Shadow Dawn – Extract

Sweat was running into Tara’s eyes and she could hear her breath coming in ragged pants, but she met Talis’ next blow without wavering. The staves cracked together like trees trunks splitting and she forced the new recruit back a step. Despite her lack of training, the girl seemed to be keeping up. She watched Tara with sharp green eyes and ignored the stray ebony curls dancing in front of her eyes from her bun. She aimed another sharp jab at Tara’s chest and the princess parried it easily. The girl was tiring, leaving herself open to basic, amateur tactics. Tara took the opportunity. She aimed high but at the last second twisted, the soft grass giving beneath her boots as she swept her stave towards Talis’ anke.

Oak met oak and the taste of copper exploded across Tara’s tongue as Talis moved like lightening to block the attack and throw one of her own before Tara’s brain could catch up with itself.

Staggering back Tara grinned. She liked this girl a lot she decided. She might just keep her around.


Current Word-count: 61,943

I’m working on the last leg of Shadow Dawn, trying to make a decision about how to create an interesting and exciting ending to the book. However, there’s still a fair way to go and I’ve got stuck on chapter twenty-four that for some reason is being a bitch to write. So instead I’ve turned to penning some snippets that belong to later chapters. Since I haven’t written with pen and paper in a while I thought I’d share a small bit of the results with you.

As always, I love to know what you think and if you like this then check out the Solitary Creatures series! Parts 1-4 can be found on the site and the rest is on the way in April for CampNaNoWriMO.

Shadow Dawn – Wading Through The Middle Ground

I’ve heard it said that middle of a book is the hardest bit to write and right about now, that seems pretty accurate. In fact it’s pretty flipping complicatedC40ULVCTJL

That said, I am making progress on my novel and the real reason why I haven’t been making more is because I haven’t been sitting down to write it very much. Instead I’ve gone off to watch T.V, browse the internet, play computer games or as I’m doing now, write blog posts instead.

The main problem is that I’m too distracted my new shiny ideas for stories and poems. I end up chasing those brain bubbles instead of focusing on the complicated mess that is the middle of my story and because of that, the middle hasn’t really been written yet. I have the beginning, I have the end, I just need the middle.

What’s annoying is that the middle should be really good! There are lots of conflict points that can come into play, but whenever I sit down to write it I realise that I’ve shot myself in the foot a little bit.

It took writing the first draft to realise where I wanted the plot to go. My first draft was sort of missing and middle. This means I need to go back and sort out the start, so I can then write the middle, so I can redraft the end.

Make any sense?

Hour GlassI have decided on a deadline however. I want to have the current re-draft finished by the end of October, in time for NaNoWriMo. That’s because this year I want to get stuck into Novemeber with a brand new story, one that I haven’t tried to write as a novel before. This will also give me a month away from Shadow Dawn so I can go back after November and start on the next set of edits before sending it out to readers to get some feedback.

Me being me though, means that this plan could quite easily go out of the window and never be seen again.

Redrafting has left me feeling quite good though. For example, I’ve been working on and off on chapter three for most of the day. It looks nothing like it did originally despite still having the same sequence of events taking place. It feels a lot better though. I’ve gone back through and cut out all those little bits that twinged in the back of my head and tried to write them in a different way. It sometimes took four or five goes and I had to come back over and over to some parts, but the chapter has benefited from me not going ‘oh well, that will do.’

It’s still not finished but I feel like it’s a lot closer to being finished than first thing this morning.

I’m getting there and that’s what matter.

Let me know about your writing tribulations in the comments below. Have you got your own novel that you’re working on or perhaps it’s a piece of poetry of flash fiction that you keep coming back to over and over again. Is it the beginning, middle or end that trips you up or does it all come up the same?

Until the next post!

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Tara [Shadow Dawn]

via Daily Prompt: Complicated

Just Keep Writing: Redrafting Even If It Kills Me

The last few weeks haven’t been the most productive when it comes to getting through the re-draft of Darkened Daughter/Dawn Shadows. It probably doesn’t help that I keep referring to the book as Darkened Daughter despite the fact that I changed the name to Dawn Shadows a month and a bit back. Despite all of this I feel that I might have actually turned a corner with the re-draft this weekend.

The word count is currently sat around 58,734 words with nineteen chapters written for the current redraft. The original draft was about 52,000 words and this one will be closer to 100,000 when it’s done. Weirdly, a lot of the new draft wasn’t in the first draft to begin with. Huge chunks of those first 52,000 words got cut out and a lot of fresh writing added it. However, the book has benefited from that and reading it back I feel less like I want to hurl it out of the nearest window or onto the fire.

Don’t get me wrong, there are still lots of plot holes and bits and bobs to work out. While writing chapter eighteen I realised that between that chapter and one of the earlier ones I’d managed to loose a character. I simply left him behind at Layrowen Port and forgot that he was also meant to be going to the capital with one of the main characters… I’m now wondering if I should just write him out altogether.

Overall the quality of the book has increased hugely since I started the original draft and I’ve also got to know the characters a lot better.

I am also still working off the outline that I set myself at the start of this draft! Well sort of. For those of you who don’t know, my outline for this book was a six page document with a summary for each chapter. It was split into two columns, one for the chapter number and another for the summary, leaving plenty of space for marginalia and editing. Once I complete a chapter I then highlight the summary to show that it has been written, or as is happening more and more, cross it out to show that it has been cut.

Now I hate planning, but I have to admit that this technique is flipping useful. The space for marginalia means I could jot down ideas as the crop up and it also means I have a clear beginning-to-end plan of my novel that shows the progression of all the story lines. I can see where I need to hit key plot points or where I need to tie bit together to keep the story flowing.

What concerns me a little at the moment is that 58,000 words in, I’m only on the second page of this plan.

Well anyway, tomorrow I will hopefully hit that 60,000 word mark and being past the mid-point means I can trick myself into thinking it’s a downhill run from here. I’ve just got to keep writing and get this book finished.

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Second Drafts, Conundrum Chapters and Troublesome Titles

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Ilia

The darkness in the tunnels below Turnkay’s Keep was complete and even with her heightened sense, Ilia was struggling to find her way. Above her the storm was still battering at the walls and even deep in the tunnels she could hear the whistling of stray winds whispering towards her. She felt the hairs on her arms rising as she shuffled forward, sliding one foot in front of the other carefully, never taking her hand from the wall. She felt the condensation clinging to her fingers, cold and wet, coating her skin and making her bones ache as the feeling leeched from her nerves. The sensible voice in the back of her head told her that the safe thing to do would be to turn around and go back to Tara and the guards, to leave well enough alone whatever magic was brewing in the bowels of the Witch Moors. She blotted out the sensible voice and focused on the pull. It was faint now. During the battle it had called to her like a roaring bonfire in the middle of an open field. Huge, alive and angry. Now in the calm it had dimmed to the smallest of flickers, darting and dancing as she dragged herself towards it. She didn’t need anyone to point out that she was walking right into a trap; she’d worked that out for herself the moment the magic had failed to fade completely. For a spell to continue it had to be fed which meant there must still be a power source somewhere in the Keep, or more accurately, beneath the Keep. Ilia doubted that such a power source would be left unguarded.

 

So chapters one through to seven how now been brought up to second draft status. I’m amazed by how much fresh writing I’m actually doing for this book. The first draft is looking more and more like random doodles on a bit of paper rather than an actual manuscript.

Chapters five and six were particularly tricky to write and I’m not entirely sure why. In the end I just had to sit down and force myself to get them onto paper. What’s strange is that I’ve found Tara to be the most difficult person to write. The major flaw of the first draft was that despite her being the ‘main character’, she barely did anything and barely appeared in the story. She was the same person at the beginning as she was at the end. The main challenge of the second draft will be resolving that issue.

On another note I’ve been debating changing the title of the book. While I love ‘Darkened Daughter’ I’m worried about this presenting the book as a girl only read. I’m starting to lean towards ‘Shadow Dawn’ as a better choice overall for the book. Tara may be the primary character but I want Nicholas to play a pretty equal role in the plot so picking a more neutral title seems like a good idea.

And that is pretty much all the update there is for ‘Darkened Daughter/Shadow Dawn’. Please do feel free to comment and let me know what you think of the title, I always love hearing from my readers.

Until next time.

Earworm – The Daily Post Daily Prompt

Write. Just write.

That’s the quote that’s been stuck in my head this week and pretty much every week since I heard it. I’m not even sure where I heard it to begin with, it’s just there now, bouncing around in the dusty corners of my brain like a demented bouncy ball that won’t leave me alone.

I’ve been working on Darkened Daughter in its many forms since secondary school. I’ve been trying to write it for roughly eight years and it has only been in the last six months that I’ve managed to sit down and hammer out an actual draft and an actual plot-line.

I suppose in some ways Darkened Daughter became an Earworm for me. It burrowed into my brain and stayed there. Characters decided to pop out of the synapses and jitterbug across my frontal lobe until I paid them attention and put them onto the page instead. No matter what other story ideas came my way, Darkened Daughter was always there, lurking in the grey matter.

In the last six months I’ve been telling myself to ‘just bloody well write it and get the dam thing down on paper.’

If I don’t write then it has nothing to do with any lack of creative spark or inspiration, it has everything to do with me being lazy.

I suppose that is the most important thing I’ve learnt so far when it comes to writing. Actually sitting down and trying to write on a regular basis as I did in September got me to the 52,000 word mark. I felt good about myself. I was proud that I managed to achieve a beginning, a middle and an end.

But then I stopped.

I let myself fall back on the old habits of sitting in front of my computer and trawling through everything and anything other than my actual novel. I didn’t sit down and write.

I’ve been doing the same thing all of today. Every time I’ve got close to writing the next chapter I’ve magically found something else to do instead. I’ve pulled myself away from Microsoft Word and wasted time on something else.

I’ve been lazy.

So I’m going to hit publish on this post, turn of my computer, open my laptop and write until I hit the 1,000 word mark. It won’t be a full chapter but it will be some of the way towards one and even if I write utter nonsense it will be something. There will be words on a page and a little bit more of the world I’m trying to create will have substance.

The only way I get to be an author is if I get writing. So that’s what I’m going to do.

Wish me luck.