Sunday, June 11, 2006
PROGRESS UPDATE (6/11/06)
THIS WEEK'S GOAL:
Complete Chapters 2 & 3 of New Novel.
CURRENT WORD COUNT:
11.79% if max word count is 72,000.
It was hard to find time to write this week. The change in weather will be an obstacle. It's summer now, if not yet officially. There are more things to do and a different rhythm to things. Still, I didn't blow it off but got down to work when I could and did meet my minimum goal of two chapters.
This new novel is beginning to take shape after three chapters and over 8,000 words. I found a few surprises already, including significant new characters that cropped up to provide the main character with more opportunities to interact. They were intended to be minor characters whose parts were confined within the chapters where they occur, but they turned out to be very interesting and colorful and added a lot to the story. I wouldn't be surprised if two of these characters don't show up again later in the story. I sense intuition at work here, an awareness there are some things that could be dramatized and drawn out through their participation.
Also, for the first time I found myself weaving in some discussion of issues that I care about but which are not directly in the line of the plot. They are relevant, very much so, but not anchored to the main plot. I have always wanted to weave in such things, social issues, comments on life or whatever, and finally I'm finding that flow is there. The more I write, the more I find I can actually express. Sometimes it feels there is a lot inside I just can't get down on the page no matter how hard I try. I'm finding more of that is getting down on the page now and that feels great. These things are not the direct plot line issues, which I have no problem dealing with head-on. They are ancillary comments that draw out the larger themes embraced by the story and add depth and perspective. They make the overall story richer.
I reported in the last posting that I consolidated two chapters in writing Chapter 2 (it contains what would have been Chapters 2 & 3 according to my original outline). The same thing happened again with Chapter 3: it covers what would have been Chapters 4 & 5. Consolidation is a type of shortening, but the chapter lengths are a bit longer than I intended, so I'm not so far off from where I thought I would be in terms of word count. It's basically an organization issue, wanting to keep a flow and make better use of the goal / complication / resolution paradigm. As written there is more pull and more punch and that's what I want. I have no fear of running short. There is plenty of story to tell. This just saves more room for later when I get to the really good stuff. Also, this consolidation means I will enter ACT TWO at a slightly different point in the story than I had thought I would. That's fine. It's a better breaking point with this new focus. So, I have a plan and I'm also flexible, keeping the larger picture and major events in mind.
There is one concern, which is that some of what this novel deals with is pretty heavy stuff. I find it hard to write about things that are emotionally charged and negative, but sometimes that must be. I am an optimist and want to keep it positive. I don't want to write negative things that would discourage people, but positive things that give people hope and suggest ways to overcome challenges. To do that, though, I sometimes have to wade through the "dark side". I brace myself for it and keep a perspective on the larger novel, remembering how things will turn out in the end. That helps me to keep working through the difficult material. By the way, this is not a tragic or depressing story, even if a couple of issues it inevitably raises are quite heavy. It is a story that can be expressed in a lighter vein, and that is what I am attempting, while also recognizing the seriousness of some of what it touches on.
I also have gained more courage to face the challenge of the first draft. I am more willing to accept it with all its imperfections, knowing that it is only a step along the way, and that I have to get something down in order to see what all I have to work with, and then I can change things as necessary to amplify the best stuff and remove what doesn't work. I have felt some disdain, "here I go again", remembering the long haul to get through the last draft for my other novel completed a few weeks ago. It's almost painful to think of all that work ahead again for this new novel, but it's going quickly. I'm already about 12% done and I've only sat down to write on three occasions, since time has been limited. I'm producing about half the output I want to. I hope that will increase soon.
NEXT WEEK'S CHAPTER GOAL:
Complete Chapters 4 & 5.
NEXT WEEK'S WORD COUNT GOAL:
None -- although each chapter should be around 2,000 words.