Monday, 21 May 2007

Novel Progress - Update (and a Meme)

So, 875 words written tonight pushing me closer to 52,000 words (which is where I dropped novel #1). If I were a superstitious sort I'd be getting nervous round about now! But I'm not -apart from not walking under ladders (but that's just common sense) and avoiding black cats (don't know if one crossing my path is good luck or bad - and am allergic to them anyway).

And because I can't think of anything more interesting to blog about I'm going to fill out a writing meme that I saw on fessing author's site a while ago. And watch out - I'm tagging 5 of you at the end.

1. Do you outline?

Sort of. When I started planning this book I took a piece of paper, divided it into sixteen squares and called them my chapters (why sixteen I don't know but it worked out at something like 5,600 words each, for a 90,000 word book and that sounded okay to me) and then scribbled in some notes about what happened in each chapter. It was only when I was about 10,000 words into the novel that I realised I'd actually pencilled a lot of scenes rather than complete chapters! Now outlining is a bit of an ad-hoc affair. If I start to get a bit blocked/stuck I outline what the next eight scenes will be and, when they're written, I outline another eight and so on.

2. Do you write straight through a book, or do you sometimes tackle the scenes out of order?

I'm writing straight through the book. I know some people write the scenes they think they'll most enjoy writing first but I'd rather plough on and use the fun scenes as an incentive to slog on through the less enjoyable ones. I can't think of anything worse than having to write a whole load of linking scenes at the end.

3. Do you prefer writing with a pen or using a computer?

I have a notebook that I scribble ideas for novels and short stories into. Sometimes I even write stories whole stories into it when I get a bit carried away but novel writing is a strictly computer-based affair.

4. Do you prefer writing in first person or third?

First. I like to totally step inside my characters and see the world through their eyes. It's also easier to get the voice right. I've written a few short stories in the third person but I do feel more comfortable using first.

5. Do you listen to music while you write?

Sometimes - but it needs to match the mood of what I'm writing and it shouldn't be anything I know all the lyrics of or I'll just end up singing along. Sometimes I like the TV on in the background. I do need background noise and distraction although occasionally I'll turn off the TV or music so I can concentrate on a particularly tricky scene and then realise, hours later, that the flat is totally silent.

6. How do you come up with the perfect names for your characters?

I'm not sure. The first names come pretty easier but I do have to google for surnames or else I end up using the surnames of people I know/have known!

7. When you're writing, do you ever imagine your book as a television show or movie?

Oh all the time! I can totally see my current novel as a film (can't every writer?!)

8. Have you ever had a character insist on doing something you really didn't want him/her to do?

Nope, but a few have shown up in scenes they weren't invited to!

9. Do you know how a book is going to end when you start it?

Yep. With this novel all I knew was the beginning and the end - the middle, however, was entirely vague.

10. Where do you write?

Pretty much anywhere that has a plug socket for my laptop. Sometimes at my desk but, more often than not, on my sofa.

11. What do you do when you get writer's block?

Panic! I've only really suffered from writer's block when writing short stories and then it's more of a lack of ideas and a lapse in confidence that anything else. With the novel I haven't had writer's block per se but I have found myself slowing down and getting a bit angsty but that was because I didn't know what was coming next. I got around it by outlining the next eight scenes (see answer 1).

12. What size increments do you write in (either in terms of word count, or as a percentage of the book as a whole)?

I try not to write less than 500 words a day (750 words a day at the moment to meet my July 15 target) and am happy if I write 1,000 a day. On a couple of occasions I've written over 2,000 but that's quite rare.

13. How many different drafts did you write for your last project?

Ummm...I never finished my last project. I did re-draft my first 3,000 words of this novel though (for a comp) and probably did about 4 drafts in all.

14. Have you ever changed a character's name midway through a draft?

No but I have confused character's names (I've called Lucy 'Claire' several times) and I did give two characters the same name by mistake (one of the Keith's swiftly became Nigel)!

15. Do you let anyone read your book while you're working on it, or do you wait until you've completed a draft before letting someone else see it?

Ohhh no, no, no, no. No way! I showed the first 3,000 words to a critiquer in preparation for the comp and that was hellish. No one else is going to see the novel until I've finished at least the second draft.

16. What do you do to celebrate when you finish a draft?

Well, I haven't finished a draft yet but when I do I'm going to buy an enormous bottle of champagne and drink it all! Oh...and I'm going to buy myself a present!

17. One project at a time, or multiple projects at once?

I did mean to solely focus on this novel but I've managed to write a few short stories too, along the way. I did have a quick look at novel #1 and decided I would finish it at some point but I can't write two novels simultaneously so it'll have to wait until I've finished this one.

18. Do your books grow or shrink in revision?

When I revised the first 3,000 words of this novel they grew. Good job I'm aiming for 90,000 words because I've got a horrible feeling that it may end up nudging 100,000 words when I've finished revising it! Then again there might be some horrible scenes that I end up deleting. I don't know yet!

19. Do you have any writing or critique partners?

Not for novels no. That's something I'm going to have to think about when I finish. Any volunteers? Though lovely A.Writer and Sally Quilford did look at my synopsis before I sent it off to the comp.

20. Do you prefer drafting or revising?

No idea yet. I didn't enjoy revising the first 3,000 much but I think that was down to the pressure of getting it perfect for the comp.

Okay - now I have to tag 5 other people to do this meme... I choose... A. Writer (go on, you know you want to), Sally Quilford, ChrisH, Jen and Liz Fenwick.


SallyQ said...

ooh ooh, I've been tagged! Thank you, Cally! I've always wanted to be.

liz fenwick said...

I really enjoyed reading that and I think it's a cool exercise so thanks.......will let you know when I do it - maybe on Saturday :-)

A. Writer said...

Thanks for tagging me. What can I say? I'm tempted to do the Meme so I will :)

Thank you for the email! :)

Jen said...

Ooh, tagged, I feel all popular now! Doesn't take much these days...

I must confess, I do find it fascinating to see how/why other writers 'do it'.

Can't wait to read everyone else's too.

CTaylor said...

Yay! Glad you all liked the meme and don't mind being tagged. I look forward to reading your answers.

Nichola said...

I did the meme even though I wasn't tagged, 'cause it was so interesting!

I've tagged you on my blog for 'eight random things' - I hope no-one else got there before me! :D

CTaylor said...

Ooooh thanks Nichola. I haven't been tagged before - I'll have a look and give it a go tomorrow!