Day twenty six: Target wordcount: 100000 (finished). Words written: 98750 (finished)
And as expected, a few little bombs go off in the last couple of chapters where two characters I had further plans for have written themselves out of the story by going and getting themselves killed. All very noble but not what I had in mind when I was planning the third book, thanks. One of them dies so well that I don’t think any amount of rewriting is going to resurrect him. The other one might yet get written back to life. It’s a bit of a convenient resolution to a love-triangle that’s likely to get re-written out in the first place. My chief antagonist has also completely stolen this story from my Chief Protagonist. I can see him in his little actor’s chair just off the set at the end, sharing a spliff with the Chief Sidekick who’s also been out steal every scene he’s in, arguing over which one of them will get best award for the Best Supporting Character.
This story is very different in almost every detail to the one I set out to write. It has the same general setting, but a good chunk of it occurs in a place I didn’t even know existed when I started. Characters I thought would be significant have faded into not very much and might yet get written out entirely. Other characters who were supposed to be supporting cast have jumped out of the page. My Chief Protagonist may be the sun around which the other characters orbit like planets, but as with the real world, it turns out that provided that the sun is there, the planets are much more interesting.
Now I’m done, it’s obvious that three things nearly tripped me up. Over-ambitious (and unnecessarily ambitious) planning – I cannot write meaningful chapters while wedged into a small hotel room with talkative small children and CBBC, nor was there any need to try. A day blown by a hangover (but I had a contingency day at the end, so that was OK). And then there’s the “love triangle” (which isn’t quite what it is, but is as good a way as any of trying to describe. You’ll recognise it’s essence: Hero has been missing presumed dead for several years. Best friend falls in love with wife and vice versa. Hero appears all unexpectedly. Which way does everyone jump? No entire movies have been dedicated to this as their entire plot, to stuffing something like that in as a minor sub-plot doesn’t fly. During this draft, I didn’t know which way each character would jump. I wanted to see what they did when they were put on the spot, but unfortunately what they mostly did was dither and wring their hands, and that dithering fed onto the page. It doesn’t work with the rest of this story. There are in fact two instances of something very roughly like this, the first being the falling out I had with the muse around 35000 words. In hindsight, all dithering has to go. I know how those relationships are going to work now and the principle job of the first rewrite will be to sort that out. It would have been an easier ride if I’d done that before I started.