Construction of a Novel: Back in the Saddle

It’s been over a year since my last ‘Construction of a Novel’ post. I haven’t abandoned the idea of documenting this novel’s progress… I just haven’t been making a lot of progress to document. That last post described my biggest stumbling block when it comes to actually writing the thing. And procrastination in the form of short story writing has continued, unabated until very recently. I’ve been writing! I’ve been submitting! I’ve been SELLING! So I have no cause for complaint. But the novel has been sitting to one side, occasionally clamouring for a moment’s attention only to have that attention diverted to another project before too long.

However. Over the last few weeks I’ve been writing it again. Really getting my teeth in and churning out words. Scenes themselves are happening quite easily once I get them started, but moving from one finished scene to a brand new one has been really tough going this time. My previous novel was much easier to write, probably because I knew the story like the back of my hand, bar a few intermediate details (and the ending, which took a while to settle in my mind). Once one scene was complete, I knew exactly what the next one had to be, and how it led into the one that followed, almost all the way through. This novel? Not so straightforward. I know where it’s heading. I know all the elements I want to incorporate. I’ve got the premise firmly in place, and I’m really getting to know my characters and their various interactions. But the structure is much more vague than last time. I don’t have a written outline, and have been debating whether or not to make one. I’m totally pantsing it at the moment, which usually works fine for me (at least, it always has with short stories), but maybe I need to adopt a different approach.

All of that aside, I am actually making progress again at long last. I’ve got a couple of short story ideas simmering on the back burner, and when they’re ready, I’ll probably drop everything to write them. That’s how my brain’s story factory works. But for now, this novel is the only thing I’m actively working on. It feels great to be seeing it inch forward again, although I’d love it to be sprinting ahead, forcing me to catch up and tackle it into written form. I’m sure that’ll happen once the momentum picks up. I guess for now I just have to enjoy the fact that it’s moving again, and trust the story and characters to tell me how to write it.

Tumbleweeds, Conventions, and Progress

There are tumbleweeds taking up residence on my blog. They’re making the place untidy. It’s time I swept them away, or used them as kindling, or whatever it is you do with tumbleweeds.


Well, thank you, Internet. It turns out you can eat them. Tumbleweeds and Bacon. Mmm. Apparently, they also sell on eBay. Wow – these ones are ‘free range’, according to the listing. Ethical tumbleweed purchase! You definitely don’t want the factory farmed ones. Those babies need to roam free.

So now that I’ve kindled a nice fire over which to cook my tumbleweeds and bacon while listing the rest on eBay, I’d better fill this now-tidy space with something. August was a great month. I went to Loncon, which was every bit as geeky and massive and awe-inspiring and exhausting (in a good way) as I’d expected. I loved every minute, and met up with some great friends I haven’t seen in ages. I had a truly spectacular time, and wish I could go back whenever I feel like it. Sigh.

Writing-wise, I made my first pro sale (woo!), finally finished revisions on a story I’ve been dawdling over for ages, and got back to my much-neglected novel, which feels like it’s picking up again at last. I submitted five times, received six rejections, and am currently waiting to hear on five stories (not necessarily those five August submissions). I also heard that my story, ‘Rule of Five’ (there’s a pattern forming here…), is scheduled to appear in Pseudopod in November, and that ‘Rift’, my flash piece that appeared in Plasma Frequency last year, was top of its issue’s poll to be included in their Year Two anthology. Exciting! Voting’s open until the 16th of September, so if you’ve read and enjoyed any of Plasma Frequency‘s issues over the last year, you might want to consider voting here.

I also read the superb and much-anticipated Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb, which was every bit as excellent as I’d hoped it would be. I’m in awe of Robin Hobb. Her writing astounds and never fails to inspire me. Her books are magnificently crafted stories and serious emotional rollercoasters. I don’t want to wait a year for the next instalment!

If September has half as many gems to offer, I’ll be thrilled. Ack – better go, the tumbleweeds are simmering to a pulp.