Thursday, May 03, 2007

7000 down

... 73,000 to go.

Actually, I'm feeling quite good. I mean, apart from having had chronic back pain for the past two weeks AND a sharp pain in my abdomen for which I'm having an ultrasound next week AND a nasty intermittent ear-ache which I only experience when I wake up suddenly in the middle of the night.

But I've still managed to write my 1,000 words a day, which is the important thing. The first two chapters are done, the words are flowing and my writing muscles are getting used to unfamiliar work. As time goes by I'll up the daily count to 2,000, and I still have a load of pre-written scenes which will have to be shoe-horned into the right places and then pounded into shape. Looking good for a first draft by the end of May. (I think I gave myself until the end of June, but time is tight for this book.)

One of the characters has undergone three complete transformations since I first came up with her. Her age and her position have both changed, so all the scenes I wrote with her slightly cynical take on things now have to be rewritten from a younger viewpoint, with a lot less cynicism. Dialogue, thoughts, actions .. it's like changing actors halfway through a film shoot, then having to redo the screenplay because the new person's personality and presence are so different. And in an earlier version she was definitely on the opposite side to Hal, whereas now ...

Of course, some time in the future I'm sure I'll need a cynical older female character, so I can't just delete bits or write over the top of them. First I have to store away every scene, adding to the 700,000 word pile sitting in my 'for future use' folder.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)


John B said...

So Simon, when you make a major change in a character's personality, appearance, gender, etc., do you immediately go back and change earlier chapters while it's still fresh, or do you keep moving forward knowing that you'll make the changes in the next draft?

Simon Haynes said...

I don't know about anyone else, but for me going back is always a fatal mistake. I just leave a note in the text and carry on.

The reason is this: later in the book I might change her again, and decide she's not a young female trainee, she's a young man. That would involve another note to myself as a reminder to change all scenes before that point, and had I stopped to change them already I'd now be editing them for the third time.

There's another reason: By the time I've written to the end of the book I know the character a lot better AND I know what they've been up to. When I go back to rewrite the early bits it's easier to stay in character, and I can also insert little clues or hints of things to come. There's no point me being clever first time round because I don't know exactly where it's going at that stage.

John B said...

That makes sense. Every time I have a new insight into whats going on with my little dudes.I find myself going over the same bits over and over again without moving the story forward. It's driving me batty, but I worry about being overwhelmed when it's time to go back.

Simon Haynes said...

I used to get overwhelmed, which is why I designed yWriter.

Writing a novel is a four- or five-pass process. On the first pass you have no idea where it's going to go, and you're just splashing paint on the canvas. The second and subsequent passes are where you refine, trim, adjust and polish.

That's why I cringe when someone types 'The End' and starts seeking an agent. Sure, they might have just typed an enduring masterpiece in one hit, but more likely it could do with another few drafts.

I end up doing a couple of dozen myself, until there isn't a single word I feel the need to edit.

Mary Paddock said...

So sorry to hear that you've been feeling badly. I hope they track down what's wrong soon.

It's interesting to watch you in progress on this one--educational as well. Sometimes less experienced writers like myself assume we're the only ones whose process is less than smooth--that we're the only ones who have to go back and change significant information about characters etc.