August 3rd, 2015

How not to write a novel

A quiet and mostly unexciting summer

Mostly I am plodding on with proofreading and testing of G's Java programming book. Only a couple more chapters to go and then it will be ready to do the final formatting check, design the cover and it can be uploaded to Lulu.

In other news, I am delighted to say that I have unstuck the novel I'm writing.[*] I've not written any fiction for a few years, due to various things, but I recently set myself the goal of completing the messy first draft of The One About The War by the end of December. So I had been poking at it, but despite poking, it just would not unstick. It was stuck like the stuckest thing in a sticky place. Anyway, thanks partly to the book I'm reading (Writing Faster FTW (thank you julesjones for the recommendation!)), I finally had the necessary insight which showed me how to get it moving again.

The key was, "If the characters and the outline disagree, the characters always win." Except that the event in the outline had to happen because I've already written Book 2 of the trilogy and the event has happened! It is done. It is history. Normally I can get characters to do "out of character" things by manipulating the other characters and events in the story. Someone might not normally do X, but if they were made angry/tired/drunk/drugged/confused/miserable etc enough, (delete as appropriate) they would plausibly behave "out of character".

But however I manoeuvred all the manoeuvrable things, I couldn't make it convincing. But then I realised this morning that though the main character wouldn't do what the plot demands that he must do, he would back up his men if they did it. So suddenly, the novel is not only unstuck, but I have then next few scenes and then it should be downhill all the way to the end.

Then I just have to go back to the beginning, scrap several chapters and rewrite them, but I am glad to say that I seem to have finally got my writing brain back.

[*] For values of writing that include not touching it since 2009.
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    pleased pleased
View from study (sunny)

Wild raspberry

I created a guild on Habitica (new name for HabitRPG) called Venture Outside Your Lair. There were already guilds for serious exploring and walking and cycling and fitness, but I wanted something to encourage people (me especially) to get up off the computer and step outdoors for a while and get a bit of natural daylight and observe what is going on around.

Unfortunately, my venturing outdoors has been limited recently due to pushing on with proofreading and testing husband's book -- and the weather's not helping! -- but I did manage a walk the other day. Our blackberries are still not ready, but I came across some wild raspberries in a hedgerow. There weren't enough to pick and do anything with, so I left them for the birds and wild creatures.

Wild raspberry

Tomorrow, however, I am off to the National Eisteddfod. Despite having lived in Wales for 40 years, I've never been to this major cultural event. There are various reasons for that which are partly about the nature of the event itself, partly about just not liking crowds and traffic jams, and partly lack of time and anyone to go with, but I do feel I ought to go at least once and see what it's really like and, of course, spend a day practising speaking Welsh.
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    busy busy