Adam Christopher | Steampunk and dark fantasy author. Now with added superheroes!

Adam Christopher is a New Zealand-born SF writer living in the sunny north of England.

Archive for June, 2008

Keeping the momentum going

Tricky business, June. Wales last weekend, Scotland tomorrow, demonstrating the delights of the UK to the in-laws over from New Zealand. But I knew this would mean my writing schedule would kinda vanish for a couple of months, so I programmed that into my deadline of the end of September for the first draft of Dark Heart. So all good – lots of sun (unlike last year) and some great places to explore in Snowdonia and (soon) the Scottish Highlands has made for a rather relaxing and pleasant start to summer.

This has made the cumulative wordcount low, but we’re ok. Because I haven’t been idle. I’ve been writing. I just haven’t been typing it out.

Dark Heart is one of those stories that needs a lot of room. There is a lot of story to tell, and added to that there is a big, new (I hope!) world to explore and to explain. It’s as much a journey for me as it is for my characters – in the last section I wrote, I found Dr Clarke and Bellamy discussing the events of the previous day over breakfast. Well sure, be my guest – you guys were supposed to be onboard the airship already! But hey, take your time, have some more coffee. Bellamy is packed and you’re meeting Zoe at the St James’s Park Airdome…

So as any writer will tell you, a story and its characters will start to develop an independent life, quite separate to your own thought processes. So while I haven’t been doing much writing, as such, the story has been progressing quite nicely in my subconscious. And occassonally, it’ll give me a hint of what it’s working on. The other day it showed me what Albert looks like in his black armour as he holds court in the Crystal Palace. Wow, very cool. And then that chase in the jungle temple? Nice twist there, I’ll be sure to include it. Thanks!

Dark Heart is a big book. Lots to tell. And right now, even as procrastinate about which t-shirts to pack for the trip north, Zoe is telling her brother about her unexpected midnight excursion. Dr Clarke is taking notes, and I’m on the edge of my seat…

I am officially in Wales

Penmachno to be precise. Blog to resume in a few days. I have local ales to sample!

That difficult third chapter

Dark Heart crossed the 10,000 word mark at some point during chapter three, which is a nice little milestone, if a somewhat slow one to reach. The issue: editing while you write. The solution: don’t.

Before anything was written, I created a full synopsis and chapter breakdown. I tend to write in the order of the story, so as soon as Bellamy announced to Zoe and Dr Clarke that they were pootling off to Africa at the end of chapter two, I knew exactly what was to come next. Chapter three introduces three new characters and presents another view of modern-day “Albertian” London – a hot, polluted Victorian city, populated by strong communities that, in some instances at least, are not too happy being policed by steam-powered robot police and their half-animal, half-machine horses.

All of this we see from the perspective of market stallholder Grange Parkes, who has a minor run-in with a mounted patrol man just before the city is rocked by a gigantic explosion. Chapter three also introduces his wife, Megan, and a strange gentleman in black…

Sounds easy then. Chapter three has a purpose and a plot, dealing as it does with one of the key events of the book. So why did it take so long to write? I think it may have been because the chapter existed in an earlier draft without the man in black. Using this draft as the template, I rewrote the chapter over the top, weaving in the new plot strand and expanding on Grange’s confrontation with the police. Which came out just fine, but it may well have been completed a tad quicker if I had just started from scratch. Once you start substantially re-writing an old draft you have no choice but to fall into the trap of editing as you write, which for any writer is completely made of fail. You never edit as you write, as you’ll end up having written 100,000 words in three months to only have half the book written.

For chapter three I felt it was necessary to take this approach, however, but from here on in it’s 100% fresh. And now we return to Bellamy and friends as they fly over the Black Lands of Europe en route to West Africa…

Dark Heart stats, 1st June 2008.

Target wordcount: 100,000

Current wordcount: 11,329

Words remaining: 88,671

Deadline: 30th September 2008

Days remaining: 121

Average daily wordcount required: 733

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