Wednesday, 12 November 2014

15,000 Feathers - The Fast Draft

I've been talking a lot recently about my forthcoming release, Those Rory Hours at Mazanadaran, mostly because we're entering an exciting pre-release period, getting the text set, getting the word out and getting ready for launch in February.

There's so much going on, and Ghostwoods have proved truly superb at guiding me through it and putting together a marketing plan. That's why I've been talking about it a lot, because a lot is happening.

The encouragement of others has always driven me forward. From my very first novel Lucid, which was shortlisted for the Luke Bitmead Bursary for New Writers in 2009, through to the truly incredible blurbs that have been rolling in from other authors about my latest work. Each time I feel as though I am progressing a little further, becoming better at honouring the art of storytelling.

Now it is time to mention that today I have passed the 15,000 mark on my next novel. The retelling of an old legend which is stretching my abilities in terms of research and imagination.

I've posted a couple of excerpts already, but I'm taking a new approach this time round. I didn't know there was a word for it until I saw it on Twitter today and thought 'yes, that's what I'm doing.' It's called fast drafting.

In the past I have always been fairly meticulous, making sure each chapter feels right before moving on to the next and looking up things on the spot that I need to know in order to give the story a sense of authenticity.

This one is a little different. Firstly, because I feel a need to have another manuscript close to completion by the time Rosy Hours hits the shelves. I feel spurred on by my good experiences with that novel and I'd like to ride that wave. Secondly, because, unlike any other story I've written, this story is already known. There's a beginning, middle, and end all mapped out in previous versions, most of the characters are formed and it's just left to me to take a few detours. Finally, because I loved this story so much in the past that I once wrote an entire film script for it. There were a lot of holes to that script, a lot of inaccuracies (as I'm now learning), but I've always known where I'd like to take it and I have a blueprint mapping the way.

All of this makes the process far more straightforward than previous stories, where I've had to dream up just about everything. This time, it's more about taking the raw material and polishing it until it sparkles; letting its colours show.

So, fast drafting it is. Getting the plot down, working out who does what when, sketching in additional characters and leaving a question mark in place of words or events that need more research. Rosy Hours was the first novel I've written where I implemented the policy of 'edit at the end'. Usually I edit as I go. This time, I'm trying really hard not to look back at anything except the last few paragraphs where I left off the day before.

I feel slightly dislocated from it, but in the interests of making swift progress I think it's a good approach. I'm also attempting to write a little every day, which is something I've tried in the past with varying degrees of, usually, short-term success. This time I'm not imposing a word count on myself, I just want to see the manuscript grow day by day, however slowly.

For this reason, I'm unlikely to post many more extracts. Although I don't mind posting rough snippets of unedited material, this time I'd rather not. I'd rather slap down the words in a jumble of typos than comb through each section reminding myself what I've written.

This might change at some point in the future, but I'm willing to give this fast drafting lark a shot.

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