It’s Funny How Things Work Out Sometimes

Philip HarrisWritingLeave a Comment

Last week, I added just over 5,000 words to The Ghost Smuggler although I cut a few bits out as well so the total word count didn’t increase by quite that much. That’s a good writing week for me, very good if you consider how much running I’m doing at the moment.

Yesterday’s writing session was particularly good, thanks to a series of happy coincidences. I’m using my Chromebook for a lot of my writing at the moment, which means I’m working in Google Docs. Google Docs can’t handle a full 60,000+ word document so every few days I cut and paste what I’ve written into my main Word document and trim back the Google Docs file to the last couple of paragraphs.

That’s what I did on Sunday morning but for some reason (happy coincidence number one) I kept the whole chapter, rather than just the tail end. When I sat down to write, rather than just picking up where I’d left off like I normally do, I went back to the beginning of the chapter and started tweaking a few words here and there (happy coincidence number two).

A few pages into this particular chapter there’s a transition point where the story moves from conversation to action. When I hit that transition, rather than just tweaking a sentence or two, I started writing (happy coincidence number three). And then I continued to write. In the end I spent well over an hour on that transition point and ended up with a much better scene.

I’ve been wrestling with how to communicate my antagonist’s plans and explain what’s going on without creating big infodumps and, as it turns out, that scene was exactly what I needed at that point. It’s unlocked the plot and clarified some things in my own mind, enables two of my main characters (Kaei and Aniz) to start piecing together what’s going on and added a bit of depth to some of the minor characters that reappear a few chapters later. It also lets me kill some very dull exposition that I was never very happy with.

The weird thing is, I hadn’t planned to write that scene, or even go back and edit the chapter. I was just going to carry on where I’d left off. If I had, that chapter would be a lot weaker and I’d still be wrestling with how to reveal what’s going on without resorting to infodumps and “maid and butler” dialogue.

It’s funny how things work out sometimes.

[It’s Funny How Things Work Out Sometimes by Philip Harris first appeared on Solitary Mindset on 29 July 2013]

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