Having finished off a rework of Tau Ceti Diversion (SF), and the third Jakirian book, I thought it was time that I went back and fleshed out the whole novel for an Urban Fantasy concept I wrote in 2010 called Distant Shore. At the time I did a lot of work on backstory, generated a good idea of the characters and the storyline, then went ahead and put together three sample chapters and a proposal.

This was something of an experiment for me. When I stopped, I could remember feeling a tremendous pressure to keep going. Hey – I love writing when everything is finally coming together. But true to my plan, I put the stops on and sent the thing out. So far nothing.

The whole thing was part of plan to perhaps do a series of proposals, backed by three sample chapters, in a variety of areas to see if I could snag any interest. What I discovered is that I absolutely HATE working this way.

To get going at all, basically I need to ‘front end load’ the entire story and the characters – before I can type a word. I need to understand what is going on inside each of the characters at an emotional level. I need to do enough plot work to have an instinctive sense for what is moving in the background of the story, for what threads are weaving in through the main action. I also need to have a fundamental confidence in the core concept – particularly if it is science fiction (which this one is). I love the ‘wow’ concepts, but there is enough engineer in me to need the things that surround that to be entirely credible. All that stuff takes time.

So to start. Then STOP. It really hurts.

What I have discovered hurts even more is trying to go back to the original concept cold and finish the damn thing off!

I have just worked my way through an extremely painful month of reconnecting with Distant Shore. I would sit for ages staring at the page, trying to find some way into the next scene in the plot sequence. Nothing.

I had to go back and duplicate all the crucial elements of my process. Go back to the characters. Delve deep enough into what was blocking me to see each little hurdle as they came: perhaps I needed to understand this character better, or I needed to do more research into the key elements that drive the book or crucial pieces of setting (in this case criminal psychology, organised crime in New York, how long it takes to identify a body, how dental records are used etc)

Finally I managed to write that scene. God what a relief!

With the major plot hurdles jumped, I’ve decided to use NaNoWriMo as a spur to get some wordage down.

Where is everyone at with their WIP? Anyone doing NaNoWriMo?

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