I’m nearly two-thirds of the way through reading Hild. Parts of it most definitely rock the thunderdome. Parts of it, well, let’s just say I took many wrong turns.
For example, I spent a couple of hundred pages using Hild’s mixed feelings of adopting a dog to reflect her essential loneliness. But for a variety of reasons, historical and character-driven, it just doesn’t work. So the dog is something I’ll have to patiently unpick from the overall weave. Then there are several mini-arcs in which I test various notions of point-of-view. In the rewrite I’ll have to settle on one method, which means the arcs designed to test the others will have to go. Some of the seventh century politics are just too bloody complicated for the general reader. (Why should most of you care about all the different Fiachnes, petty kings in Ireland who murder each other, even if the sons of Hild’s uncle’s enemy are involved? See, your eyes are already glazing over…) I think it’s interesting–I’ve had a blast working out how the politics of the whole isle are connected over the course of two or three centures–but I really don’t need it, not all of it–and there’s a lot, those people were scheming–to tell the story of Hild.
However, I’m reaching the point where many things were becoming clear to me, in terms of plot, characterisation, setting, technique, comic relief, relationships and so forth, and it’s around this mark that I wrote a very detailed outline for the rest of the book. So there shouldn’t be too many more sidetrails.
Also, pretty soon Hild starts having sex. Which will definitely, ah, perk things up.
Meanwhile, it’s pretty interesting watching her grow up, watching how what she notices around her reflects her development as a human being. (Also interesting, but less fun, watching myself get it spectacularly wrong here and there. Tuh.) But every now and again I read something I’d forgotten writing and I giggle (that is, I smile sternly and with a certain mature detachment), or a I gasp, or gag. In other words, every now and again I totally, absolutely rock the writing thunderdome!
It’s also been interesting watching myself play with technique. One whole page, for example, consists of just three sentences: one of 11 lines, one of 4, and one of 9. (I’ve talked before about experimenting with sentence-length.)
Anyway, by this time tomorrow I should be done with the first read through and have a preliminary understanding of the work ahead.
Then maybe I’ll post something involving fresh air…