If you squint really hard you can possibly see me tottering at the top of that tower of books. I had a very busy first four months of the year. I finished the first draft of the Book 4 in the series about a week ahead of schedule. It came in about 62k words and was the probably the easiest to write since Book 1. I’m confident of finishing Book 5 by the scheduled date. I’m really looking forward to revealing the main villain. It is my concept of him that really transformed a standalone short story into the prequel of a five book series.
However, perhaps of more immediate interest, I am going publish a bundle of four short SF stories that I recently finished. It’s been a while since I published anything so I am really looking forward to releasing them. They range from humorous to quite dark, but they all center around aliens in some way. More detail to follow on the very near future.
Finishing the 2nd draft of novel codenamed Spaghetti 1 at about 70k words, I immediately started on the 3rd draft. This draft will work through the detail of the story. I have the skeleton but it needs to be fleshed out in a lot of places. The organs are there, but some are too small or too big or in the wrong place.
This draft is also about making decisions. I must expunge the narrative scars of ideas that went nowhere. The 2nd draft had a level of ambiguity. For example, two mutually exclusive ideas might have been allow to coexist, I have to now choose, one way or the other. Where there are conundrums in the narrative, I have to solve them as I go along, even if it means taking a few steps backward at times. And of course, any decision can set off an avalanche of new ones. And new ideas are coming, better ideas than before, that must be accommodated in the story as if they had always been part of it.
And every detail needs to be carefully indexed so I don’t have to wade through pages of text later, getting that horrible drowning feeling, to confirm I’m not contradicting myself. From dress to character, from motive to tea preference, everything must be made consistent.
It’s slow. It can be tedious. But is it worth it? Yes. It’s fantastic to see the story take shape, the characters come alive, and the blur come into focus.
January has arrived so it’s time to review 2016 and look forward to what’s coming up this year. Last year struck me as a very long year, probably the longest year of my life. Much was achieved. I published the second part of the Golden Rule Duology, The Unconquered Sun, last February. I also published two short stories, The Fate Healer and The Murder Seat. A third short story, No Escape, will be released on all platforms at some stage next week. (I can’t give an exact date due to the complexity of working through aggregators and so on.)
Of course, the published works are but the visible part of my writing endeavours. I wrote 1st drafts of four novels last year. My primary goal this year is to publish the first of these, codenamed somewhat ludicrously Spaghetti 1. Of course means it will have to reach a publishable standard. I should have the 2nd draft completed in the next three weeks.
The 2nd draft in many ways is harder than the first, because the blurry half-ideas that drifted in and out of the story on a sporadic stream of consciousness have to be sorted, graded, tossed aside where found to be utter rubbish, polished, and pinned to a cohesive structure. Of course, there are whole sections where the 2nd draft really is another 1st draft.
However, at this stage, I feel comfortable saying that the 2nd draft is a massive improvement on the 1st draft. It still needs a lot of work before it’s even ready for beta reading. I want to make it as good as I can before I submit it to the critical eyes of others. There’s no point ignoring your own intuition on plot holes only for these issues to become the focus of others’ critiques. I can’t remember any time where I doubted about a certain issue where that doubt wasn’t later proven to be justified. I want the beta readers to tell me I’m wrong in new and surprising ways!
The Burren Tolkien Society is holding their second festival from 15th to 24th of August 2014. They will be having lectures, debates, readings (including one at the Poll na gColm cave system), guided tours of the Burren, and lots of other events, so if you are in the area you might like to check it out. More details of events and Tolkien’s association with the Burren can be found at http://www.burrentolkiensociety.ie/.