Monday, 30 July 2012

The Home Straight

I'm writing the last few scenes in A Baby's Bones, not the final scenes in the book but the ones leading up to finale, which I've already written. Which is a badly worded way of saying (and showing) that I am worded out. Pooped. I'm planning to finish the contemporary strand tomorrow, then start on the historical strand. I would have blogged about it...but I was too busy. It's really satisfying to have more of an understanding of my own process, as I write. Last time I was unsure of how to progress from a flawed, inadequate first draft to a better, more coherent and paced second draft. I was never sure I was improving the draft, just changed it, sometimes in the wrong direction. I do seem to have a sense of where this book is going, this time. 

Like a lot of writers, I'm intimidated by the scale of writing a whole book. It's too easy to get hung up on the writing and editing as you go along, polishing the first few chapters over and over rather than proceeding with the whole story. I think I'm learning about that, as well as gaining confidence in the scale of any novel. I know I write a thousand words a day, pretty well every day. If those words are following a story, then a good first draft should take - say three months. Second draft - because I have to substantially rewrite my first drafts - maybe one to two months, subsequent drafts, a few weeks down to days. Basically, it takes a while to hold the whole thing in my head, but I get there. 

The difference between my first draft and my second is largely character and tone. First draft, I was evolving my character as I went along, finding out about her. The other main character was light relief, and needed completely changing. He's much darker and sadder now, and my main character, Sage, has a lot more to lose. Each rewrite will intensify the darkness now, adding little descriptions (which I still leave out in early drafts) as well as making sure the twists and turns of the mystery are revealed in a sequence that makes sense. (You can't blame the cat before you notice the cream is missing). It's a nice place to be, rather than in the mid-book blues, when I wonder where all this is going and I still have forty thousand words to write.

Now I am looking forward to the historical strand that chases the same mystery but from the perspective of the players - the two bodies excavated from the well, the grave in the woods. It's cold and grey here, the temperature seems to have dropped ten degrees from the gorgeous sunshine a few days ago. Suits the creepy drama I'm writing. 

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