Tuesday, 31 July 2012

85,000 words and still going...

So you know that 'sniffing distance' I was on about in my last post? No chance! I'm at 85,000 words now and I've still got two and a half scenes to go - and that's just to finish the main narrative. Then I've got the parallel narrative to write! Fortunately it'll be shorter than the main thread. It'll also be in a different format which will hopefully make it quite fun to write.

I haven't written a parallel narrative before but I think this novel needs one to explain why the (unreliable?) narrator acts the way she does in the present. It'll also, hopefully, be a page turner in it's own right (I'm sure I'm not the only one to skip through a parallel narrative to get back to the main thread of a novel). Maggie O'Farrell used parallel narratives to really good effect in 'The Hand That First Held Mine' although I'm no Maggie, that's for sure!

What do you guys think? Are you a fan of parallel narratives or would you prefer the occasional flashback instead?

How lovely was the weather last week? The Spudling and I went to stay with his grandparents while the boyfriend went off on a camping/mountain biking expedition. I don't think the Spudling has ever had more attention - from his uncle, auntie, cousins, grandparents and great aunts - he was in seventh heaven. Everyone wanted to cuddle and play with him and, to make the weekend even more momentous, he decided it was the perfect time to start crawling! Time to baby-proof the house now we're home...

Not long now until my maternity leave is over and I go back to work (September) so only a few weeks left to enjoy spending all my time with the Spudling until he goes to the childminder three days a week. I'm going to miss him terribly but part of me is quite looking forward to talking to other adults about non-baby matters when I go into London for team meetings, and listening to my CDs and records on the days I work from home (instead of nursery rhymes on a loop!).

Between now and then, however, there's lots to be done. The boyfriend and I are buying a house so there are mortgages to sort, surveys to arrange and measurements to take (it feels like forever since we last saw the house we're buying. I hope we still like it!) and, if I didn't have enough on my plate, I've agreed to send Maddy (my agent) the first draft of novel 3 by 24th August. Even if I pull out all the stops I'm not going to have much time to give it much of an edit and that makes me nervous - I normally edit a novel within an inch of its life before I show it to anyone but maybe this is a more efficient way of working  - any structural issues can be fixed before, rather than after, I spend hours primping and polishing the prose.

Better get on with it then...

9 comments:

Rebecca Alexander said...

I'm writing my second book with a parallel narrative, and I'm just finishing the contemporary strand today, so understand your satisfaction. I've promised my agent a decent draft by the end of August, so just 30k of historical strand to go. Like you, I'm inspired by Maggie O'Farrell. Gives me a little thrill to be working parallel to a real novelist!

Cally Taylor said...

Rebecca - ooh, we've got about the same amount of words to write in the same amount of time. Race you! Seriously though, how do you feel about delivering a draft that isn't polished witin an inch of it's life?

Captain Black said...

I prefer parallel narratives to flashbacks. I think flashbacks are very difficult to pull off but can work if done carefully. With parallel narratives, you can write them as a stream of scenes and then weave them into the main story in the order that you want. The technique is used effectively in thrillers and can build suspense and tension quite nicely.

Ooh, a novel race. I haven't seen that for a while ;o)

Rebecca Alexander said...

Ready, steady...go! I'm terrified about delivering a naked baby novel, instead of a ready for school version. But she says she can see through that (how? It's composed largely of typos and clich├ęs). I suspect I'll be editing each chapter as I write the strand!

Cally Taylor said...

Captain - glad to hear you think that, reinforces my gut feeling on flashback vs parallel narrative & what would work best in this book. Btw I'm racing womag writer too & am currently in the lead!

Rebecca - ha! Naked baby novel, now there's an analogy I can relate to! I hope my agent can see through a messy first draft too (am pretty sure she can :))

Chris Stovell said...

Berlimey, you're really packing it all in - well done! I prefer parallel narratives to flashbacks too. Good luck with everything and hats off to you!

Cally Taylor said...

Chris - Story of my life, really, why do one thing when you can do ten instead?!

womagwriter said...

I love parallel narratives. My favourite books have two stories unfolding simultaneously, preferably in two different time periods. Oh, what a coincidence, just like the novel I'm currently writing!

As for our race - you've well and truly won, despite me having a head start! And with a baby at home as well. Superwoman or what?

Cally Taylor said...

Womag - that's good to year (about your favourite book). Superwoman? Nah, grim determination and a big dose of stubbornness that's what! ;)