Sunday, May 28, 2006

Taking Another Week to Plan

I've been re-reading a number of articles available online (see links in the sidebar) and also a couple of books on writing, revisiting concepts again and again, each time gaining a better understanding of the various pieces of the process and how things fit together. My focus is on goals, both internal and external. This relates to motivation, obviously, and the emotional arc of the main character, how to tie things together not just on the surface level of an action plot, but on a deeper level related to the inner life of the main character...what the character needs to learn, how he needs to grow over time, how he must change internally in order to finally solve the external problems and prevail during the final climactic scene.

In fact, I've been making so much progress with expanding and deepening my knowledge of these concepts, that I want to take another week to continue working on this. One of the ways I know this is helping is that I have compared some tables and notes I made back in October when I was first planning THE REFLECTING STONE with more recent tables I made this past week for both THE REFLECTING STONE and HARRY VS. THE TRUCK, and I've seen an enormous amount of growth in my understanding of how things are tied together. I don't want to short-change this growth by rushing too quickly into another draft.

Working with the two novels at the same time is actually helpful to me. Editing one and planning another allows me to have a fresh look at new material while revisiting material I know in detail from the recently finished draft. Working on the same concepts for both novels helps me to see the same concepts from different perspectives, to try out ideas and see how they play out in different contexts. I can see what is the same, what is different, what is constant or universal.

I will need to do some significant tweaking to the draft for THE REFLECTING STONE in order to heighten the sense of goal-directedness. I tend to slip too easily into a writing mode where things just happen. Although I knew this going in and made a substantial effort to counteract this tendency by establishing clear goals, there is still this quality that things sort of just happen and the main character is swept along. Those things that seem to just happen are great events for the novel, perfectly suited, but I need to edit the way I introduce these things to strengthen the sense that the main character makes decisions and wants to go in certain directions. Also, some things I handed to him on a silver platter that I now see he needs to fight for, seek out, win for himself.

I haven't finished the Goals/Complications/Resolutions Table for THE REFLECTING STONE as I had planned, but I have written several pages of notes that help establish a very solid foundation for the main character's goals. I feel I have finally answered clearly in my own mind some key plot questions, particularly pertaining to the ending of the story, that I had never fully settled on. So, I did accomplish a good bit of work, just not the exact items I had planned to do. Again, I need more time to do a thorough job at this point.

As for HARRY VS. THE STONE, I created as similar set of notes for that novel that have helped establish a much more solid foundation for the goals. As I mentioned in previous postings, I have already completed chapter descriptions for 37 chapters, the entire projected story, but still I must edit that material. In order to do a good job with that, to really get the quality of the work to where I want it, I realized I needed to satisfy some questions I had about motivation, emotional arc, what the character needs to learn, etc. So, now that I have this solid foundation, and it's definitely very solid compared to what I was working with just a week ago, I'll have the opportunity in this coming week to go back through these 37 chapters and do a much better job of editing than I would have done had I simply rushed through it this weekend to start writing immdediately. Again, another week will be very helpful. The effort spent on planning up front makes for a better draft, and saves a lot of effort in going back and fixing things later in the editing. I want to launch each novel in the best way possible to save time on the other end.

What has been happening these past days in terms of making progress in my understanding and skills is similar to what happened earlier in the process when I was developing THE REFLECTING STONE. At that time I saw the connection between theme and plot and used theme as a way to help select plot events. That certainly helped me to create much better outlines. What I am working on now is adding the dimension of character, of the character's inner life, internal goals, need to learn something, to grow and change. This is much more powerful stuff, although theme is obviously still an important concept. I'm really happy that I'm finally "getting it". Even though I've read all these articles and thought about all this stuff before, it is connecting for me on a deeper level now. Even though I worked with this in planning THE REFLECTING STONE, I see it much more clearly now. Real growth!

Wishing everyone else working on a novel, or contemplating how to write one, the very best!


Saturday, May 27, 2006

Coming Soon: TIPS & TRICKS

Sometime soon, as soon as I have the time for it, I'll be launching my new blog, TIPS & TRICKS, a place to share details of the process I use to write a novel.

In this blog, CHRONICLING THE NOVEL, I am reporting on my actual progress, sharing the ups and downs, the weekly goals, and what I'm learning or dealing with along the way. This blog is the "experience of doing it" blog. The TIPS & TRICKS blog will be more like a reference of generic information for writers, to-do lists, checklists, step-by-step explanations, examples of my tables, etc.

I'll eventually put links in postings in this blog to information I give in detail in the TIPS & TRICKS blog for those who want to read more about the how-to of it all. If I can figure out a way to provide files for download online through Blogger, then I'll also put sample files of tables, spreadhseets, etc., that I use there for download for free in case they are of use to other writers.


Understanding Better the Connections Between Internal and External Goals

As I take an extra week to plan my next novel, HARRY VS. THE TRUCK, focusing on internal and external goals, complications and resolutions (which, coincidentally, I'm also documenting for my last novel, THE REFLECTING STONE), I am seeing progress in increasing my understanding of the importance of both types of goals, and how they are related to each other.

I was very excited earlier this week when I was watching the season finale of "LOST" on TV, not just because it was an interesting episode, but because I saw a direct correlation between the internal and external goals of one of the characters in one of the scenes. The connection just jumped out at me, even though I wasn't thinking critically about the plot structure of the episode -- I was just watching it to enjoy it. This happens to you when you focus on the art and craft of story-telling. You end up seeing the structure in someone else's story, even if you weren't looking for it. I won't go into detail about the "LOST" scene, but it was an exciting moment for me, when I suddenly realized a deeper sense of the connectivity between external and internal goals. It's great when you can bring the two together very closely, as they did in that scene. It's interesting that there really was no new information for me in that realization -- I didn't actually learn anything I didn't already know -- I just saw what I knew about goals being played out and connected with it more deeply. My understanding of what I already know was deepening. That happens. I was able to think of my own stories, and see some examples there as well.

I am very happy that I decided to take this extra week to reflect further on external and internal goals. As I am documenting this information in THE REFLECTING STONE I am seeing the importance of planning for it up front. I am happy that I will start HARRY VS. THE STONE with a well-defined set of goals for each chapter, both external and internal, to help me keep the chapters on track. This planning work will save time later in the editing. I had a great deal of this in place in the planning of THE REFLECTING STONE, but there were a few holes, which I'm discovering now (see posting immediately prior to this one).


Progress on THE REFLECTING STONE Goals, Complications, Resolutions Table

I have finished the first half of the table I'm filling in for THE REFLECTING STONE in which I describe briefly the goals, complications and resolutions for each scene.

Most of the scenes are easy to do, since I had clear goals for the main character at each step along the way. Note that the main character appears as the POV character in all scenes; I am not juggling multiple viewpoint characters at this time.

A few scenes are of the type where things are just happening, the logical next step in someone's day, and there isn't a clear plot-related or main-conflict-related goal in those scenes. However, each of those scenes does advance the story in some way, such as giving us more information about something we need to know about, or introducing a new character to us that is important to the overall story and reappears later, or allowing the main character to talk to someone and share thoughts or feelings (a "reaction scene").

Right now I am wrestling with this issue. I had intended that every scene should have a clear goal for the POV character, but I recognize that there is a need for other types of information along the way. Observing the character's reactions is important. He needs to process the information he learns, to respond emotionally to things that have already happened, or ponder what he is about to face. Not every scene realistically needs to be "man vs. man-eating tiger" -- the story also benefits from "man is terrified he will soon face man-eating tiger" moments.

I think the challenge then is to try to make the scenes do double or triple duty, a concept I was aware of when I wrote but perhaps didn't always fully realize on the page. Can I introduce a new character who is of continuing importance, show a reaction, and still have a forward-moving, plot-related goal? I'll be reflecting on these scenes and looking for ways to consolidate, omit, shorten, expand, etc., to accomplish this. Some scenes may well end up merging togther, unnecessary fragments falling to the cutting room floor; others may well find a new action emerging.

In spite of needing to tackle this issue, I am encouraged that the number of scenes about which I have serious questions is really very small -- a handful compared to the total number of scenes. I did manage to keep clear goals in mind most of the time and to keep the story clearly moving forward. Even when it slows down there is still a purpose. I suppose these other purposes are in fact "plot-related", they just do not contain the typical "action-directed" type of plot goal.

As I've commented on in previous postings, the work I'm doing right now in creating and filling in tables for THE REFLECTING STONE is part of Phase One of my editing process, wherein I document "what is". I did a lot of planning when I started work on this novel, then did a lot of writing, and now that I have a completed draft (113,000+ words), I need to document what I actually wrote. I usually wrote what I meant to write according to the tables I created in planning the novel, but sometimes not. Extra scenes were created along the way, and some chapters took new twists and turns not accounted for in the original planning. I did try to update my notes along the way, but not all the new information made it into them. Therefore, I have started fresh in the documentation process with a look back at what I actually did write.

To help in keeping track of odd things I'm discovering as I do this documentation work, I have created another table called the Incongruities Table (love that name). Here I can make brief notes for any scenes where I notice something out of place, such as NO CLEAR GOAL (my "concern-du-jour"). Eventually I'll use the Incongruities Table, the Master Scene List (see previous postings), and the Goals, Complications, Resolutions Table to reflect on the scenes and ways of fixing problems (that work is Phase Two, planning the changes for the actual editing). I hope that whatever changes I later think of will be "localized changes" for the most part, things I can fix or change in a scene or two here or there, rather than "global changes" where I alter something so fundamental to the story that I have to hunt down many other places in the manuscript to make changes to accommodate the new information. In fact, I will specifically try to avoid making those kinds of changes! I don't think the story needs any, anyway, since I did so much planning before I wrote it and so much of it does fit together so well.

I hope to have the Goals Table for THE REFLECTING STONE completed later today (Saturday). This will allow me time today and tomorrow to revisit the planning work for HARRY VS. THE TRUCK. When I finish that, I can begin the writing phase for that novel, which I plan to do on Sunday or Monday. I'll advance to Phase Two of the editing for THE REFLECTING STONE once I've started writing HARRY VS. THE TRUCK. By waiting a little before jumping into the editing of THE REFLECTING STONE, I'm giving myself distance, so that I can bring a fresh perspective to the editing. I still intend to finish THE REFLECTING STONE this summer so I can start shopping it around. I'm eager for the moment when I print out the final copy of the manuscript and start composing letters to publishers and agents!


Thursday, May 25, 2006

1st Version of New Chapter Descriptions Done

I was able to finish all 37 chapter descriptions yesterday for my new novel, HARRY VS. THE TRUCK. My new table definitely helped me to do that. No, it's not an oak table, nor a mahogany table, nor a stainless steel table. It's a word processing table, the kind that is of value and relevance to a writer. Read the previous posting for a sense of the kinds of information it prompts me to think about as I plan chapters.

The only concern I have with the plan for the new novel is that it becomes somewhat predictable. I certainly don't want that to happen! I'm focusing my thoughts on how to continue a plot at a certain point where the reader thinks he/she knows what is about to happen, but then what really happens next is a surprise, but it makes sense nonetheless in light of what has happened before in the plot. Coming up with such stuff requires unfettered creativity on the one hand, and creativity that is cognizant of what has gone before on the other hand.

I'll let the chapter descriptions sit for a day or two then I'll go back over them to see how it all ties together and whether I can use my imagination and its flights of fancy to create some surprising twists along the way. Don't know if I will succeed in that, but I'll do what I can. I think also the plot has a certain "dramatic need" -- the main character is on a certain path resolving internal and external conflicts, and certain scenes or events need to be there for that to fit together and make sense. Nonetheless, I don't want it to be entirely predictable!

As I let this sit, I will see whether I can get back to work on my previous novel, THE REFELCTING STONE. I need to compose the list of goals/complications/resolutions for each chapter of the complete draft that I finished recently. I don't mention that I finished it recently in order to brag that I actually finished a draft recently, something I already announced with fanfare and fireworks when it occurred (see archive for May for previous posting), but I mention it for the sake of visitors to this blog site who might not have been following along at that point.

As the planning for HARRY VS. THE TRUCK is now almost complete, I'm getting very excited all over again as I contemplate embarking on yet another draft!


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Making Progress with Planning New Novel

Here's an update mid-week as I'm planning HARRY VS. THE TRUCK.

I revised, revised again, then completely reworked the table I use to plan steps in my outline, combining some features from a character development worksheet I had made previously, and wound up with a really nice table to use in planning chapters. I've been using it and enjoying it thoroughly. It prompts me to provide additional information (in very brief form) that helps me get into the mindset of the POV character, and see the plot more intensely from the 'inside' of a character living through it. This really helps sharpen my focus and come up with ideas.

I still base the chapter work on the 12-step outline, but now I have expanded to break down each step into multiple chapters, and am thinking in terms of goals, complications and resolutions for each chapter -- both external and internal -- as well as what the POV character learns and how he/she grows, as well as other details.

I'm really pleased with this new table and have made excellent progress in planning 12 chapters already. I'm succeeding in making this transition from "step-thinking" to "chapter-thinking". Instead of longer chapters with multiple scenes, I am breaking it down so that each chapter will consist of one master scene and not be too long. I like the idea of chapters around 2,000 words each, no shorter typically than about 1,500 words, no longer than 3,000 words, and each chapter containing one continuous scene (although there could occasionally be very short pieces on either end as transitions).

This progression into finer detail (step to chapter) is part of a larger process I am using of working from smaller to larger, from overview to detail. I start with a statement, "This is a story about a [main character] who wants/needs...." and figure out the theme, the overall major external and internal goals, and then figure out the focus of each act, then flesh that out to the 12-step outline with external and internal goals, then finally am at this point of taking the 12 steps from the outline and breaking them down into scenes that are the basis of chapters. It's a system that is working very well for me.

I am not doing anything with THE REFLECTING STONE at this time since I am wrapped up in planning the chapters for HARRY VS. THE TRUCK, and realitically this might be all I get done this week, but with the level of insight I'm getting, and the detail, and the fact that I am finally succeeding on this level in the planning stage (for all the effort on THE REFLECTING STONE, I never quite got to this level of detail in the planning for it in spite of huge amounts of work and notes), I think it's worthwhile to stick with this until it's done, which it should be within a few days. I'll want to go over it when it's done and revise, but then that's it -- I'm ready to start writing!

Sunday will conclude the planning and launch the writing of HARRY VS. THE TRUCK. If I end up dragging my feet on the editing of THE REFLECTING STONE, fitting it in where I can in smaller bits, that's fine. Once I complete the draft of HARRY, I'll simply swtich my attention full-time to THE REFLECTING STONE, as I will have had a break from it by then and will be able to bring a fresh perspective to it. So, whatever works! I'm just keeping busy and know that all my efforts are solid and making progress at this time -- I'm not wasting any time or spinning my wheels, that's for sure.


Sunday, May 21, 2006

Will Take Another Week to Plan Next Novel

After more reflection I've decided to take one more week to plan HARRY VS. THE TRUCK. Although I feel I could start the novel today, I do not want to rush it. Since I'll be taking another week, I will hold off on posting the back-cover blurb until next week, in case it is revised further.

What drives me to take more time, when I'm so eager to get into the writing, is an idea I have that I should target one or two parts of the process with each successive novel and do my best to improve in those areas.

I know one area I want to target with my next novel is the planning of scenes, making sure I have a clear sense of a goal, complication and resolution for each one before I start writing it. With my last novel, I usually did, but sometimes I was figuring things out as I wrote, and that is frustrating to me since I like to know what I'm doing as much as possible. In particular, I want more direct practice in thinking of complications -- the character wants to do something, but what can happen to make that difficult? To thwart the effort altogether? I want to sharpen my ability to quickly grasp relevant obstacles.

A second area is to try to come up with a more complete Master Scene List for my next novel as part of the planning phase, rather than looking back during the editing phase. Again, I did create this for my last novel, but there were a number of scenes I eneded up writing that I did not envision initially. It's fine to go with inpspiration -- I just want to sharpen my ability to anticipate things that need to be there. To accomplish this, I want to take the twelve steps in my outline and break them down into scenes (two or three each). These scenes could be considered chapters when the novel is finished.

Therefore, I'll take the coming week to flesh out the 12-step outline into a Master Scene List and have clear goals / complications / resolutions for the scenes. I should finish this by the weekend, no later than next Sunday. What I produce could serve as a list of actual chapters.

I'll post during the week on any breakthroughs, obstacles, or insights I gain along the way as I take my planning to the next level!


Update on the Editing of THE REFLECTING STONE

I spent more time on choosing my next novel the past several days, and very little time working with THE REFLECTING STONE, so there is no significant progress to report. My goals for the coming week are:

Complete Goal/Complication/Resolution Table (for all scenes)
Revise the Dual Mythology

I hope to have these complete by next Sunday. These tasks will complete Phase One of the editing process. After a short break I will then work on Phase Two, which will involve looking over the Master Scene List and deciding whether I want to rewrite any scenes, changing the nature of the action, or the location, etc., to dramatize things better. I've kept a few notes as I've had ideas for this, but will go through it in depth when I'm ready and make decisions, creating a to-do list.


Saturday, May 20, 2006

Have Chosen Next Novel!

I spent time last night, and more time this morning, going over the three story options I've focused on for my next novel, and have chosen one! Before I comment on the novel, let me share my "official" checklist of things I consider when choosing a novel to write.

1. Is the idea interesting, compelling, to me?
2. Do I connect with the story on a deeper level?
3. Do I see a lot of possibilities for the plot and characters?
4. Would the story support treatment in a full-length novel?
5. Would others find the story interesting?
6. Would the story be marketable?
7. Do I like it enough to spend a lot of time working on it?

My next novel will be HARRY VS. THE TRUCK (which I'll refer to as HARRY). I had the idea for it about a year ago. It might be described as magical realism, or urban fantasy, in that the main character does find himself possessing a certain power that is unusual. I'll post seperately with a blurb for the back cover which will show something of what the story is about, and place a permanent link to that posting in the sidebar, once I settle on the exact wording for it. I think I have it down already, but want to let it sit another day before I settle on it.

I have already revised the twelve-step outline for the novel several times, and written scene descriptions for each step in the outline. Each scene description is a paragraph long (twelve paragraphs in total). I'll continue editing that this weekend, reworking the ideas, the exact sequence.

What attracts me to HARRY VS. THE TRUCK?? The story is very sensational, with some amusing and downright astonishing developments. This means it will be fun to write and interesting to read. The story allows me to use my sense of humor much more than I did in THE REFLECTING STONE. The story is bizarre (in an interesting way) on the one hand, but hits very close to home on the other. It is unusual yet familiar, "out there" yet hard-hitting. Potentially. I hope I can realize the mix. I think I can. Also, the story could certainly fit into the range of 60,000 to 72,000 words that I will be shooting for. I want this to be a shorter novel, of a length that is publishable. Finally, this story allows me to wrestle with some demons, which is always a lot of fun (provided one takes due care).

What about OCCUPANT? I'll keep my recent notes and file them away with my previous notes, and keep this story in the back of my mind until I feel I'm fully ready to write it. I'm not quite there yet. The same goes for the other story which I was considering, and which shall remain nameless at this time. It was a close second to HARRY for my next novel and another one I'm eager to write.

I will likely post tomorrow (Sunday) with a tentative timeline, including whether I'll start writing HARRY this week or next. I'm eager to start, and already know so much about the story, but I'll explore whether another week of planning would be useful. I also hope to post the back-cover blurb for HARRY on Sunday. Finally, I will also comment on progress in Phase One of the editing process for THE REFLECTING STONE.


Friday, May 19, 2006

Bringing 2 More Novels Into Consideration

I spent several hours yesterday comparing twelve-step outlines and back-cover blurbs for three novels. One of them is OCCUPANT. The others I won't name yet. I considered different versions of each, and compared all three, seeking whichever version of whichever story would prove the most gripping to me at the moment, the one that screams out "write me!".

Surprisingly, it's not OCCUPANT, which I thought it would be! However, I still haven't decided, and the work goes on.

One thing I've noticed the past few days is that I miss writing! I can't wait until I am ready to start writing the draft of whichever novel is next.


Thursday, May 18, 2006

Developing My Next Novel

As mentioned previously, this week I'm laying the foundation for editing my recently completed fantasy novel, THE REFLECTING STONE, and I'm also working on developing my next novel.

I've tentatively chosen to write a novel called OCCUPANT. I forget when I first had the idea for this novel. It was some time ago, within the past few years. The core concept intrigues me and I think it's a worthwhile story. I made some notes on the story at an earlier time, then a few weeks ago I did some work to revise those notes and use them to develop a detailed outline and character descriptions.

At this time I'm going over that work and also looking at other options, including entirely different plots and characters, that would still allow me to address the core concept for the novel. Currently I'm considering how arranging my new ideas could produce different effects, such as choice of the main character, and how much the reader knows at the outset. If I reveal some information early on, or don't reveal it, the reader will have different experiences in reading the novel. Also, whether or not certain characters know certain things, and what their motivations are, will have an impact on how things play out (obviously). There are a lot of possibilities and it's interesting to see how things could play out based on the framework I establish.

This is certainly early, "conceptual" work and it's rather abstract on the one hand (emotionality, theme, lesson) while concrete on the other (specific characters, specific plot events). It's the early planning phase and I enjoy it a lot, the time when anything is still possible. I hope to decide which version of this novel I'd like to write by the end of this week. I'm still considering whether I might want to write another novel next instead of this one, in which case I'd just put this one off and write it later. I hope to make a final decision by Sunday as to which novel I'll actually write next, then spend at least one more week doing detailed planning on it before starting to write the first draft.


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

A Note on the Appendices

I welcome comments on the wisdom of including (or not including) appendices with fantasy novels.

I am considering having three appendices. I have started work on them this week based on notes I made before and while working on the completed draft. I figure I should leave them as ongoing projects since the information in them is subject to change while I do extensive editing of the draft. I can wrap them up in the final phase of editing.


There are two religious groups in the novel. I am not giving anything away that isn't in the blurb for the back cover. There are the wizards, who represent commonly accepted religious views, and the Mystics, a heretical group with alternative views. They each have their own version of history and the role of the gods and these two views are in conflict.

I thought of having a table to show the progression of history over the Ages in brief summary, the whole thing fitting on one printed page. The history focuses on what the gods were doing, what people were doing, and what went wrong in the world that brought an end to each Age, and how each new Age was started with a new plan to fix things. I'm working now to simplify this information, considering reducing the number of ages, etc. There are only three in the novel, but even that seems a bit confusing to me and I wrote it. This is information that should be quick and easy to grasp, easy to remember, and not interfere with the flow of the story. For those readers interested in more detail, I thought a few brief comments in an Appendix would be useful.


There is a constructed language in the novel (see link in the sidebar for more information on Constructed Languages). It is called "the secret language of the Mystics" and it is their ancient tongue, known now only by them. There are only a few quotes in the language in the entire novel, so it's no great burden for the typesetter. I'd like to include some basic information on the language I created for this novel, nothing too esoteric but enough to give some insight into the inflectional system.

As an aside, I love language, have studied several, and enjoy creating them as a hobby, something I've done since I was 13 years old. That was when I began reading intensely about language, history and culture, things I'm still passionately interested in. Though I'm not a genius, I was something of a child prodigy -- they considered sending me to college at age 14. I loved reading about Tolkien's languages and histories in the appendices to The Lord of the Rings, though they were not what influenced me to create such things on my own: I had already been doing that for a couple of years before I finally discovered and read the LotR in high school.


I have already completed the update of the glossary, giving brief descriptions of each named character, no matter how minor, as a reminder of their role or what action they performed or scene they were in. I also list words referring to groups as well as place names and the names of important events, ones that the characters themselves give in the story.

I'm not sure that I'll actually include the three appendices, but I'm thinking seriously about it. I think it's fun to see such things at the back of a book. If nothing else, these notes are helpful to me, but I think some readers enjoy seeing these types of notes included with a fantasy novel.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Finished Master Scene List

Last night I finished the Master Scene List. I have always wanted to make such a list, for this and other projects over the years, and it always ends up partially complete. Finally I have an actual Master Scene List that is complete and it feels great.

It is a Word document, a table, with several columns. They list the chapter number, the scene number within that chapter, an ongoing scene number (there are 60 scenes in total at the moment), then a brief description of the location of the scene, followed by a brief description of what takes place in the scene (the action), and finally the word count of the scene. This way I can see how the novel progresses from scene to scene, from location to location, how the action is distributed over various scenes, where a lot happens, where less happens, how long the scenes are relative to one another, etc. It's a great tool for getting an overview of the entire novel at once.

Already in writing it, I came across one major thing I set up and then forgot to get back to later. I had a major character offer to be available to help when things got difficult, and then never fully resolved whether that character shows up later to help the main character or not. I wrote him in at one point, then removed that entire scene and rewrote it without him, then had him visit briefly to offer support, then completely forgot about him when the big moments came about later. So, I've already caught one "plot hole" that needs fixing. I think that was the only major one--others I caught along the way in the ongoing editing.

There were a few other places where I realized a key point should have been brought out by the conclusion of certain scenes to give them more relevance or impact, and can do that in the editing. So, no major flaws. The extensive notes and outlines I did going into this project really helped me have a solid plan to work with, and I was able to keep the work on target even when I changed plot details significantly in later chapters. I knew the underlying framework that I needed to anchor those changes to, so I was able to go with the flow, take advantage of sudden inspirations, and still keep a coherent plot. I know there would be a lot more work to do now in figuring out what happened over the course of the story, had I not done all that planning work earlier. The extensive pre-planning (80,000 words worth!) is certainly saving me a lot of effort right now.

Today's work will center on simplifying the mythology and then looking back at each scene to determine what the goal/complication/resolution were. I'll create a new table summarizing the revised version of the mythology, and another table summarizing the goals, etc., for each scene. Hopefully I can do most of that easily from memory as I look over the Master Scene List, but I'll also check the manuscript as needed to remind me of how exactly I had things play out in the course of a scene if there were many issues or it got complicated.

I started the work on the appendices. I think rather than trying to finish them now I'll leave them as open and ongoing tasks throughout the remainder of the editing process, then tie them up at the end, since the information in them is prone to change. I've already done some work on two of them. I'll work on the third one tonight. I'll comment more on them tomorrow.

It feels good to be making progress in laying the foundation for the editing. Very soon this week I'll be done with Phase One (documenting "what is") and will be ready to start Phase Two (planning for changes I want to make). That'll be similar to the work I did at the very outset, when I planned the novel, did the first outlines. This will be the last major effort at re-examining that work and allowing myself to make any significant changes.


Monday, May 15, 2006

Editing: Phase One

Turns out I'm not taking any time off! I finished the novel Sunday morning and Sunday night I started work on the editing.

I established a basic framework for the editing process, dividing it into a series of six phases. Phase One is the preliminary work to document what I have already written. This will provide me with detailed notes to review as I contemplate what I'd like to change. Even though I made detailed outlines and notes before and while writing, some things changed during the writing process and I didn't always update the earlier notes and outlines. I'd benefit from a fresh look, so I'll start from scratch, go over the manuscript to remind me of what I did, and write a new set of tables, etc., to document "what is".

Here's a list of tasks I came up with for this first phase:

Complete Basic Story Conceptualization Tables (THEME/LESSON)
Complete Basic Story Plotting Tables (BASIC OUTLINE)
Make Glossary of Characters, Places, Events, Etc., Prepare Appendix
Review, Simplify Dual Versions of Mythology, Prepare Appendix
Review, Expand Language, Prepare Appendix
Make Master Scene List (all scenes of all chapters, w/word counts)
Make Goal/Complication/Resolution Table for all scenes

I have already completed the first two and am still working on the third one. I figure it will take up to a week to do this while also doing the planning for my next novel, OCCUPANT, which I'd like to start writing next week if possible. I already did some planning work on that a few weeks ago, so I just need to finish what I have already been putting together, rather than start it from scratch. I might still change my mind and choose another novel to write next -- this week I will determine that for sure.

Some of the tables I refer to in the To-Do list above are things I created that I'd like to put on the internet for others to download in case they are of use to other writers. They've certainly helped me as I've used them and refined them over the past several months. I'll get around to it before too long.

You might have noticed the "12-Step Challenge" blog has been removed. I plan to replace it with a "Tips and Tricks" blog to share the concepts I've learned and put into use that have been helpful to me in finishing my novel. I'll later also put up some other section to share writing samples, or samples from writing exercises. I've also thought of writing a serial and putting it online, just for fun.

I'll keep working throughout this week on Phase One of the editing and will post here as I make progress.


Sunday, May 14, 2006


I finished the draft of my current novel, THE REFLECTING STONE, this morning, which happens to be Mother's Day, 2006! ("Happy Mother's Day!") I took a few days off to rest after working very hard the past couple of weeks, catching up on some much-needed sleep. Then, I got to work and finished the draft a little after 10 am.

I almost didn't write the last chapter. Since I knew whatever I'd write would have to be rewritten anyway to blend in with other changes that will occur during the editing phase, I figured I might save the time. However, I decided to go ahead and do it, mostly just so that I could say that I'd finished the story. However, once working on it, I got wrapped up in it. The story took off in some fresh and surprising ways, casting some events of the story in a new light. I think the recent days of rest helped, since I was refreshed and able to see things from a fresh perspective. I brought out the story points in a very positive way for the reader, leading the reader on, not giving it all away, making the reader guess what's going to happen, how it's going to end, and ending it in such a way that there is something to think about, and a positive feeling at the end. This is not the ending I had planned on, but I like it better now that I see how it brings things together. It's much more satisfying and integrates better the main lines of the story, and also reconnects with the beginning of the novel. It's a fine ending, in my humble opinion. I'm glad I did go ahead and write it and I'd strongly encourage others to completely finish a draft, no matter how senseless it may seem. You never know what you'll discover in the process!

And...I'll admit...when I finished it, I went back and read it and, yes, I actually CRIED for a moment! I cried because I was happy for the characters, and because I was happy to have finished it after seven and a half months of working hard on this project, and also because I knew that it meant not only completion for this draft, but it represented fulfillment of a dream I've had for over 14 years now, of writing a novel! Time and time again my work was stalled as I couldn't figure out how to "bridge the middle", how to complete my stories. This time, I made it! Now I know how to do it! Now that I've finished this manuscript, I know I can finish my other novels. I can see my way through the process to conclusion, something I just couldn't do before. And, I've proven to myself that I am willing and able to stick with it for the long haul. I'm glad I didn't give up!

What's next? I'll continue this blog, chronicling my progress on the editing and eventually my experience in trying to get the novel published. I'll also chronicle my work on my next novel, which will begin shortly.

I'll post again in the coming days with an update on how I plan to go about the editing process, what steps or stages I'll use. I'll also comment on how the planning is going for the next novel, and what the timeline for that will be. I don't know whether I can juggle three novels at this point, as I mentioned in a recent posting, but at least I'll phase in Novel Number 2 as I finish up with Novel Number 1, and keep myself working as hard as I can without burning out.

Let me express my gratitude again for the inspiration, guidance and encouragement I have received from others while working at my writing, not only in the past months, but over the years. Thanks to those who have posted comments to my blog, and to those who visit it without posting (although I'd love to hear from you, too). It's been a lot of fun sharing this work with you, and it has made it a lot more bearable.

BUT AS FOR NOW ... It's time to celebrate! A big moment. A dream has come true. I've had many dreams come true in my life. This is one more. It's an awesome experience.




THIS WEEK'S GOAL: Complete through Chapter 11.
STATUS: Completed 11 and 12 -- the final chapter!

WORD COUNT GOAL: 120,000 words.
ACTUAL WORD COUNT: 113,486 words.
STATUS: A little short, but I did want the last couple of chapters to be shorter, so it was where it needed to be. Things can change of course during the editing. In any event, plenty long enough! ;-)

SUMMARY: See next posting for details (scroll upward). Below are the charts showing the length of each chapter (compared to the 10,000 words as a generic goal for each chapter), the total word count (compared to the 120,000 I set at the outset), and the timeline for completion, showing that I'm finished one week ahead of schedule.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Took Yesterday Off, Will Write Later Today

I took Thursday off, the first day I have not written in two weeks. I tried to catch up on sleep but didn't have much success. I'm finding too many things to do these days and need to let up a little. I doubt they'd give me a membership card in the Slacker Society behaving the way I have. Shame on me. I slept for two hours, then later on I slept for another two hours, and that was it. That's really napping my way along, not sleeping. The second time I think the thunder was at fault. I have some vague memory of a loud explosion. The storm that careened through yesterday was very wild. Today there are trucks everywhere repairing power lines, and I've noticed an interruption to cell phone service as well. They predict rain on the weekend. That's good sleeping weather.

I'll start Chapter 12, the final chapter, later today or this evening or later tonight, whenever I manage to get to it. I will try to avoid the temptation to go back into Chapter 11 and change it. I'll save the changes for the editing process.

I was surprised to find yesterday that with only one day of not writing I was already getting a lot of ideas for the editing. I had thought it could take me a while after all the writing I've been doing to begin to get ideas for the editing, that somehow I would be creatively burned out or something, but in fact once I stopped existing in "writing mode", even just for one day, the ideas came rushing to the surface. I'm keeping them in mind (mental notes are fine for now, they all concern a few key points). I hope that feeling continues, because I'd like to jump right into editing after finishing Chapter 12 if I can. I had thought I'd take a week or two off after all this writing for the past seven months, but what the heck. If it's flowing, let it flow!


Debating Whether to Post Excerpt

I'm debating whether to post an excerpt. I sometimes visit the Borders Bookstore web site, and Barnes & Noble's, as they provide a nice selection of sample chapters for a variety of novels. It's fun to read just an excerpt like that and compare different authors' styles, diction, pacing, etc. So, commercially available novels exist that have sample chapters or shorter excerpts available online with the blessing of the publishing houses. If you want your novel to sell to a publisher, you obviously should not put the whole thing on the internet for free, but I can't see any reason not to put an excerpt online. Still, I'm not sure I'm ready to do that yet. My comfort level isn't quite there.

If I do decide to share an excerpt, I would probably post the first three scenes of the first chapter, which would be about as long as other writers' typical chapters (mine are long in the case of this novel). That's a good unit length-wise and also in terms of showing a progression from one scene to the next, introducing some key characters, and also raising some measure of suspsense.

I'll continue to mull it over and if I can no longer find a reason not to, then I'll go ahead and post an excerpt sometime soon. I think a visitor to the site would appreciate the chance to get some sense of what this mysterious novel actually looks like! I know I would.


Thursday, May 11, 2006

Finished Chapter 11

I finished Chapter 11 and will take a break for a day or so before starting Chapter 12. I've been pushing really hard the past couple of weeks and not getting enough sleep on an ongoing basis, so I'm feeling rather fatigued. A little rest will help.

The word count for Chapter 11 came in at a modest 6,658 -- the shortest chapter so far. That is okay in that I intend for the final chapters to become smaller as the pace quickens and the story builds to its conclusion.

My total word count is now 111,241.

I think the draft will come in under 120,000, but that is okay, since it will change significantly as I do the editing. At least I'm in the ballpark. I anticipate another 5,000 words will be added to the total word count when I finish Chapter 12. Maybe more.

I would write more about the details of the conflict and the way I'm problem-solving to work out the writing challenges, but I'd wind up giving too much away about the story, so I don't want to do that. I need to revise these last scenes, but I want to finish writing this draft first, then I'll go back when I can consider things in more detail and compare with other, earlier scenes, etc. I can see already some good ideas to draw in during the editing.

Now, for some much needed rest!





Wednesday, May 10, 2006

A Look Ahead....

Made some progress last night, but stopped short of the climax. I'm saving that for tonight. (*without batting an eye*)

I spent some time today expanding on my notes from a few weeks ago when I worked on the planning for another novel, OCCUPANT. I'm probably going to write that novel next. I visited the Wikipedia site when searching for a three-act structure link to include with the Helpful Links in the sidebar, and that site mentioned the "plot pinch", which is useful to keep in mind, a way to remind the reader (in the case of a novel as well as a screenplay) of the larger theme and looming final conflict. In my 12-step outline, it would correspond to steps 5 and 8, the middle Act IIA and the middle of Act IIB. Anyway, I added that to my existing outline tables along with the Turning Points and Mid-Point, etc., and like the results.

Over the past years, I easily juggled several different novels at once. My problem wasn't being too distracted -- I figured, if I reach a temporary block in one, or get a little burned out after putting in a lot of effort on one, then I can switch to another for a while so that I can keep writing. It's not confusing since each is a distinct story with its own characters, conflicts, etc. I have avoided doing this while working on THE REFLECTING STONE because I wanted to keep one main focus and get the darned thing done. Once I could finally prove that I could actually FINISH a novel, then I could go back to working on multiple things at once. Well, I think that time is fast approaching!

Where I juggled things informally before, this time around I'd like to use a schedule to help keep me on track. I find setting personal deadlines to be very, very useful. They prompt me along toward mini-goals over time and keep me from wasting time without realizing it. I enjoy the challenge of keeping up the pace in spite of whatever life throws at me along the way, although it can get frustrating at times when unexpected things derail a lovely couple of days I might otherwise have used for significant writing.

Anyway, I figure I'll keep future novels down to 60,000 words, up to 72,000 words, give or take. That's plenty long enough after struggling for so many months to reach 120,000 words as I have been for my current novel. I'll go back to longer novels later, but for now I feel I need the thrill of getting a few things done relatively more quickly. And, I have some stories ideally suited to that shorter but adequate length.

Using my 12-step outline based on the three-act structure (which is detailed in my other blog, Taking the 12-Step Challenge), and figuring about 5,000+ words for each step (=60,000 words), or about half the length of my current 10,000 words per step, I can write at twice the pace (2 steps a week compared with one step per week currently). So, it would take 6 weeks to write a complete draft which could range from 60,000 to 72,000 words.

If I pace myself evenly, and keep to 6-week increments of time, I can juggle three novels at once, where I am planning one novel for 6 weeks, at the same time writing one novel in that amount of time, and also editing a previous novel over that same amount of time. That way I am planning, writing and editing all at once, but for three separate novels. I'll crank out a novel in 4.5 months if this actually works, longer if it doesn't work quite so neatly in practice.

Here is a chart to show that overlap:

If I apply this to where I am today, I need about two more weeks to finish writing this draft of my current novel, and can then start editing it, and at the same time start immediately on writing a complete draft of my next novel. So, here is a chart showing a timeline for me through early August, phasing in another novel, and then another. Note that "TRS" refers to my current novel, THE REFLECTING STONE, and "OCC" refers to the tentatively chosen next novel, OCCUPANT, and the "???" refers to a third, as yet un-chosen novel, from my list of over a dozen waiting in the wings.

Note that the planning phase is detailed enough for me that it equates a rough first draft, so when I "write" on these charts that is in effect a second draft at that point. "Edit" includes "polish". And, of course, I can always leave more time. I wrote 52,000 words for Nanowrimo last November (a rough first draft of the current novel, in fact), and I only used about 10 days out of the month (there are 30 in November) to do the actual writing. So, when I know what I want to write, I can turn it out quickly -- I type 100 wpm+.

I would only think of attempting this, of course, specifically because I have a number of ideas to work with that I have given previous, substantial thought to over the course of a number of years. So, I am not starting these upcoming projects from scratch. My current novel was from scratch, an idea I had just before I started working on it, but that was intentional: I wanted to try out my new process for writing a novel using a story that I had not worked with before. A part of the difficulty with the others was that they were too near and dear to my heart. I needed some emotional distance to be more objective about this novel as I followed a new plan for working on it. It did help and the process, quite fortunately, has proven successful. I'll post another time about that, to lay out the rules I've followed and the way I've structured the task.

Yes, a novel in 4.5 months is an ambitious plan, but better to have a plan and give it my best shot than spend another decade thinking maybe one day I'll finally do that. It helps to look ahead, even as I finish the current novel, because it keeps me on my toes if nothing else, and helps me keep a perspective on the current work as part of a larger, ongoing body of work. And, being so oragnized is a great way to spin my wheels while I continue reflecting on exactly how I want the two opposing forces to do battle in that climactic scene that's just waiting for me to dive in and write it....


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Am I Really a "Fantasy Writer"?

I do enjoy fantasy as a genre. I loved the Lord of the Rings, both the novels and the latest film version. I also enjoy reading the ancient myths, legends and sagas such stories are often based on. I also enjoy reading about the history of the cultures associated with these traditions.

I don't want to disappoint anyone but, although my current novel is a fantasy novel, I do not consider myself a "fantasy writer". If anything, I'm a "gay/lesbian" writer by category.

THE REFLECTING STONE, my current project, is the only fantasy novel I've thought of writing. I might write another one down the line. If THE REFLECTING STONE is published one day and proves successful, I would certainly explore the possibility of a series of fantasy novels with a gay protagonist. Thus, I am open to writing more fantasy over time, but it is not the only genre that I work with.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I have over a dozen other novels that I've worked on over the past decade plus. I still intend to finish them now that I've worked out the technical problems I was having with plot and process which invariably stalled my work. None of those other novels are in the fantasy category. Looking over my many novel ideas, the only category that would really embrace them all is the "gay/lesbian" category, since they include mysteries, science fiction, fantasy, horror, gritty real-life drama, romantic adventure, and "general" or mainstream plot lines.

Now, back to work! I have pages to write and only so many hours till the dawn....


Added New Links

Tonight I finally took a moment to update the links you will find in the sidebar to the right. I added useful links for writers, both general resources and links of relevance to fantasy writers. I also added links for blogs of other writers, and blog search engines, to help you find other blogs of interest. You will also find links to my other blog sites.

If any visitors to this site would like me to include a link to their blog or web site, just post a comment with the link (in response to this or any posting) and I'll check your site out. If it's relevant and appropriate, I'll be happy to add a link to it!


Now in Chapter 11 -- ?!

Sounds funny, but I'm now in Chapter 11!

I mean Chapter 11 of the novel, of course. As I mentioned in my last posting, I felt the scene at the end of Chapter 10 missed the mark. That same scene continues into the first part of Chapter 11. Well, I worked yesterday on that scene, finishing the Chapter 11 portion, and it got much, much better. It now works like I had hoped. This scene is important because it is the scene that sets off the chain of events that leads directly to the final confrontation and climax which will appear at the end of Chapter 11. I am finding I have a lot to work with as this builds to the climax, and there should be no shortage of material to draw from to fix up the end of Chapter 10. So, I feel a lot better about that!

The current word count for Chapter 11 is 3,392 words (out of 10,000).


I think it will get easier now that I am over the hump. Act III has been set in motion. I have two more scenes to write in Chapter 11: one to show preparations for the final confronation, then the scene of the final confrontation (=climax). After that, Chapter 12 will contain the falling action and resolution. That's the part I'm most looking forward to, rather than the climax, because it's where I get to bring out the final meaning of things.

Will keep working through the week, like I did last week. With the end so near, my excitement is building. Now that I got over the hump, I see this getting easier and faster. I'll finish Chapter 11 by Sunday night (5/14). My deadline for Chapter 12 is the following Sunday (5/21). However, with any luck, I'll get them done ahead of schedule!


Monday, May 08, 2006





[Note: CURRENT PROGRESS Updated Weekly, Usually on Sundays!]


My last posting provides more detail into the challenges of Chapter 10. I did keep at it and finish it Sunday night. Parts of it feel right, seem good, on track, but the last big scene fell flat. There is too much talking, not enough action, but that is the nature of the scene -- people coming together to discuss, to ask questions, seek answers, come to decisions. However, I want to look for ways to add more conflict. One idea I've had this morning is to introduce some rivalry between the many minor characters (minor in number of pages devoted to them out of the novel, but important in terms of the world of the story). There are ways to have the characters posture, and raise the stakes for them. I think I will know more after I have written the next chapter, since this scene did not end but will continue at the start of the next chapter. I ended this chapter with a turning point in the debate, a point at which things aren't going so well for the main character, and the heir to his worst enemy has now taken a stance against him, suggesting significant conflict to come (it will come in the next chapter). I think the experience of writing the last scene was more about my seeking to undertsand it than really writing it, so this scene will have to be rewritten later, but that's okay. Most of the chapter worked just fine, and the scene right before this last one turned out to have a major new twist in it when one of the characters brought in a whole new level of drama in his plight. So, things happen. I'll find a way for more things to happen in this last scene when I do the editing.

Chapter 11, the next one, will contain the big confrontation and the climax. I'm still considering options on which version of the climax to use. I have a few. I will consider what would be more gratifying to the reader as I make my decision. I am actually more excited about writing Chapter 12, not just because it'll be the last chapter, but because I like the falling action, a chance to bring things home for the main character. Lots of emotionally touching, meaningful stuff, tying up loose plot threads, and achieving closure.

After I finish the last two chapters, within the next two weeks, I'll take a break for a couple of weeks and work on something else, either planning or writing another novel (I have plenty of ideas, and a list of novels I'm eager to write!). When I come back to THE REFLECTING STONE after a short break, I'll print it out for the first time. I'm looking forward to editing the work as a whole since I enjoy editing and this will be the first time that I get to edit an entire work at one time. I've been trying for years to finish a novel, and this one apparently will be it!


Sunday, May 07, 2006

Taking the Time to Do It Right

Thanks, Sue, for your comment! I appreciate your encouragement, believe me! And the kind words that others leave as well. They really do help.

I'm discovering just how significant this task is! Writing an epic fantasy novel -- putting in the effort to do my best to write a first-rate, publishable novel that readers will get wrapped up in and not want to put down -- is quite a huge undertaking! But I'm enjoying it.

I've been slow to update this weekend because I wanted to give myself more time to try to meet my goals before sharing results. It turns out this weekend I have ended up following the path of intellectual curiosity, indulging in whatever tasks seemed helpful to me so that I can do the best work I can as I finish up this complete draft. This has meant NOT storming ahead, as I had planned, but instead going back over things, rereading, editing, etc. I made some progress, but am still hovering at 99,000 words plus, just short of the 100k mark! This is NOT defeat. I have been VERY busy. Read on!

Specifically, I completely reread and edited Chapter 8, Chapter 9 and the first half of Chapter 10, which I had already written as of my last posting (approx. 25k words altogether). I added pieces to scenes, but also removed a long section in this most recent chapter, or my word count would have been more like 105k right now, but that scene needed to go (I cut and pasted it into my "outtakes" file).

I also scanned my way through the entire novel, 440+ pages, making a glossary of characters, places, events and other stuff as a reference for me as I seek to tie pieces together. This gave me a chance to create names for a number of minor characters that appear along the way, which I also edited into the earlier chapters (for example, changing "the tall one" to "Dreng" (an actual Nordic name). I had fun naming two thugs who tortured the main character: their names are "Glum" and "Odd", also real Nordic names, and rather chilling as they appear in the scene.

This work on the glossary allowed me another, even more significant benefit: I had a chance to skim over the entire story, reading some sections in detail, from page 1 to the current last page, refreshing my mind on the many scenes, characters and conflicts along the way. This is obviously beneficial, helping me build a more complete context as I finish the final chapters.

I have also taken time for REFLECTION, dreaming over and over again of possible endings, building on the one version I currently favor. I dreamed my way through the resolution of the final chapter (Chapter 12), the current chapter (Chapter 10), the next chapter with the big climax (Chapter 11), and am still pondering ways to get the main character reunited with his family by or before the ending. I have a strong "vision" of about half of what remains to be written, including most of the really important moments. I need to continue to work in visualizing the remaining pieces, which are in my outline, but I'm trying to get a handle on how they look, sound and feel. I also managed to dream up things to add to other scenes I have already written, and thought of some scenes here or there that could be added, or ways existing scenes could be morphed into new versions of themselves, all to flesh out the world and the experiences of the characters, heighten the tension, etc.

Thus, I am not only letting all this material percolate a little to get the best take on the ending before I plough into it, but I am also seeing possibilities for the editing process, and considering how extensive I want that to be, how extensively I am willing to go into it in terms of time and effort. I see that if I allow myself the time to do it right rather than rushing that editing, I can substantially improve what is already a great story. It does help to focus not only on the current task (writing the last chapters), but also to keep one eye on what's to come (in this case, the editing process). That is a trick that helps me keep the current work in perspective.

I worked all night Saturday night, starting late, and it's 1 pm Sunday and I'm still here at my computer. That's probably ten hours actual work time. I also worked a few hours Saturday morning. Other things came up at the start of this weekend, important things, so I could not devote the time to this I had planned to, but I made up for it as best I could. I'm going to take a nap now, then I hope to work some more Sunday night, and will wait until Monday morning (early) to post my "official" weekly update so that I can include any more progress I make over the weekend.

I still need to write one last big scene for Chapter 10. It's a confrontation that preceeds the climax in the next chapter, but it is also the big scene that brings out all the "issues", the social commentary, etc., prior to the ending and the way things will shake out at the end. So, there is a lot of stuff in the mix with the material right now and although I had hoped for much more dramatic word count progress, I did accomplish a lot and I believe my choice not to rush was a good one.

I hope by the end of Sunday night's work I will have met my minimum goal for this week, which was to complete Chapter 10. It's half-way there!

Good luck to everyone else out there writing a novel!


Thursday, May 04, 2006

Nearing 100,000 Mark!

Word count now stands at 97,815! Getting s-o-o-o-o-o close to the 100k mark! (Completed word count goal is 120,000.) Chapter 10 is over 5,000 words at the moment. I know the key scenes and events of this chapter, but a lot of it depends on the interaction of the characters, and I'm not sure how I want that to be in the final version, so for now I'm just bringing them together and letting them talk and I'm discovering what things they have to say to each other. This chapter will certainly need a lot of editing to hone it down to the really important stuff, but I can't focus it now since I'm not sure what that is, exactly. "I'll know it when I see it." So, for now, it's a chance for characters to hang out together and socialize as they work toward the key points of the chapter. I'm playing "explorer". I enjoy each "gem" as I come across it.

On track with progress. Doing better than last week keeping the writing up during the week. If I can finish Chapter 10 by the start of the weekend, then I can do Chapter 11 during the weekend, and after that there is only Chapter 12!


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Making Progress in Chapter 10

95,000 words plus and counting. Writing in Chapter 10 in small pieces whenever I have a little time, but I know the layout of the chapter from the revised outline, so I have a sense of direction.

I'm letting the main character talk to people now about the deeper issues, starting that process of opening up the undercurrents, clarifying the issues, building toward the eventual climax which comes in the very next chapter already! It's a process of exploration and I know the main ideas, but I still feel I don't know what I'll end up discovering before it's over. I did learn one big new insight yesterday, something that might make it to the very last page of the novel! I'm seeing the story in new ways as I begin the wrapping up process of these final chapters. On track to have Chapter 10 done by this weekend, in which case with any luck I can piggy-back on that and finish Chapter 11 also this weekend, as long as I keep making progress during the week like this.

The end of this draft is getting near! The excitement is building! I'm already thinking about the editing to follow....