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2020: Week 11 (WFH #1)

So this is the point at which the blog will shift somewhat to focus on pandemic life. I’ve made the decision to keep my kids off school as of this week which in turn (though it wasn’t exactly planned that way) has resulted in my working from home for this week. To be honest, I’d be happy with this arrangement being a long term one: given the situation, I’m comfortable with physical distancing, I’m comfortable with maintaining an appropriate level of isolation, and I’m able to do my job just as well from home.

So far its working out pretty well. Without the need to get kids ready for school my morning routine is already much improved. I have time for writing, exercise and breakfast, and I can typically start work at 8am instead of 9am.

I also took the time to draft up a daily schedule for the kids (and how looking after them fits into my working pattern). We don’t follow it slavishly, but it’s helped to give some structure to the day. Broadly speaking the mornings are like this:

  • 8:30am – breakfast;
  • 9am – get dressed and do any homework or online assignments that have been provided by the school (at this point, schools are being directed to focus on teaching attending students, but a few of the Kinderbesten’s teachers have, wonderfully, found the time to post things online);
  • 10am – (roughly) short break time. The Kinderbesten have latterly started using this time to settle down with a documentary (it’s learning, but it’s also lounging!);
  • 10:30am – online learning. The Kinderbeast has been making good use of Khan Academy, while the Elderbeast almost always has work that can be done on Education Perfect. There are, however, numerous online education resources that are available.
  • 11am – crunch and sip time, aka a quick break and a healthy snack;
  • 12:30am – lunch and finish. The Kinderbesten obviously have the option to keep working if they want to, or if there’s still assignments to be done, but as long we we can get roughly 3-4 hours of learnin’ happening I’m satisfied.
  • Afternoon – craft/hobby time. For the Elderbeast this is PS4 time, but the Kinderbeast is enjoying playing with his LEGO, drawing, or doing whatever takes his fancy.
  • 2pm – walk time. I’m trying to balance education, recreation and exercise. One of the easiest ways to ensure we at least get some exercise, and don’t go completely stir crazy, is making sure we at least have a walk at some point in the day. A couple of times this week I’ve, reluctantly, walked the Kinderbesten down to the cafe to get coffee/hot chocolate (I made them wait outside while I ordered), but on another day we walked down the road and discovered that one of our neighbours owns a flock of sheep, which was much fun.

Obviously I’m continuing to work while all of this is going on, but I’ve purposefully scheduled my day into multiple short blocks of work (ensuring I’m doing my hours) instead of expecting to be able to work uninterrupted for 6 to 7 hours.

Adapting to change can be hard, but that should never be a reason not to change when you need to.

One good thing

My good thing this week is how well the Kinderbesten have adapted, and how invested they are in their morning work. They miss their friends, and obviously get distracted at the drop of a hat, but this transition hasn’t been as hard as it might have been largely because the Kinderbesten have taken it in their stride.

One bad thing

I have noticed how easily it is for habits to slip. After a few weeks of being very diligent in washing my hands, it’s all too easy to find myself doing just a quick surface wash, or forgetting entirely. Hopefully I can catch these occasions where I slip up slightly and keen reinforcing those good habits.

2020: Week 10

(March 9 – 15)

With my brain distracted by the impending Coronavirus pandemic, I’ve opted to edit the last chapter of the novel instead of writing new words for now. The last chapter was the one that I had the least idea about going in, but shaped up quite nicely as I wrote it out. Predictably the first draft needed a little surgery before I could be totally happy to leave it behind me (ready for the next draft) but the edit has helped me tease out the main themes of the chapter and strengthen the characterisation in a number of places. I’ve also added a few new bits here and there. Overall, a relatively positive writing week.

One good/bad thing

My brain is comparative pudding at the moment, consumed by the massive, sudden change we’re all facing in our lives. When everything’s bad, it’s hard to focus on what’s good. If there is a good, it’s that we can change, it is possible to change quickly; we can adapt and get through this. And I wrote a blog post about it if you want to read more.

2020: Week 9

(March 2 – 8)

Another relatively straightforward writing week, the highlight of which was finishing the current chapter of the [first draft of] the novel and moving onto the next one. I suspect I’ll follow the recent pattern: write at least half of the chapter to finalise where the story is going to go, then go back and re-edit the first bits before ploughing onto the end.

At this point I haven’t done any plotting for this chapter—at least on paper. It’s been coming together very nicely in my head, and just last week I saw how the specific theme of the chapter could work really well with its place in the novel as well as the plot/character developments that need to happen.

For a long while, this was set to be one of the more challenging chapters, but suddenly I’m pretty excited to get stuck in.

One good thing

My latest purchase from Audible has been A Little History of Philosophy, which is a great little run through the history of philosophy. I’ve been really enjoying it, and what I’ve learned from it so far is that most philosophers seem to be complete dicks.

One bad thing

One of my deficiencies as a writer is my sense of place. I often get far too into what my characters are saying, thinking and doing, and forget to tell my readers a little more about where they are. The result, at least from my experience of reading similarly thinly sketched writing, is that it’s hard for the reader to fully immerse themselves in the story; their imagination has to do extra work to figure out where they are, which can distract from the story itself.

While I don’t think I’ll ever be one to write rich, extensive paragraphs of descriptive prose, I do need to up my game a little. I often find that a few well sketched details are enough to convey a place, but I also (mostly from reading Hugh Howey’s work lately) can see how authoritative descriptive writing can really help settle the reader. If, as a reader, we can tell that the author really understands where we are then it, ironically, helps us to forget that there’s an author in the first place. As in movies, the best special effects / editing / music / etc are when you don’t notice them in the first place.

Now, I’m not too worried about all of this for my first drafts: those are simply there to get the story down, and the detail can be added later. But, at some point, I need to add enough layers that the reader can be comfortably placed in the story without having to stop and wonder where they are.

My best course for resolving this is to see what other writers do. However, I always want to try another option. In researching an earlier chapter of the novel I needed to check what a wartime New York bar would look like, so I started Googling photos.That gave me the visual reference I needed to add at least a little passing authenticity to that particular chapter. I reckon I could do this for other chapters when needed: find imagery that represents the scene I want to set and then, as a writing exercise, describe what I’m seeing in the photo. Hopefully this will me the background detail to add a little extra authenticity to my scene setting.

2020: Week 8

(February 24 – March 1)

This week I’ve been mostly preoccupied with editing the chapter I’m currently working on. The first draft is what takes me from the start to the end of the story (for that particular chapter). The editing process is how I find the best route between those two points.

One good thing

I watched Skyscraper this weekend (much fun!) and instantly pegged one of the supposedly good guys as a bad guy. It’s fun being able to spot the little storytelling tricks that reveal these things, but it makes me realise we need to explore new tricks.

On the other hand, a supposedly good character turning out to be bad is a frustrating twist if it comes out of nowhere. There has to be something leading to the moment, something that adds up even if we don’t see it at first.

So what are your writing tricks for shifting a character from good to bad (or vice versa)?

One bad thing

As you’ll gather from my writing updates recently, I’m still working on the right balance between plotting and pantsing. For now I’m getting by with a basic plot, first draft, then rewrite, but it’s hardly the most efficient option.

No answers yet, but watch this space.

2020: Week 7

(February 17 – 23)

I took a brief four-day detour from the novel this week and churned out two short stories! A writer friend of mine alerted me to a local short story competition (theme: beneath; word count: 1200; requirement: spooky) and then shared two excellent stories that he’d written for potential submission.

Inspired by this, I wrote out a story that had been bubbling around for a while. I somehow managed to write this in a single morning, and I think it may even be one of the better things I’ve written. However, I decided it wasn’t anywhere near spooky enough. Luckily I had a backup idea, which I wrote over the subsequent two mornings (and then did a final pass on the third morning).

This one is definitely spooky, and has such a nasty ending it literally had me tweeting in glee about how diabolical it was. Needless to say, that’s the one that got submitted, so wish me luck.

One good thing

My favourite podcast this week is Cautionary Tales, which is broadly an exploration of the psychological reasons why we often make bad decisions. However, the episode that most resonated with me this week was all about the way that obstacles (aka challenges) can be a good thing. The example of this that I often fall back to is how the shark in Jaws simply never worked the way it was meant to, forcing the filmmakers to adapt their approach to telling their story. As a result we got one of the best movies of all time.

One bad thing

I’m wrapping up this post as the world faces up to pandemic life, which makes my original topic making more productive use of my evenings) feel a little moot. 

At this point in time (March 22 as I write) simply using evenings to kick back, relax and stay sane in a crazy world seems more than good enough.

As I drafted this post originally (Feb 23) my concern was that many of my evenings were an untapped block of hours in which I could be editing stories, submitting them, working on podcasts, etc, etc.

How naive we all were back in—*checks notes*—last month.

2020: Week 6

(February 10 – 16)

Not much of a writing update this week. I’m continuing with the current chapter of the book, and experiencing no major roadblocks (even though the word counts haven’t been anything particularly flash). Perhaps most significantly, I was sufficiently into the flow of things by the end of the week that I sat down for a relatively rare Saturday morning writing shift, which helped bumped those word counts up a bit.

One good thing

This week I had the unique joy of sitting down to watch The Princess Bride with the Kinderbesten and seeing them both completely enthralled by it. Some of my favourite moments as a parent are getting to introduce the Kinderbesten to films that I have grown up loving. Sometimes, the particular film doesn’t gel with them for whatever reason; other times I find that I’ve given them a new favourite film to enjoy.

For me, The Princess Bride sits in a relatively small group of films that have huge cult followings, but that I didn’t quite ‘get’ on my first viewing, and yet grew to love over subsequent years. My initial bafflement with film was that I found it a little rough around the edges: some of the jokes didn’t quite land; some scenes finished awkwardly; there were moments that felt like they should have been ‘more’. Of course, after that first viewing I started thinking more about land wars with Asia, and only being mostly dead, and whether I would go into a swordfight using my left or right hand, or maybe both.

So my takeaway from The Princess Bride is that it’s more than the sum of its parts (even though some of those parts are very, very good). Not every moment of something needs to be perfect, particularly if the completed work is able to convey the sheer sense of fun and joy that something like The Princess Bride is able to.

One less good thing

Predictably, my beautifully structured morning routine has fallen into slight disarray with the start of the school term. I’m managing to get the writing in, but at the expense of exercising. 

I’m also finding that there are lots of wasted pockets of time. Even though my alarm goes off at 6am, it’s typically close to 6:30am before I sit down to write with my mug of coffee in hand. Then I usually have to draw things to close around 7am in order to rouse the Elderbeast from his slumber, get him fed, and drop him at the bus stop. Then the cycle repeats with the Kinderbeast.

I somehow need to get in at least 10 minutes for some exercise, and ideally a guaranteed 45 minute shift for the writing. I could get up earlier, but in all honesty 6am feels about right for my sleep cycle. I could definitely be a bit quicker with getting the coffee ready. 

The only other area of give is to encourage the Elderbeast to be a bit more self-sufficient in the mornings. At the moment I worry that he won’t make it out of bed and to school in time unless I’m there to keep prodding him forward, but he’s definitely capable of getting himself ready. In theory this could give me a clear stretch from 6am to 7:30, which is more than enough time for everything.

Wish me luck!

2020: Week 5

(February 3 – 9)

This week I started a brand new chapter of the novel: equal parts scary and exciting. After the problems and extensive delays I experienced with the previous chapter, I decided to take a slightly different approach this time. As always, I knew roughly what the chapter was about, what needed to happen, and how it should feel, but I wanted to go into it with a clearer idea of what should happen in each scene. My hope is that this would avoid the issue of me getting stuck at various points wondering what was needed to happen next.

To do this I broke down the chapter into 9 or so scenes; enough to guide me from start, through middle, and to the end. I then put those scene into a short bullet-point list of those scenes. And that’s about it. Minimal as this process was, it helped me grasp the structure of the chapter, showed me the *story* for that chapter, and gave me enough confidence to plough into it.

So I did.

I wrote the first two scenes. I set things up, got my characters in place. And then things proceeded to go off in a slightly different direction; same story, just with the emphasis shifted a few degrees elsewhere. After that, I decided to rewrite those first scenes so I could get things set up a little more cleanly, given where the story wanted to go. I’m still only a few scenes in but, yeah, it’s looking like the story wants to go in a slight different direction than the one I plotted out.

And this is all fine. Good, in fact. I don’t regard the time I spent plotting the chapter as a waste, even though that’s not going to be the story I end up telling. A plot is nothing more than a plan; one possible route to get you from start to end, and there are, of course, many different ways to get to a destination. In this case, spending that time working on the plot helped me get a feel for my characters and the world they’re inhabiting in this particular chapter (as well as their trajectory through it). It was that initial sense of familiarity that gave the story, and me, the confidence to find a different direction.

I’ve often considered myself a ‘pantser’ more than a ‘plotter’, even though I usually have a clear idea of where my stories are going to go. But perhaps it turns out I’m both?

(p.s if you can see the awesomely cute feature image up there and you’re wondering whose work it is, it’s by the very brilliant Karen Hallion)

One good thing

My good thing this week has to be the finale of The Good Place, which I think might be just about perfect (and I’ll do my best not to spoil it in case you’ve yet to see it). There are many, many things I can learn from The Good Place, but my biggest takeaway from the finale is that the main story of the series (as in the plot component) had already been wrapped up in the previous episode. That left the extended final episode with nothing to do other than conclude each character’s journey.

It’s fairly common for final episodes to not quite work very well. One theory on this is that endings are unnatural, so we generally have trouble accepting them unless a story has been conventionally structured (hard to do in a series) or, perhaps, if all the characters die.

By virtue of its premise, The Good Place had the rare opportunity to separate out its ‘plot end’ from the end of its characters’ journeys, leaving us with a perfect hour to say goodbye to everyone in a way that seemed natural and satisfying.

And I think maybe this is the key lesson: the characters will drive the story, but they will sometimes have a different ending than the story. It’s worth looking at those threads separately and seeing where they lead, instead of trying to tie them all together at the same time.

Something to fix

My thing to fix this week is time. Sort of.

One of the things I’ve learned about myself is that I don’t like being interrupted in the middle of things. One of the ways that this has affected my behaviour is that I generally won’t make use of small pockets of time: I won’t pick up a book if I only have five minutes of reading time (because I’ll want to finish a whole chapter). And, in the mornings, if I have less than twenty minutes of spare time I often find myself considering not sitting down to write.

This is, obviously, a not very productive approach—and it’s also a case of self-imposed barriers: I won’t get things done because I tell myself I don’t have time to get them done.

I’ve been thinking about how to fix this (mostly in relation to my writing). My mindset when it comes to writing is that ‘some words are better than no words’ and this has helped me through the mornings where the words aren’t flowing particularly well. One step is still a step closer to the finish line.

Coincidentally, while I was mulling all this over I saw a tweet from Neil Gaiman where he explained that he finished writing Coraline in 50 words chunks last thing at night. I believe I shall use that as prod when I catch myself thinking that 10 minutes isn’t long enough to write anything worthwhile.

2020: Week 4

(January 27 – February 2)

The novel is continuing to fall into place very nicely indeed. The formerly abandoned chapter is now finished (yay!) and has become one of my favourite chapters so far. It’s new position means it leads very nicely (thematically and emotionally) into the next chapter, which is a further bonus. 

With the new chapter I’ve once again enjoyed that excellent writerly experience whereby the words ultimately go where they need to go, but have taken some interesting and unplanned detours along the way. This, again, is why I prefer not to plot things out in too much detail: nothing more than a beginning, a middle, and a working idea of the journey in between, but enough space in between to let the characters find their own way if they want to.

One good thing

This week I’ve been rereading Dust, the third part of Hugh Howey’s excellent Wool trilogy. I dithered a bit with the first book, but then tore through the second. I’m keeping pace with this one, but it’s got to be said it’s a bit slower than the other two. It’s still an excellent read, but the plotting seems a bit less … compelling.

The principal issue is that not a great deal happens over the first 10 chapters: there’s one thing going on that proves integral to the plot, but it’s mostly scene-setting and catching up with wherever characters are in the wake of the previous book. Then, suddenly, a bunch of really interesting things start happening (and all is good again; except for the characters, for whom things are terrible).

So my main takeaway is this: when you have a handful of really good plot bombs to lob at your reader, don’t hold on to them. There’s at least one thread in Dust that could have kicked off much earlier, and would have helped carry the relatively unengaging first chapters.

That said, in Hugh Howey’s defence, the reason that those first ten chapters remain readable is that he’s an excellent writer who crafts strong, complex characters that you want to stick around with. So, I strongly expect he doesn’t need writing advice from the likes of me 😉

One bad thing

My ‘thing to fix’ this week was originally not going to be writing related. It was going to be a mini-rant about how hazardous YouTube is (in its capacity as a primary enabler for alt-right indoctrination) and, by extension, how much of a nightmare it is for parents like myself, given that Google provides only the most basic—and almost entirely useless—tools for controlling what your kids watch.

As a consequence, and mostly because I don’t know what else to do at this particular moment in time, I’ve taken a few dramatic steps towards limiting the Kinderbesten’s access to YouTube. For starters, I’ve blocked it by default on my kids’ device. I’ve mandated that there is no viewing of YouTube during the week. I’ve also set things up so that YouTube can only be viewed at other times via the living room TV (which at least have some capacity to monitor what’s being watched).

And that was going to be it. But then I happened to listen a recent episode of Our Opinions Are Correct, entitled “What’s The Matter With Star Wars?” Broadly speaking, this episode discussed how toxic Star Wars fandom has become. It also briefly addressed the reported interference of Russian bots into this space—you might recall the seemingly outlandish stories about bad reviews for The Last Jedi being blamed on Russia? Well, it turns out the strategy at play here is far more subtle and insidious than those news stories might suggest, and perfectly illustrates just how easy it is to gain a foothold within a relatively vulnerable and impressionable mind.

I’ve included a slightly edited quote below from the episode at the bottom of this post (from trans-activist Elena Rose Vera). What fascinates me about the quote is how it reveals the intersection of story and indoctrination. There’s a reason that Star Wars is so popular: it’s because it tells a universal story that we can all latch onto in some way. Almost all of us can find a way that it relates to ourselves. It’s the same with most pop culture phenomena: these things are popular because we can inject ourselves into those stories and, to an extent, either imagine ourselves living them or wish we were. 

So, when someone comes along and is able to tell you that ‘your’ story is being broken, or interfered with, it’s not too much of a stretch to suggest that such interference is a threat to yourself. And when we’re threatened we often fight back, but we prefer to do it with the support of other people who are ready to fight for the same cause as us. And once we’ve identified the enemy … well, it’s much harder to stop fighting and admit we were wrong in the first place about them than it is to carry on fighting.

Which is why something as seemingly trivial and inconsequential as YouTube is one of the things that has me most concerned as a parent, because big problems always have very tiny roots.

Elena Rose: [00:06:33] … These are widespread narrative power sources … where people are involved in story and also invested in what those stories mean about the story of themselves, and of the groups that they belong to and the people they identify with. And [right-wing agents have] clearly have figured out: … we can introduce some really poisonous discourse here and it will spread like wildfire and we will be able to sow the seeds of a lot of discontent and resentment and anger, and we can use it to sort of farm for angry young men who will lash out.

And they look at something like Star Wars and they go, this is something everyone is going to be watching. This is something everyone’s going to be talking about. And if we can inject ourselves into this conversation, we can essentially put out a signal across the world that will help us identify more people to bring into our movement by seeing who stands up and is ready to hurt people for this cause we’ve made up. We can say your childhood was destroyed by The Last Jedi and if you are with me, here are the people we need to harass and threaten today. And then you just scoop up all the people who say, “I’m in.”

2020: Week 3

(January 20-26)

The novel has been going gangbusters this week: I’ve beaten last week’s impressive 3,000 word spree by a clear 1,000 words (while also fitting in an additional thousand-word chunk of editing on the way).

I’m particularly gratified by this progress because it’s on the same chapter I stalled on—and ended up abandoning—last year. Turns out that swapping the offending chapter with the one that originally came after it has really helped it to find its place in the novel. It’s almost writing itself now.

I’m hoping I can wrap up the first draft of this chapter next week and then move on to a brand new chapter (scary/exciting). However, I’ll just be happy writing what I can while my start-of-year motivation is still firing away.

One good thing

I rewatched Mad Max: Fury Road with the Elderbeast over the weekend. It remains awesome: a truly balls to the wall road movie actioner, which also does a great job of putting its characters through a compelling emotional journey.

One of the things I admire most about this movie (other than the incredible blend of directing, editing and cinematography that makes the action sequences all but rip themselves out of the screen) is the minimal dialogue. For starters, our title character barely speaks during the first act. He’s barely a person—a presence: forcibly injected into a story that’s already happening (in fact, he’s a passenger in someone else’s story, but this is the way of all but the first of the Mad Max movies). Sure, there’s exposition later in the movie, but the vast share of the story is communicated through action and the audience just has to buckle in and stay along for the ride.

Even the main character of the movie, Furiosa (played to excellence by Charlize Theron), purposefully speaks only when necessary. Those around her are expected to follow her lead, not her instructions. 

Interestingly, the characters who do the most talking are the ones trying to maintain the apocalyptic status quo, alongside their unquestioning devotees who have developed a faith built, in large part, upon packaged, repetitive mantras and other verbal symbology.

Conversely, it’s telling that Max grows more communicative as the movie progresses. He begins (in his own words, ironically) as a broken man driven to survive for survival’s sake. However, by the end of the movie he sees a chance to redeem himself for failing all the others that were left behind. This requires him to communicate; to interact with those around him.

So what have I learned from this? For starters, this is a story that could almost certainly only work on the screen. Sure, you could do it as a graphic novel but I suspect the non-stop action panels would cease engaging the eye after a few pages. More, it’s an example of how silence can be used to build character—easier to achieve in a visual medium. Finally, it’s yet another good example of how stripping exposition to the bone can be the prompt that forces you to devise even more inventive ways of communicating what your story is.

One bad thing

One of the things I have struggled with over the last several years is that I’m not a very good reader. I find it hard to get into books, but very easy to get distracted and wander off towards other pursuits. As a consequence, I find I don’t read anywhere near as much as I need to, or even as much as I want to.

A small part of the problem is my nightly routine (spoiler: I only read at bedtime so this routine is a rather critical contributor towards my reading habits). I go to bed; I catch up on the various blogs that I subscribe to; and then I read. You might see the problem right away.

Catching up on blogs can sometimes take just a few minutes, or it can end up being a 20 minute rabbit hole at the bottom of which I’m suddenly too tired to read (or my brain is still expecting that constant zap-zap influx of information, and is no longer in the best frame for digesting a single, lengthy narrative).

The potential answer is simple: read first and browse later (and if I’m too tired to browse afterwards, well those posts aren’t going anywhere). I’ve managed to do it a couple of times this week, but it’ll take time to make it a habit. Hopefully the difference will start showing in my reading list for 2020.

2020: Week 2

(January 13 – 19)

It’s been a good writing week. I’ve taken full advantage of my extended mornings (free from having to prep the Kinderbesten for school) and written just over 3,000 new words for the novel. This falls comfortably above my target average of 600 words per day, though I expect I won’t be able to keep this rate up once the beasts return to school.

More importantly, this has very nearly brought me to the end of the chapter that I was a bit stuck on at the end of last year. I’ve stuck to my first draft philosophy—which is to just keep writing and avoid the temptation to fix potential problems—so I’m certain that a fair amount of rewriting will eventually be required, but I’m also happy with the random tangents that scenes have travelled down in some instances.

Once this chapter’s wrapped up I will be plunging straight back into the chapter that I abandoned last year. However, this time I’ve got a much better idea of where I’m starting, and where things will end up. In fact, I’m almost excited about getting stuck back in.

One good thing

The other week I talked about the very excellent Watchmen TV series. This week I’ll talk about the original graphic novel, which I’ve reread over the last two weeks. There are dozens of things I could learn from this rightfully revered comic, but the thing the moats fascinated me on this read was how Alan Moore managed to cram so much story into each individual issue?

I typically read collected volumes of comics, but something that often strikes me when I read individual issues is how rarely I feel that I’ve been given a satisfying chunk of the story. Doubtless, one of the great challenges of the comic is how to tell a story over a strictly limited number of pages; but my view is that each issue should feel like an episode of a series (or a chapter of a book), and not just one act.

While I haven’t fully digested this latest read of Watchmen, I can see that one of the tricks Moore employs is to focus each chapter (or issue) around one of the main characters. Each issue will also typically include a number of flashbacks (which can often be delivered very economically over a panel or two). There’s also a snippet or two of information to drive the main story forward.

Consequently, we get at least three things going on in the typical issue:

  • Whatever’s currently happening with the main character;
  • Some background to that character;
  • A progression of the main plot

There are almost always other things happening too: conversations between background characters; the additional texture added by the Black Freighter comic within a comic device. Equally, the detail in Dave Gibbons artwork, and even the layout of the pages at times, helps convey other story elements.

The result is that each chapter has limited plot progression, but as a reader you still walk away immensely satisfied due to the multiple threads of narrative combined presented in a richly detailed format in which barely even a frame is wasted.

This is why most mainstream stories will have at least an A and a B plot, but Alan Moore (with all due credit to Gibbons) has found a way of making all the plots in Watchmen equally important and thus indivisible from one another.

One bad thing

We may only be two weeks into the year, but I’m hoping to get my morning/weekly writing routine established as quickly as possible. As such I’ve been getting up at (or near to) 6am and doing as much writing as time allows. Over the last week I’ve noticed that my enthusiasm levels remain fairly high early in the week, and then take a noticeable dip from Wednesday on.

This is not ideal. My working theory is that I’m sufficiently refreshed from the weekend to hit the ground running on Monday, but the tedium of the general working week begins to grind me down relatively quickly and delivers a Wednesday slump. Once that’s passed I pick up again a bit, but I’d prefer to maintain a more even momentum during the week.

Obviously, it’s too early for a real pattern to emerge, but I’ll keep an eye on this and consider how I might give myself a little mid-week boost if it becomes an ongoing issue.

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