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It’s November once more, and this time a year ago I made a start on writing my Great Folkestone Novel. Or rehashing Get Carter, depending on your viewpoint. I spent 30 days, much to the disgust and envy of my girlfriend, hammering out an average of 1,666 words each day, typing diligently into my Blackberry as the tram rattled me to and from the office.


 

Mind you, there’s a difference between typing and writing, and although I produced a lot of words, and a semblence of a plot, or several plots, I had trouble tying it all together, and the fact that I couldn’t keep the names of my rather small cast straight suggested I wasn’t really doing it properly.

 

So for the next eleven months, I’ve dallied with trying to rewrite it, without ever really putting the grunt work into doing so. I’ve written occasional opening chapters, researched some interesting characters from 1930s China (did I mention that half the Great Folkestone novel is set in contemporary Hong Kong?) and realised that a netbook is not the perfect shape to type on whilst aboard a speeding tram. But I didn’t get round to redrafting the novel.

 

Today came, and a reminder email from NaNoWriMo to guilt me, and, fresh from my trip to Taipei, I pounded out a start to the novel on the way home. And was then aghast to find I’d only produced 800 words, and had to hunker down for another hour to get up to the requisite 1,666 average to hit the magical 50,000 words.

 

This is a rather artificial goal to write towards, but at least it makes me write, and I’m trying to make sure that it doesn’t make me pound out bilge just for the sake of a wordcount. But we shall see. I have the skeleton of a cohesive plot, salvaged from last year’s attempt and blended with everything I’ve read in the last year. I’m not sure whether a cocktail of James Ellroy, Charles Stross and Alexei Sayle will turn out to be something wonderful or something execrable, but I’m hoping it will be something.

 

Unlike last year, it will be open for review as I write it. This will make it harder to pop back and edit in fine details if I need to later on, which is the problem of writing sequentially when not every single bit of the plot is locked down, but perhaps that will encourage me to think ahead. Or redraft more sneakily. Every day, come hell or highwater (or an interruption when my parents visit and whisk me away to Macau) I’ll be posting more online. Let me know if you like it or not…

The story begins here

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