Episode 6 – My stress levels are building big time


Intro

[00:00:00]

Welcome to the In All Jest podcast.

I'm Darryl, your host, and each week I take you on a hero's journey.

I leave my safe, normal world and face many obstacles on my quest to publish not just one but six epic fantasy novels. .

I hope you'll come along for the ride.

You can find out more information at kingdarryl.com/podcast.

Episode six August the seventh, 2020. My stress levels are building big time. Man, I can feel the heat.

Since Last Time

[00:00:43]

Yes, stress is getting on top of me. Just under five weeks to my deadline, which is one week less than I said last week, because I didn't pay proper attention to the details. Of course, that means I set up my spreadsheet properly this week and had a look. 76 chapters to go, 2.3 chapters a day, which is basically 16 per week.

Which is a little bit more than I had planned, but that's because I didn't stick to two a day on average, early on in the process. So of course now it's building.

The good news is though I did 13 chapters this week, one more than the week before, so that's good progress, but I will have to lift my game even further to get to the target that I want to achieve, or should I say the deadline date that I want to achieve in September to allow me to publish A Fool's Errand on October the 16th this year. It means I am really feeling the heat.

I am feeling the stress, not only from that. Of course in my working life, it's turned up the heat big time with lots of projects and work going on all at the same time. So there isn't the flexibility to claim back time, in my working days. I literally have to do it outside of any working hours. What that has meant is I've stopped any weekday exercising over the last three or four weeks.

I'm feeling that. I don't have that relief and break, but I'm going to try and make sure that I at least exercise properly over the weekends and reset brain and body together. I need to exercise. It's an important part of who I am. So giving that up,has been hard, , but it has allowed me to use that early morning time to get through more chapters.

 

I pretty much get up at 5:00 AM and make a cup of tea and sit down and get on with the next chapter that needs editing.  It's worked pretty well over these last few weeks and this last week worked really well. On the weekend days I get through more, which means I'm not doing as much other fun stuff, but with only five weeks to go, it's not that long until I can take a bit of a break from that. And this is more pressing than writing the novel. The writing process is less stressful I would say. I have a word count. I sit down, I write words every day.  I don't have a big problem doing that.

 

in this last week I had a new chapter that I needed to write. I knew what it was all about. That was all part of the work I did with my editor and the fixes I came up with on paper. So having that outlined plan of what I needed to achieve made it really easy to do.  I wrote 2,400 words in an hour and a quarter. Went back and did a little bit of editing, but didn't need to do a massive amount, which I found  was very encouraging. That was a great mornings work. And I enjoyed that. So when I'm normally just writing chapters first draft, particularly,  I can knock out a chapter a day of the days that I sit down to do it.

This editing process, where I have a deadline that I need to get to has really upped the ante on me.  But that's OK. I just have to work through that. It's a new process for me. It's a new stage in the book production cycle, and I think trying to balance,  the work of it with the enjoyment of it is a critical part. But also it's something that professional, full time writers do every day, every week, they have the enjoyment of what they write, but it is a job.

It's a work activity that you need to do and you need to turn up and write. Steven Pressfield talks about this as do other accomplished authors, that you turn up and you write, whether you write one word, you write a thousand words or 10,000 words every day you go through your routines, you turn up and you write and that's no different to your day job.

If you're doing something else, you have to turn up. Yes, you get sick days. Yes, you can take weekends or holidays from that, but you have to get back to it and you have to maintain a discipline about it.  This is a different discipline to  writing, the first draft it's still writing.

As I said, I wrote a whole chapter,  one morning, very happy with that. But it is this focus on, there is a time that I need to get this done, and I haven't had that before. That wasn't part of my process. But that's okay. I've got to fit some other things in as well. Like the marketing and the prep for it, release of the cover of the release of the map.

I really need to do work on building my email list and other channels that I want to use, but got to fit that all in. So back to the story, uh, I needed to add in a chapter, which was the next stage in one of the key, pieces of the plot that my protagonist needs to have accompanying them through the story.

And I talked on this previously that there were some fixes I needed to do that would help the story evolve. Get things more on paper, but also enhance the complexity of her journey, of the challenges she was going to face. So I knew what that was going to be. I sat down, I wrote it. , I introduced a new character and I killed a new character all in one chapter.

 

So I felt very much like George RR, Martin, that I brought in this character and then got rid of them. It's not normal in my book. There's not massive amounts of people dying. There are a few deaths I will say, but this one was fun. I enjoyed the character, albeit they only had a short time on stage, but I did enjoy what I did with it.

I felt more accomplished, more skilled in approaching the chapter and what I needed to do. I knew from the day before what was coming up, I knew what I needed to do. And I think that really helped sitting down and just writing it. Which is going to be really interesting when I get back to  book 2, looking at what comes next and that process has been different anyway, because I do have more of an outline of book two than I did when I started the whole series originally, but that's going to be really, really interesting, cause it might facilitate me producing book two and book three, et cetera. quicker and with a better quality of first draft. Albeit they'll still need this cycle of editing multiple steps, multiple reviews, revisions.

But I think I can see how,  what I am now and what I will be in the future as a writer has definitely progressed and is going to progress. It was,  quite enjoyable actually, to reflect on what I've been doing on the other chapters this week as well. In that I've already naturally started changing my sentence structures and some of the little elements that popped up regularly in the editorial feedback that I got from Fleetwood.

Just little things here and there, but I'm seeing them myself now. And in writing sentences, I'm tending not to do that thing that I was doing. So that was , really encouraging as well, that I can already see myself 32 chapters in 33 chapters into the editing process, having progressed in the way that I'm working and the skill that I have around it.

I liked that. That was an unintended consequence, I guess, or unexpected immediate consequence from that editorial process. I knew, that I would get better as a writer progressively over time, but this one seems quite a quick, immediate change, that's just crept up on me from paying attention and respecting the feedback that I've received and, moving forward letting it just, , become part of me. Sort of absorbing it through osmosis into what I'm doing. The  learning has just crept into my work automatically from paying attention to what was being changed, noticing the patterns, seeing the commentary. I did shoot the editor, Fleetwood, the editor my editor Fleetwood a note this week via email to say, like, I just really enjoyed the way he delivered that feedback.

And it's been the most powerful thing for me in having that edit done. I think I mentioned it last week as well, but the way he delivered his feedback, the constructive criticisms, the method that he used to do it. Worked for me and that, and I think that's why it was so easy for me to pick up on these skill changes, these observations, because I never felt threatened or attacked about it.

They were just simply fixes that became very obvious with little suggestions, you know, adjust the way you structure this, here's what it could be, you know, this or this versus that. So that was really, really good. I am. I like learning. I like observing that I've learnt, , which is fun too. , so yeah, 13 chapters.

I won't bore you by talking through all of the chapters. A lot of them were quite simply working through some minor fixes, shuffling a few sentences and paragraphs around in order or eliminating things I did. Kill off another chapter as well, but I don't think I'm reducing the overall word count very much, particularly when I'm adding in content.

And I am mostly through another chapter already this morning where I added a significant amount of content to it, to enhance one of my secondary primary characters, , journeys. . So there's definitely  new words going in. , albeit that we did take out 25,000 words right up front. Not so sure we're going to end up with overall much less than the 200,000, the general word count that the book has.

Anyway, that's the, since last time segment for this episode.

Some Back Story

[00:12.19]

I think I'm going to talk about how I go about writing and the way I fit it in to my working life. In the segment before I talked about how I do it currently, the way that I get up early in the morning and sit down and I do that around the dining room table. And there's a reason for that. I have a studio separate to the house. I've had a dedicated office for me to work in for a number of years, both at the previous property. And then in this property, we built this about eight or 10 months after we moved in here. It's a four by four meter custom built studio.  The front face that I look out through is all glass ranch, sliding doors.

I have a window behind me. The Westerly and  Easterly sides are solid walls, which are covered in pictures and framed sporting memorabilia, and printouts of book covers, and. Items and positive slogans and a white board. And behind me, I have two book shelves that wrap around the window. And it's a really nice place. And if you can hear the birds in the background, it's because the studio is covered on two sides by some big trees.

So it's a really nice place. I look at the back of our property across the gardens and backyard.  And it was built to exactly the spec that I wanted. At the moment, because I'm doing a lot of my day work in the web design development strategy fields, I do spend a fair number of hours in the studio and I've found that being in the same place. For riding has a negative connotation for me at the moment. When I was doing the first draft, I had no problem  with writing in here on weekends and things, or even when I did it at a different time of the day.

And I reset the way the desk was set up at that time. So typically I'm at a standing desk during the day when I'm doing my technical work and I have a draftsman's chair which sits pretty high. So I have a slightly lower desk height if I want to sit down. So I alternate standing and sitting, but it's not ground sitting on the ground with my feet on the ground.

So I use the on the ground setting exclusively for writing. So that was a way that I, I could distance myself from work. Kind of use it as a gimmick to say, Hey, I'm in a different mode. Now I do also find that having the massive screen that I use for day to day work is a bit of a problem for me writing, because it allows me to see extra space on the screen, which tends to draw me off to, Oh, I wonder what's happening elsewhere, which is not great.

So what I do now is I just work on the laptop exclusively for writing. I don't use the big screen. And because of the hours I'm spending working during the day, I do the writing and editing in the house, put on noise canceling headphones, and work. And that's how I wrote the first draft. I had the laptop.

I have noise canceling headphones and for probably the first year, year and a half, I did it in the evening. And what I would do is I would sit down after dinner when everyone else was around still but they were washing dishes, chatting around lounge rooms and things like that. I sat at the dining room table, put the headphones on, put some music on, so I didn't hear them per se, but I felt like I was still around everyone.

And I just zoned in writing,  used Scrivener, had the daily word count -- that kept me accountable. And I just pumped through writing the story as best I could. And I had chunks of that writing time that went really well.  then I might get to a sticking point where I needed to do something. In most cases, it was research where I wanted to handle something within the story well.  so I would go off and into a little research rabbit hole, find myself lost for days on end. But most of the time I would write, four days a week. Other times it was five or six, but I always allowed myself in theory, a weekend where I didn't do it now. Because of other work commitments it might be that I wrote two days of the weekend and three days of the week or two days of the week.

I mixed it up, but I did try to get four or five days done almost every week. That went on for just over a year. It was roughly a year writing the first draft of writing time. And then I moved into the editing phase.  During that, I had big chunks of time where I was lost. I didn't quite know what to do next.

And so I would go away and research. Some of my research was listening to podcasts. I got a lot out of Sean Coyne's story grid, podcast, the story grid book, and some related podcasts and things that I felt were really really good. I found that at the right time for me, and it was already, I don't know, maybe six months to a year into the podcast, so I could start at the beginning and just crammed my way through it.

And what I used to do was I'd get up in the morning, listen to the podcast while I worked out in the gym, work during the day, and then I would write at night or edit at night, but I got to a point where the editing was quite hard work mentally. I found it harder than writing, and I also was a lot busier than I had planned in other activities, particularly daytime work.

At the suggestion of my wife, I changed up a little bit of what I was doing. And I moved the editing to the morning as well, which meant I got up earlier to work out, then I would eat and then I would edit and then start my day. That was really one of the best things I ever did because in my planning and I do do a lot of daily, weekly planning around my life.

What I found was I was carrying the stress of wanting to get this done every day, all day long. And I didn't get relief from it until eight o'clock, nine o'clock at night when I finished, Oh, finally, I've done my chapter or I've edited a chapter today, or I've done that research. So all day, the thing I most wanted to do, I didn't get done until the end of the day.

So I didn't get the satisfaction around it. When I moved everything to the morning and that included religiously working out many mornings or going for a walk, I ticked off two of my daily behaviors that I wanted to do, which was exercise and edit. And that was really rewarding. Cos I actually, it felt like I had achieved two of the most important things on my day before I even walked into the office.

So I think that was a really successful change for me. And I'll certainly trying to do, keep that up, albeit that in the opening sequence, I said that I've dropped my exercising. I think that's why I'm feeling the stress a little bit as well, because I don't get the reward of saying - the exercise is something I like, it's something important to me, I did it this morning. Tick that box, move on grunt through the day, put your feet up at night, get some sleep. Everything's going great. At the moment. I'm carrying a little bit of guilt about that and feeling that I'm not getting the physical benefits as well as the mental benefit. But that's been the process for quite a few years, four and a half years now.

I think of refining it really, really well, but that I guess his backstory element that, you know, what's involved in getting to this point.  it's that process that anyone that has a side hustle of any sort has to fit in. When do you fit it in? A really good friend and colleague that is now full time author. I know she used to do it on her lap, on the train to and from work every day, she used to be riding her early novels. And that commitment that we all have to give is how we get to the end point, which is getting these things out in the world. And, , she was really successful at it and still is. And while mine's taking plenty of time to get there, I know that the future books will be well served from refining, how I've been working through this over these years.

Outro

[00:21:36]

Thanks for listening to this chapter of the In All Jest podcast. For the show notes and more about this podcast, visit kingdarryl.com/podcast. You can contact me through that site and find me on Twitter @ireckon. If you enjoy the show please tell others, share my posts and review it on your favorite podcast platform. Till next time.

 

Episode 5

Episode 5 – I found some momentum


Intro

[00:00:00]

Welcome to the In All Jest podcast.

I'm Darryl, your host, and each week I take you on a hero's journey.

I leave my safe, normal world and face many obstacles on my quest to publish not just one but six epic fantasy novels. .

I hope you'll come along for the ride.

You can find out more information at kingdarryl.com/podcast.

Episode five, July 31st, 2020. Woohoo I found some momentum, but yet I've still got so far to go.

Since Last Time

[00:00:43]

As the introduction said, I found some momentum since we were last here. In this last week, I managed to get through 10 whole chapters. Technically it was closer to 12, because I added a new one and deleted one and creative mathematics is a lot of fun. But I'm really excited about 10, uh, 10 chapters throughout a hectic week, lots of other activities going on feels like a big win for me. So all up, I've done 22 chapters. The sad thing about that is my little tracking sheet here says this is 26 days since I started editing. And by my count, 26 days, two chapters a day, I should have 52 done, if I would like to get done in the timeframe that I suggested to myself early on.

At the moment I'm 30 chapters behind. So even if I was able to get three chapters done a day, it would take 10 days to catch up to where I am now. And that just seems like a mountain too hard to climb. Feels like Lani has to climb a massive mountain in my books, and I'm just nowhere near as capable as she is.

So it's good, but it's always the big problem, every time I've addressed editing this book is it does feel like a massive mountain to climb. And any mountain that you have to climb happens a step at a time.  Until you get to the halfway mark, it feels a much bigger struggle. Once you cross the halfway mark, you can see the end, finally, and then as you get to the three-quarters or, even further along then, it's a sprint to the end and it seems magically easier to finish off. Right now I feel like I've only just left base camp. But, I'm proud of what I achieved last week. It feels great to be able to say it. And it started with a really solid weekend or knocked over six chapters.

There are two types of chapters that I'm having to address in the first segments, there was a number of new chapters, which are a complete write, followed by edits. There are some of the existing chapters that require a lot of reshuffling and some rewriting, but then there are other chapters where it's really just,  some grammar, typography and a little bit of shuffling of the deck chairs, shall we say. Where something might be out of context, might've been addressed in an earlier chapter, where something was resolved and that consequently changes the meaning of that sentence or paragraph or little scene. And it might require a little bit of work.

I've had a couple of chapters this week that have been much easier than others. And I think the further into the book we get, there's going to be a really good balance of that. I know that there are some significant chapters to come further down the road, where I really need to readdress the conflict, the complexity, and put some better storytelling effort in.

That doesn't sound right. I've put plenty of effort in, or I just need to adjust the story. I need to make it, , have more tension, a bit more drama and change the pacing. So they will require a bit more work. But I also know from my early scan of the whole manuscript, that there are plenty where I'm only having to do little bits and pieces.

So my goal coming up is to really try and keep this momentum rolling and see that I can't increase that number even further. I've committed to it. I want to get it done and I've even put a date when I'm going to release the book to the public. And that date is going to be October the 16th. That's a special day in our household.

It's my wife's birthday. And it just feels like a good milestone day to put it down there. It's about three or four weeks later than I had originally intended to publish, but the reality of what I need to do to get this all done, get it off to my proofreader, have that all read, get those edits back and finish them.

That's a lot of work to be done. I think I'll be taking some leave from my day job to get that done. But that's okay. And talking about day jobs. This is really reminding me about everyone out there that has as a side hustle. And that term, you get, you hear a lot in the tech space, a side hustle, particularly where a programmer or developer works during the day for a company and then in their own time at night or in the evening tries to build their own application. But it's true across any endeavor like this. And many authors, artists, musicians, it's their passion or hobby or a side hustle that they're working on outside of raising their families, having their relationships, working their day, job or jobs.

And it's hard for everyone to do it. It takes a lot of commitment and effort.  Not to say that full time artists have it any easier. There's more obligations on them in some respects because it isn't a side hustle. It is their hustle. But the challenges of my life running an agency in the web space, having nonfiction books that we're trying to market and produce content for to promote and creating this podcast.

And all of the things that go with having a family, , a team of people I work with hiring, changing staff, running a business, making sales checking quality of what we do. They are all creative endeavors. And they're all things that you do that take up time. Things that drain you of the spark and energy that you want to put into your side hustle.

So hats off to everyone that does a side hustle. Hats off to everyone that struggles through their days, doing what they need to do to get to those moments, to do the things they love.

What have I done in the book in these chapters I've edited?  I've been setting up tension around my protagonist this last week. Keeping the story that was there already, the core of the story, and just tightening some of the threads. Tweaking little elements around how my protagonist was interacting with the  world around her. Which was great. Small adjustments to the setting, clarification of a couple of locations, making sure that they were comprehensible. And like I mentioned, in the last episode, out of my head and on paper in just enough ways that it wasn't tedious exposition, but enhance the story. There were two or three secondary characters that needed better definition. So worked on that, particularly trying to stay focused on the need that they have their own goals, motivations, and conflicts that have to be surfaced whenever we meet them.

It's not just about the top level characters, but every character that comes into a scene in one way or another has motivations and goals, and is either successful or unsuccessful. Has challenges to meet their own objectives. And that's really hard as a new author to remember in the depth of a story.

Which is the beauty of having those notes from my editor to remind me to think about those things, but it's a skill that I've just got to keep practicing. And I hope later in my writing career, that that will become easier and more instinctive. That I'm conscious of that, all the time I'm interacting with those characters rather than having to stop and go, "hmm" what it is they need out of this. And importantly, I think I'm about four or five chapters from the end of act one or the inciting incident, which is that first quarter of the book.  it's very close to that point, which is exciting for me because it means I've knocked over a significant chunk of  the book.  it is roughly a quarter of the way through which is good, but that means there's still three quarters to go. But it's also where my protagonist heads off on a hero's journey, where she leaves the familiar world and goes into the unknown world. And that was a great turning point in the story, when I wrote it, I liked that point. It changed a lot of the things for me. I mentioned in the backstory section a few weeks ago, how I needed to enhance the world when that happened and going back over, this will be interesting again, too.

Through the middle build, which is roughly half of the manuscript is where I need to raise some of the tension. I need to bring out some exciting new elements, or they're not even necessarily new they've come about from refining the plot and what I was trying to achieve with it. And now I have some methodology, methodologies, techniques. It's not even that some elements of the plot that I can bring to the surface, which I think will really enhance the story. So that's what I've been working on since last time.

Some Back Story

[00:10.33]

In today's backstory section. I think I'm going to revisit why I write. What drives me to write. What I want to achieve from writing, because essentially that is the backstory to the stories. It's the backstory to me.

I think most people are familiar with great TV shows, great movies, and even great music where we laugh and cry where our emotions are tweaked. And we just feel all sorts of emotions that have been created in us by the people that made those performances. Both the people that wrote them and the directors, but also the actors or singers.

When you read a novel that does that to you, to me, it's even more powerful because it's all done through a word you read and a word that you interpret yourself, partly from how you read and your capability in reading. But  it's a movie you make from words on paper. And in my perspective, I just find that wonderful. I have laughed out loud at books. I've cried in books. I've been excited. I've been scared. I've been thrilled. So many emotions and feelings that have come from reading someone's words. And the number of times I can recall reading novels by David Eddings, his fantasy novels, where I laughed out loud.

I literally laughed in the middle of a situation around people because I was reading a book or a digital book and I just laughed, you know, hard, serious laugh, not just a little chuckle. And people look at you as if, ah, what happened? Did  someone say something? I was like, no, I, yeah, in this book they said something.

I laughed. It was funny and not everyone gets it that you can get that from a book . To be totally frightened from the words on a book to be unable to go to sleep for five hours, because you have to know the end of the story. And it's from a book you're holding in your hand.  I'm not diminishing TV or movies because to do that well is equally a difficult craft. To write it and to produce it and to honor it. But I just find it fascinating how an author can put that on paper and make that happen.

So for me, that's what I want to do. I want to be able to write stories that, do that to people. Where they feel things and experience things that give them entertainment, that take them on experiences, that challenge them or change them, or just simply give them relief.

And I'm not sure when it might be that my stories are good enough to do that to people, to that level. I don't know, but the backstory behind all of this is that my goal would be someone I don't know, acquires my novel and really enjoys it and gets that sort of emotion and interest from my story. That's good enough.

That's fantastic. Ultimately I'm doing it because I want to write the story and I want to be able to read it once I've had a break from it and go, I enjoyed that story. To me, much of the story is already completed, but it is done in fragments because now I'm you know I'm polishing. I'm adding another layer, removing a layer.

I'm refining it. And it's a little bit like the finishing of it. So I kind of have already completed the story and it's hard doing this because I don't get necessarily all of the same emotions again, that I did producing it. And I look forward to a time hopefully, where I'll be able to just sit down and read through it again with a bit of distance behind and just enjoy it in the way that someone might, that doesn't know anything about it.

And that will be difficult. I will say that I got really excited writing five chapters in this recent edit that we're part of re-setting up everything about my court of Jesters. And I really, really enjoyed it. Just the writing. I got some of the feelings and I could see these things and trying to explain what you see in your mind without too many words, without too few words.

And I know there are people that have that skill to do it perfectly. I'm not one of them. Not at this point, but that's what I would like it to be where I can.tell you the, the story of the picture I'm looking at right now in a way that you can recreate it and the scene and the context, the dialogue and the emotions and the conflict that occurs in that scene, or the achievements that happen and you can sense and feel them.

And that's what it's about for me.  it comes from so many books I read as a youngster and for the rest of my life. I , finished a great book today by an author called Karin Slaughter,  I just love her stories.  They're thrillers, I guess you would call them.  there's just a uniqueness to what she does that I really enjoy.

And she paints a really good story and she has her twists. I did work this one out about two thirds of the way through. The little clues were there and I got it right this time. I don't always get it right. But I enjoyed it nonetheless, uncovering it. I just really write like the stories and I really enjoy it.

What she said at the end of the book, where she talked about her motivations to tell  real-world stories, but in her fiction to help expose things. And I think with fantasy, there's an element of that, I like as well, which is you can craft a narrative based on something that might be modern day, might be realistic, but it's not at all like that in this fantasy world.

It's a completely constructed world. It's different, but you can use theming that drives your plot. Drives your characters, even if you're not doing it a hundred percent consciously, but I think that's why I like fantasy. I liked the concept of fantasies playing with characters, which is why the Jester is so pivotal to these stories.

The Jester is a character that exists today amongst us, in us, the trickster, the person that at times I wish I was. But one can't tolerate the Jester all the time. And the jester has been many things across time in many different countries, but there is the medieval jester that we think of, is that honest voice against the authoritative power.

It's the only person that can get away with challenging their rule. That  is the mirror to force them to look at themselves as the clear eyes to point out the folly and the people that are seeking to benefit in underhand ways. And the jester was always at risk in the method, they did it, but they did it in an abstract and engaging way as well as they were just entertainment.

They broke up the seriousness of day to day life. There's so many parts to the Jester. I won't try to cover them all at the moment. And in trying to understand the jester,  who I've been fascinated with most of my life, I learned so many, many interesting things about the different types of Jesters around the world .

And, you know, we think about tricksters and jesters, but there are so many variations . And the more I dug into thinking about that and looking at that, it just opened up this whole world. And the last thing I'll say about that at the moment, in the book series is most of the jester characters in literature and movies and things that we see, in most cases, are a secondary character or a tertiary character.

Rarely are they the main character modern-day, , example of one that is, would be the joker, the story of the joker, where he is the central character. But mostly the jester is a character that is important, but on the side, they aren't the primary focus. And when I crafted the series and the stories I wanted to use them, differently than that.

I wanted them to be much more central to the plot. And so I have done and we'll see how well I do it. That's this episode's backstory.

Outro

[00:20:23]

Thanks for listening to this chapter of the In All Jest podcast. For the show notes and more about this podcast, visit kingdarryl.com/podcast. You can contact me through that site and find me on Twitter @ireckon. If you enjoy the show please tell others, share my posts and review it on your favorite podcast platform. Till next time.

 

Episode 4: Starting to build some momentum


Intro

[00:00:00]

Welcome to the In All Jest podcast.

I'm Darryl, your host, and each week I take you on a hero's journey.

I leave my safe, normal world and face many obstacles on my quest to publish not just one but six epic fantasy novels. .

I hope you'll come along for the ride.

You can find out more information at kingdarryl.com/podcast.

Episode four, July 24th, 2020. Once again, I seem to have a numbers problem and really it's all about building momentum through this edit.

Since Last Time

[00:00:45]

Well, I told a lie. In last week's episode, I said that I had completed nine of the chapters out of the book. That was wrong. I actually had in that three chapters, which I hadn't quite removed, which were being reworked. So the total number last week was six. So where did I get to since then? Well, another six chapters have been edited, which makes it 12, which isn't really the progress I hoped to be making at this point.

I really hoped to be able to do around two chapters per session, which would be around 10 per week. I haven't got to that Mark yet, which is frustrating me a little bit.

But, I can't really beat myself up. It's new. Well, I can beat myself up. I am beating myself up.

It is a new process for me. And I think some of the things I spoke about last week, which was the resistance I was having, a little bit of fear about facing the final story going out in the world.

I think there's a lot of truth around that. It's not everything, it's part of it. The main thing is it's just taking time and I want to get it right. And these early chapters I've been working on are really significant chapters in the setup of the book. I've had to in the chapters I've done, I think I mentioned in last week's episode, I was really adjusting my protagonists introduction to readers. How they came into the world and how they sat in the world.

Most of those ones were pretty straight forward. Then I introduced a rework completely of how the jesters are introduced to the reader. So one of the problems that we found in the edit, I'm pretty sure explained this last week, was that I had a lot of it in my head and I was trying to be too clever about when I exposed information.

The challenge of course, is I didn't want to then just create a chapter or two of exposition. That is, just a comprehensive description about the Jesters and their role in the world. What got me really excited when I was working with the editor was the idea that I came up with how to resolve that. And of course they won't be spoilers in the podcast or not intentionally anyway. But I did come up with a mechanism that I'm quite comfortable with in the real world.  And it's a real world event type where individuals interact in a way that facilitated what I needed to do as it turned out. , there were multiple scenes involved in this and several chapters and they were all, most of them, sorry, were new, not all of them. Most of them were new. Which meant I wrote, this week, three complete new chapters ,and edited them a couple of times.

So maybe I can get away with saying I did a little bit more than my single numeric count of a chapter. Really happy with how they turned out. And it actually allowed me to not only introduce the role that the Jesters have in this series better, but the fabric of their society and everything about them. Where they sit geographically in the world, where they sit conceptually in the world and what they do.

And a lot of the missing set ups is kind of the right word, but little pieces of information that hopefully make the story more complete and easier to read, going through. Funny enough, my wife and I were watching a new TV series just last night. And we paused after episode one and had this discussion about, was it uncomfortable?  Or  was it just. not very good? And we kind of agreed it was uncomfortable to watch and it came across almost as if it was trying to be too clever. The way information was being presented, everything had a missing piece. Everything was deliberately obscure and it was really uncomfortable to watch, and I think that was the problem with my novel.

In that, that there was an element of it, which you uncovered later on. Things clicked a bit, but it was too far later on for it. There was still some ambiguity about the meaning. So the purpose of what I've done now is to not  do this exposition about everything, but to, lay the foundation where you know exactly where you're at.

And perhaps I can use an example. If our story was based in Los Angeles, and we were talking about the LAPD. Already, the reader has a lot of , conceptual understanding of the LAPD unless they're very young, very new, haven't seen anything else, but at my age I could say, Oh, I've seen all sorts of different shows. I've read books, I've seen movies, I've read news articles. So there's a lot of information I already have about the LAPD. So if the story starts  on a patrol officer from the LAPD or a detective from the LAPD, I've actually got a lot of that story background there. So the story can proceed without needing to know that.

But if I was to introduce a story from Alice Springs in Australia to a new audience in the UK that had never heard of this place at all. Didn't understand where it sat geographically, didn't understand anything about it all, and then they had a unique organization there to do policing or community management.

particularly if it went by different names and you didn't know much about it, but I didn't lay any foundational work, about the organization, this group of people and their role. You start with a story and you kind of go, I think I understand it, but you're guessing too much. And depending on how cleverly you can do that and how much you give away, it can either be really good or really difficult.

And in my circumstance, the Jesters in the story is quite different to the Jesters that have been used in other stories, the way that they operate. So I think this mechanism has worked really, really well.

 

So I did all of that. And then I moved into an introduction of a new character, adjusting some of that and had to adjust the discoveries and revelations that they had and how they worked around the people they were involved with to tell their part of the story. So it was the third group of characters being introduced and most of it was actually only really small, but, uh, in this particular chapter, there were a lot of little typographical and grammatical things that just needed adjusting as well.

And I guess I'm just being very, very cautious at the moment. The last couple of days have definitely been quicker . So there's a little bit of momentum building and I feel like I'm saying sitting in the world properly in Book one, I think the other problem previously was I got into Book two world. I was really excited about book two and where it was going and I had to pull myself back to book one. Thinking, Oh, book one's already completed. And it isn't well, it is, but it isn't. And I need to get these things, right. Not only for book one, but for book two, three, four. So I think I understand what was causing me problems. I really feel like I'm starting to progress a little, what will be interesting we'll see how we're going next week. But  it's been, been encouraging. I'm happy with the story. I'm pretty happy with my writing. My chief critic has reviewed the key mechanism that I worked on and she's given it a thumbs up.  Which is really, really good and feels that it's answered, answered is answered the right word. I don't think answered is the right word. She feels that it's tick the boxes that it needed to, that it's resolved the issues that were there. And that's how I feel about it as well. So that's exciting. I'm excited about that and I feel like going into the weekend where I get an opportunity to do more work on the book, typically that I might be able to get a flying head start on the week.

I'll look forward to seeing if I actually live up to it. So the new total is I've currently done 12 chapters, so six in this last week. Let's see if I can do better next week.

Some Back Story

[00:10.18]

In the previous episode or episodes, I covered a lot about the map building. That was, I talked about it and I mentioned the concept of adding layers. So started with an outline and then layers of geography. That continues the more detail that you get into . I talked about placing cities and towns onto the map and how those need naming.

In this episode, I was thinking that's probably what I'm going to talk about mainly is how I added those layers and how I named places on the map. To me when I created the map and I then drew in the realms and created a bit of the history of those realms, I created the cities and towns that were the major cities and towns. Not every single element of the map, roughly around eight to 12 key locations per realm.

And I named every one of them.  The way I named them, different probably to how other people name them? I don't know, a hundred percent for sure. I've read a little bit about how people do it. I did reflect a lot on how, city planners, town planners have named things historically, or name things. Now, some countries around the world, you know, in the inner cities, there's a first Avenue, second Avenue or fourth street and fifth street, main street, very simplistic naming like that.

And more detailed as you might go out into the suburbs. Or there's very clear patterns named around historic figures. We have tree types, animal types, bird types, colors,  there's just so many ways that individual streets are named. And then there can be North pine street, South pine street, and variations like that as well, where the street might've been divided by something such as a river or stream. I think those principles we're pretty comfortable with  so I didn't want to necessarily veer from that, but cities and towns can be different. Some are really clear, some not so.  Washington, we kind of understand where that was probably named from, , Adelaide in Australia named after a queen.

I identified not 100% similarity to earth countries, more regions and ethnicities possibly,  more regional or location based. And I would say this realm, I want to use this type of linguistics. And I used a website online, which gives you words in other languages.

that was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed doing that because what you would do is you might put in something like Lake. So if you think of a town called Lakeside or a city called Lakeside, how would I rename that potentially? So I put in Lake or Lakeside into this site. And if this particular realm that I was writing about, I had defined as I wanted to use South Asian languages  to create those names, then I would look at the groupings of names that were generated by this website. And there would be some which just resonated with me and then I would build a name from that. And that's how I did a lot of them. And what it helped me to do was give it added meaning to what that town or city might be called.

Yeah, it's in the middle of the forest. So it might use a  derivative word of wood or tree or Bush or forest and something from that. That gets challenging of cours., there's 10 realms tomorrow. Um, the main land or the Midland called Dharatan and I didn't want,  everything that's beside a river to be called river or Riverside in another language.

But I used those sorts of derivatives to build it. I had a lot of fun with it.

There are name generators sites for places and people. I chose this method to do it.  Once I laid out all the names, it helped me build a little bit more history for  the world and in my Wiki that I have, where I try to maintain all of this knowledge so I can keep up with all the data.

I would have notes in there. I identify what was the capital, what wasn't, they're all drawn into the map. The core map I have has all of them. The map that we've produced for book one, doesn't have them all exposed. It has all of the realms, but it doesn't have everything exposed. Whereas future books will uncover more of the names of places as we need to. And that way it doesn't get too complex, particularly in print book format, it can be pretty small. I think over time, I'll put electronic versions up on the website so that people can see them in a bit more detail. I've worked with one designer initially on the map and now introduced a second designer and we've modified that map slightly, and we're going to expand on it and I want to be able to print things, stick them up on my wall. I do that as part of my methodology. I have the book cover or covers now printed up on the wall. I have a color map there so I can refer to it regularly in my studio.  that added a level of another layer,  to the, the world.

But I didn't spend then months and months and years and years, it feels like it. But going into one city , and mapping out the whole city. The way I've worked is where I'm writing now I've added more detail at that point, and that was probably partly because I wrote book one as a pantser. So the terminology of pantser and plotter. Plotter is someone that outlines the novel upfront and then writes it. And the pantser is someone that operates more by the seat of their pants. As far as the story in book one, mostly I was a pantser and in these edits and moving into book two, that's changing, I'd be a hybrid now of the two, but it's certainly early on I was definitely a pantser. And while I did the world building to the level I did, there are some people that would go to much further degree.

I mentioned Tolken, how he wrote languages first and then had all these concepts before he did his story. That's going down an extreme end of the scale. So I had a fair bit of detail. I've added detail as I went, and it's a layering effect. So when I am in a town the story comes alive in that town. I start to identify things and name things, and I record them not only in the words and writing, but I make sure that I start to record them in my Wiki so I can refer to them again.

And also if I'm going back over this story, if I find myself using the same words and phrases to describe roads and gates and buildings, town on town, city on city, I can identify that, more easily by looking at them outside of the story.  that's the next level of layering that I've added is as a character interacts with the space around them.

I make sure that I paint that picture in more detail. I add more levels and layers so that hopefully the reader then will be. Oh, now I'm in this place and I understand how this is different to the others. It means that you're always uncovering new things,  which is exciting when you're writing particularly the early drafts, and then as you start back editing that early draft, you can crystallize that. Which is different to what I'm doing with the final edit, I'm not doing a lot of that world-building  I'm doing work on the story and the dialogue. So there is quite a difference there, and I think that's why the first drafts can be a lot of fun because you just let it all come out.

But I wouldn't be able to get that to come out without the early work of the map, or certainly it would be less coherent, I think. Now going into book two and future books, this part of the world has already got lots of layers and I can distinguish elements quite easily. And I don't have to do the same amount of world building in the story either.

So a lot of the future books, it was just going to be a lot more story and a lot less world-building except where we go into places we haven't been before, or we spend more time in a town or a city. And again, I haven't necessarily detailed every component of it. But there will be a couple of locations that I know in book two, I'm going to want much finer granularity in my mind. Oh, sorry. In the understanding, in my mind of that location. So I will be likely drawing a detailed city map, you know, placing the key buildings and adding that additional information. My plan is I'm going to do it as I'm going through, and as I need to. That's what I wanted to talk about in the backstory section this episode, if I added a little bit more detail for you on how I do it, a little bit of,  information about naming, how I got about the names.  when you get to read the book, you'll probably see a bit of that influence in it, when you see particular styles to names, that's about all I've got for this episode.

Outro

[00:19:57]

Thanks for listening to this chapter of the In All Jest podcast. For the show notes and more about this podcast, visit kingdarryl.com/podcast. You can contact me through that site and find me on Twitter @ireckon. If you enjoy the show please tell others, share my posts and review it on your favorite podcast platform. Till next time.