Just a quick update on what I’m writing at the moment. Lately I’ve been switching back and forth between two novels.
A City Divided
This is something I started in 2015 and finished the first draft of last year, and now I’m doing a revision/rewrite. In parts it might only be the second draft. In other parts, it might be the third? fourth? fifth? Mostly it’s turning out to be a rewrite with a sentence borrowed from the previous draft here and there.
I started this draft earlier this year, for the purpose of trying out a new idea in the very first chapter. That change required propagating some changes into the following chapters. And then I started noticing all the plot holes and loose threads I’d left behind.
I feel pretty confident in the story overall, and none of the plot holes so far have been unpatchable. There were also some general changes I knew I wanted to make throughout, making the protagonist’s thoughts and feelings clearer to the reader, making the war-torn setting feel more omnipresent, and adding a few bits of depth to secondary characters.
At the moment, I’m about 40% of the way through that rewrite, but it’s been growing a bit as I go, so the denominator gets a little larger. So far it’s gone from 105,000 words to 111,000. But now it’s time to switch to the other project I’m in the middle of.
This is an idea I’ve had kicking around for a few years. I took a stab at it in 2017, and fizzled but learned some things along the way. Then I tried it again during Nanowrimo last year. It took me a lot of that month to get a handle on how that story needed to be told. It wasn’t until November was over that I really had a plan for what the storylines would be, and how it would be structured overall.
At this point I have (I think) a pretty solid outline that I’m working off of. I have earlier versions of certain key events, sometimes two or three versions, but where the names aren’t correct anymore, character backstories aren’t accurate anymore. I’m about six chapters into the first draft, which from my outline could be about a quarter of the way through the story. So it may end up being more like novella length, but I’m also looking for parts that could be fleshed out, or need to be fleshed out more.
The story as a whole is framed as a letter that cuts away to third person narration. So I’m writing each chapter in first person initially, to get the feeling right, and to try to get the letter to flow in and out of the narrative smoothly. And then I’ll go back and find the places to break and switch point of view. It’s a fun challenge! And it’s requiring some research. At some point in its life cycle, it probably needs readers from a couple different backgrounds and/or historical perspectives. I also have a bit of a reading list to check out at some point.
Since I’m switching between these two things, progress is slow and steady. But I think there’s kind of a good balance of buckling down on one thing for a while, but then also getting to switch to something else occasionally. Maybe it’ll take most of the rest of the year to finish both of these drafts I’m in the middle of, but that’s okay by me.
And then what?
I should also get back into the habit of doing short stories. That probably needs to start by reading more of them. I have an anthology or two on my reading list. I should also perhaps check out some regular magazines that publish this sort of thing, and get electronic copies to read on my phone instead of Twitter. This literally did not occur to me until I was typing it out, but yes this seems like a very good idea.
I’m also starting to feel like recording another album of solo material. But that’s another big project that can expand to fill its container and absorb any free time that it touches. So I’m putting that off until I at least get to the end of one of these drafts. That also gives me time to really think about what I want this next set of songs to sound like.