Archive for August, 2010
Had some feedback from someone else at Write Club (Stuart) and he tends to agree with Gayle’s comments, so that was further confirmation I needed to make some changes. I’ve done that, but it’s not been easy. Anyway, I’m getting badly hung up on the first chapter, so I need to move on.
I think I’ve got a bunch of problems with it, but I’m hoping that, when the rest of the novel starts to smooth out, the fixes for this chapter will come naturally.
The biggest problem at the moment is that it’s too long. I’ve been looking to cut stuff, but each section seems necessary at the moment. I’ve added my own notes/commentary to this chapter this time, a trend I might continue. I did it because I wanted to write justifications for each of the sections, and I think it helpded me think quite hard about whether I need to keep them.
With chapter 1 out of the way now, I’m a 1000 words into Chapter 2.
That’s the thing with the early days of writing a novel (well, it is for this one anyway) – things keep changing.
I started to write a prologue, but after a chat at WriteClub, I’ve decided to go back to first person perpective for this novel. So, I’ve now written another prologue in which our hero is looking back over events, about to face a serious showdown. Most of the rest of the novel will be all the things that led up to that event.
The pros of writing first person: It feels natural for the story as I started to write it, plus, this perspective always has the advantage of taking you right inside the character’s head, bringing you emotionally closer to everything.
The cons of writingÂ first person: It’s a very limiting perspective. You have to be careful not to write about things that your character couldn’t possibly know. For this story, that might be a problem. Plus, if I want to tell the story from some other characters’ perspectives (which I do), how do I do that from within Tyler’s perspective? It’s going to be a bit tricky.
For now though, I’m just going to get on with it and get some momentum going with the writing. Don’t be surprised if I change my mind again!
It’s been a tiring week. My day job forced me to use my grey matter a bit more than usual these last few days, and so the creative juices have been cooling off. Didn’t do much in the way of writing as a result.
I started to get back on track today though. With Chapter one needing a re-work, I decided to back-pedal to the prologue. Got about 900 words written and a clearer picture in my head of what Gaia’s Engine actually looks like. If I get chance to doodle with my pen and paper later this week I might scan it and post it up here so you can get a feel for the look I’m going for.
It only took a day for the first critique to come back on my first 4000 words. You never know what to expect when someone disects your writing, especially when that person’s new to your work. You hope that you’ve thought of everything, that your writing’s exciting, that you didn’t make any really stupid mistakes, but most of all, you hope that the reviewer will come up with something constructive. It’s nice getting praise for your writing, but at this stage of the game, what really counts (for me) is brutally honest feedback that serves to improve your writing.
This first piece of feedback is amongst the best I’ve ever received for any of my work (thank you Gayle T!)
The usual trips and falls were there in the writing as I expected, but this first chapter was supposed to provide the reader with a hint of Tyler’s (the main character) faith struggle, whilst also showing what sort of performance he provides to his audience. Turns out I didn’t succeed too well, there were other problems, but this was the biggy…
To your everyday skeptic the doubts and questions that plague the believer can appear to have an obvious answer. Here’s a simplistic example:
Q: Why did that person not get healed? A: Because miraculous healings don’t happen in real life.
To the non-religious, this is obvious. To the believer it’s far more complicated – their belief system says that it should happen, and they believe it, because other aspects of their belief system have been validated. They trust it. They have faith in it, despite evidence to the contrary.
The big problem that was pointed out in my opening chapter was that the reader is shown Tyler’s doubts, but they are never shown the foundation of his belief, so they can’t buy into his confusion over those doubts. His faith seems shallow, and he looks stupid.
Fortunately there’s a solution. All I need to do is show the reader how Tyler was convinced, and the reader (hopefully) will follow suit. Looks like I’m going to have to write that prologue after all!
I managed to pull together a few hours this weekend to really plug into my writing. The result is a finished chapter. I say finished, but that’s not entirely true: it’s a first draft. When it’s all complete, I’ll probably combine a lot of these chapters. Also, I need to get it critiqued.
So, today I’ve posted it up at Write Club (the place I mentioned in a previous blog entry) for the other writers in my group to tear it into tiny pieces and stamp on them. Hopefully I’ll be getting some feedback in a week or so. When I do, I’ll see all the hideous mistakes I’ve made and then I’ll be in a position to improve it somewhat.
Wish me luck!
Itâ€™s a landmark day! Iâ€™ve actually made a start on the first chapter. In keeping with my plan, 500 words are down on the first page. It took me two hours though, and I didnâ€™t feel as though Iâ€™d achieved very much really – itâ€™s still quite rough and needs tidying up (as you’d expect at this stage).
There will be plenty of days like that. Days when the writing doesnâ€™t feel particularly inspired and the words just arenâ€™t finding their way from the idea in my head to the letters in the novel. I expected it to be that way on day one; Iâ€™m not the sort of person to get writerâ€™s block, itâ€™s more like writerâ€™s stitch, and when that happens, you just have to run through it â€“ the important thing is to keep the momentum going until the really good stuff starts to flow.
And sometimes I just need a bit ofÂ help from things like art or music. I recently browsed through some scary art by H.R. Giger, Zdzislaw Beksinski and Kris Kuksi. Truly creepy stuff. Check out Kuksi’s sculpture called Guardian on page 5 of the sculptures gallery – it’s not that far off the image I wanted for the Gaia’s Engine machine in the book.
But I also need some music to write to.
Iâ€™ve been listening to the ambient music of Quake by Nine Inch Nails, but sooner or later Iâ€™ll be listening to their album â€˜Ghostsâ€™. I canâ€™t bring myself to do that yet though, ever since Ruth made the observation that one of the tracks sounds like someone is farting through a sieve (track 23 of Ghosts III)!