So it’s October, and I’m still slogging on, trying to keep up work on my writing. I thought I’d give an update on where I am at the moment and where I hope to go. This includes an entirely new novel, B Like You, which up until this spring, I was planning to keep hidden under my bed. But then I read it, and I liked it. I liked it a lot. So I decided to try and make it into something presentable. So here we go, my current projects:
Two Kinds of Darkness
I’m still in love with this novel. I love writing dystopian, and the mood gets me every time I pick it up. Sometimes I think it’s the love that keeps me writing–I’ve fallen out of love with so many of my other manuscripts, and as soon as I do, I have no commitment, no will to carry on. For a few, this hasn’t happened yet. And maybe I should take that as proof they’re worth fixing and sharing with the world–they’ve held their creator’s interest, arguably the hardest thing to do. Maybe this means Two Kinds of Darkness will hold other’s interests too. (More description of this novel here!)
Where I’m at:
I did the 5th draft over a year ago, so now I’ve got both draft 6 and draft 7 in progress. The 7th draft of my first novel, Aza, is the one on Amazon at the moment. However, I have a feeling 2KOD will require a lot more than 7 drafts.
So, what have I changed between drafts 5, 6, and 7? Well, the changes between 5 and 6 are the most drastic. The main three things are:
- The French. I experimented with adding the occasional French word to the novel (think Firefly or a less-extreme A Clockwork Orange) in the 4th draft. My idea was to give the city more depth with the quirky feature that everyone spoke both French and English. It didn’t work, so I’ve cut out all the French except for one character’s speech, trying to give the impression that he thinks himself better because he speaks a dead language of ‘sophistication’.
- Emotion. My MC, Tavis Kimberton, came off a little flat, so I’ve upped his reactions, made him question everything from the beginning, and tried to make him more likeable for readers.
- Descriptions. I had a lot before, but I’ve been told they still weren’t enough to visualize my complicated city. I’ve tried to fix that by adding more details. Here’s a short excerpt from my shining new 7th draft as an example. (If you read this and your first thought is “Description? Sonora, I would have a better idea of what this looks like if you shouted it in Slovakian at me.” then please do say that in the comments. I will not take offence, I want 2KOD to be as good as it possibly can be.)
Our city is tall. It stretches out forever, reaching into the sky with greedy, handless arms. White arms. The sort of whiteness that, when the sun shines on it, makes me squint my eyes and look sideways.
I see white marble in all its shades; from the grade A white of surgical halls to grade C–riddled with mineral impurities. Some look like clouds, others like ink rained from the sky, dripping down the sides like veins.
White marble. It’s what makes our city the architectural masterpiece it is. It’s an endless edifice of milky skyline. It’s like our city floats. Well, the good half of it. Our half.
That’s what Father says.
We have marble streets with real trees and painted-white brick walls. They connect the buildings together, supported by concrete pillars that keep us from falling into the earth. This is our right, says Father, because we are good people.
B Like You
I wrote the first draft of B Like You for NaNoWriMo 2016. The premise is a seventeen-year-old girl, Bee, who is the sole provider/carer for her five younger sisters due to their mother’s mental instability and lack of interest in the girls. Definitely not fantasy, this novel reached some very dark places that November. I despised everything about it at the time–the setting, the lack of dragons, the painful topics that cropped up. I felt trapped in the head of my MC, caught up in her crippling cynism and desperate need to be free. I’m not sure where this story came from. I know I was feeling more unstable in my life than usual, due to several tragic events that happened in early autumn. Perhaps it was brought on by them, or I just can’t write reality-based fiction without going horrible, who knows.
Where I’m at:
I’m preparing to transform my rough first draft into a cohesive 2nd draft. This means I’m currently plotting and trying to decide what the order of events is. It reads a bit like it has two climaxes at the moment, so that definitely needs to be fixed!
I have lots of doubts about this novel. Is it something people will actually want to read? Is it too similar to the multitude of other dysfunctional-family stories? Can I write horrible topics in a believable, careful way? Abuse, poverty, and death crop up again and again. I believe that it’s incredibly important for a writer whose novel includes disturbing or taboo topics to present them competently. Social media shows us every day the damage of language, and whilst books are mostly shielded by the fact that they are fictional stories, they still have the power to affect someone’s thoughts and they rarely have age restrictions like films do. I plan to expand these thoughts in a separate blog post if any of you are interested.
Other things I’m working on include this blog–I’m continuing to post every Thursday, with book reviews, film reviews, writing tips, and rants on story structures with bi-weekly writing prompts. I also started a Twitter @Sonora_Hills with the hope of integrating myself into the online writing community. Hopefully, I’ll manage to keep up with everything over my second year at university. The best case scenario, in my opinion, is that by next summer I’ve gotten Two Kinds of Darkness to a place where I can start querying agents!
I shall leave you with the current blurb for B Like You:
“Care. Care about everything. That was the first rule in my life. Caring was the only thing that set me apart from Mama, and the last thing I wanted was to be like her.”
All seventeen year old Bee wants is her own life. But with five little sisters who depend on her, a life is something she’s not going to get. She blames her Mama, who’s too busy trying to find “the perfect man” to care about any of her kids. Bee is terrified of failing, but with the guilt of her brother–still missing a year after he ran away–hanging over her, she’s afraid she already has.
What are you working on? New projects? Old projects? What are your dreams and apprehensions? Tell me in the comments!