Thursday 6 February 2014

At fifty thousand words

A week ago tonight I tweeted:

"New novel now up to 42k words in only two months - 670 words/day average - despite new job. Very surprised. Don't know where it comes from!"

Just seven days later, although I've been working hard and very weary, there are another eight thousand words written. More than that, there's a lot of incident written: the capture of a castle, a failed assassination attempt, a breaking of relationships, the development of other friendships. The overall shape of the second half of the novel is emerging. It's a strange and exciting experience.

The novel has - inevitably - taken its own life and is twisting away from my original plan, which is both frustrating and intriguing. I had thought it was a novel about the birth of a republic. I thought my central character was a merchant's son called Dalwhiel - a thoughtful, entrepreneurial, largely non-military character. But the character originally intended as his love interest - a hereditary princess, Selchae, spoiled and arrogant - has emerged as more interesting and more characterful. She has much more of an arc, much more challenge to her character and therefore much more opportunity to grow.

And, of course, that's distorting the shape of the piece and causing problems. The narrative starts - in a third person voice, indeed - but following Dalwhiel
. In the first half of the narrative, he's present in virtually every scene. In the central part of the narrative, both of the protagonists are together most of the time, so the camera, as it were, is able to track both of them.

But I'm using a variant of the old classic 'Pride and Prejudice' plot: the protagonists initially fall out, are brought back together, fall out worse, and finally come together again. There's a lot of mutual lust in what pulls them together, but there's also mutual liking. But, as I say, in the second half of the narrative they fall out badly and part, and the camera can no longer track both.

So it tracks her.

That wasn't really a conscious decision. But she's more engaging to write, and she simply has to do more stuff. Where he has driven the narrative in its early part, she now has to take over - if she didn't, she would be just another stock princess constantly having the vapours and being rescued.

But it does mean that my republic isn't going to happen. We might end up with a constitutional monarchy with a quasi-divine priest-queen. Something of the sort seems to be emerging. I'm not yet certain.

And that's why writing a narrative - as much as reading one - is an adventure.

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The fool on the hill by Simon Brooke is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License