Thursday, 3 October 2013

Day Zero Project: Finish Behind The Scenes

In the summer I was seventeen my best friend came up to visit and ended up spending the whole summer. It was a fantastic summer with the pair of us doing crazy things like trying to walk home from a beach at the north end of the island, spending whole days in our pyjamas watching films, obsessing over Lord of the Rings and also writing.

We’d always had a fairly competitive sort of friendship. Part of the reason why I read The Lord of the Rings (aside from becoming slightly obsessed with the film of The Fellowship of the Ring) was because she had read it and if she could then so could I. One of the first things she did when she arrived was started writing a story. That prompted me to start writing too.

At first I didn’t have a story. I just had an idea of trying to write a car crash without actually describing what was happening. It was just dialogue. Around the time that I started writing it I had a dream about a bunch of people from a film camping out (I’m thinking this was inspired by one of the special features on the Lord of the Rings DVD special features). And I decided to try working that into the car crash story I’d already started.

From there my main character Abby ended up being the only survivor of the car crash and going to live with her uncle, who was a film star. And things started to snowball. Whenever one of us started flagging, my friend and I would kind of swap characters because we realised both stories were taking place in the same bit of Scotland so it made sense that they might run into each other. One of her characters was a theatre director and my character Jack had started out on the stage, so we guessed they might have staying in contact.

When she went home I kind of slowed down on the story a little. After the summer it was back to school and I joined the drama group and didn’t have quite as much time for writing as I’d had over the summer. My poor characters spent a lot of time in limbo; Abby and Keeper must have spent about three months sitting outside a cafe in London. But I finally picked it back up again and realised where I wanted things to go.

And eventually, about nine months after I started it, I finally came to the end. I remember lying in bed at around 1am and writing the final word of the story, ‘Together’ on the 75th handwritten A4 page. It wound up being over 30,000 words long. The longest story I’d written and managed to actually conclude. I was thrilled, although at the time I finished it I had nobody to celebrate ‘The End’ with!

So then it languished in my notepad for quite a while. I typed it up and made a few small changes as I went. I put it into the smallest readable font size and printed it out; it came to around thirty pages (thank goodness we had a laser printer)! But I didn’t really touch it again until I went to University.

I decided that I wanted to rewrite it and maybe extend it a little bit as I had realised that it wasn’t really a novel-length story. I put together a little folder for myself and I started reading through the story making notes on all the characters when I realised that two of them had actually ended up getting together a little bit earlier than I had realised. It was funny to see things that I’d written but hadn’t actually been that conscious of.

Much later I started rewriting it again. I’m using the typed version of the story as a sort of outline for the plot. This time it even has chapters, with the action focusing on four main characters, rather than just one and later two as in the original. I’m currently around chapter ten, which corresponds to page four of the original typed version; oh and what I’ve written out by hand so far is roughly the same as the total handwritten original. It’s definitely going to be a much longer story this time around.

The page 4/chapter 10 thing means that I’ll probably not be finished with it any time soon. It’s slow going, mainly because I just sort of dip in and out of it. Also it’s fast becoming a historical novel as I try to come up with excuses for people not having mobile phones and other useful gadgets. Someday I’ll get it finished though. What happens after that will be anyone’s guess, though, I’ll probably decide it needs rewriting again or something.

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