Phase Two: The Fear

Night Pictures has moved to phase two of writing.

Phase one is the what-the-hell-is-this? phase. No matter how much planning and outlining you do, you still really don’t know what the book is like until you start writing. So after five days I have a feel for it.

Phase two is the OMG-this-sucks! phase – the writing is terrible, nothing is happening, it’s all awful, I need to quit writing.

This is the tricky bit because you are worrying about stuff which doesn’t need to be worried out until later. On the first draft, you have permission to suck, and you have permission to write badly. That’s why it’s the first draft, and that’s why you edit the book. I suspect this is where a lot – if not most – people who want to write novel-length fiction get stuck. You get a little bit in, and things aren’t quite what you thought they would be, and you really want to be doing better, so you quit and try something else. Only you’ll get to the exact same point at the next attempt, and the next, and the next.

As with anything repetitious in life, it sometimes takes a while to realise what’s going on. Phase two of the novel will pass quickly and I’ll get to phase three soon enough. And phase three is the cool bit, the hey-I-love-writing! phase. That’s the bit to enjoy, before phase four shows up, for me, usually around the 60,000 word mark.

Phase four is the nasty one. I hate phase four. Phase four is the wait-I-have-a-better-idea-for-a-book! bit.

Human nature is so predictable, but at least I’ve recognised The Fear now and can happily keep on trucking.

Project: Night Pictures (missing persons, ghost towns and TV hackers)
Words yesterday: 3,017
Words total: 14,451/100,000 (14%)
Word to go: 85,549
Days to go: 55

  • Nice title.

    W
    Zephyr — a superhero webcomic in prose
    http://zephyr.warrenhately.com

  • I suffered from Phase Two syndrome for years, which is why it’s taken me this long to get a novel completed and sold! On the plus side, by the time I’d beaten it I’d already honed my chapter-level writing skills to a razor edge by endlessly revising those aborted openings.

    Fortunately I haven’t had a problem with Phase Four since I conquered Phase Two, but that may be because I’m in the middle of a trilogy and my focus is entirely on my current setting and characters. I’m not really the multi-tasking type when it comes to my writing – the project in front of me takes all my attention, so any moments of inspiration tend to be within the current work.

    Speaking of which – I need to go and have stern words with my certain of my characters about their blatant attempts to steal the limelight and derail the plot…

    EDIT – oops, signed in with Twitter whilst logged into Mal’s account. I hope he’ll forgive me!

  • I suffered from Phase Two syndrome for years, which is why it’s taken me this long to get a novel completed and sold! On the plus side, by the time I’d beaten it I’d already honed my chapter-level writing skills to a razor edge by endlessly revising those aborted openings.

    Fortunately I haven’t had a problem with Phase Four since I conquered Phase Two, but that may be because I’m in the middle of a trilogy and my focus is entirely on my current setting and characters. I’m not really the multi-tasking type when it comes to my writing – the project in front of me takes all my attention, so any moments of inspiration tend to be
    within the current work.

    Speaking of which – I need to go and have stern words with my certain of my characters about their blatant attempts to steal the limelight and derail the plot…