The Fell Gard Codices

It often happens when I write a chapter — and this was an example — that I have what looks like a pretty solid structure, but as I write it out I become aware that something isn’t working. If the problem’s obvious, then I fix it. If not? I tend to find the best thing is to keep going, and see what happens. Usually what happens is that I hit a bit where things get back on track. So once I get near the end of a chapter I can go over the whole thing and work out how to make it better.

Typically, what I’m reacting to is not a problem with the structure I’ve worked out (sometimes that happens, if I realise there’s some character issue I hadn’t noticed before, or a plot detail getting in the way; but not usually). Usually I’m reacting to a slight imbalance somewhere in what I’ve written — too much space to one thing, too little to another, a nice idea for dialogue or description that I failed to capture. That, of course, is what editing’s for.

And I find that my editing process involves simply telling myself the story over and over. Each time I do there’s a bit more detail, a bit better shape to the whole thing. From outline to rough draft to polished draft, the thing builds to a kind of harmony.

In terms of story notes, I was happy to pick up Hochelaga and Mew from where I left them. As it happens, in the long gap while I was sick I rethought my original plans for what exactly was happening with Mew, and came up with something that works (I think) much better, while still fitting perfectly with what’s gone before. Better, probably. I do think that this chapter, and chapter seventeen, may seem kind of slow as a re-introduction to the story. I suspect — I hope — they’ll make more sense as part of a whole, coming after a set of chapters that followed two separate exploring parties.

Finally, I have to say this: there’s a thing that happens sometimes when you write — and it happens other times, too, but I find for some reason especially when you write. And that is what Carl Jung (and The Police) called synchronicity. Meaningful coincidences. Things aligning. It may well just be a certain cast of mind, that allows you to put pieces together in a certain way. But, perception or reality, there it is. So it happened here, when I took a break as I was wrapping up the chapter, and read a book which I’d had on my shelves for years but which for some reason I’d just felt a strong urge to begin reading. And, about ten pages in, found a quote that resonated perfectly with what I was writing. So, bang, in it went.

There’s an odd but very real satisfaction when that happens.

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