So, after many years I have finished what I consider to be the first draft of my novel “Isa Ines and the Monkey Man”, although given all the editing I would probably call this 1.1 and hopefully in the next couple of days I will have 1.2 finished. I have written about 25 000 words of this novel in about 3 weeks, not so bad for a single working mum!
I have managed to get this far with the support and encouragement of friends and under the direct orders of my very favourite author, who insisted that I allocate “sacred time” for writing. She offered no sympathy for my situation, and insisted that I could make 2 hours a day and one day a week my writing time. I have been able to manage to almost do this, and voila! here she is!
And so this brings me to the point of this post. If I am to spend 6-8 hours at the computer “writing” what counts as writing? I know trawling through Facebook doesn’t count, but does pinning count? I’m going to argue yes, it does.
I have been very good at not allowing housework to interfere with my sacred writing time, and have not been on any social media forums at all during my sacred time for writing this first draft. But the funny thing is, even after 14 years I’m not sure I completely know who these characters are.
Lets go back to ye olde Harry Potter. A brilliant work of fiction, primarily for my part in the fact that I often found myself saying “Yes, that’s exactly what Hermione would do in that situation.”
I L.O.V.E. Hermione, Ron, Mrs Weasly, Snape, etc, and that’s what drags me along for the ride. I feel such genuine happiness when the twins gloriously set off fireworks etc at Hogwarts, and it’s partly because I knew that’s the kind of thing I knew they would do.
As much as I would love to dive in and write the possibly 3-4 thousand words I think I need to in order to achieve draft 1.2 I think my time today would actually be better spent getting to know my characters. It is essential that my readers L.O.V.E at least 2 of my characters and at this point I’m not sure that they do.
How do I achieve this?
Well, confession time – I once wrote a love poem to my hot water bottle, ok, guys it was winter and I didn’t own an electric blanket back then. I think I need to spend a day falling in love with each of the characters. When I write I will have them do something because that’s what the reader knows they will do, and just by doing what they know they will do this will have to solve the problem that they are facing.
My only problem is that I only have 35-40 thousand words for the whole story, JK had 6 thick books to flesh out these characters in . . . can I do it? I’m not sure, but if I can I know the story will be better for it. No the story is already good. I know my telling of the story will be better for it.
So here are a list of activities that fall loosely under the banner of writing:
- Writing (obviously!)
- Pinning – settings, quotes, clothing, any relevant accessories, what the characters look like. Create a board for each character, setting or event.
- Drawing/scrapbooking- the old fashioned way of pinning
- Writing exercises – what’s in the bag, 24 hours in the life of, hopes and fears,
- Asking questions – what questions might a reader (or interviewer) ask about the book – Why? How? What questions would the characters ask?
- Reading – books. Today I asked myself “Who is Alex?” after some thinking, I realised Alex is Quintana, and a little bit of the dark side of Halt, and Froi. But we have to end up loving him. I really needed a break from writing recently, I was like, when you smash too much dirt in MineCraft and fall into a cave and can’t get out, and then it turns night and the bloody zombies are trying to chase you. So I read a book instead (They Came on Viking Ships, Jackie French). I also like reading blogs by wonderful authors and by other literature lovers.
- And, for special occasions like today, hanging out the washing – See advice from the hugely talented Sandy Fussell
and now I have just wasted an hour and a half of my precious sacred time trying to insert the wordle (it was so simple in the end!). Have to get back to real writing now, after I hang out the washing.