Day 191 of #ayearofwriting and I can hear the football commentary on my son’s radio next door, he whoops, someone scores, I carry on writing.
Day 192 of #ayearofwriting and let’s talk about the minefield that is editing or drafting a story. A good story or bad story all unravel in the drafting process, from one draft to another the form of your story changes; focus on characters alter, language develops, the plot is contorted, cut and pulverized but the question remains. The question is what started you writing the story in the first place. For example, Knight of the Thimble, is about how we perceive the past. My question was simple, in the future after a cataclysmic event, how will the survivors see us? As the story progresses it has become more about how those born into that world see survivors; and they by extension become a metaphor for the past. My narrator is senile, childlike, cared for, until he is abandoned by his carers. So, we have denial, realisation, anger and confusion. The four cornerstones of modern society when it comes to anything bigger than them e.g. climate change. Even here, climate change becomes subtext. A problem in in that drafting process is that subtext becomes text, telling takes over from showing. I see the drafting process like a camera, or a film, you jot down all your ideas on a storyboard, all the crap, all the exposition, all the ideas, get dumped in draft one. It is a great steaming pile of crap. I love filling the screen with crap. Then I wade in from draft to draft with my question at the centre of everything I do. I love voice so I will often look in short stories for first person narrative. Novels I am drawn to third person. Call it that film aspect again, widescreen vs close up, large storyline vs a moment.
Still though something comes along and you find yourself writing downwards into a hole. You are surrounded by mud as you begin to tell rather than show e.g. he was angry – yawn. Or, worse still, backstory because surely the reader needs to know that he got his gammy leg from an incident that happened fifty years previously and you need to join all those dots together. God help us. The best bet if you don’t know your story is to know what you want to write about. Want to write about space travel? Go for it, find the interesting idea. Want to write about true love? Good, don’t make it easy for your protagonist to find it. Just remember if the editing and drafting process is difficult than you are probably doing your job, you are questioning, but if you find yourself finding it easy then be wary. I once knew someone at a writer’s group who stated that he knocked out a novel in a day. He’d written 50,000 words, you know! They were the worst words placed on a page, a stream of crap, so I commended him for crap because crap grows things that can be beautiful. However, if you fail to draft and edit, you’ll just have crap.
Day 196 of #ayearofwriting and between the heat and the downpour the day has been eaten up by tax returns, I owed money – BOO! – and trying to get all my submissions in one box because my office looks like this. Yes, we are about to start more works!
Day 197 of #ayearofwriting and I have the mini-critic with me tonight on the bedroom floor playing with Lego. This is not a metaphor, this is my son; hang on, maybe he is a metaphor. He asks me to put some opera on, so I put some on and he tells me that this is the wrong kind of opera. After a bit of to and fro, and a lost of gesticulating the penny drops when he does air guitar, turns out he means heavy metal. Have you ever tried to write with Slayer as a music track?