Monthly Archives: July 2016

Writing

Ode to a pen

pen

Pen that died during
the first draft of Submerged

I’ve been writing by hand a lot lately. I find it really good for first drafts, because there’s no going back. I can’t rewrite the same scene over and over (not without giving myself cramp, anyway). I can’t go back and change a character’s name or motivation or emotional state. Sometimes I add a note in the margin, so I know to change it when I type it up. I have no choice but to keep plowing on through that first draft. Because that’s the only way to get it done.

So, I wanted to write a bit of an ode to my ballpoint pen of choice. Oh, pen, how I love thee.

For years I just wrote with whatever I could get hold of. From one extreme (pens that left lumps of ink on the page and my fingertips) to the other (pens that made me write the same letter over and over again, hoping they would eventually leave ink on the page). But no more. I now buy one brand of pen. And they’re my writing pens. They’re not used for grocery lists or birthday cards or signing the kids’ homework books.

I am in love with the Uni Laknock ballpoint from the Mitsubishi Pencil Co. It has a comfy rubber grip and the ink flows smoothly. I like the 1.0mm nib in blue. I can crank out a good 30,000 words without going insane. They’re not super cheap (coming in at around the $4 mark) but so worth it.

I’ve never seen boxes of them, but apparently they do exist and OfficeMax has them, so I might have to check them out. Because I don’t think I’m quitting any time soon.

Writing

How I wrote 50K words in a month (part 3)

Okay, so, remember how I posted about writing 50K words in a month over Christmas? Well, that novel (Submerged) is off being read by someone at the moment, and I needed something else to work on while it was away.

I’d had an idea rattling around about 18 months ago for a contemporary, but it had never gone anywhere. I’d started it a couple of times in a couple of different ways but I got a bit bored and stopped.

But since Submerged is paranormal, I thought it would be a good idea to alternate with a contemporary.

Enter Graceless. It’s about a teenage rugby player who has the best night of his life followed by the worst two weeks of his life.

rugby

photo credit: aOC1A8861 
via photopin (license)

It also involves 2 things I know pretty much nothing about. Rugby and religion. (There’s also romance, but I’ve got that covered.)

I had a great character urging me to let him loose, and a great concept, but I didn’t really have a plot.

Until I did.

It came to me, I sketched it out, and stewed on it for a week. Then I started writing and didn’t stop for 2 weeks.

Again, I wrote this first, exploratory draft longhand, and I was careful to remember to include the date each time I started, so I have a really good idea of how many words I wrote. (Okay, good but rough. I estimate I get about 200 words on a page.)

And because I find this really interesting, I decided to include it here. I’m actually stunned at how many words I got down at the beginning. My poor children.

Date Word Count Running Total
26/06/16 4400 4400
27/06/16 0 4400
28/06/16 5000 9400
29/06/16 0 9400
30/06/16 1600 11000
01/07/16 0 11000
02/07/16 0 11000
03/07/16 4600 15600
04/07/16 2400 18000
05/07/16 1400 19400
06/07/16 2400 21800
07/07/16 2400 24200
08/07/16 2800 27000
09/07/16 400 27400
10/07/16 3200 30600

So there were a few days when nothing happened, but they were balanced out by the days when a ton of words happened. 🙂

And here it is in handy graph form:

graceless_wordcount

I’m going to quote myself here (from part 1):

The more I wrote, the more I got to know the characters. Relationships developed. Motivations became clear. … [T]he plot points I’d plotted got a bit fuzzy. But The Plan was still there to guide me.

Man, things were the same this time. The MC’s relationship with his father completely changed (for the better I think). Characters who were wooden placeholders at the beginning developed into 3D people. And the overall plan was still there to guide me.

And now I’m at the point where I ended part 1. The longhand part is done (the whole arc is there, beginning to end) and now I need to type it up.

I’m a bit scared to go back and see what the beginning is like because it feels so far away from the end. But I’m also excited to start the 2nd (expandatory) draft.

I’ll let you know how it goes.