As a side note, I’m going to be getting back to posting about writing matters outside of these chapter notes very soon, as the long UK school summer holidays are nearly at an end. Next up will be something about the importance of logic even in fantastical settings, using Kieron Gillen’s UBER as an example.
And here we take a break from the action in Aviar to find out what Stryke has been up to. We get to see his investigative abilities again, as well as seeing the aftermath of the Black Scree’s crash from a different perspective.
The way I plot is quite loose and deliberately fluid: I have an over-arching and low detail plan for the entire book, then I have individual plans for each arc, with a paragraph for each chapter. It’s all about breaking it down into ever-smaller chunks. This is made possible primarily thanks to Scrivener, the writing tool I use, which makes it very easy to keep the manuscript and research and planning all in one place, as well as providing systems for keeping track of the story and presenting the manuscript in an easily digestible format.
By this point in The Mechanical Crown I would have been entirely adrift if I’d been writing in a traditional word processor such as Word, where the text takes on monolithic qualities. Instead, I’m able to track multiple variables, characters and plot points and have an eye on both the past and the future. This is especially important because I write quite slowly: about 1500 words per week, currently. Very steady, very reliable – but absolutely not fast. As such, writing a book on the scale of TMC is a long-term commitment, and remembering what I wrote in October 2016 when I started the book as I write this chapter in August 2018 is a challenge.
Scrivener makes that pretty easy, but presenting the chapters individually. I can instantly drop back into an earlier chapter to reference something, and often have an old chapter open on the right side of the screen while I’m writing the new one on the left.
Case in point: this chapter can only exist through multiple dovetailing plot points: Lief’s arrest and the subsequent failed rescue attempt; making the decision to keep Lief and Holst alive; Stryke going to Bruckin and having his ideology challenged; Stryke returning to the capital but leaving prior to the purge…
The aim is that it all feels very directed and deliberate and natural, as if this were a finely edited, completed book – rather than a live, public first draft.
Anyway, it’s all spinning plates and complex interweavings of dynamic forces. I highly recommend it.