Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Tuesday's moan

The beginning of The Ancestor Crown desperately needs a jump-start. It's just so bloody slooooow. Chapter eight, and what's happened so far? Agricola has got orders from Emperor Titus to consolidate southern Scotland; Marcus and his cohort have just set off to join the rest of the legion at the mustering point; Calgach has decided to give support to the Novantae; and Gairea has just agreed to join the Druid order.

World-building is taking up a lot of room, I've noticed. I don't know why I'm surprised; I wrote fantasy before this and it was the same with that. And each character has their own separate storyline alongside the main Romans-invading-Caledonia thread. That means a whole individual set of issues for each (apart from Agricola, who seems suspiciously angst-lite), and plenty of secondary characters to introduce and flesh out. As if the main characters didn't demand enough attention as it is.

I'll see if things speed up within the next few chapters. If not, I'll have to knuckle down and see what I can do to give the beginning some impact.


Celedë Anthaas said...

Youch... I know exactly what you mean >.<

But you can always copy and paste and rearrange all the backstories later :)

Crystal said...

Good luck to you sweet;o) I look up to people who have the patience enough to do all that you do. Writing can get a bit complicated, eh? Hope you get everything worked out!!!

Jack Dixon said...

You're struggling too much, too early, wee Pict. You might want to let that fantasy play out in your head however it suits your fancy, and write it down as it comes to you. Forget about the infrastructure for now, and just pour the material out.

You will write from different POVs at different times: the characters', the writer's, and the readers'. It might hinder you to think too much like a writer just now. Perhaps just try for now to be your characters, who don't particularly care if people are going to find them engaging, and get their stories out. Later you can take the writer's and readers' POVs and make changes accordingly.

From what I've read, you have the basis for quite a good book, and enough characters with engaging personalities and stories to give it incredible depth. Relax a bit and let their stories flow. You have the ability to capture an audience and hold them till the end - you do it on your blog all the time. Blog your book...then go back and polish it up.

Just my thought for the day. I hope all's well with you.


Sarah Cuthbertson said...

Just get the story down, and forget about jump-starting the beginning now - you'll do it much better when you have the story and characters in place. Have you done NaNoWriMo? I did it last November and that 50,000 word deadline did wonders by making me get the bones of the story down from beginning to end - no time to polish or "pencil-chew". All I need now is the time to go back and make it just perfect (lol). Judging by the extract from your Antonine novel that you posted recently. I'd say you have a real writing gift. I want to read more.

Crystal said...

Damn, why can't I say things as good as Jack? Brilliantly said my friend! So Kirsten, listen to Jack...YEAH, what he said!!LOL!

Kirsten Campbell said...

Celedë - The copy and paste function is great, isn't it? :)

Crystal - Lol, Jack's probably had to deal with this sort of thing already and so had time to think it through. It's a complicated thing, writing. ;) Thanks for the encouragement!

Jack - I know, I know. I always try to tell myself the first draft is strictly creative, but I'm constantly going back to chop and change things. I'm a pathological perfectionist. :(

Engaging characters? You think so? Thank you very much. That's encouraging, right enough!

Thanks for the advice. I'm doing well, and I hope you're also doing okay.

Sarah - I know. I should just write the bloody thing and worry about this afterwards. Can't seem to manage, though. As I plough forward, I'm always sneaking glances back over my shoulder.

NaNoWriMo sounds like a great opportunity to just get a story written, and for the last few years I've been meaning to participate. Unfortunately, school and now uni always ensure I have some lengthy and involved pieces of coursework to focus on in November instead. :( This year, perhaps.

Also, thank you for your kind remark about that little excerpt. What are you writing, if you don't mind my asking?

Gabriele C. said...

Except the Just Get it Written suggestion, I have no further ideas, unfortunately. Since I write out of order, I don't have a problem to find a good beginning, I just put some nice action or dialogue one first for a starter. My editing process will consist of shoving scenes around a lot. :)

I have heard agents and editors say that it's a common mistake for beginning writers to start a novel too early (that is, to have a lot of backstory that should be sneaked in later), and that a writer must always know more than the reader but not share every little detail (except your name is Robert Jordan or Diana Gabaldon, lol).

Maybe a blogpost about beginnings and backstory will appear one of these days. :)

Kirsten Campbell said...

Gabriele - The thing is, I'm not dwelling on the backstories. I should try writing more out of order, too, then I can stop worrying about this!

Sarah Cuthbertson said...

I see your problem about NaNoWriMo, but you can do it whenever you like; you don't have to do it in November, although it helps that in Nov there'a all sorts of website support. Maybe you could get a group together on a blog and all do it in the summer vacation? I bought the NaNo book which provided lots of ideas and stategies for getting through it.

My NaNo was set in the 1st-century AD and was about twin brothers one of whom got unvolved with Boudica, the other with Cartimandua and Venutius. I haven't looked at it since end Nov and am now dreading doing so.

Kirsten Campbell said...

Sarah - Oops, just seen your comment.

That was one of the main reasons why I want to do it in November, because everyone else is doing it then so there's all the online material available. But doing it it over the summer doesn't sound like a bad idea at all. Maybe I'll put July aside for that purpose. Hopefully I'll be full of inspiration after Vindolanda. ;)

Btw, your NaNo sounds very much like something I would read! :)