Monday, August 28, 2006
"Festina lente", for anyone not familiar with the Latin quote, means "Make Haste Slowly". It describes my current work on Chapters 4 and 5. I'm so eager to put them behind me and get on to the remaining chapters and to FINISH this editing so I can start SHOPPING the completed manuscript around! But I have to be patient and make my progress at the rate that is necessary to accomplish the work I have to do.
I'm taking time to do more "ruminating" on the story, some of the deeper thinking and dreaming that I really didn't take the time for back in the Autumn when I was dreaming up and planning this story. I took a month (October) and worked nearly full-time on planning this novel then, but still I needed more time to really explore the possibilities -- it's a rich story.
I built a very solid foundation last Fall, and have added to it in the months since, but now that I am editing I know there are some unanswered questions, some areas of potential that I really must explore in order to make this the best story it can be. I'm enjoying this in part, and seeing clearly the importance of it, but still I find myself chronically impatient, wanting to leap ahead when I really just need to walk along slowly and smell the roses along the way, and discover some new things that I hadn't noticed before while traveling the terrain of the story.
The positives have been rewarding. I have enjoyed adding a number of little bits into existing scenes in the first 5 chapters (yes, although I'm focusing on 4 and 5 right now, I still go back over 1-3 as well from time to time). Little ideas that draw out more depth, show more detail of the characters, their situations, their personalities, the choices they have to make or how things impact them. Sometimes it's just a line or two of dialogue, or an extra sentence added to an existing line of dialogue.
In Chapter 4, I've added one whole scene that has been wonderful, and which has grown considerably in what it covers. It's about 2,500 words long now, and adds much depth to the main character, his love interest, and the main plot questions. Both his internal and external plot questions come to the fore in this scene, making it a good transition from Act I to Act II.
The editing is helping me reshape the existing material, and bring it into much sharper focus. I'm really excited to see how sharply the story can be focused. This is the first time I've worked with a 120k-word manuscript, and it's a lot of material to keep in mind and keep track of, but it's not too much. Still, finding clarity when working with so much material is very gratifying. I always know and never doubt I have an excellent plan -- my 12-step outline has worked very, very well for me and has held up over the months no matter how much I rework, tweak or add to the story.
Chapter 4 is almost done now. I just need to go over the new scene a few more times to make it flow smoothly, and to add one more bit of information as part of the focusing I mentioned. That will occur in pieces in a few interactions over the remainder of the chapter, and then come into sharp focus in the very last scene. For anyone not familiar, my chapters in this novel run around 10,000 words and contain multiple scenes (3-6 scenes per chapter). There is really little left to do with 4 except minor tweaking.
Chapter 5 may end up being changed more. I've already gone through it in the editing, but now I have more ideas for what to do with it. There is a lot of potential there and I don't feel I've realized enough of it yet. The last scene was always the challenging one, and adding the poem and quotes to the story has helped me remove the excessive info dump there, but still that scene will need more work. I completely rewrote it several times back in the winter when first working on it, and it may take a few more times to get it right. I see some possible new scenes to draw out more aspects of the overall experience and conflict that this chapter presents in the plot. I look forward to seeing just which scenes I end up with, since some of them could be really fascinating. The conflicts here are related to larger conflicts later, although not directly, but it's important to set up the climax of the book in Chapters 5 and 6.
I finished "Sometimes the Magic Works" and will comment on it in my next posting. Good book!
Well, getting back to work!