Before I began drafting my first 100,000+ words of Everborne, I was worried Narrative 1 would need a complete rewrite.
Well, it has.
I’m no longer worried, though. Even if it means I won’t have finished drafting by the end of the month, like I’d anticipated. The rewriting is as essential as the drafting, as without either I’d be left with words that simply aren’t good enough.
It makes me a little frustrated that I’ll have to wait a bit longer until I can show readers my first draft of the first quarter, as I feel I’m at the point where I could do with some opinions that’s aren’t my own. Though I’m having to just deal with it. Rushing this stage would only be counter productive.
After the painting and sculpting of the previous weeks, this week I rewrote Chapter 5 (Mon-Tues) and started on Chapter 8, which follows immediately afterwards in Narrative 1. It may appear as if I’m jumping around a bit, but it makes sense to me to work this way, especially as the intervening chapters are from different narratives.
Whilst drafting, I’ve found it has helped to write some chapters back-to-back (like I also did with Chapters 4 and 7) even if they don’t follow on from each other in chapter order, as they are a continuance of the same narrative.
This has most particularly helped with the story’s consistency and pace, as well as the birth of new ideas. Once I’ve finished drafting (I now hope by the end of March), I may continue writing in this way.
I’m hesitant to write large chunks of chapters from the same narrative back-to-back, however. The time between when I’m writing a different narrative allows me to subconsciously think about what’s to happen next in the narratives I’m not writing. It may sound silly to write one thing whilst thinking about another, but it seems to work for me.
Whilst working on Chapters 4, 6 and 7, I had plenty of time to think about 5, which is perhaps why I found it easy to write. It was a short chapter to begin with and after a complete rewrite became only six words longer—and, hopefully, a lot better.
Chapter 8 is another matter.
Formerly Chapter 7, at a whopping 22,628 words, it was a beast that needed dissecting.
As I want Everborne to be pacy, that amount of words is far, far too long for a single chapter. It would make it around 64 pages in length. When you compare that to Chapters 1 and 3, the next longest at around 6,000 words each, they would only be around 17 pages in length. The rest average anywhere between 5 and 12 pages.
When I mentioned the chapter before, I said it acted as a 3-in-1 chapter. I’d begun rewriting the first scene on Wednesday and it was only when I took a break from it to walk Cass on Friday that I decided I will actually now split the chapter; the story it covers will likely make the new Chapters 8 and 12.
It’s an important chapter, taking place in two different times (and locations), introducing new major characters and moving the main plot along. Simply, a lot was going on. Too much to be contained within one chapter.
Even if I reduced the word count to closer to 15,000 words, that would still leave me with a chapter of around 42 pages in length. Still too long. Once I’d decided to split the scenes into their own chapters, it felt like the only choice I could make.
Not only will it allow the important reveals to breathe (they will each have a chapter of their own, as opposed to sharing a mammoth one), it should also help when writing them. For some reason, I’ve never been a fan of writing long chapters. Maybe because I don’t like reading them?
Chapter 8 remains a challenge. It focuses on an argument between eight characters in which they discuss a surreal topic: what to do with an alien. Not only are there a lot of conflicting personalities and views, the chapter needs to be handled with care so it appears believable—well, believable enough for a science fiction story.
Now I’ve decided that the scene will be its own chapter I feel a certain pressure has been released, that the scene can be as long as it needs to be in order to tell its part of the story. That’s not to say it has been without it’s frustrations.
The other week I discussed George R.R Martin’s belief that a writer is either a gardener or an architect, saying that I’m continually discovering to find myself the former. Writing Chapter 8 has continued to reinforce this.
Before I’d written the first draft of this scene, I knew the outcome of the argument: what happens to the alien. However, as I was rewriting the argument, I began to find that the characters and their viewpoints were taking me in new directions. What may be logical for the story and its progression isn’t necessarily logical for the characters. So I found myself finding new threads, as it were, and instead of cutting them off, I began to pull.
I’m glad I did.
I now have new ideas that find a compromise between the characters and my original conclusion. The outcome of the argument is different, but the story can still develop in a similar way. I’m no longer forcing conflicting elements together but creating twists that will hopefully improve the story. I’ve always preferred stories which you can feel can go anywhere, the ones you can’t predict the course of, opposed to those which you know needs x to happen for y to begin, and so on.
As the ideas came as a complete surprise to me, hopefully they will be to the reader as well. One of the ideas came near the end of writing on Friday, out of a character’s response, while the other came to me this morning, seemingly out of nowhere.
When I return to Chapter 8 tomorrow morning, I feel much more confident about getting it finished and how it will be once it is. Writing can sometimes be an up-and-down process. While it wasn’t a great feeling to end this week on a down, I look forward to starting next week on an up.
(Chester and Cassie enjoying their walk. Whilst dogs have little to do with the posts, they have a lot to do with my writing lifestyle—I honestly don’t think I could do it without them. Dogs also make a much better Featured Image than a photo of a confused Tom at a laptop would!)