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My Family: Taking Stock

If you've been paying attention, you'll know I've just completed the first draft of the opening three chapters of the novel My Family And Other Ghosts, and made early previews of them available as separate blog posts:

I did cheat and go back and tweak the first two chapters as I was writing the third, but only in a small way for consistency. Those blog posts all contain a personal photo of the primary location in the chapter, but there's one that's not yet covered that I'm going to revisit in a later chapter, which is Silbury Hill. So, above you can see a photo taken from the West Kennet Long Barrow looking down over it. That completes the set of important settings, for now, at least.

As an aside, I discovered a spelling anomaly that I'd missed until this point. The villages of East and West Kennett are spelled ending with two T's, yet the West Kennet Long Barrow has only one. Sigh.

So, what's next? Well, having explored how I want to tell the story, my primary settings, the major characters and the background details of the world (see: magnetic pole reversal), it's time to take stock. Things panned out differently to how the story had been settling in my mind, definitely to its benefit.

If you've read these chapters, coming in at around 10,000 words, then you'll know there's a lot of inconsistencies and oddness in what's going on, with plenty of loose threads dangling everywhere. My job now is to weave those threads into a satisfying narrative that's actually enjoyable to read. And therein lies the challenge.

I've made a few decisions already. The novel will be split into four sections:

  • Part 1: Chris. The ongoing story of Chris Parson's recovery from the traumatic event which has left him with a variable grasp on reality.

  • Part 2: Lisa. The story continues from the perspective of Lisa Parsons, giving a counterpoint to many of the casually misogynistic takes and events from part 1.

  • Part 3: Alex. Alex Parsons picks up the narrative and provides the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle that is the truth behind the Parsons family.

  • Part 4: The Parsons. The final part wraps the Parsons family up nicely with shiny paper and a pink bow on top.*

* Yes, you may have got the hint that I have no clue what's going to happen in part four yet. Well, I know how it will end, and I'm sure the first three parts will let me fill in the missing pieces.

I'm expecting part one to be the longest, part four the shortest, and parts two and three roughly the same size and between half and two-thirds the length of part one. We'll see.

The next stage in my process is to flesh out the details in part one, including a rough chapter breakdown on what's going to happen. I'll probably not stick to it exactly, but it gives me enough of a warm fuzzy feeling that I might be on track to turn this into a sensibly sized novel. I'm pretty sure already that my next three chapters will be as follows:

  • Chapter 4: A Weekend With Alex

  • Chapter 5: A Lunch With Lisa

  • Chapter 6: A Debrief With Erica

Once part one is planned, I'll then crack on and write it, depending on when I get feedback on the current draft of Transformation. As soon as I get that feedback, I'll be swapping back (at a natural break) to get that novel self-published, and the Tamboli Sequence completed.

That's it for now. I'll probably go quiet for a while on My Family and Other Ghosts, unless I find I have something interesting to say.

[Update 22-Nov-19]

OK, I've made the first pass attempt at a breakdown of the novel, with a chapter structure for part 1, so thought I may as well share it. That way I can look back and see how wrong I was.

You'll see I've renamed what I've already written, and I'm sure it won't be the last time. I think this gives the space for the story to breath without getting too boring along the way, and without giving any real spoilers.

And now...I guess I ought to try writing the next chapter...

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