Yesterday I had occasion to tell someone what my new story is about. I was pleased, as I think I did a fairly good job encapsulating the plot, more so than in the best. One thing I realised was that I had to give a fair amount of back story before I could say where we started. This is the current problem I’m facing with the new story.
I tend to have over-complicated back stories, and that’s a very definite danger with this story, which starts with the main character very much in the middle of things, so I’ve been working on that in particular. I very much enjoy this part of the process, the shaping of material to come closer to my vision . . . but it’s still a long way from embodying it.
The original working title was Aurora and the Peacock, but I’ve decided I like Derring-Do For Not Quite Beginners (for some notes on the phrase, see this post) better. When I mentioned the title to the friend who’d asked me, he seemed delighted: which is what I’m going for. It’s not really an epic, though it’s going to be one of the fat type of fantasy novels.* It’s intended to be a comic romp, an adventure story about friendship and poetry and magic. It could fairly easily be about political intrigue, but I’m not going to focus on that aspect of things, as I don’t find political intrigue of sustaining interest — a failing, I know.
Mostly I hope it will be a fun read that makes one think — just a little bit — almost by accident. We’ll see how that works out! Mostly I just want people to put it down with a sense of satisfied delight. It gives me enormous pleasure to write it — the narrator is wickedly fun to write.
I’m about three-quarters finished the first full draft. I’m not sure how long it is in its entirety at the moment, except too long — at the very end of November it was around 130, 000 words, the last time I put it together in one document. There are some chapters I’ve written but not yet typed, which takes me through the main part of the story. There’s a large break about 3/4 of the way along where the plot turns a corner and the threads start to be picked up again. It was at this point I decided I needed to work on the beginning again, so although I’ve been thinking about the last quarter of the book, I’ve been working on the opening.
And that is the state of the story at the moment. There’s more I want to say about the act of editing, and the difference between academic and creative writing for me . . . but this is quite long enough and I think I’d rather get back to the story for a bit.
*Fantasy paperbacks tend to come in two types, like Labrador retrievers: the fat often-but-not-always epic ones, and the thinner type that were the mainstay in the sixties, seventies, and generally always.