Archive for the ‘Kipper’s Pride’ Category

There is the idea in the writing community that the reader fills in the detail. That’s part of the deal they pay for. We respect their ability to understand without having to be told everything.

Right now, as I sit in bed, computer at fingertips, bent over virtual manuscript, I find myself hoping the (young) reader will fill in the backstory/ending/you-name-it and finish off Kipper’s Pride on my behalf. Or is that me expecting more from them than they bargained for?

I’ve chosen to write in Jervan’s voice in the present tense, and his mum’s disappeared from their holiday caravan – you don’t go reviewing your life story at times like this or thinking too much about what’s going on back home with your mates. Jervan does think painfully about his dad’s post-traumatic stuff because that’s (nearly) integral to the plot and is also a consideration in judging how much they tell him about what’s happened to mum. But not his band at school, his normal routine, his bedtime rituals and homework tantrums!

So how do I fill out the back story, make him fully rounded? Have I managed it to any acceptable  degree?

Right now, as I near the end of the drafting and start thinking about the editing process, I’d so like it if my young readers would shoulder the mantle and fill out all the gaps for themselves. Maybe the mention of Jervan’s band at school will trigger their own ideas of which kind of music they’d be playing. Maybe mentioning the row he’d get into if he’s late home will trigger their own experiences of dreaded parental encounters.

I’ve allowed Jervan to drift in his mind into a school scenario when he goes into a comatose-like experience after finding his twin has also gone missing. That’s shock. He’s dissociating. And he draws on his strengths soon afterwards to work out what he must now do, so his strengths have been dropped in, so to speak, at an earlier point. But this book is racy and immediate, because he’s forced to do everything in his power to find his mum before she turns up dead like others in the town. So the readers will probably have to make up some of the background that’s missing, though I’ll also look for opportunities to clarify things as I edit. But have I done enough in general, I’m asking myself?

Oh, and that’s when I edit – there’s still that ending, which I would prefer the reader to invent for me but which, realistically, they’re going to expect me to provide or demand their money back.

 

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This morning I got back to the novel I’m writing for 10s-12s, called (for the moment) Kipper’s Pride. Most mornings, I open the MacBook Air while drinking two mugs of tea in bed, and scribe another several hundred words. That doesn’t sound a lot but it mounts up – 25,000 words to date. Probably half way through. So I thought I’d tell you about it.

I had two initial struggles with this story.

1 The plot struggle

The plot proved tricky just before Christmas, simply because I didn’t plan a chunk of it. Going back to outlining was the answer and I’m back in business.

2 The point-of-view struggle

What proved harder to establish from the start was the POV. I always knew it would be the 15-year-old boy Jervan Krasniewski’s story. He has a twin, he has an English-Polish family, Dad is off sick from the army, having suffered something traumatic in Afghanistan, and the twins and Mum have gone on holiday to Seahouses without him. Mum disappears, and the story is the search to find her. So far so good.

Seahouses: setting for Kipper's Pride

I started writing this piece of fiction in the 3rd person inside Jervan’s head (limited perspective). The first part was Very Highly Commended in the UKAuthors Opening Words 2009 competition (results were only announced in September 2010). Not too bad considering the overwhelming number of entries they had which held up the results for so long.

But straight after submitting it, back in Dec 09, I had rewritten the existing chapters in the first person because I wasn’t happy with it. And that’s when I found Jervan’s voice and personality. It’s so much easier to make him authentic this way. While I’m writing, I’m him. So this is the version from which the opening chapter won the WriteLink Novel Beginnings first prize in the summer, so I guess something is indeed right about it.

One other issue

There’s been one other major decision so far. Was it OK to change viewpoint for a while half way through?

This follows the chapter where Jervan finds his sister has gone missing, too. It really makes sense at this point to backtrack to the day before, when Mum disappeared. I need the reader to know how she disappeared because this offers so much more tension when Jervan has to up his game to solve everything. Knowing she’s alive doesn’t spoil anything now, but knowing what might happen if Jervan doesn’t succeed changes everything.

I think the only way to do it is in the 3rd person from Mum’s point of view. This will only be a few short chapters (or even one long one) compared to the Jervan strand that is the major part of the book. But I think it will be worth it. I can always rethink, if it doesn’t work.