Far in the wild North, in the mining village of Lanrik, a young boy was born into unusual circumstances. He was naïve in all things, save for a singular gift his naivete led him to believe was commonplace.
Those are the very first sentences of Cobault. I’ve come to realise that I need to get stuck into writing it again, otherwise I’ll never finish its second draft. As I’ve mentioned previously I’ve been stuck in the middle of some fairly major rewriting, but I’m still feeling more confident in this novel than any of my others at the moment.
Yes, I still have my Writer’s Blah, but I need to get over that and just write – easier said than done! I say that having just opened the document, scrolled to the last written page, read the last sentence… and then promptly minimized the screen to write this post instead.
Anyways, I’m hoping to get myself back into enjoying it again. Writing my last novel I found a trick to keep myself interested in what I was writing (because if even I, the writer, can’t be bothered continuing, why on earth would any prospective reader?!) which was mainly to think, “Well what could happen NOW to spice things up?”
The only problem with doing that to Cobault is that, since I’m in the middle of a rewriting and not having my first go at the plot, I need to make sure all the plot lines can lead back to the end I’ve decided I still like. It’s just this pesky middle bit, you know that silly bit in the middle of a novel with all the action and drama and suspense, that was needing a major overhaul.
You hear that noise coming through your computer screen? That is me, screaming.
Ok, so here’s my plan: 1) Read the whole goddamned thing again, so I can get back into the swing of things and not forget important bits. 2) Make an actual OUTLINE (gaspshockhorror) of what I need to write in said middle bit, and how to tie it back to the end again. And, 3) WRITE IT.
Sounds simple, yes? If only it were so.
I’ll let you into a little secret of mine: I never plan ANYTHING I write ahead of time. It just happens as it happens. And it’s exciting that way, because ever you don’t know what’s happening next. Plot-twists can be as much of a surprise to you as they would be to anyone else.
It’s like Extreme Writing – look, Ma, no outlines!
But now I’m thinking there’s a time and a place for Extreme Writing. Mainly, in the first exhilaration of a New Thing, when you’re giddy and lightheaded with the joy of new places to explore and new people to meet. You get this Eureka! moment when things just naturally come together, or when you realise something that your characters knew all along.
But then, perhaps in this second run of editing you need to be a little more circumspect. You’ve had your wild run, and now it’s time to tame the Beast. Of course, the wilder your first run was, the harder it is to rein it all in. And if whole sections need to be excised, well then you need the delicacy of a surgeon to replace them with something new and connect it all up again.
And I’m about as delicate as a brick through a window. I’m working on it, honestly.
So I know what I have to do. But it’s so much harder to actually do it. I’ve realised that my biggest hurdle in becoming a Real Life Published Novelist isn’t to do with my creativity or the actual talent I have for writing – it’s all about disciplining myself and teaching myself how to write a novel to the best of my abilities. Getting through all the stages, not just the first initial, wild splurge of ideas that becomes a first draft.
So wish me luck – I’ll need it!