The Writing Journal #55

The nights are getting darker and the winds are getting colder. There’s no denying that winter is coming. The speed with which winter is coming, however, has certainly caught me off guard, and I can’t believe there are only two weeks left before we kick into December and the inevitably manic run up to Christmas. I naively made a lot of assertions, to myself at least, about the myriad of things that I could get done before the year is out, but as time marches on I’m starting to think my ambitions may be mismatched to the time I have available! Deadlines bring their own kind of focus, however, and since it’s cold outside anyway, what better way to spend that time than writing anyway, right?

Target Number 1: Spend a minimum of 20 hours editing the novel

Just shy of three hours added to the editing target this week, taking the overall tally for November up to 7hrs and 45mins. Most of my writing time this week was tied up in Poor Uncle Dave, hence why there wasn’t a larger shift along the timeline, but hopefully now that progress has been made there (more on that to follow), I can get the balance better this week between the two projects.

In the time that I did get to spend on the novel last week, the familiar issue of detail raised its head again as I continue to establish the world of the story. The more I read through the first draft, the more I realise that it’s effectively the prose version of a screenplay. It’s stripped back, lacks in background, and pretty much just tells us what is happening, as it is happening. In novels, though, depth is everything and what separates it as a writing-form from the screenplays I’m more accustomed to writing. What I’m struggling to get right is that balance between depth and pace, which I think is a struggle I will always have to face in my novel writing thanks to screenwriting being so ingrained in my thought process now. Hopefully, though, it will alleviate a bit more once the set-up has been established and I reach the main plot of the story.

Target Number 2: Write the Poor Uncle Dave Christmas Special

Fingertips have been put to keyboard and the first draft of the Poor Uncle Dave Christmas Special is officially underway! Reaching that point and settling on a story idea was harder than I thought it would be, and has taken up the vast majority of my writing time this week. Initially, I thought my love for Christmas (which is largely fuelled by very fond memories of things that happened in my own childhood) would make coming up with a story easy as mince pie! But when I started to work on those ideas and shape them into a narrative, I kept coming to the same conclusion – they weren’t Poor Uncle Dave stories. They were fun ideas in their own right, and will (hopefully) find some use in other Christmassy projects one day (one of my life goals is to write a proper Christmas film!), but they didn’t fit with the style, tone, structure and character that I’ve already established with the first set of Poor Uncle Dave stories, and so ultimately had to be put aside.

In the short term, it was quite frustrating that none of the ideas seemed to work, but in many ways, it’s actually pretty good in that Poor Uncle Dave has an identity as a set of stories that has already become part of my writing subconscious. If I already have that instinctive part of my brain that recognises what is and isn’t a Poor Uncle Dave story, it means I can trust that there will be a level of consistency across the stories which is important when writing an anthology as opposed to a sequential series. With that renewed confidence, and a story that feels like a Poor Uncle Dave story, I’m excited to now get stuck into the story proper in time to get it written, recorded, and out there in time for the festive season proper.

With both targets still a fair way from completion and other projects starting to appear that I hadn’t anticipated before, a whirlwind end to 2019 could be beckoning.

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