of 'the zone'. So, for now, I'm exploring pretty much every avenue of thought, getting it down, and then I'll cut later.

Potentially, I could be a quarter of the way through my book. I've got a feeling thought that this first draft may be more like 100k than 80k.

Posted via email from garykemble's posterous

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