And we’re off!

I was constrained this morning by having an hour set aside to write but no computer available at the cafe, so I started the morning by making notes about settings. I got a few things clear in my head about how things work in my world, and I discovered a few new characters. I got to thinking about different characters and the part they play.

I often get a TV show in my head, and will watch and rewatch episodes from that show, as background while I work (that way it’s actually better if the episode is very familiar rather than new to me). My current favourite series is Numb3rs, a US TV series about an FBI agent and his mathematician brother who use math formulas as a tool to solve crimes.

Each episode features a crime, and some maths problems, but they also contain snippets about the family, and when you watch a series often, especially back to back episodes, the crime arc can take a back seat to the character arc, or maybe better to say that the crime offers a mirror to reflect and build on the character arc. The family is Don, the Agent, Charlie, the mathematician, and Alan, their father, but there’s another very important member of the family – the mother. She actually died a year before the series even started, but she is still present and very much felt by the family in almost every episode, as her influence is felt in their relationships with each other and how their childhood was shaped.

At school when we were in the “Make a play and perform it to the rest of the class” mode, one group made a play in which everyone on a ship was complaining about the captain and each had a different reason to hate him. In the end they all turned on him and killed him together, but the captain himself was never seen.

In both these examples, a character who is never seen onscreen plays a vital role.

I thought it would be fun to do that, in part, in my novel. In fact I did something like it before, for a fanfiction story for the TV series Bones, where the absence of a character and how the rest react to his absence was the main thrust of the story. So I’ve decided I’ve got two characters in my novel whose presence I intend to make readers feel as important, even though they play no active part, because their influence will be seen in the way that my main characters behave. One is a woman grieving for her dead boyfriend. The other is a woman who had a difficult relationship with her mother, but grows to understand her better as she becomes a mother herself.

I also thought about my writing group, and the questions they had asked about my novel, including asking about the role of men in my world, so that brought in another few characters. In fact, at some point I might consider all the different influences on my writing, to see where each has come from and what it has brought to the cooking pot. So many times something occurs in real life that ends up being amalgamated into part of my writing.

Having returned home, I realised I still had to adjust scrivener by moving previous pre-drafts to the research folder and setting the word count to 0 (in fact it set it to around 25, which is the standard gumph on the title page). I’ve set the session target to 2,000 and the project target to 50,000, although I’ll probably end up with far more than that, and I’ve started writing.

I’ve already tried out the first scene, but I didn’t cheat and copy it, I just remembered what I’d done and wrote another draft, with more detail and taking the story on further. It’s not good, but it’s written, and I know it’s not good, and I expected that and am prepared to keep working.

I’ve now gone just beyond where I’ve got to before on this scene, and probably completed the first chapter. I stopped at 2067 words, and updated my nano wordcount. I’ve got to update the spreadsheet as well, which gives me lots of pretty graphs, and then I’m done for the day. Feeling pretty pleased with myself so far, but I know that the first few days are easy; it’s when you fall behind, or reach 10,000 words and feel yourself slowing down, or you decide that the last two chapters are absolute rubbish but going back and fixing them would waste precious time and words. One year I just changed tack halfway through, merging characters as I had too many, and continued as though they were the same ones I started with. This year I hope that my planning will help me avoid major issues.

Still, I’m having fun, and that, really, is all that counts.

How about you?

PS this blog is 839 words; does that count towards my total for the day? 😉

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