I am writing a Brand New Thing.
Since I last waffled here, I’ve been busy with rewrites of The Breathing Sea for my publishers, and have also started and stalled a couple of new ideas — now shelved. If I’m not fully enthused by the time I get to 30K of a draft then I don’t think I can see it through to the end. I expect drafting to be hard, but it was too hard. I wasn’t feeling it.
Why couldn’t I think of an idea I liked as much as my first. I felt… clouded.
I started thinking differently. Subconsciously, I’d been picking book ideas at random, running with them if they felt sparky, or I could imagine they would hook readers. I didn’t consider if they were the kind of thing I would be any good at writing. I was forcing it, these ideas weren’t really my thing.
I went back to The Breathing Sea. Why, after five years and so many different versions, do I still love it? The main character — Aster — has always felt real. And the story is based around a setting and premise that fascinates me. I will never get tired of learning about the oceans and science innovations, and am into biology and psychology. I’ve always swum and I love diving, the experience, the simple feel of it.
I dredged my mind for the last scene in a story — either book, movie, or TV —that had shaken me, that I had truly loved in a visceral way.
I identified it easily.
And I based my new book idea (let’s call it Z-book for reasons) around what got to me about that scene. Z-book is nothing like that scene in setting, character or premise, but my love of the action and emotion is the spark.
The Breathing Sea is about what’s below the surface. Z-book will take me to the clouds. And that feels… right.
So fast-forward two months, to now.
I have a whole notebook of research notes. This novel needs research, but the kind I love, science, but also history, myth and speculation. Researching has been my geek heaven and there will be a lot more later, which for me — is fun!
I have a story backbone. Fourteen key scenes, written into Scrivener – a couple of lines to describe each, 700 words in total. In the past I’ve used various different story planners and beat sheets and I think they overwhelm me before I start. I’ll test my draft structurally when I have a draft. Right now I feel the shape of this one in my bones, like it already exists, I just need to find the words for it. I’m going to explore my way in.
I have put in groundwork with my MC. Her backstory is detailed and there will be too much of it in draft zero but I’ll allow myself that and cut later. I’ve thought about her every day and she has personality and voice. I’m starting to see this story through her eyes and she will lead me through it, changing my initial ideas as she grows. As soon as I started to hear her speak and was jotting down her comments, thoughts and conversations, I knew I was probably ready to let her speak.
I’m making it sound like I’m confident. I am so very not. But that is fine.
I’m going to diary my progress weekly. I’d like a draft by the new year. Next week, I’ll post the first week of Draft Zero Diary, and outline what I did towards my story each day, and how I fit it in the cracks of time.
Did I mention I kind of hate Draft Zero? It’s so painful watching the shiny ideas wither in my dreadful unedited words.
Because I hope this one will break the 30K barrier, and fly.