Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Writing the Second Novel

Not the most accurate title as, technically, I don't have a first novel. Not officially, anyhow.

At the time of writing this blog I am now 72,000 words into the new book, Neo Noir.

Why am I writing a new book when Machinations' fate has still to be decided?

As I've said before, this helps steady my nerves while I'm waiting for news. I'm also writing because, well, it's just what I do and I've been aching to get my teeth into this novel for years.

It's fair to say that Neo Noir is a very different beast to Machinations. There are fewer main characters, it tackles different subjects and the rules of the world are very different. I'm glad for all of these things, as they allow me to do very different things with the story that wouldn't have worked in Machinations and after spending so long on one novel with one set of rules its a breath of fresh air to be able to try something new.

So writing this one should be easier right? I have a novel under my belt already and, whether it is published or not, I've learned a great deal while writing it. Surely, NN should flow from brain to page easy as anything.

I'm quickly learning that the answer to that is 'no'. Turns out the process of writing a first draft, any first draft, involves the same worries as before. Does the story work? Would it be better if I added in this or took that out? Will the reader care about the characters? Is the world convincing? etc. etc. etc.

As I get deeper into the story (I think I'm reaching the two-thirds mark but there's no way to be sure) there's more and more I need to change. Ideas occur to me as I write that require me to go back and change things. I'm realising where I need to go away and do some research (mostly for locations and subject matter). There are subjects I've ended up touching on that I hadn't even considered while I was writing my plan and scenes I've written that just need that little spice of detail that only real life can provide. In some cases, there are things and scenes that simply don't work, or need to change if something is to work later. And there are scenes I've written on uninspired days that need to have a re-write on a day when I'm feeling perkier.

You see? All the same problems as before.

Is my writing better than it was? I damn well hope so, the effort I've made, but that's not making writing a first draft any easier, I might have new tools, new techniques and new tricks that I didn't have before Machinations but it all still requires the same process of putting one word after another and trying to see what my brain comes up with, never knowing if the idea in my head will translate onto paper.

In short, I can't wait to finish the first draft and start to edit it, shaving it from a twisted, gnarled stick I found in the forest into a spear that cuts and thrusts. And, if I'm doing this right and continuing to learn, I think it'll be best spear I've ever made.

1 comment:

Damian H said...

Good post G,

I've always had the same problem writing articles, from my first one back in '02 or '03 to recently. Having or creating an idea is as hard the second or fiftieth time around, you maybe just become a little better at fleshing it out with experience, but even then, your trying to not step on your own toes.

You know the saying, if it was easy ...