So… I started off with a challenge to myself, that when I was stuck on a project, stressed, or just looking to write for no rhyme or reason. It came with a simple set of seven rules to follow, though more like guidelines. So three entries in, I broke a significant portion of them. Here’s the guidelines, they’re fairly simple
- No editing
- No revisions
- Quality, verbosity, fidelity, consistency – none of these words apply
- Quick and short
- Move on
So, the third entry is here, it went badly. I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, I just fancied writing a battle scene, a few hundred words, but I lost control of the narrative.
Now if it had just ran a bit long, maybe a few scenes instead of one, I wouldn’t have been so annoyed, but I just kept on complicating it. It bugs me that it’s so bad, but on the basis it was meant to be a quick thing, none of the major parties involved have names, they’re kingdoms, they’re armies, but no mention of which kingdom or army, other than to belong to a main character or two.
There’s little in the way of overarching arcs for any of the characters, at one point there’s the time jump I discussed and characters change, I tried to layer it in that things in the time jump, but I didn’t spend a lot of time on the time jump, it was meant to be a short cut to a finish (there are more words after the time jump than before… so genius).
Then came the research, for the actual battle, I studied quite a bit, looking at battle formations, trying to understand how battles start and escalate, strategies and so on. It will be good practice for NaNoWriMo in 47 days (at the time of writing), so that’s my justification.
I borrowed heavily from Battle of Thymbra in 546BC, which fit the narrative somewhat, (weaker force turning over a stronger force, a sense of guile). Didn’t lift it whole, but it got me started. If you’re interested in battle tactics from ancient history, I highly recommend The Art of Battle, it’s going to be a site I use heavily in the future.
I’ve not actually re-read the piece, I know it’s faults, the disjointedness, the extremely light detail, poor characterisation, limited characters, the grammar is appalling in some place.
What I wish I’d done before posting was rewrite it, set out more reasoned pacing, put a bit more work into the magic, (I’d intended magic to play a bigger part in the battle, but I’d not really laid the groundwork for how magic works in that world until the very end), I might have featured more deaths in the battle, or at least more injuries, (though I was trying to avoid the Hollywood cliché battle where from the first moment it turns in to a chaotic series of one on one battles – because that’s not how wars work, however good 300 and Gladiator might look).
I’m just not very happy with it… I get this way sometimes, and usually I don’t share it, (the story or my feelings on the subject), but I’m trying to turn over a new leaf. Also trying to learn from my mistakes – and the mistake here was simply not reigning in the story, and keeping to the goal. It’s an important lesson to learn, otherwise all pacing will be lost in a novel.
Of course professionals have editors to help with this, cutting out the waste, making sure there’s a good narrative structure, consistency within it’s internal canon, grammar and spelling – but I can’t afford an editor, and my writing isn’t good enough yet. I am still an aspiring writer at the end of the day.
Anyway, I’ve vented my disappointment enough, these things happen – next time will be better, and more fun. Might give it a try this weekend while I’m housebound.