Monday, January 11, 2010

Being productive

I'm feeling quite happy this evening. Today was a grind at work, as it was last week, but having got home before seven, I've had a chance to actually get some things done. And not all of them involved eating things that I purchased at Freshness Burger.

(Although the one thing that I did purchase at Freshness Burger was fantastic; a 32-dollar fistfull of unhealthiness, in the shape of a mushroom burger. It does seem at odds with the name that it would have been produced via a microwave, but I suppose not all mushrooms can be freshly fried. And although it was almost too hot to eat, in that annoying way that microwaved food has, still it was delicious. I might have been able to construct much the same meal at home, with access to a portabello mushroom, a slice each of tomato and lettuce and some kind of Special Sauce, for a fraction of the cost, but while I was cramming burning hot burger in my mouth, I really didn't mind.)

So that out of the way, I managed ten minutes of meditating, half an hour of mucking about with computers trying to extract the video from Saturday night for the other comedians, and then finally settled down to start work on the Great Old Game redraft. And now I'm 900 words later, I've started to fill in the back story of one of the characters, and I'm now umming and ahing about how much flashback to use or how linear to make things. Although most of the novel occurs in the space of a week, there's already a long parallel timeline built into it, but I also need to include some events several hundred years ago, so it's going to be a little complicated. Part of me is thinking of pulling it all into exactly chronological order, although that will meddle with some of the tension that I had in the first draft. Oh, decisions, decisions. I think I'll have to batter through the second draft, and then use the third (and hopefully final one) to decide what the best order to tell the story is. For the moment, it's a matter of making the characters walk and talk more meaningfully than in the first draft.

I'm reading Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy at the moment, and Le Carré is something of an influence on this story, but it's the first time I've read this particular one, and it's making me more comfortable with being a little less linear. Or being ready to burn the entire manuscript and start again, but that would mean having to print it out first. I'm not setting fire to my laptop. Well, not yet.

As I was travelling to work today, I thought about making The Great Old Game all about the subsidiary characters - the people without a knowledge of the greater events occurring around them, and thus struggling to understand why the principal actors appear in their lives for a short time and wreak havoc. But I think the main players have to be central, if only for the exercise as a whole to make sense to the reader. Otherwise I'll have constructed some sort of parlour game that is only satisfying to me. You have to let the customer understand what's going on. Eventually.

Anyway, for now I'm going to carry out the dull but utilitarian task of formatting my paragraphs correctly. In the spurt of the first draft, indents were an early casualty, and it would be nice to have something more readable. A simple task to perform while my mind is resting...


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