Thursday, December 26, 2013
Christmas Ghost Story... December So Far
I've been meaning to update on my writing progress for a good while now... the short version is that I got over 50,000 words for November pretty easily and "won" NaNoWriMo again. The better news (which I'd already covered I think) was that I filled in all the gaps in my epic-length (over 400,000 words and counting) fanfic story Girl's School, and added a lot to the current section I'm on. I'm not confident about the quality, but at this point I'll be happy to publish everything I have and wrap it all up somehow.
I got very little written after hitting 50,000 words... I still need to finish the whole "Kahotep" arc, but when December hit I turned my attention to trying to write a Christmas ghost story for our Tai-Pan Christmas party. I had a general idea of a ghost story in which Grandpa righted some wrong in the past to help a ghost pass on to the next life -- nailing down the specifics took me a lot of time. At one point I wanted to add a magic tome to the story, just because Magic Tome. At another point I decided to incorporate the idea of a Mojo Hand -- a magic charm bag or spell bag. This morphed into a plan to create Mojo Bags for all of my friends to hand out at Christmas, which kept me very busy for the next couple of weeks.
Meanwhile my story wasn't developing very fast. I wrote a first scene in which Grandpa visited a meat store on a snowy Christmas Eve and talked to the proprietor, Al, and then noticed a ghost or the ghost realized he was a hero and started talking to him, and he pretended not to hear... the scene moved slow, the story was developing too slowly. I rewrote it twice more before I got to the current version, in which Grandpa barely notices Al before seeing the ghost and launching straight into his "I'm not doing that Christmas Ghost thing again this year!" speech. This worked much better because the focus of the story is Grandpa helping the ghost, and that speech is a funny speech so you're launched right into a funny scene and the beginning of the plot.
What all of this meant was that I wasn't able to give much background on Al... which probably wasn't needed anyway. Just one of those examples where background details are nice for the writer to know, but may not be necessary for the reader to know. If you do your job right, the reader will realize there's more to the story than what they're being told, and that makes the story more interesting and work better I think.
Scene two was another mess that I had to rewrite. I wanted to: A) tell the ghost's back story, B) explain how a Mojo Bag was assembled, or at least, how the one Grandpa was using was assembled, and C) include some jokes about Grandpa finding various items for the bag that were less than ideal. All of that was far too much to fit into the scene, and again the story was bogging down before it really got going. I managed to interweave the search for items for the bag with a shortened version of the ghost's back story, and that seemed to work, and then I worked in the bit about putting the mojo bag together as an aside after they were already in the car and on the way to the scene of the crime, so to speak.
The rest of the story I managed to assemble on Saturday afternoon before the party, and I was not at all confident that it worked, but the story went over pretty well so I guess I pulled it off okay. (And, as it turned out, we had three other ghost stories, all completed on the day of the party. Good last minute writing to all!)
I haven't written anything since, until today. I want to hopefully write a few more Grandpa Anarchy stories before the end of the year or maybe a Tai-Pan tale. I need to post the next chapter of my fanfic also. On the whole, I met several of my goals for the year but still, I could have done better. I'm thinking of new goals for 2014 now.