I continue to be amazed with how many of my daily word-count numbers end up being even. And symmetrical. All I’m missing there is a 4.
Anyway today was productive, despite also being a bit of a road-block. I had no idea how to start this chapter, almost gave up several times, spent a lot of time staring at blank Word documents, re-started several times and ultimately compensated by combining all of the false starts I’ve written between two days ago and tonight into a single opening chapter told partially in flashbacks. It’s maybe an effective framing device? It’s the one I’m using anyway, and it’s a first draft. This is exactly the kind of madcap experimentation that first drafts are designed to withstand. And so far it’s resulted in me getting words written, and that ultimately trumps everything else at this stage.
Also this story is becoming much more comic and light-hearted than I had envisioned, and I’m kind of relieved. Along with moralising, I’ve also developed a habit of trying to inflict as much emotional trauma upon potential readers as possible in my stories, and while I’m almost certainly going to do that here as well, I really haven’t written anything just … I dunno. Nice, I guess, for a long time.
Not that I want a “nice” story. I want a good story.
And I guess it’s going good so far, so …
I have a lot of … I wouldn’t call them “plans”, just because they’re so free-floating at the moment, but at the same time they are very concrete in and of themselves, even if they don’t necessarily fit into any kind of coherent, overarching structure, mostly because I still don’t quite have one. And part of my difficulty in starting this project was precisely that: I’ve done the whole make-it-up-as-I-go-along thing with Tallulah already, and while I don’t regret that process or anything it was so incredibly grueling. Another reason why relying on tropes and cliches, at least during a first draft, is something that I think is very wise and productive; you don’t have to have it all planned out, but you’re also not just flailing around and hoping you latch onto something solid enough to work with. And cliches can be transformed into something less awful during the revision process, though it will certainly take a long time.
And I guess that’s the other issue with this project: relying on cliches too much means that, come revision time, I might end up just writing the whole thing over from scratch anyway. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s the beginning of a long process …
But I guess writing is always a long process.
The other thing is that, if you do have an idea for a story that isn’t served by cliches, but it’s not quite a whole story, is the right decision to forge ahead and hope something sticks, or to compromise your vision and fall back on cliches for the first draft just so that you know the thing will get written? I would have to lean towards the first option, but having tried that myself with Tallulah – well, I guess a couple of things happened there: it was, as already mentioned, a grueling process that I have no great desire to go through again, and it ended up being pretty cliche in a lot of ways regardless.
And I guess there’s also the very important question of what a cliche is to begin with. Because every genre has its own tropes, and the cliches I’m familiar with may not even work in other genres, which maybe why I keep circling the drainpipe of YA and fantasy/paranormal lately. Will cliches even help if you don’t know them?
These are all obvious answers: no it won’t bloody well help if you don’t know how to do it. I am so tired. I need to sleep.
But I got some good writing done tonight, and that’s all I really wanted to say. And I’ve said it.
So there. More updates tomorrow, I hope.
Especially considering how hard I’m gonna have to motor if I actually want to hit 80k words by the 30th … eep …