Imaginary bets

I stole the term ‘imaginary bets’ from Tim Powers. He used it in the talk he gave at Eastercon 2009, which was a true plotting masterclass; I offer as evidence the fact that Ken McLeod, who had just won the BSFA award for best novel, was taking as many notes as I was.

The Powers’ way isn’t my way: he plans far more meticulously than me. My recent experiences with the massive rework of Bringer of Light imply that perhaps I should be taking more notice of the great man’s wise words, but I don’t think I’ll ever go into the level of detail he does.

I am, however, using his technique of imaginary bets more extensively this time. These are possibilities, sometimes quite wild possibilities (I remember Powers saying something about some nuns and a Volkswagen…) which present themselves early on in the process of writing a novel. They’re great fun but they can also be a little distracting for someone whose brain isn’t as big as his is. There is a part of me – the same part that’s aware of writing to a deadline, and which propels me into t’garret pretty much every day whether I want to go or not – that says I should stop pissing about and actually start writing. And yes, I will, soon. But I think that letting the possibilities run their course now could save (re)work later. A lot of the issues in Bringer of Light occurred because I found a possible solution to a plot problem, and, aware of how fast the deadline was approaching, took that course blindly. Perhaps more thinking time before I launch in is in order.

The timing helps: I have forbidden myself to actually start writing Queen of Nowhere before Christmas. I can note down odd snippets (I already have two possible opening lines, though no chapter to seat either in) but the word-count won’t be kicking off until after santa’s visited. Looking beyond t’garret, this also removes some of the real-life stress associated with this time of year, as I’m not having to schedule long writing sessions that impinge on activities in the ‘real’ world; I just have to carry a notebook at all times and allow myself every possible opportunity to think – in the bath, in bed, in front of the fire or on a plot walk (or rather trudge). Ironically, the inclement weather might result in a lot of unexpectedly ‘free’ time coming up, given going anywhere right now isn’t practical. However, the rule still stands: the novel won’t be started before Xmas, and, if the imaginary bets are still coming in thick and fast, there’s no obligation to begin before the new year.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Designed by Martin Reed

@JaineFenn

  • Back from the pub hoping for something lively and thought-provoking from Radiohead on the coverage. No chance: all dirge.,
  • Had a v. sugary lunch, so should probably step away from the internet and get back to the eternal battle between Order & Chaos (i.e. work),
  • My favourite monkey, all in one volume. Sweet. ,
  • Still light at 10:30pm. Gotta love the summer ,
  • RT : how about a second fridge.. for people... wait no that's a bit dark..,