Monday, March 26, 2012

The madness of writing

It's not a real job. Not a day job. Not a job in the dictionary definition of the word. You can't clock in and out or fill out a sensible timesheet - not really. If I did, mine might go something like this:

3:54am: dreamt of conversation between Bree and Graham. Thought about turning on light and writing it down. Decided to replay in my head a couple of times so as not to forget.

4:30am: lay on my back worried I would forget scene (see above)

7:05am woken by teenager thumping down the hall. Remembered something about a conversation between two characters. Kicked myself for not writing it down.

8:00am in the shower. Remembered conversation. Got out of shower and wrote details on toilet paper. Floor covered in puddles but essence of scene successfully captured.

10:00 wonders if time spent on daily cryptic crossword counts...

11:00 on the way back from taking youngest out to the horses, and in between remembering new road rule, was 'given' another scene. This one about dead bodies and missing bodies and had to turn off radio so I could listen to what the characters were saying. No pen or paper in car so some of it lost by the time I got home to write it down.

12:30 File has been open for an hour. Word count has gone from 97179 to 97233 to 97170 to 97350. The dump file has continued to expand.

1:00 finished looking over editor's notes again. Decided I disagreed about putting in Rachel's thoughts about her love life at this particular moment - there's no way I was thinking about sex when I was throwing up....

4:00 Wonders if watching back-to-back episodes of The Big C counts as research. And, playing computer solitaire

10Pm: In bed, electric blanket on, chores completed and the book is up on the screen, the curser blinking at me like the pointed finger of an angry aunt.

Sometime after, I drift off thinking about a scene and wondering when someone will invent an app that allows me to download all the stuff in my head straight to the laptop - even better if it can done while I sleep.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Character versus Story

I have been thinking a lot about one of my initially minor characters, Bree. Bree is the youngest sister of Duncan and Rachel. She's a brat. In the first book, she's stroppy, demanding, and absolutely devoted to her big brother. Fleance's is wary of her and the feeling is mutual. Keavy, Fleance's adoptive sister, adores her.

In book two, the strength of her will and penchant for violence is touched on as she grows from a child into a person. And, by the end of of Bloodlines, it is very clear how much she hates Fleance.

Bree is tall like her brother and sister. She's been brought up in the royal court. She has grown a lot since we first met the young girl being lifted over the puddles by her big brother. She's determined, angry and has a plan.

To be honest, I'm having a damn hard time trying to wrestle her into line.

I've been a teacher since the late 1980s and I've met various forms of this character: girls who are mean; girls who are super insightful - way beyond their years; girls who are tall (or short) for their age. Currently, I have a student who looks 17 or 18. She's a model. She's intelligent, articulate and posed. She's only just 13. I first met her when she was 11 and I thought she was in high school. She's also absolutely wonderfully kind and generous.

I've had a couple of people suggest that what Bree is busting to do in Book 3 is not 'realistic' - after all, she's still a child. What I've realized is that the Bree that has come out on the page in Banquo's Son and Bloodlines is only the tip of the character who has been living inside my head. My editor gets her (and understands her - thanks Katie!) and so does my agent.

So, today is Bree's day. I'm going to give her her head and see where she leads us and what damage she does.
In the words of my eldest child, she has to do something catastrophic - everything else will be lame.

I've got the story all mapped out but it might be that the force of this one character alters the course.
I'll keep you posted.

What fun!