I now tend to write scene by scene rather than chapter by chapter. I imagine each scene as something from a television show or film. What is cohesive? What sticks? What camera angles? Who do I focus upon? When do I shift focus?
These thoughts tumble into a rough plan in my head. I play with this plan, not yet having started to type.
When I do eventually type I tend to just vomit the words out onto the screen, trying to avoid editing within the moment. It is only when I return to undertake the next piece of writing (a day or so later) that I read my previous words out aloud, shudder, and then start correcting them. This then gets me in the mood for the next chunk of writing.
This a relatively recent approach to writing, perhaps in the last year or two.
I thought that I would share with you an example of one of my first drafts – unedited. This is the first draft of the first scene in the back story that I am now adding to my most recent novel.
Bubbles belched up from the crimson depths of the Carnal Pool. The whoosh and plop of them surprised Elder Gaudos who up till now had been composing an ode to epistemology. For reasons only known to himself he felt that such a work would impress widow Gumption. Maybe even achieve an invitation to tea. Elder Gaudos was not known for insight where women were concerned.
‘Gods be praised!’ he whooped in an accent three decades from Lipton. Then, arms raised and waving, the old man raced sixty yards down one length of the red waters and then a further hundred yards down the next. His target was the office of the Pool Wardens, of which he himself was one. ‘A birthing! A birthing!’ he cried.
‘Are you quite alright?’ queried Elder Kadmeos. He limped from the office door, delivering his sternest frown.
‘Bubbles. An absolute fountain of them. Exploding from below. Plop! Plop! Plop!’ Gaudos huffed and puffed happily as he gabbled. Nevertheless he managed to express each ‘plop’ with succinct resonance.
‘Exploding eh?’ sneered Kadmeos, scanning the now calm crimson waters. ‘Plop, plop, plop.’
‘Veritably,’ grinned Gaudos.’Could even have been more plops.’
Kadmeos sniffed, filling the sound with as much disdain as he could muster.
‘OK then, let me witness this plopping frenzy.’ Kadmeos rolled his eyes as he spoke. ‘And you’d better not be wasting my time. I have a pile of paper work that needs seeing to.’
This last comment was not particularly true. Rather it was an agreed-upon fiction that had been passed down through generations of Pool Wardens to justify all manner of derelictions of duty. Elder Gaudos gave it no thought. Why should he? One day he too would choose to utter those words and what a great day that would be. Gods be praised.
The two men hurried back to that part of the Carnal Pool where the bubbles had first erupted.
‘There!’ exclaimed Gaudos, pointing at one patch of crimson.
Kadmeos shook his head. ‘Nothing. I see nothing.’
‘Sharpen your eyes, man! A shadow. A shadow. Beneath the waters.’
Once more Kadmeos shook his head. This was preposterous.
Something round emerged from the waters.
Kadmeos cursed. ‘Get the damned gondola!’
Gaudos peered across the pool to where the small black boat floated moored to one of the great marble pillars that held up the Dome of Blood. His eyes widened slightly. There was no way that he would make it there in less than a minute. And then he would have to steer the damned thing back across. No that was not going to happen. A birthing go go mighty wrong in such a time.
Kadmeos heard the splash as his colleague dived into the crimson waters, his robes discarded.
‘Don’t go drowning you old fool,’ he yelled, his face screwed up. ‘I know you were once a pearl diver but you were younger then. A lot younger.’
But Elder Gaudos could still swim. Verily so, reaching the floating form in very little time. Then, with powerful strokes, the old man dragged the figure back to the side of the pool, a pink froth trail following.
‘Here,’ commanded Kadmeos, leaning over the poolside, his hand stretched out.
Gaudos heaved the form up out of the water towards his fellow Elder. Kadmeos stumbled as the weight transferred, narrowly avoiding a watery tumble, and with great effort pulled the naked young woman up onto the pool side.
‘That she is,’ agreed Gaudos.
Laying her gently down, Kadmeos fetched Gaudos’ discarded robes to protect her modesty and to keep her warm. Shade was a cold city and the waters of Shade, be they the teal of the canals or the red of the Carnal Pool, were crisp at the best of times.
What was that? Kadmeos asked himself as something caught his eye in the crimson waters.
‘Gaudos, back out there at once. Another birthing.’
Gaudos grinned and swam back. Even at almost eight decades he was a brawny man. ‘A marvel,’ Kadmeos muttered to himself as he watched his colleague power through the water. ‘Not very smart but definitely a marvel.’
‘This one’s a lad,’ called Gaudos as he returned.
A lad he may have been, but a strapping one indeed. It took all Kadmeos had to heave him from the waters.
Gaudos pulled himself out, his loin cloth sopping.
‘Quick, let us get them to the offices. Warm them up.’
Both men turned. The girl was now sitting up, the robes half fallen from her. She grunted frantically and tried to drag herself to her feet. Kadmeos rushed to her aid. Her eyes were wild. They scanned the vastness beneath the Dome. Fearful. Panicked.
‘You have nothing to worry about, lass,’ said Gaudos soothingly. ‘You’ve been reborn.’
Unfortunately at that moment all hell broke loose.