When more is definitely better

never-mind-the-quality-feel-the-width

Crack open the merlot and break out the tortilla chips… I’ve made it to 70,000 words. 70,092, to be precise.

I’m on target to have a complete first draft of Pressmennan by the end of November and – provided I work hard on fixing it up in December – a manuscript that I can send out by the end of the year.

As someone who was brought up in the garment business (we lived above the shop) I’m delighted to echo the sentiment above. Fine tuning will come later. For now, I’m just very chuffed.

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Time for some serious plot wrestling

Cumbrian wrestlers

The end is nigh, and I’m excited and worried in equal measure. I’ve written 65,000 words of my new novel, Pressmennan, and reckon I have, at most, 20,000 more to go.

This is good because I’m keen to get finished so I can find out what the world thinks, but it’s also bad because I’m nearing the point of finding out what the world thinks.

So far, I’ve been focused on getting as many words as possible down on paper, preferably in a reasonably sensible and interesting order.

Now, with the various characters and their story threads well established, I’m moving into a new phase: bringing it all together. And that means some nimble footwork to ensure I don’t trip up as I wrestle a complex plot into submission.

Basically, everything depends on everything else. A passing comment made by a minor character 150 pages ago needs adjustment in light of something happening now. What someone else did or didn’t say in chapter one has to be clarified as it’s crucial to a scene I’m about to write.

And, if such and such is going to occur in a couple of chapters, I need to revise the groundwork laid when the characters involved first appeared.

In other words, each little detail, each conversation, each thought needs to be choreographed into a seamless whole. No loose footwork, no missteps. It’s making my brain hurt, but it must be done – and it must be done well.

Wish me luck!

PS: I’ve been named Oxford University’s Alumni Author of the Month for my novel Tandem. How nice is that?

Nail your story to the wall

The pinboard novelist Alex Morgan created to help her write Pressmennan

Today, I am officially two-thirds of the way through the first draft of my new novel, Pressmennan. I’m celebrating by killing off one of the characters – and posting a picture of my office pinboard.

When I began writing Pressmennan, other than a few scribbles in my notebook, the only thing I had to help me keep track of my characters and their actions was the Excel spreadsheet I mentioned in a previous post.

As the manuscript has grown, it’s become harder to keep hold of everything, and I decided to create a pinboard so I could see it all at a glance.

I put up a list of characters and a summary of the action still to come. There are sticky yellow notes to remind me of things I might forget to sort out or add in, pictures representing my central characters, and postcards and other keepsakes that illustrate key elements of their story.

It’s a complete visual representation of my novel and has made a huge difference. If you’re working on a major writing project, why not make one too? I just hope I’ve made the resolution low enough on mine so it doesn’t turn into one gigantic spoiler.

And the death? I’m saying no more about it.

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