A few weeks ago, I was at the half-way point of my first draft and having trouble with my plot. After ten months of steadily pounding away at the keyboard and chipping at the word count, I was increasing asking myself “what the $#*! happens now?” Although I knew what was going to happen at the end of my story, I didn’t know:
Meet Fink. He’s the size of a horse, has a tail, six legs and is Hero’s best, if not only, friend.
Weighing in at six-hundred and twenty-two kilos with twenty-six claws and a mouth full of pointy teeth, most people find Fink intimidating, but underneath all that fur beats the heart of a teddy bear.
You might think he’s a push-over, but don’t let his weakness for spiced chocolate cake, tummy rubs and lazy days in the sun fool you. Fink’s a rat-pard – a genetically engineered mix of rat, leopard and ecio, one of Jørn’s most fearsome predators – and he doesn’t take threats lightly.
Meet Hero, the star of Hero-Fink, a novel set in the far distant future, on a far distant world.
Hero Regan is special, and not in a way she likes. She hears voices, the kind of voices that other people can’t hear. Ever since she can remember, she’s been forced to take meds and prodded by shrinks and doctors, all of whom say the same thing. She’s sick, crazy even; but they’re lying.
Her parents have her completely isolated from the outside world, wrapped in a cocoon of butlers, bodyguards and tutors. Her only solace is Fink, a six-hundred-kilogram, genetically engineered rat-pard. Together they create havoc, sharing lives, thoughts, triple-chocolate marshmallow ice-cream and the same burning desire for freedom.
When I started writing for more than just the amusement it provides, I scoured the internet for tips and tricks from established writers, unconsciously searching for a magic bullet (pill, sock, cat or milkshake) to write my book for me. Unfortunately there isn’t one, and what’s more writing a novel (which is a gzillion times longer than a tweet) requires discipline, planning and months, if not years or decades, of your life. Plus you don’t get paid for it.
But while I didn’t find the magic bullet (pill, sock, cat or milkshake) I did find some good advice1, some of which has informed the way I write now.
After more than two years of trail, error and some fruitless Googling, here’s what works for me and a few tips that might work for you.
I picked up a book in Kmart (my favourite place for cheap-ish, popular books) called the The Way of Kings. At 1000 pages it’s a monster, and it started me wondering what the author’s (Brandon Sanderson) writing habits were.
Brandon Sanderson, most famous (in my mind at least) for completing the Wheel of Time series after Robert Jordan’s death, spent a year and a half doing 14 hour days, 6 days a week1 to complete not just The Way of Kings but also Towers of Midnight, another monster2.
My mind just goes “wow”, and then I start to think about my writing habits. They aren’t great, certainly nothing like the full time job (and then some) that Sanderson committed himself to, and I think it’s time I pull up my writerly socks. I can’t put in the hours like Sanderson (what with the need to pay bills and all) but I can make a start.
So here’s what I’m going to do. I am committing myself to writing every Saturday morning in a local cafe (because home offers too many distractions). If I can do it for 4 weeks in a row I’m going to give myself a prize, only question is what’s the prize going to be?