Friday, July 21, 2006

First 25% Solid!

I've worked through the first three chapters of THE REFLECTING STONE, reading them, writing a few brief notes of things to think about, minor fixes, but basically the first three chapters are very solid as-is and require only minor touch-ups, no significant editing. That's about 30,000 words worth! The first quarter of my editing work is a breeze! That's because I took the time back in January, February and March to go over these chapters several times and do a lot of editing, to make sure I had a very solid footing to build the rest of the novel on. That work sure paid off. In fact, I found the endings of the chapters to be very hard-hitting, or impactful. They generated a significant response on an emotional level as I reread them for the first time in two months. I was really pleased with the overall quality of the story. Act I is in good shape.

I'm now working on Chapter 4. Sections of it are similarly very polished already. I change a word or two here or there, drop a part of a sentence, recombine a few words into a new phrase, but only minor touch-ups. However, I am seeing the first of the sections now that do require a little more work, some rewriting within paragraphs. It's the first substantial editing work, still very minor. I know there will be much more to come. The later chapters will require a lot more work, some entire scenes will have to be rewritten from scratch, some of them several thousand words long.

With such a solid start, though I feel really confident about bringing the rest of the novel up to the same level and keeping it consistent. I am taking the approach of solving questions as I come to them in the text, in the order they are raised. Any issues I didn't fully grasp or resolve at the time, such as how two characters feel about each other or an issue they face, which will guide how they act toward each other in later scenes, I am resolving now as I come across them. I had a lot of depth and breadth to my vision or understanding of the story as I wrote it, but still I see a few examples where I didn't fully figure some things out. Still, these loose ends are relatively minor and there is so much context around them by now that I can fairly easily resolve them.

I am remembering to separate "writer's need" from "character's need" -- what I want the scene to accomplish is not the same thing as what the character might want or need at a given moment. I have to let the characters follow their own agendas, allow them to act according to their own motivations. That is the primary source for solving questions, but I take that and also compare what my goal is and whether I can still work that in while keeping the characters true to their own motivations.

I'm sure as the editing progresses that I'll find some larger and more complex tasks waiting for me. For now, at least, the editing is a breeze, and one thing I can definitely say is that I find this story to be very interesting. If I hadn't written it, I would certainly enjoy reading it. The basic premise, established in Chapter 1, is intriguing, and the story is full of possibilities, making me wonder what will happen as a reader.

Will keep editing this weekend and update again soon.


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