Week #6 Overview

It’s funny, I glanced back at how I summed-up my previous week, and I said it was my best one yet—obviously, that can (and I like to think, very much, will) change with forthcoming weeks. Even though that was only five working days ago, I’d almost completely forgotten about it; it feels a great distance away now. Good or bad (or average), I tend not to linger on the week before but rather focus on the one I’m on. So how’d this one go? Well, it’s weeks like this that reassure me about quitting my job and pursuing my dream to become a published author.

This week I focused on Chapter 6 (previously Chapter 9—after completing it, I realised this swap was very much the right move, and has me questioning whether to bring Chapter 9 forward, as well), which is an ambitious chapter (or so I like to think). It’s both self-contained and connected to Narrative 5, with each page split into two columns. Each column is a different narrative; one that is set in the present and another that is set in the past.

The present narrative is stripped of punctuation, except for the scant full-stop or ellipsis (writing without commas was a challenge, though an enjoyable one!) and capital letters and paragraph indentations and speech marks and so forth, while its prose is diluted (minimal adjectives and adverbs, as if they’re an endangered species—I’m going to need a merciless eye when it comes to editing) to represent the post-apocalyptic setting of a world no longer structured and shaped by man. Due to these changes I adopted a new voice: my style, which is still finding itself, but appearing more confident, changes slightly with each character, to help show their uniqueness. This was, by far, the most different.

The past narrative is written more conventionally and serves as the memories of the protagonist, which end near to when the present narrative begins.

The reason for the dual narratives side-by-side represents the protagonist’s belief that the past is as important as the present. (A universally relatable, if not misguided, feeling, I’m sure.) I also want the reader to choose how they navigate that chapter: they could read the whole of the present narrative before going back to read the whole of the past narrative, or vice versa, or they could read going between the two narratives—when I edit this chapter, I’ll have to ensure this won’t become jarring. This chapter is also quite psychological: not everything is as it seems. It is only as each narrative progresses that the reader begins to understand what is really going on.

Having completed the first draft of this chapter, I am very pleased with it. Not only for its ambition, but also for the story it tells. I hadn’t planned it too vigorously; I only knew vaguely of its overall shape, whist having signposts of things that had to happen. I wondered how I was going to go about this but settled on writing the present narrative first (Mon-Tues) and then writing the past narrative (Tues-Thurs). I thought this would be easier than flitting between the two; it was also enjoyable trying to make the past narrative fit with the present; I occasionally flitted between the two, up and down the pages, with touches of slight editing to make them more cohesive.

I previously attempted something similar (though far shorter) with a short story I wrote some years ago during my BA; it was good to have this experience to aid me but I hope I’ve improved upon it. I definitely feel the style is far more ambitious, as is the story it tells.

Over the last few days, I’ve been considering the (overwhelmingly frightening (and exciting)) eventuality of people actually reading my first draft, and I believe this chapter is going to be an enjoyable one and a good demonstration of my ability. (Or so I sincerely hope.) Talking it through with Emily and my friend Becky, I’ve decided, as and when the parts are ready, that it would be best to release the manuscript to my group of readers (if you would like to be one, please get in touch!) in quarters or fifths, as opposed to handing out the whole manuscript in one chunk.

Not only will I receive feedback much sooner (feedback that could help with what I am yet to still write) but it’ll be easier on my readers, as well. Hopefully this will allow the feedback to be more focused as well. This still remains a couple of months off, though.

I also feel I should mention I began Chapter 7 on Friday. It’s going to be a long(ish) chapter, with no sacrifice of pace, which I am expecting to take me most (if not all) of next week to write. Still, I believe it got off to a good start, and I am very excited to see it through. Though it will mean a morning of character questionnaires for two major characters.

In terms of numbers, this is how the sixth week went:

Week 6 Word Total Daily Words
10 Oct 2016 44,931 1,960
11 Oct 2016 47,142 2,211
12 Oct 2016 49,382 2,240
13 Oct 2016 50,290 908
14 Oct 2016 52,264 1,974
Overall Total Week’s Total
52,264 9,293

After last week, it was nice to have a couple of days of two-thousand-plus words and two days that were within scraping distance. (It’s not just quality, but quantity.) After knowing those sorts of word counts are well within my capabilities, it’s frustrating when I don’t always meet them, even if I’m confident with what I’ve written.

Thursday was my only below-target day. After walking Cassie, I ended up re-writing an entire scene, deleting most of the 500ish words I’d previously written. This wasn’t as painful as I thought it would be [to lose that amount of words] as I feel the re-write was needed. As always, flexibility is essential!

My target for this month is 31,500-36,750 words and I begin tomorrow on 16,037 words. If I can produce a similar amount then I’ll be within that margin, but I’d like to be able to produce more, if I can. (When I set the minimum target, my eye was set on the higher number.) We will see, we will see.

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