Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Life's a breeze, or so it seems. I wrote 8,000 words on Sunday, another 8,000 words on Monday. With any luck, I'll keep the pace going! I can write this many words in a day, without too much trouble, as long as I know what I'm doing with the story, and don't have other things pulling at me or distracting me. Surprisingly how few days I actually cruise along like this. Seems life is always getting in the way, or I have my struggles with the story.
In any event, it is comfortable going. I don't always know exactly what's coming next, even with my outline. I just shoot for the next main goal, the main plot points along the way, and let the story unravel itself as it moves along. The characters are driving it, and the logic of what they are dealing with from moment to moment. Although some of it is destined for the meandering trash heap, every chapter delivers at least a portion that is really good stuff, conversations that draw out thoughts and concerns of the characters that advance the plot and build suspense.
The characters have more distinct personalities now, much more so than when I first started writing them. There are six characters on the island. At first I thought it might be too many, but now that they are distinct enough and unique enough, they work well together, six personalities that play off each other in various ways. I'm much more comfortable handling six characters now. Glad I didn't cut them down to four, which I almost did. The trick is in the introduction. I have to introduce no more than one or two at a time.
The mid-point came and went, and the twist is now falling into place, driving the action and building a new momentum for this second half of Act II, which is where I am at the moment. I think there are 28 chapters done, and I'm in chapter 29 right now, but that's subject to change. I'm happy to have shorter chapters this time around. Much better than the huge 10k-word chapters of my last novel, although that seemed to fit the story just fine. Still, 2k - 3k is a good average to shoot for and mine are generally there. The past few have been more on the 3k side.
Well, that's all. Just noting that there is progress. I won't be able to finish within February. Wish I hadn't lost that time to being sick. I'll push right along though, and finish it as quickly as possible, within the first week of March.
Wishing everyone else good progress with their word counts,
Sunday, February 25, 2007
I managed several productive writing sessions this past week and am now up to just over 60,000 words on THE ISLE. They'll send a boat for me soon. Until then, I'll just have to keep writing. (haha)
I'm still just short of the half-way point in terms of the event that I need to be the mid-point of the story. I finally found a way to get the characters to where I need them, for that event to take place. They are on their way now, with 23 chapters behind them. Within the next one or two chapters I should be able to get them finally through that key scene. It is the one pivotal scene of the plot, that everything depends on from there till the end.
Following the mid-point event there is a twist. I was concerned with the twist not being fully supported by previous events, but that has not been the case. I have built in lots to support this twist, and a sense of urgency about it. So, I expect that will work well. The second half of Act II should go quickly. The problem over the past several chapters has been getting the characters to the mid-point. I'll have to edit those chapters down and consolidate them, make it more of a straight path. I had to wander a bit in the writing, seeking the right way to work the mid-point in so it would seem right as it occurs. That difficulty has been probably the number one reason the novel has taken 60k words to get to the mid-point. It was just hard to get all the characters to go through all the changes they needed to in order to arrive at the mid-point and act in the way they do, for the scene to work and ring true. It's still a little shaky, but I made it. I can shore it up in the rewrite. At least I have lots to work with now.
If only I had been concise! 60k should be the end-point, not the mid-point! But that's okay. I can live with it. This will be another 120k first draft.
By the way, if you haven't already, check out Gabriele's sites which I have listed under FEATURED LINKS right now. All three are hers. She writes historical fiction and I was very impressed with the enormous background she seems to have in understanding the history and culture underlying her novels. She also has a knack for finding interesting moments, figures and events in history and writing about them. If you're into history or historical fiction, her sites are worth checking out!
Best wishes for happy novel writing and much progress,
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
I've been wrestling with exactly where my Act breaks occur since I began this third version of the first draft. Up to now I have interpreted my current position as early in Act II, with a lengthy Act I behind me.
However, I considered Alicia Rasley's comments in one of her articles (you can find them by following the link to must-read articles in the sidebar), and have reconsidered. She states that modern fiction tends to have a very short first act, maybe only one or two chapters long, before moving right into the protracted second act.
I shortened my first act in this third rewrite, shortening it to two short chapters. However, I felt that was not long enough, so I have been thinking that somehow some of what has occurred since is really Act I material. It's not. My first act is just short in this first draft, and I'm not in the early part of Act II, I'm coming up fast on the mid-point of the novel.
It makes sense. It's also nice to realize I really am farther than I was thinking, once I redraw the lines separating each act. It brings the word count a little more in line with what it should be.
It's interesting that in spite of having a solid outline, what I have written meanders a lot while still fulfilling the key plot points, just not as I had envisioned. So, the story idea is one thing, the story reality (in this version at least) is another, yet the two are complementary.
Back to work. Er, back to exploration!
Monday, February 19, 2007
Had a productive writing session last night and another one today. Two more chapters down. It was fun to see how things developed. I am seeing multiple layers beginning to come together, something I had intended, had hoped for, but wasn't sure exactly how I'd realize in the text. It's happening naturally. I'm letting the story go, letting it take its own course. I know the main pillars, I shoot for them, but otherwise it's a tangle, and that's okay. New scenes are coming along that I had never envisioned, and some of them are really intriguing. I'll use this first draft to draw from, for sure. Some of the writing is excellent, very tight, very focused. Some of it feels around a little, looking for something. Once I find it the text draws in tight around it. That's what drafts are like.
Yes, it's an exploration. I'm an explorer. I should get one of those little hats with a light on the front of it.
With the present word count (over 45k), I should be ready to enter Act III by now, but in fact I'm still in the early part of Act II. That's okay. I'm no longer counting words, just trying to keep it as brief as I can as I move forward, since otherwise it'll become another huge manuscript, larger than it needs to be. Even trying to keep it short, it's twice the length I intended. That's okay. Everything's okay. I'm beyond caring about these things. I'm looking at the larger picture. Letting go of the details of the process. Focusing on the story, the characters.
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Turns out "getting back to work" meant writing only another 5,000 words -- I thought I was getting over my cold, but it got worse, and last week was a near total loss. Once again I am getting better, and hopefully this time I really am getting over the cold. I think so. I look forward to getting back in the saddle and blazing the trail again!
Luckily, I did make a clear mental note of where I was in the writing, and I kept the story in mind. I should be able to get right back into it without significant delay. I will reread what I have already written, just a quick breeze through it to remind me of the story details thus far. Otherwise, I know the turning point I was at and can pick up again from there.
I'm constantly mulling over ideas from my recent postings and from the thoughtful comments others have graciously shared. As I resume writing, I'll be thinking about the story, about the need to be concise, and the need to allow myself freedom to explore in this first draft. I'll try to explore concisely.
Including today there are 11 days left in February, enough time to finish this draft if I get back to work in the proper mode.
There should be a checklist for writers who are rolling up their shirt sleeves and getting to work on a first draft, the way astronauts have before taking off in a space shuttle....
OUTLINE IN PLACE...CHECK.
INTERNAL EDITOR...OFF (AND HIDE THE KEY!).
FREEDOM TO EXPLORE...CHECK.
NOSE TO THE GRINDSTONE...CHECK.
Monday, February 12, 2007
I came down with a cold this past week, and just as I was moving along in high gear with my writing, I lost time due to that. I don't think or create well when I'm medicated and miserable. I'm getting steadily better now and was able to write again last night, but the word counts have not progressed much since last week, sadly enough. I think I've added about 5,000 words since my last posting -- hardly a trot, let alone a gallop!
Thanks to those who added comments to my last posting. I added a comment there, too, with thoughts of allowing a second draft, something I've always hoped to avoid. But, hey, if it helps, then it's worth it.
Anyway, I'm back to work this week with my writing and will attempt to get back in the saddle and up to speed ASAP.
The weather this year has been rather odd. It seems there are a lot of people getting sick or injured, at least among people that I know or come into contact with. Others are saying the same thing. Just when I became convinced it was my imnagination, the woman who sold me groceries this morning said she was about to keel over from stomach flu, waiting for someone to arrive to relieve her so she could go home. It just seems like everyone is falling apart under the strain of the winter, but I know that can't be true. Or is it....
Sounds like a Stephen King novel.
Best Wishes for High and/or Quality Word Counts,
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Currently in Chapter 13 (and no, that doesn't bother me a bit), and about 31,000 words. I wrote about 5,000 words yesterday. I'm finally turning the corner toward what was supposed to be the conclusion of Act I. I should get there within the next 5,000 words.
This is turning into another 120,000-word novel, even though I've been trying to keep it pared down. It's not fluff. The story is just that big.
I'm realizing the need to draw a connection between the amount of wordage I hammer out to cover an idea, and the number of ideas I put into my stories. The story is long from conception, although I didn't think it was. I see the reality of bringing the story to life is that it takes a certain amount of space to do that.
So, in the future, maybe I can pare down my outlines, simplify the stories, to have fewer scenes that cover more territory each in terms of story development.
Still, it's fun writing this one, since every chapter brings on something new, and each one ends with a mini-cliffhanger, or bigger cliffhanger, to urge the Reader on to the next one. Doing much better with the chapter lengths now, more in line with what I had always intended, a range of 2,000 to 3,000 typically, not much shorter and not much longer.
Still riding that horse!
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
The past several days I've been busy working on the prose, keeping to my CONCISION IS EVERYTHING motto, and it's been working very well.
I'm currently in Chapter 11 of THE ISLE and the word count stands at about 27,000 words. This is all well and good except I still haven't completely satisfied the story goals for Act I yet! I was supposed to do that by 15,000 words! So, once again, in spite of the emphasis on being concise, which I am being by far compared to what I could be writing right now, I'm still running at twice the intended length. I think this has to do more with the fact that "it's a big story" than "I'm padding it". I'm not padding it. It's a big story. And it's fun, and interesting, and I'm discovering a lot even as I follow my outline, and I'm loving it.
I'm leaving out some of the intended details in favor of others I'm discovering along the way. Anything important is certainly there, but the new twists and turns are working extremely well, contributing to the larger picture of the story in ways I had not expected they would, and I'm thrilled with what I'm seeing in them.
It's a happenin' and it's goin' good!
I hope to keep atop this horse and ride him to the finish line, meaning a completed draft of THE ISLE within the next two weeks or thereabouts. All the earlier thinking and note-making and outlining and THINKING are now paying off. Feels good to be in the saddle again instead of on the ground eating dust and wondering what happened that I fell off for the umpteenth time (all of the past two months have been like that). Been there, done that! I've slain the beast with a thousand tentacles and am into rodeos now!
Thursday, February 01, 2007
I took a few minutes this evening to browse by some of the blogs that I have links to, something I haven't done in a while since my time has been limited somewhat and I've wanted to focus primarily on my writing rather than other things. I'm glad I took the time to do this! I was amazed at the progress I saw on several authors' blogs. Where they were writing manuscripts before, they have finished them now. Where they were editing them before, they are sending them out now. Where they had one story, now they have two, or three, or several more. Where they were self-published, they now have publishing contracts! It's very inspiring, telling me to buckle down and achieve COMPLETION with my own work!
Check out the links to other authors' blogs in the sidebar to the right, and best wishes for making progress with your own work!