100 Days to Write a Novel: Week Three

Another 4,000 odd words added, and, as usual, plans for the weekend – so I might not catch up to the target – but I hope to add some words in my lunch hour… Not quite at the panic, must work all hours stage, but if this keeps up I think it’s likely that in a month or so I’ll be there.  Still, I’m only 19 days in, but that’s almost 20%. But then: 20% of 70k is 14k…

I’m approaching the point that occurs 20-30k in where I know, on a deep visceral level, that everything I’ve written is crap, the premise is trash, the structure is awful and the very best thing to do is to abandon plans and start again with a new outline.

Obviously, the key to writing a novel is to ignore that voice. But oh it’s so sweetly plausible and convincing.

In the past I’ve attempted NanoWriMo twice and been a total failure both times. In fact when I calculated that I wrote less in NanoWriMo months than ‘normal’ months I was obviously disincentivised by the process. Tim Clare discusses a few reasons why this might be the case on his excellent podcast  which I’ve been listening to a lot recently. Essentially not hitting the daily target can have a depressive effect.

Tasha Suri asked on Twitter how people wrote around their day jobs – my facetious reply was “slowly” but there are a lot of answers to the question from other writers. It all boils down to “carving out time” which is difficult, always difficult – because you want to have a life as well, right? Maybe you have kids. There’s a TV show you need to watch, household chores, games, books, Twitter and Facebook and the imploding politics situation (which you’ll notice combined with Twitter is my own personal time suck). But you just have to do it. As I said in a previous post I’m currently writing for the length of time it takes to listen to two albums – Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and Maurice Jarre’s L’echelle de Jacob. Although this week I’ve snatched less time than usual so most writing sessions have been to Pink Floyd only.

As its a third novel I’m also aware of having to make it fresh and say something new. Constantly interrogating my characters – is character x in Certainty too much like character y in Seven Swords? etc. That’s a new issue I wasn’t consciously aware of before. Seven Swords and Sick City are such different books I didn’t really compare the cast of characters – and I don’t think there are samey ones across the two books. But Certainty is more like Sick City (plot and setting wise) than Seven Swords so now I’m worried that the main character, Jackie, is too similar to the main character, Susan, in Sick City… So that’s something new to worry about.

It’s also an attempt to stick to the atmosphere of Sick City – that one reviewer said “It’s not quite Lewis Carroll or Douglas Adams; maybe more Franz Kafka: reality with a half-twist.” I’ve not read much Kafka (only the short stories) and I’m not sure it’s a good comparison (but it’s always nice to be compared to the greats). However Certainty is more like a fever dream whereas Sick City is more that reality isn’t what you think it is. Despite that I’m hoping the atmospherics are a highlight in the same way they were in Sick City.

Anyway, enough of my ramblings I’ve used up my tea break and it’s back to work.

Happy Reading and happy writing!



Published by suttope

Pete W Sutton is a writer and editor. His two short story collections – A Tiding of Magpies and The Museum for Forgetting – were shortlisted for Best Collection in the British Fantasy Awards in 2017 & 2022 respectively. His novel – Seven Deadly Swords – was published by Grimbold Books. He has edited several short story anthologies and is the editor for the British Fantasy Society Horizons fiction magazine.

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