Sunday, February 27, 2011

Grant year, week eight: writing and planning

I should probably just drop the 'writing' from my 'Grant year' titles -- it's pretty clear that every week is going to involve writing! Even if it's rewriting.

Okay, so it's been a quiet week. I still hit my target, in fact I'm ahead of my target. I'm not going gaga over that however because I think the first draft is going to be quite a bit longer than the 90k I'm aiming for. I'm currently at 42k and I'm just about to finish act one. So, the second act is usually longer than the first, and the third is usually shorter, but it could be 120k.

Which I'll still get done by the end of June, if I stay on track with my 5k/week word count.

Why does it matter how long it is? Technically, it doesn't. If you write a brilliant first novel, chances are that you'll find a publisher for it -- it just might be a bit harder. The Company of the Dead, by David Kowalski, springs to mind. But there's so many factors that come into play. Kowalski's book was kind of an alternative history thriller action romp (yes you can quote me on that). Multiple timelines. In structure similar to John Birmingham's blockbusters. There's an expectation that kind of book will be longer. The reality is that first-time novelists have better odds if their manuscript is about 80-90k.

Anyway -- getting a bit ahead of myself here, since I haven't even finished the first draft.

As well as the writing, I've been doing a bit of informal planning. And by informal planning I mean that I've been thinking about the problems with the book (the bits I haven't written yet) and how I can fix them. This week I finally figured out how two main characters are going to meet at the end of act one. I had a few ideas but they all seemed contrived. Finally settled on something this week. And even though it's vital these two characters meet at the end of of act one (it's the first major climax) I can change it later. In fact, if I was really struggling, I could leave the final chapter of act one and dive into act two.

The other problem that I've gone some way to resolving is how some of the sub-plots connect. In real life, not everything connects. Things just happen, right? Unfortunately, we don't give novelists the same leeway. People expect the details to mean something. So I'm starting to work out how the things that are happening in Harry's life now relate to things that happened to another character. I guess you could call him 'the ghost'.

I imagine what will happen is that some of these sub-plots will become integral to the story. Others not so much. Similarly, there are characters who I've breathed life into who I think may end up on the cutting room floor.

This week, I really need to get down to State Library. Act two is going to be much harder to write. It's where Harry starts unravelling the mystery. So I need to start ravelling it for him!

Posted via email from garykemble's posterous

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