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.
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.
New Article At Fantasy-Faction On Procrastination
Over at Fantasy-Faction this month I take a look at that nemesis of all writers, procrastination, and in doing so explain why you should never trust a version of you from the future!
Be sure to check it out!
So I’ve written a book. My working title is “Black as Knight”. It’s basically Lies of Locke Lamora meets Batman Year One.
It was a book that wasn’t supposed to happen. It was a book to test new processes I put in place. It was a book I wrote as I clawed myself back from disaster following leggedon last year.
It’s also the longest book I’ve ever written coming in at around 154,000 words (and I tend to under-write in a first draft)
But… it’s also been the easiest book to write and the most fun despite being written in the first person present (which, trust me, really screws with your head when you start).
So what I really want to write is a blog post about is how busy writing I’ve been and how I’ve finished a draft of a huge book and how I love it very much. But that blog post is probably a week off. So instead I’ll talk briefly about the challenges I’ve set myself this year.
2014 is going to be filled with adventures. Some are personal challenges – so personal in fact that no-one other than me knows about them. I like the idea that no-one is able to encourage me and instead I have to rely on my own willpower. Some are adventures that are huge and geeky and have some of you going “wow!”. And some are a journey that I’ll share along the way.
One such journey is starting to sword fight. I found out about a year ago that there was a really good sword fighting school round the corner from me. They’re the type of school where it’s a study of methods of the past masters rather than theatrical choreography. The problem was back then, I was in no physical shape to really start training. I’m probably still not. The warm up exercise alone nearly killed me. But it didn’t, which is good because I had a lot of fun. I’m definitely the most unfit, the slowest and least agile of the group which is fine because the way I see it I have the biggest room for improvement. And besides if I can get through last year I can get through something as simple as learning to kill a man with steel.
Plus, it’s research. Darwin’s not a sword fighter but in both the novel I’m about to finish and the Thieving King there are master sword fighters and I’d like to write combat for those characters that won’t have my new colleagues tutting and telling me “that’s not how it’s done.”