Friday, July 09, 2004

In which an author goes on about a book in progress...


So I've transcribed all of Anansi Boys to date. I finished all the stuff I've already written, and I typed out all the scenes I've written that come after that point in the plot. The only thing I haven't yet typed is the scene where Fat Charlie goes to see his solicitor and is attacked by seagulls, which I may still use in some form. (This was the one I mentioned some weeks ago writing in order to realise I didn't need it.)

Normally when I'm a bit over half-way through a story I find myself stopping and working out everyone's route to the end of the story. I know the people a lot better than I did at the start and the infinite number of things that could have happened on the way to the end have normally reduced themselves down to a manageable number of possibilities.

On the basis that I've already written 60,000 words of the book, I know this is going to be longer than I thought it was when I started. I had wanted it to be Wodehouse-length or Thorne-Smith-length, say about 75,000 words, on the basis that comedies should not wear out their welcome. How much longer than that ANANSI will turn out to be I have no idea.

When I was writing Sandman there was always a point where I'd call Karen, my editor, and say that I thought a storyline was going to go a bit longer than I had expected, and she'd say that that was fine and not to worry (or, in the case of Stardust, that she supposed they could in fact make the last part 64 pages instead of 48).

Which is an odd way of saying that I have, really, no idea how far into this book I am. I know more or less what has to happen next, and then I have a pretty good idea of the various things that need to happen in the last couple of chapters, in terms of the ultimate disposition of the various characters. On the other hand, there are a couple of chapters coming up in which anything could happen, and probably will.

I was hoping to be done with the first draft by the end of August, and I suppose I still am.

(I've given the book so far to a few people to read, and have asked them all how far through the book they think they are. Replies have ranged from an optimistic 2/3rds to a panic-inducing 1/3.)

Seeing that the last few years have been about making lots of small things that have then appeared, I'd forgotten the weird experience of writing a long prose work that no-one gets to see until it's done. I'm in the sort of mood where I'd love to publish it as one of those serialised books, like "The Green Mile", although I treasure the ability to go back in the text and change things too much actually to give it up and do it.

And I'll try and answer some questions and so on next post.