Friday 10th July 2020
I appear to be a third of the way through this draft.
I’m really happy with the way its going, although typically I don’t get to the “I hate this, why did I think I can write?” stage until around the 66% mark.
A couple of things have emerged as I write.
This story has alter-egos. By way of an example, I have my Batman and I have my Bruce Wayne. As you know, whilst they are the same person, there is something a bit distinct about each of them. In this novel, I have ‘Batman’, I have ‘Bruce Wayn’e as well as ‘Bruce Wayne when he goes to parties’.
I’m not sure where I had the idea from, or whether it was something I just picked up in the detail from a previous draft, but each of these have their own voice. It’s subtle, and it has to be. We are reading a single narrative and readers need to feel they are reading one person’s story.
But ‘Party Goer Bruce Wayne’ (which sounds like the worst action figure ever!) is more verbose, uses longer sentences and formal language. ‘Batman’ is more precise, less eloquent, a bit more vulgar. And then ‘Bruce Wayne’ is somewhere in between. An added complication is that these distinct sides to the protagonist’s personality emerge over the course of the story.
I can’t take it too far, or the character will fall apart and not work on the page. I feel I’ve probably done a lot of this already subconsciously as I write, but it’s something I want to actually pay attention to.
As it’s a big overarching, prose-type problem, I’ve decided that whilst I need to keep it in the back of my mind…now is not the time to address it. I’ll do another quick read through when this draft is finished specifically for this issue, but for now I’ve created a chapter in Scrivener, called it ToDo and listed it there.
That allows me to forget about it and focus on something else.
With all the things I want to include in this draft word count is a minor concern. This is mostly a commercial decision. Books become more expensive for publishers the bigger they are. I want to be cheap, but not cheap to the expense of story. Also, friends have got some terrific tie-in work recently that I’m insanely jealous of. There are properties I would kill to write tie-in fiction for, and I remember hearing from some people who’ve done it that hitting a specific wordcount is seen as a bonus (sometimes a necessity). Hence, there’s part of me that wants to be able to have a good idea of the length of any story and be able to keep to it in the telling.
I got to remove a chapter today which was a big bonus. That’s a few thousand words I got back. Basically, the chapter was an antagonist chapter. These are difficult to do in the first person because it usually takes the form of the hero going and spying on them and you can only do that so many times. I’ve tried to move it so that instead of going out just to spy, the anatagonist is more involved in the storyline and so that spying can happen within the context of other story. I think it has more agency.
However, there’s a casualty of all this. A secondary protagonist and antagonist both had their debut in this chapter. I can probably fit the antagonist into this next chapter with the primary anatagonist, but the secondary protagonist doesn’t fit.
So one of the things that came up in the discussion document was the slow burn. In fact, if this draft needed a codename, then perhaps it should have been “slow burn”. It causes problems, but not as much if you try and take it out and replace it with something more action-paced.
As a result, I’m going to try something. I’ll introduce this secondary antagonist at this point, but whilst the secondary protagonist might get a mention or a cameo, their real debut will get moved much later.
It’s a risk, because I love this character but it’s in keeping with the slow steady burn of this draft. I actually think this could be a better introduction to them as it’ll give them space to shine and greater agency.
We’ll see. It might be too much but it shouldn’t be hard to change if I have to.
I have the weekend ahead, so hopefully I can make some great progress on this draft. Let’s hope it continues to go as smoothly.
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