Another Sword

I quite like the title right now, but I bet there are about a thousand things wrong with it, because there are about a thousand things wrong with every single title I come up with. That’s just the way the world works. I will need a supremely patient and talented editor if I ever get a publisher.

In any case, that’s the working title I picked for the new W. I. P. (Work In Progress), since I’m tired of just “Flann’s Story” or “Story about horses” or “New story”. This one is something a little new to me. It still counts as a fantasy, but the magic elements are severely limited; only antagonists use magic and they don’t do it on-screen and it’s portrayed as very, very bad. It’s set in Earth, but on a series of islands that are entirely figments of my imagination, and its main themes are about faith, courage, meekness, and humility. I’ve always written mostly for my own enjoyment, but this one’s for Jesus.

Apart from its title, the new W. I. P. is doing very, very well. In fact, I probably haven’t written the first five chapters of a novel so quickly since I was ten years old and writing my second novel. Even then I only went so fast because a) it was a load of junk and b) I was on holiday and had nothing better to do.

In five years’ time I will probably also think Another Sword is a heap of junk but, for now, I quite like it. Its protagonist has a very distinct voice (at least to my mind), and unlike my last protagonist, he’s driving the story instead of being a victim of the story, making dynamic decisions from the word go.

I’m not entirely sure why this story is moving so quickly. Maybe it’s because, after taking nearly a month off from novels when I ran into a wall with my previous W. I. P., my creative energy has built up and the dam has burst into a flow of words. It could also be because of the way I tackled the prewriting; for the first time in my life, I’m writing a first draft from an outline, right from the start. I was a classical “pantser” (writing from the seat of my pants) for years, but I think I’m going over to the “plotter” side now. There’s no stopping to wonder “Uh… what happens next?” because I already sorted out the basic shape of the story with that outline. All I have to do now is write. And write. In less than two weeks, the novel has grown to just over 23 500 words. I dearly hope it will fetch up at around 90 000 words instead of the overloaded 160 000 I wrote last time.

Most of all, right now, I’m focused on pacing. I can’t pace a novel to save my life; I always think they’re going too fast and then, when I read them through afterwards, find out that if they went any slower they’d be going backwards. I stuff them full of filler, stretch out the plot agonisingly, make up twice the amount of characters necessary, and come over far too melodramatic on the epic battle scenes until even minor clashes end up about the same size as the climax.

This time, I’m trying to keep it lean, fast, and moving strongly. Instead of having six or seven main characters, this one has about five, villains included. It’s written from only one point of view, as well. Most of all, I’m trying to make every single scene count: if nothing much happens, then it has to be deleted. If every scene counts, maybe the story will keep moving. My characters aren’t as awful as they could be, but plot is a major weak point, and one that I can ill afford.

I think sentence structure and description may be suffering a little as a result of the fast writing, but those things are easy to spot and to fix in revisions, or at least easier than plot holes and weak characters, to my mind. This is a first draft, after all, and the main goal right now is just to get the thing down on paper before it disappears.

NaNoWriMo in August, here we come!

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