Well, today didn’t mark the start of the writing, as I thought it might yesterday, but instead threw me back to the books for more research. I’m finally done, though. As Kirsty pointed out to me yesterday, I’ve never been so organised before starting a new writing project, and she’s right. That has to be a good sign, right?
The result is a six page document, full of unnumbered chapter summaries. Each of those summaries is a paragraph or so long, and details what I think will happen in the chapter. They’re not, at this stage, supposed to be a definitive map of the story, but the events referenced are all things that have to happen for the plot to work. I already know there’s a lot of other stuff to slide into the gaps, and many of the events won’t actually happen in the way I currently believe they will, but they’re stations along the way to keep me going in the right direction.
I also have a number of character thumbnails, little paragraphs identifying the main traits of the various cast members. I said there were a lot of them, and counting now, I was right. There are five ‘principals’, and at least twenty-five ‘secondary characters’. I expect that a couple of the latter will be promoted along the way, while the supporting cast will grow bigger as the needs of the story that I haven’t yet considered make themselves known. It’s a lot to keep track of.
I also have a structure. While I was originally going to try something more fiddly, the plot fits the classic three act structure so well that it’s silly to contemplate anything else. Doing so would be fighting the story’s nature, so I’m going to let myself succumb. At the moment, there’s also going to be a prologue and epilogue, actually the same scene broken in two, and set several years after the main action of the book. I’ll be writing this last, as I want to break in the two characters involved before I do these bits. By the time the rest of the novel is written, I’ll hopefully know them both well enough that the intended resonance of the prologue/epilogue comes easily.
Oh yes, I also have a working title! I was struggling for this, particularly as all of the best Edinburgh-based titles seemed to have been used already (curse you, Ian Rankin!). However, and unknown to me, when plied with wine my wife becomes a book titling genius, and named the book for me last night. It’s perfect, and is almost certainly going to be on the final cover (he says, optimistically assuming somebody’s going to publish it). There’s also a chance that it gives a little more away than I want to right now though, so for now you’ll have to make do with ‘December Book’.
An early night for me then, so I’ve plenty of energy tomorrow. The first chapter is going to be a particularly sharp challenge. It’s a hectic, horrific maelstrom which follows from the quiet, haunted prologue, and there are a lot of characters involved. It’s like an elaborate dance, jumping from one player to the next, but when it’s done I’ll have found a voice in which to tell the story, almost the final part of the puzzle.
That’s all for today. If you’re enjoying reading along as I write this book, don’t forget to take time to pick up my last one. As it’s Christmas, most of you will be popping by Amazon to spend some pennies on your nearest and dearest, so drop a copy of Hiram Grange and the Nymphs of Krakow into your cart while you’re there (Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, etc). After all, you deserve a present too.