I actually halted working on the book for about a month. Mostly because I’d reached a point in the narrative where the focus shifts to the villainous faction of the story. There was a question I philosophically wrestled with during that time on whether the (impartial) third-person narrative voice should adopt a tone for this chapter that’s in any way different from earlier chapters that focused on the hero and his trusty sidekick. On the one hand I really want to convey the innermost workings of the antagonist’s head, but on the other hand I want to avoid telling the audience what to believe about him. A certain equilibrium between the two would be ideal. It’s a matter of knowing when to lean to one side and when to lean to the other. Not the easiest hike, but I’m forging ahead with it.
Speaking of which, I spontaneously gave one of the characters in my current work in progress a love of haggis as a plot device. As a means of bringing a chapter to an end.
The general idea I was going with was to have both my main characters conclude the first phase of their quest by landing on an island that was near-paradise for one of them but the other was eager to flee as soon as humanly possible. The locale I ended up devising for this purpose is called ₪BRANSONVISTA (a name I formed by combining the names of two second-rate things, which I might change in later drafts), an island famous in-universe for its live bluegrass performances that almost always end in violence, and for the local culinary specialty: haggis balls on a stick. A favourite of one of my heroes. Who just happens to be the guy in charge of navigation. It was the haggis that lured him to this island. The other guy is more turned off by the violence than the haggis.
I have so far made three attempts to compose a work of fiction. Four, if you count that one I worked on for a couple of weeks in 2013 and then quickly abandoned. All of them were set either on another planet or in some kind of alternate reality, and I didn’t finish any of them. This particular genre is evidently a lot more difficult to write in than most people realize. It helps to adhere to a few guidelines of some type or another.
In addition to Kurt Vonnegut’s ever-useful eight rules of short story writing which I elaborated on earlier, I’d like to add two other rules of my own that I’m presently applying to my fourth (fifth?) literary attempt. The more practical writing experience I get, the more I realize how important these guidelines are. Especially in the speculative fiction genres, where the temptation is always there to go nuts with the worldbuilding.
- Do not edit as you write.
- Do not exceed 100,000 words on the first draft.