July has come and gone. This month has been a lesson in managing my time, finding time to do some exercise, and finally get a sourdough dough that didn’t overprove before going into the oven.
We’re still in the weird world of lockdown. I’m still working from home for the near foreseeable (much to the delight of the cats who have a constantly present human to bother for food), and my writing time is going back to something akin to “normal.”
So, what have I been up to this month? Lots of things, actually.
Assassins 1 – Lets go back to the beginning
One piece of writing advice that I always hold dear is that when you are struggling on a particular paragraph, look two or three paragraphs above. It’s likely that the problem you’re facing in your current sentence is lurking back up there, somewhere.
I had made it to almost the half way point of my manuscript on what I am nominally calling “Draft 2”. The way I write mean some chapters have been overhauled, others have been left in their raw draft 1 form, and yet even more plotlines, characters and mysteries have been added.
And I was doing really good with this! Making great progress back in April and May…and then in June the breaks hit. I struggled to focus on the scene because there was a nagging itch that it didn’t quite work.
So I looked at the previous few paragraphs. When the problem wasn’t in there, I looked at the previous few chapters.
And then, I got all the way back to the beginning, and realised my problem.
I had too many plotlines.
My “budding relationship” plotline was starting to interfere with my “mystery” plotline, both of which were entangled with my “finding retribution plotline”. One character had all of these things going on at once, and whilst someday in the future I’d like to think I could handle that many threads in one go, I know today is not it. So out went the budding relationship and in came a “established relationship”, out went the “wait are you an assassin too” and in came “I already know you’re an assassin.”
And suddenly, for that one character, the plot holes began to fall away. There is a lot of work to do with her, but her pathway through the book is a little clearer now. Now I get to focus on her main storyline, finding retribution and solving the mystery, with all the others as supporting threads.
Likewise, for my main character, I needed the “Inciting Incident”. I’ve cycled through a number of variations of this incident, and I’m still not 100% settled. I think the main problem is that within a relatively short period of time I am trying to set up a number of different threads for this character which then fan out throughout the book. Without those threads being setup properly, the rest of the story doesn’t hang together (hence my difficulties at the half way point).
So I’m now working through Inciting Incident v4. There is still work to be done on the timings of when this incident hits and the buildup, but overall I think this new structure flows better into the rest of the story. We’ll have to see how it turns out!
The Gateway of Arieum
If you’ve been following my recent posts, I’ve been talking about my newest short story The Gateway to Arieum which you can now access if you sign up to my newsletter! If you’ve already read the short story, let me know what you think!
Fuelled by revenge, Fayan escapes the claws of Queen Erisa's imprisonment to travel to the great Arieum Keep, home of the last Gateway, a magical portal that grants power to those who pass its test. However, Erisa does not like leaving loose ends, and Fayan and the other Mages of Arieum represent the last bastion of resistance for her Empire. Fayan is the last hope for Arieum. If she fails, Erisa will eliminate them all.
Stories on a Theme
Stories on a Theme is a fun little project I like to pull out to make some writing exercises that really push my imagination on a prompt. The idea is that for a weekly theme I write 7 flash fictions, each one different from the last. Normally I find I can write 3 flash fictions with relative ease, but then I start having to really pull apart the prompt and think outside the box.
If you’ve missed any of the stories so far, you can check out the most recent ones below. Let me know what you think!
What Else I’ve been Up To
I’ve been trying to divvy my time up more, so that I don’t face “writing burn out” by spending every waking hour writing on one project. This has included starting new TV shows (Dark is as good as Sibling told me it was, see below!), trying new computer Games (Divinity II), and making time for doing some exercise.
Writing is one of those hobbies/callings that can become all-consuming if you’re not careful. I think that’s the case for any kind of creative endeavour – it’s hard to shake the nagging doubt that you could be progressing your project instead of doing another activity. However, one thing I have found is that by block out writing time has made me more productive in that writing time. I can still hit my daily wordcount goals, but more efficiently, giving me more time to do other things instead!
As I’ve been watching more Netflix recently, I’ve got some more TV recommends for you all:
I’m still working my way through three books (!) at the same time – Eye of the World, We Hunt the Flame, and Becoming. Normally I like to only read one book at a time, but in the current environment I am finding it’s hard to focus on just one story, so I’m working with myself and giving a selection to dip in and out from every night.
That’s it for this month!
Hope you are all safe and well in these crazy times. Take care out there, take care of yourselves, and happy creating!
Featured image credit: Photo by Artem Maltsev on Unsplash