Sunday, 27 December 2015

A Return to Neverland

Jason Isaacs as Captain Hook (from the 2003 live-action film) whirls around with his hook held aloft, mouthing "HE'S BACK!"



Normally at this point I would begin a long spiel telling you how I never meant to let The Neverland drop but ~things got in the way~, and then explain in great detail what those things were and how crazy it all was, and then what inspired me to pick the project back up and begin working on it again. But that’s pretty boring for you to read and it’s not that interesting for me to write either.

So to cut a very long story short, a few weeks ago I started working on The Neverland again, starting with some notes which I wrote on my iPod, which snowballed into plot development, character ideas and filling in some holes which have been plaguing me ever since I first attempted this story for NaNoWriMo over three years ago. (God, it’s been a while).

Here’s a brief summary of what I’ve achieved since I picked The Neverland back up and dusted it off:
  • I’ve sorted out what happens in the climax of the story, which has been my biggest persistent issue with the plot. It employs some very handwave-y computer science and I’ll probably improve on it as I come to write that part, but I’m happy with the basic idea and it ticks all the boxes of what I wanted to do with the plot climax.
  • I’ve written up a detailed plot outline to replace all the scattered and conflicting notes that formed my outline before. (Going back over all my notes with fresh eyes also made me realise what a mess they all were – and how many little details had got lost or been changed over the course of writing the story).
  • I’ve also managed to tighten up the pacing, particularly towards the end. (Leave it to me to mess that up the minute I start writing, though).
  • I’ve added to my Character Arc notes for Peter and Wendy and also written a character arc for Tinkerbell and part of one for Tiger Lily. I still have a lot of work to do in terms of developing the story’s side characters.
  • I’ve drafted part of the “Saving Tinkerbell” scene, one of the climactic scenes of the novel. It’s only a few hundred words so far, but it’s good to get my ideas down for me to come back to and expand on later.
  • I’ve broken down the plot into a series of conflicts, which has really helped me to sort out the key elements driving each stage of the narrative and not lose sight of where the story is meant to be going at each point.
Lots of progress! In general I think that coming back to the story after a break has helped improve my focus, and I’ve been able to determine which bits are just cluttering up the narrative and get rid of them to tell a cleaner and more coherent story. That’s one of the things that is hard to do during NaNo; the goal is just GET TO 50,000 BY WHATEVER MEANS, so you throw everything and the kitchen sink at your story to pad it out, but not much of that makes for a good end result.

With that said, there are some things I’ve lost in the two and a half year break from The Neverland. I remember very little of my extensive research into BBS culture and late 80s internet and technology, which is going to take a lot of picking back up and revisiting. Like I said in the bullet points above, a lot of little details I’d planned on including when I started writing the story got lost or didn’t fit as it developed, but it makes me wonder what kind of a story it would have been if I’d stuck to my original plans for some parts. I read back over some of my old blog posts before writing this, including ‘A Blast From the Past’, in which I talked about how re-reading the novel Peter and Wendy had given me a new perspective on the original canon. Towards the end of the post, I wrote:
After re-reading Peter and Wendy, I think I have a better idea of how the middle of the story is going to go. I was always pretty sure about how it would start and end, but the middle has always been sort of up for grabs.
Unfortunately, I have no idea what I was referring to or whether the idea I’d had for the middle of the story has survived in the current version. Hopefully it has!

So, what next for The Neverland? I’m happy with the level of plot planning I’ve reached over the past few weeks. There’s still a lot I can do in terms of character development and research, but I think it’s time to take the plunge and start (re)drafting the story; I can figure out the rest of it as I go along. I have a specific plan for writing the story which I will reveal in another post in a few days’ time. Also, look out the day after tomorrow for my first Recommendation Tuesday of the revived blog!

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