Bob Moore: The Sequel

I hate deleting half written posts, but this time I had to. I had a post here that was talking about how hard of a time I was having finishing the sequel to Bob Moore: No Hero. But then I went and finished it. Ain’t that a kicker. That said, let’s talk about some of the problems I was having:

1) Characters weren’t cooperating

I’ve said before that I write organically. That means that I don’t script or plot out every point. At some point I’m going to post my notes from both the books so you can see how different they are (with Bob 2, I had a do a second set of notes for the last few chapters because I’d gone so far off script). But it also means that I can have all sorts of plans on how things will work out and then have the characters say, “Nope, not doing that.” As a writer, I can either force the characters to do what I want them to do, or let them be true to themselves and work around it (or change the plot to fit). This can be irksome but, as a writer, I think it is imperative to let the characters ring true. Anything else risks ruining the story for the reader. But that does come with its own pitfalls.

Case in point, at the end of Bob 2 there is a conversation between Bob and another character. I know what everyone’s motivation is. Bob doesn’t and the character he’s talking to doesn’t want to say. So Bob makes an assumption which I, as the writer, know is wrong. So, do I have him come to the right conclusion, have the character reveal their motivation, or just let it stand and hope the reader figures it out? I did the last but it wasn’t until I tried the first two and hated what I’d written.

2) Writing action sucks

They say a picture says a thousand words. That should give you some idea of what it is like to write an action sequence. In order for the action to feel “actiony” you need to write fast. That is, keep it flowing. Don’t spend a bunch of time on analysis and whatnot. Also, you need to keep your language clear and concise so that the reader doesn’t stumble over your words and have to re-read something to understand what is happening. Then you also need to remember exactly what is happening, how it happened, and the order. Don’t mess that up because if you do, the reader will go back and figure out what you did wrong (but he didn’t have the knife yet!). Now, don’t forget that if something sounds implausible, that’ll trip them up as well so make sure it all makes sense.  If this sounds hard, it is. Of course the end of a super hero themed book is usually filled with action.

3) Time

I didn’t have a lot of alone time when planning/writing this book. By “alone” I mean “time I can just think.” Night time after everyone goes to bed doesn’t much count as I’m usually writing or otherwise distracted. Driving with music does count. Anything where I can mull over the characters, situations, etc. and throw around all the different possibilities. I find that to be vitally important and if I don’t do it enough, I get easily stuck. When the family spent 2.5 hours on the road to a vacation over Easter, I got the last 1/4 of the book plotted and figured out in my head. After that, everything flowed better.

4) Resistance at the end

There seems to be a phenomenon that I didn’t know existed. Writers seem to find it easy to start a book but hard to finish it. I’ve only written one book before this one and it was a novella (only 35k words). That meant that the end was only like a chapter or two. I remember that resistance but with only a chapter or two, it only lasted a week or two. With this one, it was more like a month. Bob 2 is 25 chapters and an epilogue. No Hero, in comparison, was 10 chapters and an epilogue. The chapters in Bob 2 are also slightly longer on average (I think I tried for 6 typed pages in Bob 1 per chapter and 8 for Bob 2). Fortunately for me, I had a night of bad insomnia and knocked out the final 1.5 chapters and most of the epilogue at once. Buttoned it up the next day and breathed a sigh of relief.