Week 83

83 Right. Went a bit barmy reading up on how to structure novels, and started getting confused where my Quest ended and Reaching My Inmost Cave began. It's the point at which you find yourself pondering whether your main character in an altogether not-fantastical-setting has managed to seize their sword yet, that you realise you have to put the Story Structuring Book down.

I need to stop structuring for the sake of it and work out a structure that'll simply get me to the next stage: writing the second draft.

So, I:

  • Wrote a short, six-paragraph synopsis from memory
  • Split it into three parts so it's more manageable
  • Created a new three-part project in Scrivener
  • Created ten empty chapters per part (the Scrivener equivalent of lining up your pens and pencils and a protractor set on your desk)
  • Started writing an outline for each chapter

A narrative arc that lasts almost 300 pages is daunting to say the least. Then Walter Benjamin got in the way with his whole yayaya, storytelling this, storytelling that thing:

The decline of the story is the rise of the novel.

Yah, thanks Walt. Pithy.

But he's got a point: there's only so much planning and structuring I can do. I need to embrace the mess, expect that there will be unresolved issues, characters who look promising but don't do much by the end, scenes that don't go anywhere.

Starting at the end of this month, I have three months off work to redraft my first draft, and get to the end this time. It's exciting - but also pretty daunting. I know what I am capable of: I worked hard as a student. I got good grades. I am also able to lose entire weeks to Homes Under the Hammer.

By the end of this month, I want to be ready with a fully planned second draft - each chapter outlined, each key plot point built up to - until all I have to do is write it. I've lost my way before when I've not planned enough; but this week I realised once again there's a point at which no more planning can help. You just have to start writing.

Hopefully this draft will be in slightly better shape than the first.

Word count this week: 0 First draft: 128,661