You know, that thing I like to do after posting a story which ate my brain for a while.
Every Little Counts started off with a what if scenario – what if Sam came into the station one day and Gene was quitting? Most of my stories start off with what ifs. What if Sam lost his memory? What if Gene got bashed up by thugs? What if Sam was a serial killer? It’s a technique which has served me well – and I’m fairly sure it’s one that most writers utilise.
The quitting dialogue came to me very quickly and I wrote it all down in a frenzy. The next question came - ‘why would Gene quit?’ and the only answer I could come up with was ‘he wouldn’t, unless he was forced.’ The next thoughts were, of course, why he was being forced and what would happen because of this. And then I got the whole private investigation agency idea into my head (based in part on that section of Forgetting Tomorrow where they go ‘investigating’ on their lonesome,) and it wouldn’t let go. As much as I kept telling myself I was supposed to be NaNoing, the story grabbed hold of me and didn’t relinquish until I’d finished.
I started writing November 4th, commenced again November 9th and finished my first draft November 16th. It came as third person limited from Sam’s point of view. This wasn’t a conscious thing – I think it might just be my default setting. The story is split up into ‘scenes’ which are all 1000+ words long. It started as an accident and became something I wanted to continue. I’m very much a writer who aims for specific word counts, but I will be flexible if I need to be. Luckily, I found that all of the scenes I wanted fell into those word limits fairly easily.
I had written 3,500+ words, some of which being dialogue I thought really worked, when my hard drive died and I lost everything. I was really gutted. I wasn’t nearly as distraught about my NaNoWriMo entry, and the fact that I was still writing this story the day after the hard drive’s death suggested to me that I had to rewrite those missing words. I tried to write as much of the original dialogue as I could remember, but I’m fairly sure a few lines I liked got lost along the way. Still, I managed to make it up and suddenly I had 5000+ words within 2 days. I could tell this story was going to be relatively long by my usual standards, but I didn’t quite anticipate almost 17,000 words. I wrote two other stories whilst working on this one; The Too, Too Fragile Mind and The Two Deaths of Gene Hunt.
My plotting was very involved. It went something like this;
[The warehouse is pretty!]
[They have no cases.]
[They have a case and it’s dull.]
Thrilling and descriptive, yes?
I’ve discovered I work better having a very basic idea of what I am doing next rather than having a specific point I have to write towards. The words tend to come easier. This isn’t to say that I didn’t think about specific ideas. I knew I wanted a measure of parallelism in the story. There are a few elements which are repeated throughout the narrative for certain reasons.
I mostly wrote in a linear fashion, but there were a couple of scenes I wrote in advance – namely the scene I had written the day after my hard drive died – where they’re working on the stairs, and the scene where Sam tells Gene he’s his best friend. There are some scenes I worked on which were omitted, either because they didn’t fit the main story arc, or because I didn’t think they worked very well on any level. There are also a couple of scenes I went back and retroactively added after I had completed my first draft. I hope it isn’t too obvious which ones they are.
I’d be lying if I said that this wasn’t in some part a Sam and Gene love story. It is. I admit it. But it’s not a sexual love, which is why I don’t think of it as slash. There’s never one moment in the story where either man thinks of the other in a sexualised manner. They even have their hands all over each other in three specific moments of the story, and they’re still not compelled. I tried out a scene where they were sexually attracted to each other, to see what it was like. Having it as slash didn’t work dynamically. They were much better off as non-sexual friends and partners. And I don’t know, I feel like it’s a better story having the tension and affection between them be non-sexual – but others might disagree.
Because it’s a Sam and Gene story, I do a real disservice to the other characters. It’s difficult writing an ensemble piece, which is why I have neglected from doing so as much as possible. The other characters are still important, they’re simply very much in the background. Along with having canonical characters in the background, there’s a group of characters I’ve previously created filling out the story, and a couple new ones too. Tosh Preston is a character I made up in No Burden Is He to Bear. Clara has appeared in several stories and originated in Give and Take [Gene’s wife exists in canon, but not this specific characterisation.] And of course, there’s Marlowe who I made up a long time ago - quite possibly in Forgetting Tomorrow - and bring out whenever I want to allude to other members of either CID or the police force.
The title is from the New Order song, which has such lyrics as;
Every little counts
When I am with you
You make me feel so good
I never felt so new
I saw you long ago
Though you never let it show
Every little counts when I am with you
But the beginning of the song is actually what inspired me;
Every second counts,
When I am with you
I think you are a pig,
You should be in a zoo…
And no, it’s not an especially cheerful love song by any stretch of the imagination (well, the music is; not the full lyric), but I still think it fits, even though it’s a mostly cheerful story. The song came on when I was writing and the title felt right. It’s a story about little moments, about little interactions. It’s about little things counting. And I love the word ‘little’, it’s underused and underrated.
I think it’s fairly obvious that I wasn’t going for realism in this particular adventure. I love realism, but sometimes you just want to write a story. You want to put characters into an extreme situation and see how they react. I very rarely aim for complete realism because I have that in my everyday life. It’s mostly boring. I’m writing for a show about a time travelling cop – just how much realism could there be? Still, I’ll admit that this would have a tick next to “highly improbable”, if some sort of list existed to measure such things.
I really enjoyed writing Every Little Counts. It deadened my feelings of immense failure where NaNoWriMo was concerned and gave me some confidence that I wasn’t completely lost when it came to putting pixels to screen.
That’s the story behind the story. I’m looking forward to spending the next couple of weeks tackling my martianholiday prompts and non-LoM fiction.