Thursday, December 21, 2006

Now Into Chapter 2

I tried to leave it, I really did, but I kept going back to it. Yes, Chapter 1 is now about 7,400 words long, but it's really polished! Couldn't help myself. I like reworking early chapters many times because I end up knowing them intimately, every nuance, every possibility. A good start makes for a good journey. I am always afriad if I rush too fast too soon, I'll get off on the wrong foot, and then all the work I do subsequently will be a waste of time. So, it's worth it, to me.

Anyway, after nearly a week on Chapter 1 I'm now into Chapter 2. However, it wasn't an easy transition.

I intended to jump into Chapter 2 right away when I started writing last night, but instead I found myself sitting and thinking intensely about the story, the overview of key events, the ulimate direction it was headed, and other, deep things related to the story. I ended up spending a few hours pouring over my notes and outlines again, and revising them yet again, drawing on new insights and familiarity after finishing Chapter 1.

I tried to see the story again from the few competing perspectives on it, and at one point got frustrated that even though I was trying to make things better, I was ultimately just digging in and making it all more complicated for myself than it needed to be. I felt I was working myself into a corner where everything becomes a question and I can never settle on any answers. Then, quite happily, I took a walk at about 3 am, a short one in the very cold air, and cleared my head, then went back inside and by the time I was in my chair I realized the answers to the quandaries and the path through the wilderness, the way out of the conundra (hope that works, as a Latin neuter plural instead of the Anglo-Saxon plural -s).

I ended all this revising work with a very good sense, rethought out in all the important ways, of the story arc, and several plot lines or issues that run through it, act by act. Of course, I had this before, but it's much better now, more detailed and more nuanced. "New and improved!" An endless process, but it gets better each time.

The balancing act is working, using a combination of detailed planning and open-ended possibilities on how to realize those ideas in actual practice. I haven't teetered or tottered too much one way or the other, although I felt myself tipping a bit with all the rethinking last night.

I found a new way to do my tables that was very stimulating. Anything that works. My tables are a powerful tool for me in planning. I create tables in Microsoft Word and then fill them in, a way to create a pattern for me to see, a way to anticipate things that will need to be thought of, a way to organize what I know, a way to stimulate new perspectives, new ideas. Eventually I'll share some of these on my other blog of writing tips -- and, happily, I figured out finally how to put them online and make them available! I wasn't sure how to do that before.

Well, I'm not looking back now, will not go back in to Chapter 1 for the time being since I know it thoroughly. Instead, as I advance in Chapter 2 and think of some minor detail that should be changed in Chapter 1, I make a brief note of it in another file of changes to make to Chapter 1 once I've finished Chapter 2. It's important at some point to maintain that line and not go back, only forward.

Hope to have Chapter 2 done within a few days. The pace will pick up as the story gets underway, and eventually I'll do a chapter or more a day. It seems I'm back on my 12 steps = 12 chapters pattern, but the goal will be only 5,000 words per chapter, and any above that is "extra". This will bring me in around 60,000 - 72,000 words. I can later look back over it and see whether I can break it down to shorter chapters, but I won't worry about that at this time. I think 12 is a good number for chapters in a book, and it fits my outline of main steps in the plot.

The holidays are fast approaching and the traffic is getting terrible. I refuse to go out and shop any more. Any last-minute shopping I'll do online and since it's too late for online retailers to deliver by now unless they charge significant shipping fees, I'll probably just send online gift certificates. It's not nearly as nice as a gift you choose and wrap yourself, but at least this way it's something they'll like since they'll pick it out themselves. Luckily I did most of my shopping several weeks ago.

Maximizing my writing time even as the world goes crazy around me with the holiday frenzy,


1 comment:

Suresh said...

Good to read about your progress on the novel. I am eagerly looking forward to seeing your tables in Tips blog. Hope you will do it soon. Best wishes and regards.