Tag Archives: How I write

Oops – lost in epic fantasy

The writing cave

It really has been a long time since I posted here. I have no excuse apart from falling into the writing cave and still not having found my way out. I’m working on a new epic fantasy that is just taking up all my time so far. Isn’t it amazing when a story just takes over. Unfortunately for me, while this one has taken over, it is doing so in slow motion. I have about a quarter of the length I’d like so far. Mind you, there’s often that thing where suddenly the story gets going and won’t stop!

The very odd thing with this one is the way it is coming out.

Not actual writing conditions…

I’ve talked about crazy writer brain before. This book has two points of view. Crazy writer brain has decided that one will only be typed directly into the manuscript while the other must be written out longhand before being typed in. So… that’s slowing things down too.

It’s also fun to be writing for fun though. And this is fun. It’s a rollercoaster of a story and I’m loving every minute of it.

There are other things in the works. But this one, so far, is just for me.

And that’s one of the really great things about writing. First and foremost, I write the book I want to read.

In the meantime here’s a belated Saint Brigid’s day picture from Brigid’s well in Kildare. I’m sure Brí would understand…

In which things fall apart but come out all right

I’m sitting here surrounded by boxes and the contents of our kitchen, as our kitchen is part-way through renovation. (Kitchen of Doom, as I have dubbed it, although in all seriousness it appears to be going very smoothly and will be lovely when finished.)

It got me thinking about workmanship, and that part of writing which is getting down to it, doing the work, and fixing it if everything goes wrong. Not that the kitchen has gone wrong. But it is currently stripped back as far as it can possibly go. Pipes and wires and holes in the floor stripped back.

Everything went wrong with the WIP. Well, sort of. And not actually everything. It was one of those moments, 25k words in when you go “oooooh, those characters don’t work like that. They’ll work like this.”  But getting them to work like “this” means going right back to the beginning. Yes, from almost a third of the way into the book. As in back to 2k words right at the beginning. It sounds like the end of the world, doesn’t it?

But actually, strangely (and writers’ brains, as you probably know, are very strange places), it turned out to be a MASSIVE relief. When I tell people they look at me as if I’m about to cry and they’ll need to get out a mop and bucket, and maybe find some sedatives. It probably disturbs them more therefore when I laugh, kind of manically, and any “no! It’s brilliant! I couldn’t be happier!”

Because I know what’s up with the main characters now. Their conflict is right there for me. I know its source, I know their emotions, and I finally know where we’re going.

That 23k isn’t lost. I’ll still be able to do something with it, use parts of it etc. Since I made this change I’ve gone from eeking out 500k wordcounts to 1400k the other day. It’s exhilerating.

Which brings me back to workmanship (by a roundabout route). If the basic underlying structure of something isn’t right, you’ve got to strip it right back to the foundations and start again. Even if it hurts. Even if there’s such a long way back to go.

It’s so SO much better in the end.

Revision time (or why I’m not blogging so much)

So this is going to be a very quick post. My laptop is in being repaired (you have no idea how much chaos the loss of use of the C and V key caused in my life!), and I am using the netbook which needless to say with its tiny tiny keyboard I find difficult when it comes to writing. I do have a plug in keyboard, but even then, there’s the tiny tiny screen to contend with. So I am sneaking a few minutes on another computer to write this up as I have been feeling dreadfully guilty about the NO BLOGGING that I’ve been doing of late. *bad author, no biscuit*

What I have been doing is going through other manuscripts and working on some of my WIPs in an effort to make them lovely and shiny and submittable.

There are three main contenders – the library book, the space opera and the timeslip. While the library book and the space opera need more rewriting, the timeslip, being the baby of the bunch (written earlier this year), needs a full revision. Which got me thinking about my revision process and I thought I would share it. So without further ado I give you:

Ruth’s Revision Method

You will need:

A lovely notebook with nice paper

A beautiful pen you love to write with

Your manuscript

When I revise a book, I print the whole thing out (in tiny tiny print, double sided to save paper because yay trees). I like the feel of paper, the physical contact with the manuscript and later, the ability to scribble all over it. But not to begin with. To begin with we read.

I read through the whole thing, making notes in my lovely notebook with my beautiful pen. Why lovely notebook and beautiful pen? Well, it slows me down for one thing, makes me think, makes me focus. And of course I like lovely things. If I need to doodle along the side I can do that too. But the manuscript remains untouched. I read right through making notes such as

p. 47 Make this better/ clarify/ simplify.

p. 53 Wasn’t her hair blonde?

p.60 Wouldn’t this be in Latin?

Oh yes, they make perfect sense my notes. Once I have gone through the whole book, I go back through the notes. From reading those I’ll get a general idea of problems with the script, things that need to be changed on a higher level.

Then I go through it again, referencing my notes, and I annotate the manuscript as I go. And once I’ve finished that pass, I open the file on the laptop (which will be back from the repairs people *crosses fingers and wishes really hard*). It’s the hard slog bit of writing, and although I love it, I have to recognise the work that is needed at this stage. So maybe I won’t have to rewrite the timeslip like I do the others. Hopefully!

So blogging will recommence soon, I hope. And in the meantime I’m usually hanging around on Twitter. When I’m not working, obviously. *ahem*