Knights Out

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:

  1. 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).
  2. Writing a rough but complete first draft is a good tactic for me. It might change a lot, but it lays a foundation.
  3. Plot can be filled in. If something absolutely has to happen, there can be any number of reasons why it happens.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. I rather enjoy writing plotty stuff. Who’da thunk it?

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