94,312 words – coming into focus

So, only 692 more words since the last update, eh? It’s not quite as pathetic as it seems, however, as I’ve also made considerable progress on related documents, which have helped to bring the overall story arc and specifically the ending into sharper focus. As I start for real on the last third of the book, I’m finding that the climax is shifting the goalposts everyday, as I tweak the exact finishing positions for each character and theme. It’s hugely exciting, knowing that I’m at this point in the process. No longer am I introducing characters (well, not much), or establishing the setting, or wrangling with teasing plot exposition, or wondering how to get out of the interminable middle-third. This is the downward slope baby: I just hope I don’t fall off the sled.

Not sure if that metaphor worked.

As I mentioned the ‘related documents’ above, it’s probably worth (in the efforts of making this blog a useful ‘behind the scenes’ look at my first novel) explaining what they are.

History v6

This is the core document that’s been around from the start. According to Vista it was first created in 2004, but it’s actually been in existence in one form or another since about 2001, when I first started to piece together the world and story. It’s an 18 page document covering a period of about 500 years, taking in the snaking backstory before going into closer detail with the story’s main thrust. All the key plot points are in there, as well as incidental details and useful information like character birth dates etc.

When it’s time for a bit of exposition, this is the document I check to make sure I’m getting my dates right, and that I’m not contradicting myself. As ever, though, it is ultimately just a guide, and the novel itself goes off on its own explorations before coming back to The Plan. Hopefully I’ll be able to include this as an appendix once the novel has finished, possibly in both an updated, accurate form as well as the early version so that people can see how things changed.

Narrators

The History document was originally crafted when Evinden was going to be a movie script. Whereas the movie would have had a relatively ordinary omniscient third person narrator, I wanted to try something slightly different for the book and make things decidedly more subjective. As a result, the book is split into several sections, each remaining in third person but very much from the point of view of a specific character. It’s a writing style I found rather intriguing in Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy, and rather fancied the challenge of attempting something similar. It’s since become a major challenge of the book, partially in terms of character but mostly with regards to story structure – picking the narrator for each extended sequence is important so that the events unfold in a coherent manner.

Before starting work on the novel I needed to take another look at the History document and the overall plot and break it down into key plot points, as the History was simply too unwieldy to use as a general writing guide. I needed something with a looser structure that could be glanced at for guidance but which allowed me more freedom to go all tangential. The Narrators document also allowed me to cut the story into chunks, each from the point of view of a single character. Currently it looks like the book will have five separate parts, plus two shorter framing elements that are slightly disconnected.

Novel

This, of course, is the key document that contains the book itself. It’s also where I should be focusing my time, rather than on this blog! So in that spirit, I’ll sign off and get to it…

45 days left.

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