Books viewed in the mirror may appear smaller…

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 smallest book2

As I near the half-way point in the editing of my sequel to ‘A Construct of Angels’, I realise the MS is going to fall well short of the 164k achieved by CoA.

Whilst this is not a bad thing in itself, the current 50k of VoA (A Vengeance of Angels) is looking a bit lost. The additional material I added in the early part of the story didn’t improve the word count as much as I’d hoped.

I’ve since debated several ways to correct this problem, including weaving in a new sub-plot to boost the word count or continuing the story straight into FoA (A Fury of Angels – book three) territory and living with a duology rather than a trilogy.

However, neither of these appeal because

A) An additional sub-plot can only detract from the main storyline, plus:

B) VoA ends with a definite cliffhanger. This would not work if the story was to continue immediately. 

A third option, that of ‘padding out’ the exisiting MS doesn’t appeal either. It would dilute the story… plus I’d feel as if I was cheating the reader.

My other sneaky plan, that of hoping for an inspirational bolt of lightning from my Muse as I typed this (waits for several heartbeats with ears cocked), also fell flat. :( 

I know many writers would say ‘don’t obsess over word count,’ but it remains the gauge of a novel, as does page count. Every Kindle book I’ve seen includes a page count… which is odd, because that will change with every reading device, depending on the reader’s preferences for text size.  

Has anybody else encountered this problem with their sequel? If so, how did you solve it?

I’m open to suggestions.

Otherwise, out comes the bicycle pump and I’m just gonna push up the pressure until I can make that sucker bigger!

Like this:

 biggest tyre

In the meantime:

 acern270ginger write on

Revisiting the scary world of creation

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terror

After having spent so darn long living with my debut novel, revising, re-revising, then working through Tara Shaner‘s edits, I find myself (finally) back in familiar territory – something that all writers may recognise.

I’d almost forgotten the simultaneous fear and thrill of creating new adventures for my characters, of developing their personalities from the ones I’d grown so accustomed to in the first book, whilst remaining faithful to their original outline.

Just to throw a spanner (wrench) in my own works (something I do very often), I’ve switched First Person POVs for the sequel, describing the new adventures through the eyes (and other senses) of a different main character. For me, it provides a fresh perspective on the character’s mileu.

I just hope the reader will agree. By comparrison, Philip Pullman did something similar between ‘The Northern Lights’ and ‘The Subtle Knife’.

Another spanner/wrench is the two-day overlap that occurs between the first and second books… a sort of half-reboot, if you like. Think of how ‘Back to the Future II’ meshed with the first film - except I’ve used days instead of years. No DeLorean, though. Shame.

By introducing this half-rebooted overlapping First Person POV switch (still with me on this?), I may have limited my timeline to some extent as the confluence of events must fit snugly against the original adventure. On the plus side, the alternative POV enables me to expand on the details of the overlapping scenes.

Win-win? We shall see. Ask me in a year’s time. :D

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CoA

Coming soon! Dun, dun-dundun-duuuun.

Write on!

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‘Angels Week’ is paying dividends

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source; Stock.Xchng

source; Stock.Xchng

A month ago, I decided to nail down the fourth week of each month in order to concentrate solely upon my sequel, ‘A Vengeance of Angels.’

This hapless WIP had languished in my documents folder since January, having been overtaken by other pressing priorities. But now things are rolling again. Setting aside one week per month allows me to continue with the promotion of the first book, the editing of the paperback version, the creation of payment-per-project short stories and novellas and still allow me time to move the WIP forward.

Since I resolved to discipline my writing self, the Word count has risen from 21,000 to 29,500. Not a huge leap by any standards, but it’s progress. Add to that the research that I’ve put in and I feel that the pace is adequate to complete the sequel by the middle of nex year.

Sure, I’d love to complete it sooner, but I have so much paying work coming in that to finish it sooner would be to rush it and I prefer my novels to grow slowly – to marinate, as it were. If time allows, I can speed things up a little, but at the moment, it’s a case of finding time for everything – and keeping the (non shape-shifting) wolves at bay.

Have you made any big changes to your writing schedule that’s allowed you to be more prolific or more organised?

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A blog post about not blogging…or writing

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newspaper anguish

Life has turned into a bit of a whirlwind for me lately – and it’s caused my run of twice-weekly blog posts, unbroken since the start of the year to…well, break.

It’s a bit weird…I’ve been so busy with all things writing that I don’t seem to be getting any actual writing done.  Anyone else finding themselves deep in this particular rut at the moment? If so, can you lend me a ladder?

Course not. If you had one, you’d have used it already…

The day job, naturally, intrudes the most. What with the continued air travel, driving, hotel-ing and all the associated to and fro involved. Then there’s the proof-reading of my CreateSpace paperback, the (voluntary) read-through of a fellow writer’s eBook, the (lucrative but desperately-needed) ghost writing projects, Author Facebooking and Tweeting, promotional giveaways…

You see where I’m at?

My new (and very welcome) nagger-in-Chief, Peter, called me (again) yesterday to ask how the sequel was progressing. Not a jot, was my unhappy reply. Nothing written for the fifth month, although I did get as far as loading ‘A Vengeance of Angels’ into Scrivener…but that doesn’t really count as progress, does it (please say yes)?.

I am currently on the horns of a dilemma, dear reader. On the one hand, the ghostwriting brings in the dollars – all of which are ravenously consumed by the fearsome credit cards. On the other hand, the long-term project, The Angels of York series, of which ‘Vengeance’ is the second, is stalling.

In an ideal world, I would split my time evenly between the long-term and the short-term work and life would be jolly -  but life allows me little respite in that respect. The short ghostwriting pieces are easier to conceive, write and edit. They can be finished inside of a week. ‘Vengeance’ is a years-long effort, so the temptation is to keep pounding away at the (small) keyboard in order to bring in the cash.

But the life plan is falling further and further behind. Short-term stability is succeeding – but at the expense of the long-term.

Time, methinks, to reassess my (non-existent) timetable and bring ‘A Vengeance of Angels’ to the fore. Any and all thoughts or suggestions would be welcomed.

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Wednesday Woes

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sspivak image

Some time ago I scoffed at the notion that my sequel to ‘A Construct of Angels’ might be as difficult to …er… construct as the original.

See The difficult second novel?  Nah!

Well, my confidence has taken a knock.  I’m not afraid to admit it, although I do feel slightly foolish at having to retract my former statement.

The high wave that I had been sailing upon, fresh from the joy of having finally achieved a lifetime’s ambition of publishing a book, has now flattened and I feared that I was facing a spell in the doldrums, bereft of the guiding wind that was my Muse.

As the tale within ‘Construct’ drew to a close, I had a clear and certain idea of where the sequel was heading and I’d even planned the ending – something which had been of tremendous help when I’d initially drafted ‘Construct’.

But now that idea is wavering.  I still know how the sequel (A Vengeance of Angels) is going to conclude, but as I passed 25,000 words, I lost focus, the thread and my sense of timing.

I can’t tell you much, but ‘Vengeance’ doesn’t follow directly on from the end of ‘Construct’.  Rather, it meshes with it, beginning two days before ‘Construct’ ended.  That, dear reader, is how I painted myself into a very tight corner.  I still have several events that need to transpire before the ending of ‘Construct’ is briefly revisited and the story continues from that already-published conclusion.

sol one image

So, rather than despair, I reached deep into the archives and dug out my old day-by-day spreadsheet.

hour by hour

click to read spreadsheet

(The above is a sample I put together to illustrate its uses.  If this inspires you in any form, feel free to create a story from it.)

This is one of the very few ‘planner’ tools I used in ‘Construct’ (I AM a confirmed ‘pantser’ after all), but it was invaluable to me.

Armed with this, I intend to review what I’ve already written, then forge ahead and plan out exactly how my self-imposed spiders web of a narrative will unfold.

What was that, you say?  Why can’t I ever do anything the easy way?  For the answer to that, you’ll have to ask my Muse.

Where is she, by the way?

*sighs*  Well, as Kenny Rogers nearly said; ‘You picked a fine time to leave me Loose Wheel.’

Watch this space for a word count that will clock up faster than Clark Griswold’s Christmas electricity bill!

Write on in 2013!

Six Sentence Sunday – A Vengeance of Angels

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hospital monitor

I humbly offer you six sentences from my current WIP.

It contains (mild) spoilers if you haven’t yet read the first book; ‘A Construct of Angels.’

I knew that Sara’s mind wasn’t ready to face the world – not yet. 

Only hours after saving humanity – and me – from the clutches of the Dark Realm, she lay unconscious and still in the bed behind me, monitored by the human machinery that would alert us to any improvement in her condition.

‘Human’ machinery…  I snorted. 

I’d have to get used to dropping the word ‘human’ from my thoughts – I was one of them now, as I had been when I was Joseph Barrett, Clyde Wilmslow, Pavel Yolkina, Akari Nakagawa …

I sighed. 

So many lives; so many names to remember. 

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Write on in 2013!

Fame…such a fickle [fik-uh l] thing!

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This week, WordPress sent me two notifications and I was thrilled to read them.

Firstly this one;

100 likes

and then, shorty afterwards, this one;

50 followers

I’d just like to throw out a great big

Thank You

to everyone who has elected to follow my relatively random and possibly insane ramblings as I stumble and fumble my way through blogging.

I’m still astounded that I have been blogging for less than six months (I checked today) and people have found me interesting enough to push my following so high, so quickly.  Thank you again for following me whilst I continue to develop my (rather haphazard) style.

FYI…one of my (rather loose) resolutions for 2013 was to achieve fifty, then a hundred followers.  Ambitious, I know, especially when I told myself quite firmly (I can be tough on myself and often fear myself coming in the door) that I would not simply ‘trawl’ for followers, but interact with those bloggers whose content I find to be most fascinating, entertaining and instructional.

So if you’re reading this…it’s because I LOVE YOUR WORK!!

I hope I’m able to provide a little of the same in return.

(Alternatively, if you’ve dropped by on the offchance or because you think I have an odd Gravatar (I AM in there…bottom left)., then WELCOME!  Please join the throng)

My other rezzie in 2013 is to read through everyone’s posts – something that began to slip last year.  But I’ve now rearranged my inbox to collect all posts in one folder so that they won’t slip between the floorboards, as it were.

I look forward to following everyone’s content in 2013 – some of the New Year stories have already been hilarious.

Happy blogging everyone!

Write on in 2013!

The difficult second novel? Nah!

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inspiracion

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m currently well (15,500 words) into ‘A Vengeance of Angels’ (the sequel to ‘Construct’) and I’m re-discovering the joy of ‘pantsing’.

The writing is flowing well, still closely following the bamboo and creeper framework that I’d lashed together over a year ago when I was still begging agencies to consider ‘Construct’.

And this time around, I’m pleased to report, the writing feels different; more enjoyable.

With a year’s worth of editing  experience behind me, I have a clearer picture of the process from the first rough scratches through to the finished product.

I now know that I can roll along, throwing down my  ideas, comfortable in the knowledge that not everything I put into words will get used.  And with this comes a new kind of freedom from worry.

I don’t have to doublethink every sentence; every word uttered by my characters.   This time around I am aiming for continuity, rough adherence to the (flexible) framework but with a firm path towards the planned ending.

It’s refreshing to know that I don’t have to fret about what I’m writing – that can all be sorted out once the First Draft is complete – following the mandatory month-in-the-drawer, naturally.  What matters is that the ideas are recorded before they are lost to the white noise that is my ever-fizzing brain.

notebook and laptop

Experienced hands will already be aware of all this, so please forgive the egg-sucking instructions.

However, newbies may still (as I did) become mired in the spiralling hell that is the ‘must get that paragraph perfect before I move on’ routine.

Don’t!

Just pound that keyboard and pour all your relevant ideas onto that hard drive, pushing headlong until you have reached the end of your story.  That will then give you something to work with; something complete.

And if your Muse throws Chapter Two ideas at you when you’re racing through Chapter Ten, then by all means nip back, drop in a paragraph close to where it’s relevant and get right back to Chapter Ten.  Don’t (as I did) waste time and effort ‘blending it in’.  Just drag, drop and get on with it.  The idea will still be there in six months (more realistically, a year) when you are reviewing what you’ve written.

I regret now that I spent so much time ‘polishing’ what was essentially an unfinished product - a bit like applying sealant to a bath that was not only still in its packaging, but still on the delivery wagon.

If your story turns out to be anything like mine, in a year’s time, some of those ‘brilliant’ ideas may no longer be relevant.  Your character will (ideally) have grown as you’ve been writing and your original plan for them to rescue that drowning child in Chapter Two might no longer be in character for them.  You may need your character to be tortured and regretful by Chapter Twenty and NOT rescuing that child may be exactly what forces that character change.

So this is the point where, as they say, you don’t sweat the small stuff.  Not yet.

That comes later, once you’ve established all the motivations of your characters and where your story is heading…

Then begins the blood, sweat, tears and fingernail a la crue.

Writing is only the first part of the process.  Embrace the whole.

So;

Have you found that your approach to writing alters with experience?

What one piece of advice (post-it note sized only) would you give to your inexperienced self if you could get a message back to them using Sandra Bullock’s magical post box (The Lake House, 2008)?

Write on!

 

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