Friday, March 30, 2007

Coffee Break 11

Word count: 85,656

"The end of a novel, like the end of a children's dinner party, must be made up of sweetmeats and sugar-plums."
(Anthony Trollope in Barchester Towers, 1857)

Yesterday's charity shop find - the Oxford Dictionary of Literary Quotations, a treasure chest of pithy pronouncements on everything from Admiration and Praise, to Writers' Block. I shall be choosing inspirational or funny quotes from it as it's tremendous fun.

I am approaching the sweetmeat and sugar-plum stage, with sore eyes and sore hands (I get that discomfort in the heel of my hand when I've been writing at the pace I've been maintaining for the last fortnight). I know I ought to rest the hand but I have four chapters to go before The End (oh, I was so wrong about the 90,000 words, it's going to end up being 95,000, what a disappointment) and I want to try to meet my self-imposed March 31 deadline so I have a whole week to edit the worst can take the girl out of journalism, but you can't take the journalism out of the girl.

How is everyone? And will your novel end sweetly? Welcome to Jacqui, who has joined us. If you're a little earlier in the process, do you know exactly how it will end, or are you waiting for the story to reveal itself as your mind digests the story fully? And if you are approaching the end of the first draft, do you have a reward in store for yourself? I don't, yet, but might have to think of one...But I do have a squillion things to do - people to see or call, emails and features to write, bills to pay - as I have been neglecting real life terribly over the last ten days or so. Another quotation springs to mind here: "I've always thought people write because they are not living properly." (Beryl Bainbridge)

Sad but true for me this month, Beryl. Sad but true...

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Blogger Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Welcome, Jacqui; I will blogroll you and visit when I get home (am currently frolicking Abroad, having a holiday from everything except writing - not that I'm making massive progress with the writing, as this holiday is mostly holiday, but I am getting some work done most days). That is a GREAT charity shop find and I look forward to more quotes. My ending is mostly upbeat, with each character's story arc ending positively, but there is some bittersweetness too; a kind of recognition that even at good times in our lives, there are still potential troubles in the background. It's not quite the kind of ending that Trollope recommends, more like the end of an adult's dinner party with coffee and mints - bitter and sweet and tangy all mingled together.

8:53 am  
Blogger Helen said...

Good morning. I am now just over 40,000! This is huge progress for me, but it's a bit like weight loss, you get to one milestone and already you are looking to the next!

I haven't thought waht sort of reward I'll give myself once I get to the end. Probably the thought of editing it will be enough(!!). I am already making notes as I go along to help me with the editing process.

My ending will end nicely for my protagonist. Well at least I hope it does for her. She goes through hell in the book and deserves a happy ending...

Welcome Jacqui!

9:12 am  
Blogger JJ said...

Hi Kate

Despite sore hands, you're making tremendous progress.

Welcome to Jacqui (we've emailed each other - I was thinking of joining one of your telephone groups! Unfortunately the different time zones didn't work out for me in Bangkok). It's nice to see you again.

I have only the vaguest idea of the ending. I don't really know where it's going yet, and I do have periods where this worries me, but I'm getting better at recognising that I'm making excuses. I don't need to know how it ends yet - I am SO not there. I suspect that it will be similar to what Zinnia describes: a touch of reality.

I think that I'm making reasonable progress - I've found an old draft which wasn't as bad as I thought which has set me going again. And I'm having ideas in the middle of the night or while walking down the street which is a great sign that my subconcious is doing some hard work too.

All the best to everyone for the coming week.

9:19 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

*waves hello to Jacqui*

I'm pleased to report I have made some progress this week, even posting up an excerpt for critiquing. My technique is improving but there's still plenty of room to go. Plenty of words, too.

My ending is going to be dramatic, downbeat in places, but positive. The main character has started to make changes in her life after starting out as a bit of a shambles, so while it's not neatly tied up, you get the impression that her future will be happy.

When I started the project I knew I didn't want the character to do what was expected of her, not by the other characters or even by the reader. I wanted her to make a decision that may seem unpopular at the time, but will ultimately win respect in the long term.

9:36 am  
Blogger Lucy Diamond said...

Morning all

Love the quote Kate - very apt. I am so amazed and impressed that you are almost there. Wow. Big treats in store I reckon, not least the prize, remember! Well done.

Zinnia - I love the way you describe the end of your novel. Sounds fab!

Helen - 40,000 is ace, really great progress

And JJ, I'm with you on the vagueness of your ending - mine is equally elusive and shadowy at the moment. Blind faith is telling me I'll work it out though.

I've had a vote of confidence from my agent who's read the first 100 pages of novel 3. He did ask some tough questions about the rest of it though which I couldn't answer. Hmmmm. I am actually stuck at the moment on a bit of the plot - really had to force myself to cross the 30,000 word line yesterday but am not sure if I'm going to get very much done this morning. Aarrgghhh... Sometimes it is SO difficult, writing!

Have a good weekend, everyone. Are we having a Good Friday coffee next week, btw?

9:42 am  
Blogger NoviceNovelist said...

Hi everyone, Wow you're setting a cracking pace kate - thanks - it has really inspired me seeing your word count shoot up. I'm just nudging 54,000 words and it's feeling good - but think the last few thousand have been a bit drivelly but at least it will have given me soemthing to edit - when the time comes.

I've written my ending - it's a bit glammy and romantic and it will probably change - not in essence - just in detail. It's a happy one for my main character and she deserves it - though she didn't get everything she wanted so there is a tinge of sadness.

I'm feeling a bit frustrated at the moment as I just want to get on with it - but paid work keeps getting in the way!!! I'm thinking of taking a week off work just to write - maybe when I hit 65,000 words. Have a great week everyone!

10:02 am  
Blogger Jane Henry said...

Congrats Kate, on your nearing the end. Haven't added anymore this week because I am rewriting the first three chapters (agent tells me I am telling not showing... that OLD chestnut. Friend tells me I have too many characters...)

I do know my ending. Am aiming for that great thing Richard Curtis always does where everyone has to rush to a central point so that the hero and heroine finally get together... Don't know if I will achieve it. My subplot characters are going to end winning a dancing competition. That will be fun. Now all I need to do is learn how to waltz...

I have to plot what happens, because I've tried the through the mists approach and it just doesn't work for me. I need a skeleton to hang my flesh on.

Welcome Jacqui to the racers. It's been a blast even though I am going to get the booby prize...

Children break up today and husband off sick. That blows MY writing day out of the water...

10:05 am  
Blogger Kevin said...

Wow, I'm here when it's still morning your time. It's a bit after 0500 here. Valerie and I will be hitting the road for the long drive to Florida at about 0700. Ship sails tomorrow and it's a week at sea. I'll miss next Friday entirely (well, I won't miss Friday, can't sidestep a day, but I will miss visiting here on next Friday).

Welcome aboard, Jacqui.

In writing for hire, it's a bit different from writing entirely in your own universe. This is especially true in a series which must follow a close continuity. In both Wolf Hunters, my previous novel, and the one I'm not allowed to discuss in any detail now due to a nondisclosure clause I have been given a specific point at which the primary characters begin (the end of the last novel, which is still being written) and where they must arrive (the beginning point for the next novel). How they get there -- and any subplots and secondary characters I'd like to throw in -- is up to me. So in that sense I know how my book is going to end before I write. How I get there grows in the writing process. (I usually string a bunch of one-sentence scene descriptions together into a narrative sort of outline and build up from there.)

Writing my own fiction, I tend to have key moments, including the climax, clear from the beginning -- like mountain peaks rising above the fog. How I get to them isn't always clear until I'm on the journey.

Today's security word is "yhqtb." From this I get "Yak Tubs" but I have no idea what to do with it.

10:14 am  
Blogger sheepish said...

Hi everyone, I have got to about 25000 words this week but it's hard going at the moment and I think the wooden spoon will be for me.

If you have seen my blog you will know that we are trying to move house and it is taking up quite a lot of my time and energy at the moment.

My method of writing is to wait for inspiration and follow rather than lead if you can understand that. However I think I am getting to the point where I need to be a bit less haphazard and get some order into what I am writing. I need continuity of plotline so that I know where I go next.

This applies to my life aswell at the moment, getting the move sorted will help my WIP.

Have a good weekend and write well.

11:49 am  
Blogger hesitant scribe said...

Hi All, and welcome Jacqui!

Well done Kate - you''re almost there. I am stuck on 26K, not due to lack of ideas but lack of time... and having a holiday so no work at all for a week, just some quality time with the kids.

In answer to Kate's question, to those of us still in the early stages... I have the whole book in my head, finished. I'm flexible though, so am making changes as I go. I think I have to know where I'm going because it's a PhD thesis too, and I have to have a strong sense of what I want to achieve in the writing. I think the next one will be much easier because I'll be able to get on with it and not worry about the theory side of it too much :)

Hope everyone is having a good week and have a lovely Easter! Back on-line in mid-April with loads of handwritten pages I hope!

12:58 pm  
Blogger liz fenwick said...

Greeting from sunny Florida :-) It's wonderful but it means virtually no writing...1000 words this week. I am very close to the end and itching to get there but don't see it happening this week or next!

Welcome Jaqui and well done on all the progress this week!

1:08 pm  
Anonymous Jacqui Lofthouse said...

Hi everyone,

Thanks to you all for your warm welcomes, even though I come to this SO late. I'm writing a second draft of my fourth novel and am 18,000 words into that draft, aiming to complete a 100,000 word draft by mid-June. It seems easier to write at this pace on a second draft, although my earlier novels have usually taken 4-5 years (!) to write. Good to see some familiar names here. 'Lucy', Saskia is still in awe that I met you!

Oddly, on my first draft, I haven't written the ending. I stopped the first draft around two thirds of the way through the story, in order to return to the beginning. But I have written a synopsis for my agent and I have a very clear ending in mind. However, I never have endings when I begin a novel, only a sure sense of direction with each scene that I write and a few POSSIBLE places it might go...

Good to meet you all and look forward to reading your blogs and following your progress...


1:23 pm  
Blogger B.E. Sanderson said...

Welcome to the race, Jacqui.

I thought I was out of the race, but my words wouldn't leave me alone. Not only have I jumped back into my WIP, but I got started on another story that's been stewing in the back of my head. I don't have a whole lot of words to report, but I did get some major kinks worked out of the plots for both so I can steam ahead.

Congrats on the book find, Kate. I love digging through thrift stores and charity sales and anywhere I can find old books. In fact, last week I volunteered to help clean out the old library here in town, and in exchange I got first dibs on the books they were going to sell. Best find for me was a copy of Twain's "Life on the Mississippi" from 1917. =oD

Way to go on your progress everyone!

2:39 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your 'novel' achievement to date. Here's a movie quote featuring advice about writing:

“You must write your first draft with your heart. You rewrite with your head. The first key to writing is to write, not to think!”
Finding Forrester (2000) - William Forrester (Sean Connery)

5:10 pm  
Blogger A. Writer said...

Hi Everyone! Welcome to Jacqui!

I've had a good week. I managed to cross the 20k mark! I also managed to add another 200 words during the week which for me is a huge achievement as I very rarely get the chance to write during the week.

I have a fairly good idea about the ending for my WIP. Although as the story progresses it might change slightly.

Keep up the good work everyone! You're doing great!

A. Writer x

7:01 pm  

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