Some readers might remember a story I was working on a while back, about Gwynn and Sharp Jasper and a bet.
Well, I went back to it this year. It’s now called Knights Out: or, A Significant Ornamental Feature. It’s going well enough that I don’t feel like I’d jinx myself if I mention it. I think it’ll be about 30K words. There might be enough plot for a novel, but I don’t think it should be one.
It’s set in Ashamoil before The Etched City, and the tone is lighter. I started writing it as an exercise in plotting, and since my favourite kind of plot is a complicated farce like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, that was the kind of thing I attempted here.
I’ve learned a few things while writing it:
- I can write without hearing characters in my head. I used to feel like I had to follow them and not make them follow too much of a predetermined story, and sure I like writing that way; but I have trouble doing it at more than short story length. But actually, yes, I can have them follow a plot, too. As long as their planned actions aren’t OOC, they shouldn’t be either, and they still have room to improvise in dialogue and smaller actions. It’s really in dialogue that I tend to ‘hear’ them (obviously, because they’re talking).
- Writing a rough but complete first draft is a good tactic for me. It might change a lot, but it lays a foundation.
- Plot can be filled in. If something absolutely has to happen, there can be any number of reasons why it happens.
- Some characters write themselves, and which ones do can be surprising. I already knew that. But if a character isn’t self-writing, they can still be written. It might take more time, but it’s doable.
- To persevere with a long piece of writing I have to enjoy it. The characters have to be having some kind of fun, and/or I have to enjoy hanging out with them. Which makes sense because I’m the same as a reader. I read non-fic for information, fiction for entertainment. That doesn’t mean I only want to read trivial fiction. But there are approaches to writing that I find more entertaining than others, e.g. writing the serious as black comedy. Grotesque and gothic approaches, e.g. Carson McCullers, Patrick White, Yukio Mishima, also work for me.
- I rather enjoy writing plotty stuff. Who’da thunk it?