Novella Diary, Claw, Day Six (Write Club Edition)

Today’s Monday, which is my regularly scheduled write-club day with the inimitable Angela Slatter. I’ve talked about this plenty of times on the blog before (as has Angela over at her virtual home), but for those who are new around these parts: Write Club is a once-a-week meet-up with Angela where we basically catch-up, drink coffee, write a bunch of words, eat lunch, and write another bunch of words.

It’s enormously valuable because a) it gets a lot more words done than I would ordinarily do; b) it’s good for the psyche to regularly have conversations with another writer whose approach to having a career is similar to mine; and c) it means there’s someone I respect who will give me shit when I’m doing not-terribly-smart things with my writing career.

Session 6.1 (12:10 PM – 1:26 PM)
Word Count: 1,339

And this is the magic of write-club – a kind of sit-down-and-focus-on-writing that I rarely do when left to my own devices, simply ’cause there is someone else around who will look askance at me if I get up and stop writing simply ’cause I’ve hit a hurdle after twenty minutes.

Interestingly, I’m not actually sure it results in a greater words-per-minute, just more focus and more time at the keyboard. In this respect, it’s a useful anchor for the writing week.

Stopping now for lunch and conversation with Angela. Will be back, I suspect, within the space of an hour for another writing stint. Hoping I can clear Chapter Two by the end of the day.

Session 6.2 (2:10 PM – 2:53 PM)
Word Count: 1,136

And that’s the end of Chapter Two. Unfortunately I’ve invalidated some of the stuff that I was now leaving for later chapters, but the pacing of the novella works better for it and I’m getting a whole bunch of information on-stage in a way that, hopefully, doesn’t feel too clunky.

Better yet, I have a fair idea of how Chapter Three is going to start. Morgue scenes are one of my favourite things to write for some reason, which means I may actually get a portion of the way through the next chapter before today is done (and therefore make up for some of my slackness over the weekend).

I have this theory – and it’s only a theory, ’cause this is the first time I’ve really tracked my process this closely – that the next chapter will be pretty easy to write. Largely this is based on some assumptions about the way I pants my way through an Aster manuscript, where I make sure I hit all sorts of narrative beats at the end of certain chapters/word-counts.

Novellas make this pretty easy, particularly the Aster novellas. Chapter one is all about establishing the world (and the stakes for the protagonist) and bringing them to a point of conflict. Chapter Two is all about the character running away from that, one way or another, despite the fact that it’s obvious they’re going to dive into the story.

Chapter Three is all about telling the character they’re wrong and making them pay for being stupid enough to think they can take the easy way out.

Which, lets face it, is generally the fun part of writing. Writer’s are basically sadists, after all. We exist to torture our characters.

Session 6.3 (9:55 PM – 10:29 PM )
Word Count: 525

The way I work, there are generally two types of scenes that get written. The first are scenes that lock themselves into a framework, the second are scenes that are free-floating until the story catches up with them.

I don’t mean to write this way, but every new scene creates new context within the story and you start seeing the narrative shape a little bit clearer. Which is why I’ll write, say, a scene where Aster has coffee with a journalist that knows more than he should, only to realise that this is actually something that happens in Chapter Four rather than the end of Chapter One.

Or write something on spec, ’cause it might take the story in an interesting direction, only to have it gradually get written out of the narrative altogether as I start heading towards the conclusion.

Pantsing your way through a book is an in-exact science. Usually I leave the free-floating chapters in the draft, figuring that they’ll get locked down once I reach them. This lasts right up until I figure out that some of them aren’t needed, or that they’re very different to the way the scene will actually unfold, or that there’s simply too damn many of them, and they’ll then find their way into a second word file where I can pull them out and rework them as needed.

I excised a bunch of free-floating scenes right before I started session. A little over 1,700 words. Technically these are no longer going to be included in my Total Manuscript Word Count, although they should lead to a handful of days when I can get some scenes written faster simply ’cause I can grab these earlier version from the secondary file.

Total Daily Writing Time: 2 hours, 33 minutes
Daily Word Count Total: 3,000

Total Manuscript Writing Time: 8 hours, 13 minutes
Total Manuscript Word Count: 6,594

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