Blog No. 308
I was hoping to be able to say that I was finished the first draft of The Neon Heart by this post, but as you can guess, I’m not quite there yet. I’ve been getting some really good writing in with a couple of regular meetings with Christian each week, but with a load of other things on my plate (surprise, surprise) and some bad habits from another summer of slacking, I haven’t quite gotten there yet. One of the reasons is that the story is getting a bit longer than anticipated. Not by much, but when I started, I was planning on somewhere between thirty and thirty-five thousand words. the first draft is going to be more than that, but that’s a good thing. The story is dictating the length and the extra word count gives me more room to cut in the edits. It does mean that I’m not finished, though. I would have liked to be finished by now.
Not that the story hasn’t been fun to write. With some good feedback with Christian, I’ve come up with some really cool and tense scenes. The action heavy story has had some nice moments of warmth too. Since I tend to not plan a lot when I write, especially when it’s something like a novella, I have to rely on the things I come up with in the moment. So far it’s worked an I think the practice has helped keep Neon Heart feeling fresh and exciting through the whole story (so far). It’s quite a bit longer than Thinking Machine, but I think it will be as fast a read (or nearly). Having more characters with varying personalities helped too (though I’ll have to check my consistency in the edits). Also, with so many characters, one was totally left unexplored. I think it works as the character was rather stoic anyway.
One reason I’m so eager to get Neon Heart finished is that I’m itching to get started on a new novel. I’m attempting to start a kind of conveyor belt of writing, where I have one story in the edits while I’m writing the next. If I give myself more time to do the edits, I think that will help me speed things up and distance myself from the story being edited and approach it more clinically. Over the last couple of months, I’ve spent time really thinking about the novel and have come up with some solutions to potential issues I was anticipating. With those issues hopefully solved, I’m anxious to get started. The story is larger and more complicated than what I’ve written before. (I think it’s going to be longer than Pilot, but that hasn’t gone past the first draft stage and when I finally go back to it, it will have to be rewritten anyway). Since it’s more of a complex story, I’ve had to spend more time planning (and have more of that to do before I actually start). It’s a different way to write than I’m used to, but I think it will help me keep things focused and not have it all fall off the rails when the plot threads all have to be tied up and I’m almost finished.
It’s going to be a balancing act between planning and my natural inclination to write whatever comes to mind. I want to have a well structured story (especially with that complicated element) but I also know that I don’t follow my plans when I’m actually in the middle of a writing session. The trick is going to be setting a strong framework that I am excited to stick to, while giving myself just enough freedom to have fun with the day-to-day writing. I am worried that if I don’t find the sweet-spot I’ll have too much freedom and stray from the plan or not enough and abandon it completely. Not to say that any of those possibilities would not be the right way to go in the end, but standing at the precipice of the book, it’s going to need some planning to get right. What that looks like, I still don’t know. But it’s shiny and new and that makes me excited. We’ll see how I feel when I’m ninety-thousand words in and desperate to be finished, but for now, I can’t wait. I just have to get Neon Heart finished first. And figure out how to write and edit at the same time.