Wednesday, May 18, 2011

En route to Bangkok

Going for a ride last night had unexpected good consequences: today was the first time in months that I've woken up without my back clenched up in a spasm of pain. On the other hand, I was blundering around the apartment semi-asleep, so it took me a while to notice this exciting development.

Last night could have ended up quite differently: getting changed to go out, I'd almost got my feet stuck in my trousers and was on the verge of falling over flat on my face: rather nicer to have been conscious, rather than discovered several hours later as a broken mess on the floor.

So my back doesn't hurt, and I don't have concussion, and for no apparent reason AirAsia switched my seat from the one I'd been assigned earlier to another one nine rows further forward, in an exit row. Which is strange, as I didn't pay anything for the extra leg room. I wonder if that's a random act of kindness or just something random in their seat assignment system.

Hong Kong airport is quiet on a weekday in the early morning; there was one other person going through Immigration at the same time as me. I wanted to take a photograph of the carpet (there's a website dedicated to the carpets of airports around the world) but photography is prohibited in the immigration area. A shame, as it's quite a special example of a bland, brown and brown carpet; just the sort of thing carpet aficonadoes might get excited by.

Because it's AirAsia, the gate is right down the end of the terminal, away from most of the decent shops. It's not as bad as the labyrinth between gates and shops that JetStar put you through, and I suppose yomping back to the other end of the terminal for a decent coffee and a better bookshop is good for your health, or at least made me wake up a bit.

Although there's free WiFi in the airport, my computer was refusing to play nice, which was good: I had an hour to avoid the internet and concentrate on going over my novel. Now it's been five and a half months since I (sort of) completed it, I've finally had a chance to write out the plan of it, and start to see how the chapters fit together. There's some pruning to do, a few chapters that now feel out of order, but it's in better shape than I remember. The bigger problems are to do with with some of the character arcs (there aren't any) and the scads of exposition that weigh things down from time to time. Oh, and I have a man who was either shot in the head or shot in the chest, and I don't appear to have decided which it is. So that needs tidying up too.

I'd like to do a second draft sooner rather than later: my aim is to fix the plot this time through. Once the characters have a bit more flesh, and don't just appear as and when the plot needs a victim/a narrator/a bystander, the whole thing should be more cohesive, and then the third draft will (hopefully) be a matter of making it read nicely.

Right now I feel I've got something which has enough tension to make you keep reading, but it's not expressed as well as it should be. Because I wrote it all in a mad rush in November, it needs more attention to idioms, a purge of some of the cliches that sneak in, and a check that each character has their own voice.

Mamet's point that each scene should involve a solution to a problem, and then another problem, really stuck with me for the early chapters: the problem is that the second half of the book has a few areas where no problem is being solved, but where it still needs a change in pace. So at least I think I know where I need to make an effort.


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