Self-Telling Stories: WiP Wednesday #4

My story is getting longer.

Obviously you can tell that from the word count. It’s climbed to 12,000 now. Compared to last weeks WiP Wednesday this means I’m setting a trend of 4000 words a week. It’s not as much as I would like, but hopefully when I move house and finally have my dedicated study I can increase my daily total. What I mean though, is that the story that I had intricately plotted out (in my head), has grown in more than just word count.

Title: Remembrance in Blood

Word Count: 12,000+ Approx.

Status: First Draft

One thing I love about writing is how organic it is, how it grows. I think you see this in all creative mediums, I often come across it in photography, but I feel writing is truly the one art form that contains its own life. One thing I was never really happy with in my book was how it had started to feel quite choppy, like a badly edited Hollywood film. Characters went here, did this, then went here, then did this. Characters arrived and moved as quickly as pages turned. Everything happened too quick. Still, this was a problem I was going to address on the Second Draft. I just needed to get there first.

However, good stories are alive. I fully believe if a story wants to be told, it will tell itself. Authors are just a vehicle in that sense. We just drive, whilst the story helps navigate. Sure we know the end destination, but the Story itself will take us off the beaten path, will take us the scenic route. I’ve found this to be no truer than in the section I’ve just reached of my story.

The main characters have all reached an encampment, where originally they were going to settle down for the night, heal up, gather strength, accidentally cause a bit of ruckus, and leave… Just typing it out here it sounds rushed, it sounds naff. I knew this was also the place in the book when some themes were going to be explored, and how I hoped to fit them into the original model is anyone’s guess. Thankfully, my story didn’t want to be told this way. Instead it’s pulled to a halt and said “Lets wait here”. A night or two that characters were going to stay in the Encampment have become days, perhaps weeks. The themes I knew I wanted to explore here can now be woven more tightly into the narrative, rather than feeling like tacked on exposition.  It also means Minor Characters, who would have been in the piece for a few pages at best, are now fleshed out better. Sure, they’re not going to be the focus points, but suddenly they feel more like real people and less like devices for administering plot.

It’s this kind of thing that makes me passionate to write my book. There is no worse a feeling than when you don’t like what you’re writing. When it doesn’t feel right. I find you sometimes have these days where you just hate your entire story. I find these are natural. There’s a big difference though in hating your story just because of your own doubts and fears, or truly knowing that something doesn’t feel right in your book. I think if you trust a good story, it will help you to correct this, and it will help you to feel more confident in what you write.

Do you find your Novel has other ideas when you write it? Does it steer you in better directions?

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9 thoughts on “Self-Telling Stories: WiP Wednesday #4

  1. Pingback: WiPW – NaNo Edition: A Nano-sized Success – Clockwork Clouds

  2. Pingback: Don’t Call it a Comeback… – Clockwork Clouds

  3. I love this post, Shaun! Huge congratulations on your achievement so far – 12,000 words is fabulous. Getting into a rhythm is so important when writing, and it looks like you’ve found the right pace to suit you. I totally agree with your comment about not liking what you’re writing. I have this problem with my non-fiction work if I’m not ‘in the zone’. I hate everything about it and have to set it aside until my mood improves. Thank goodness I also write fiction otherwise I’d never get anything done!

    1. I’m hoping to up that rhythm with the upcoming house move. I can make my own study work for me!

      I’m trying to just push through regardless and leave it as a problem for future Second Draft Shaun to deal with.

      Thanks for commenting, Shelley 🙂

  4. Funny you should mention time, but I remember one of the big changes I made in the first Pathfinders book was to create a realistic time scale. The first draught had all the action at the end of the episode squashed into a couple of days. It hit me out of the blue that spreading action over several days or weeks even didn’t necessarily take any longer to write or read. You don’t have to give a blow by blow account of every minute of that time, what they ate, how often they went to the toilet, had a shower, got cramp, bitten by a mosquito, caught a cold etc etc. You don’t have to write THE BORING BITS. It’s one of really empowering features of being a novelist, you get to make the sun go down, the moon rise, skip days, travel thousands of miles by jotting down a couple of words. Amazing!

    1. Absolutely right, Jane! Couldn’t agree more. The reason my narrative moved so quickly was because I felt I needed to explain each day… So my characters did things quickly. Now I’ve learnt the wonders of how to merely say “It was a few nights before they reached…” or “Each day seemed longer than the one before, but finally they…”. It makes the piece feel like it has a much larger scale, and it flows so much better too. Perhaps its a realisation that comes to us all? haha.

      P.S. I love that imagery of being in control of the sun and the moon with our words!

  5. Shaun, the fact you are getting something on paper is a step in the right direction. I can’t comment on novel writing but writing poetry produces the same doubts and fears. One of the best books I have read about writing is Stephen King’s, “On Writing.” He suggests just writing the whole novel, warts and all, putting it aside for six weeks, then come back to it to start the drafting. One interesting thing about him is he never plots a novel. He starts with an idea, a sentence, and lets it flow from there. Agatha Christie famously said she never knew where her books were going until she reached the last chapter. A good reflective post by the way.

    1. I couldn’t agree more with Mr King. It’s my current intention to just get the book down, and I am absolutely relishing writing and not looking back. My novel has always been planned in my head and it’s wonderful watching it shape itself as it hits the paper.

      I’m aiming to be done by December, that way I can leave it over the Christmas month and Pick it back up again in the new year… Will see where that leaves me!

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