Work is progressing with Thieving King but I’ve found it more difficult than I thought.
Part of this is because I’ve trod these chapters before. Whilst the tone and the attitude of some of the characters has altered slightly in this revision, at this stage it’s still very subtle. And so those chapters are haunted by ghosts of the past.
There’s a lot of fear here. Thieving King was originally the second half of Four Realms and so it shares a lot of the same structure. In the past few weeks I’ve realised just how complicated that structure is. In some ways it’s no wonder the first book took as long as it took to write because from where I stand now this feels like an incredibly complicated novel.
And so somewhere in the back of my head is a worry that something will still fail as I move into the next act of this draft. I hope not. One of the things this draft does is remove some of the darker elements that constantly punched you in the gut for ones that are a little more finessed and hopefully whilst they don’t hit as hard, they kinda hurt more.
But I’ve yet to settle into this novel. I’m very nervous about it on so many levels and it’s only as I now take it in subtly different directions to previous drafts that I find myself relaxing a bit more and enjoying the process.
Still I worry something will derail me, so there’s still this sense of blind panic of getting this draft done.
Even with real life getting in the way the last couple of weeks I’ve still made solid progress. I should hit 20,000 words tonight. That’s not bad considering everything and I’ve got a couple of big writing weekends coming up where I hope to really pile on the words.
Hopefully as I transition into act two of the novel it’ll get a little easier but it’s surprising how each novel you write throws up its own set of unique challenges.
New Fantasy-Faction Article On Upping Your Word Count
My latest article has gone live over at Fantasy-Faction, looking at 10 ways to up your word count. I was a little nervous about reaction to this article because I don’t typically like putting myself into articles for the site. All I could imagine is a load of fellow writers shouting “just who does he think he is?” at the screen. However, I thought it lost something in a later redraft by making it more neutral, so left the anecdotal vibe in. It seems to have got a lot of positive response so I’m a little relieved.
This is just another example of how you should always try and push yourself as a writer no matter what you do. Sometimes risks don’t pay off, but in this case, it seems like it did.
My writing has really suffered this week. I’m not sure whether it’s because this is a 3rd draft going over the same stuff, or there are hidden nerves because of problems with previous drafts or because I’ve actually suffered this week.
Last Sunday saw me take on my biggest geocaching challenge yet, and as far as big challenges go, this one was totally unprecedented.
If there’s one thing that’s more difficult than planning a novel, it’s taking an existing plan and reworking it.
I’ve talked about the issues I had with the first two drafts of The Thieving King and the plan for February was to take the plot of the novel, gut it and rebuild it. That’s hard to do, partly because you have to kill a lot of darlings and secondly because you have to judge what good stuff you’re wanting to get rid of because it now feels old, and which old stuff you want to keep for sentimental reasons.
In short, it’s tough and there’s been plenty of times when I’ve asked myself “is this still an awesome book?” I’ve worried when I didn’t feel as excited about it as Black as Knight but I’ve come to realise that’s simply because parts of this novel have gone back years to when it was originally the second half of The Four Realms and the whole first book called The Thieving King.
So I’m going into this draft with some nerves. Some subplots have gone and it looks like one favourite character I was really hoping to bring back isn’t going to make an appearance in this book (which I’m very sad about). Some new characters have gone through major changes but the main story has not changed.
I think all the Point of View characters now go through really strong character arcs, and the only thing now needed is some kick ass writing to get this draft done. It’s going to be interesting to see just how quick I write it. Seeing as I already have the next novel I want to write pencilled in for June / July, I really need to get motoring.
I’m still wondering when I’m going to get time to edit all these novels!
I listen to music when I write. In fact, I find it difficult to write without music. It sets tone for a piece for me. I find lyrics distracting so I largely go for instrumental pieces, film soundtracks and the like.
Over the years I’ve built my music collection that I can normally find the perfect piece of music to match the tone of the piece I am writing. But for Black as Knight I actually had a very tight playlist for several months that I played to death.
- Batman Arkham Origins Soundtrack by Christopher Drake
- Assassin’s Creed 4 Soundtrack by Brian Tyler
- Assassin’s Creed 3 Soundtrack by Lorne Balfe
- Assassin’s Creed 3: The Tyranny of King Washington Soundtrack by Lorne Balfe
- Batman: Arkham City Soundtrack by Nick Arundel and Ron Fish
- Assassin’s Creed Revelations Soundtrack by Jesper Kyd & Lorne Balfe
- Thor: The Dark World Soundtrack by Brian Tyler
- Tomb Raider Soundtrack by Jason Graves
- Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Soundtrack by Christopher Drake
- The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Soundtrack by Howard Shore
I actually really enjoyed having such a small playlist and I think it certainly aided much tighter writing, so I want to repeat the experience with Thieving King.
Except The Four Realms had a much, much larger selection of albums (mainly Hans Zimmer and Two Steps From Hell) and I think I need to select just a few albums from that pool and add in a few new ones. But what goes in and what stays out is occupying my mind as much as the plot at the moment. I’m going to be listening to these albums again and again and again over the coming months so the choices have to be perfect.
It’s a fun exercise building a playlist for a novel but I’m really having to fight it from taking over and occupying all of my thought time right now.
Back when I was going through leggedon I was swamped with things I needed to do. I had to remember to take drugs, exercise the leg, rest the leg, monitor what I was doing as well as what I was eating. At the time this felt completely overwhelming. I came close to breaking point on more than one occasion.
It was then that I made a decision that helped me and that I’ve taken forward into my writing.
It hit me that having loads of data was good. Having loads of data meant I could see what was working and what wasn’t and adjust what I did accordingly. More so, I decided that as a geek I could use technology to do a lot of the work for me.
So I got a fitbt to monitor how much I was able to exercise the leg, used an app on my phone to scan the barcodes of all the food I ate. It wasn’t easy – far from it – but it became manageable.
Likewise, when I was looking to change my writing processes I came to the same conclusion that data was good. Data meant I could look at what I was doing and see what was working and what wasn’t.
And so I started tracking my writing time.
Since finishing the draft of ‘Black As Knight’ I’ve been all out of sorts. It’s like I’ve gained an extra limb and don’t know what to do with it. I’ve been restless and eager to jump into writing ‘Thieving King’.
But I’m plotting at the moment, taking plot elements from previous drafts I don’t feel are working and reworking them. It’s meant a major change to a secondary character but I think it’s made for a much more interesting story.
Writing ‘The Four Realms’, Maureen’s arc was always the more developed, Darwin’s needed a bit of work. This book it seems the other way round but I’m happy with how Maureen’s revised arc is shaping up. I also think Mr West could be the star of this book (and so much fun to write) but there’s still a plot structure thing I need to overcome to really pull this out the bag.
So at the moment, I’m busy using a software product called Scapple, mapping all the plot threads and linking them together. It’s coming along nicely but it feels like playing rather than part of the writing process (even though it’s a vital stage).
In the meantime I’ve still been writing. I’ve written a short story that is currently being beta read, I’ve got a non-fiction project plotted out and I’ve got a few more articles for Fantasy Faction and GPSTracklog to write this weekend. Oh and there have been more blog posts… just because my sanity requires I write.
I’m hoping that it’s a sign that I’m going to tear through the next draft of ‘Thieving King’. I somehow suspect that the prep work needed before I start writing is going to take me until the end of the month. This is only the second book I’ve plotted out with the new process and it does seem that it’s an investment of time (although a worthy investment that pays dividends down the line). I hope with books to come I can streamline it a little more. Still, progress is progress.
As a result I’ve probably been busier than I give myself credit for. Still feels like I’m slacking though.
I’m sure I’m contractually obligated to promote my publisher’s new trailer for their forthcoming feature film, but even if I’m not I think this could appeal to a lot of my readers. If you like your horror you might just want to check this out!
The Ultimate Geocaching GPSr Field Test
Whilst you were all recovering from your hangovers on a windy and rainy New Year’s Day, myself and a couple of geocaching friends decided (for fun) to go out in the worst conditions possible and find over a hundred caches over 20 miles, wallowing in mud and wading up to our knees in floodwater along the way. But it was all for science as we took along a range of GPS receivers to test with the view of declaring which one was best of geocachers. GPSTracklog has published an account of the day and our verdict, so be sure to check it out!
So I’ve had a lot of questions about the process I’m now using to write and which I used to produce the first draft of Black As Knight. It’s quite complex and comprehensive so the plan has always been to blog about it as I move onto the final draft of Thieving King.
There is a lot of set up to do and I will preface this with saying that I’m changing things all the time, trying different things. So what I’m doing now may change next week. I also make a point of not using playing with process as a procrastination exercise.
But there is a bit of setup with my personal process, possibly overkill in many respects, and if you want to follow it, it’s worth blocking off a couple of weeks to get it all in place.
The first stage, before you even put pen to paper, is to get yourself organised.