I’m getting close to 30,000 words now, or a third of the way through.
As well as thinking about what’s to come, I can also feel buoying up behind me my story thus far. This week I didn’t carry on writing, but wrote a few passages about my main character’s early life that flesh out her character and relationship with her family, and could slip in earlier in the book. I’m not looking where, as I don’t want to look back and reread what I’ve written (frankly I’m scared to); but they are a few more scenes that give more background to the start of the story.
I also wrote the end of the scene I was writing last week in notes – there’s a lot to pack in, and a lot to develop, there and then. Much as I tried to write character plans for each of my characters, sometimes it’s when one’s on the floor and the other’s looking at them that their relationship comes into focus best.
I also learnt a new word: kayfabe. It’s used in wrestling to mean maintaining the illusion that something is real, and the “smark” (see this glossary of wrestling terms for a definition – thanks Tom) knows it’s faked, knows it’s not real, it’s all illusion. He’s in it for the thrill of the narrative.
I heard this term at Storywarp, a mini-conference about storytelling held at the offices of Made by Many last Thursday, and loved how it describes that suspension of belief we all experience when being told a story.
(I often wonder how far it extends to other forms of belief too. The sort of evangelical atheists who splutter at the ridiculousness and irrationality of religion would be more convincing if they understood the joy of believing in something, the pleasure of enacting a ritual, or recounting a dream. I've never been religious myself, but I've always envied those who are.)
Anyway, creating and maintaining that suspension is my focus at the moment. The next big bit of my story is looming. I’m enjoying adding layers to the existing story, but think it might be a way of putting off the inevitable as well as making sure all my ideas are written. What comes next is unwritten and therefore scares me. Things need to happen.
A third of the way through is also the point at which I’ve heard many people falter: so much has been written, and yet there’s twice as much yet to write.
It is daunting, and I have to try not to think about how much is yet to write. I’m 26 weeks through; that’s half a whole year. I climbed 152 steps up a tower at Hawkstone Park in Shropshire this week, and just as I had to refocus my eyes on the horizon to find my feet (actually I lasted about 24 seconds before bellowing at my brother to get out of the doorway so I could run back down), I now have to consciously refocus on where I am in my book; what’s happened up to this point, what we know, what we don’t yet know. I’m in the thick of things.
Though sometimes it feels like I can’t see the wood for the trees, it’s actually a better viewpoint than looking down from a bird’s eye view. Which, it turns out, gives me shaky legs for the next hour and a half.
Word count this week: 1,523 Total word count: 45,866 First draft: 28,402