I added some entries to my TIPS & TRICKS blog, offering some very important tips and questions to ask yourself that can help anyone struggling with plot and character development.
This blog is best read in reverse order -- in other words, start with the oldest (first) entry, and read backward, in the order in which things were actually posted. Of course, you can also skim along and read whatever catches your eye in whatever order you come to it. One day before too terribly long I will create a web site and organize this information, and add to it, so that it is presented in a clearer fashion. Blogs are not really the best venue for this sort of information.
THE ORIGIN OF THE "THINKING BLOGGER AWARD"
Susan Flemming was able to find the original posting by the blogger who actually started the whole THINKING BLOGGER AWARD meme. She has updated her blog with her own posting after receiving the award, and has included the link there.
I include it here as well in case anyone is curious to see it. I was. I'm glad the person started the meme. It certainly made me think about what blogs have a real value to me, on what basis I think that, helped spur me on to seek additional blogs out there that can make me think, and helped me to recognize some quality blogs by quality people when I made my own posting about this.
Hoo-hah! A marathon session. Stayed up all night. This story is so fascinating, I just can't put it down. So much of the heart of the story is coming out right now.
I wrote for a span of probably nine hours. During that time I think I churned out about 25,000 words. That comes to 2777 words per hour, similar to my output the other day when I was on a roll. That's about 46 words per minute sustained output for nine straight hours non-stop, although in real terms of course I did take breaks. I actually worked over a span of about 10 hours, with an hour off for breaks.
I just couldn't stop myself. The story has me in its grips.
I'm technically doing the second draft, but since I have changed plot details around, it feels more like a first draft at this point. Some of it is loose, but some of it is tight, and some of it is darned good stuff that I'm really happy with. It'll certainly take a bit of work to tighten up the loose parts.
At the start of this past week, I was at Chapter 10 and 27k. That means I wrote twenty chapters this past week, and 54,000 words.
Okay, I'm now officially a writing maniac!
Feels good. Hope I'm inspiring someone else out there to see what they can do if they pull all the stops.
Best wishes while I can still see clearly enough to type it,
Made a bunch more progress last night. My goal earlier this week of letting the story speak for itself, of getting into the heart of it, has worked really well. Last night I was flying along, feeling the very heart and pulse of the story (and the potential series).
That's all. I'll write again this weekend and am really, really enjoying the story. This second draft will finally resemble the finished product. That's exciting.
Moving right along. I made it to Chapter 15 on Tuesday night, then Chapter 17 last night, so about two chapters per night. They vary from 2k to 3k in length. The most I wrote in one night this week was 7k words.
Sometimes I think I'm not realizing the potential of the story with this new material, and then when I read over what I wrote, I feel it is actually really good. So, I have no idea whether it's any good or not. I'll have to continue working through, complete the draft, and then a good look back at it after a short break from it.
What I do like in the new material is that I'm delving more into the heart of the characters, trying to draw out the emotion more. The first part of the story (Act I) moved along fairly quickly and I was writing in a style that was brief, without much exposition or inner reflection. I wanted the Reader to deduce the emotional reactions without my naming them. In this part (Act II, First Half), I'm commenting more on the thoughts or feelings, which I think ultimately works better. I'm not stating the obvious, but allowing more consideration of how the MC feels about things. There is much for him to feel about, much that has already happened, and probably in the edit or rewrite of this I'll need to go back to Act I to draw that out more there as well.
I've also been very pleased with some of the scenes in general, that they are engaging and heartwarming and allowing for some story questions to remain unanswered, building suspense to some degree, while also developing new questions of immediate interest, yet again not fully resolving them. There are also a number of twists and turns, unexpected things that make perfect sense but which I did not see coming and the Reader will probably not see coming either, as written.
Although I'm moving faster, I'm getting a handle on scene length, pulling them back down to 2k+, trying not to hit 3k and certainly not to exceed it. It's still a problem with some chapters, but other chapters are right on target, which is better than having no chapters on target. My first draft featured chapters of about 10k each and some scenes as long as 6k+. Shorter is better, and hard for writers like me to accomplish since (as my blog postings show on occasion ... well, rather frequently) I tend to write a bit more rather than a bit less. At least I don't have any trouble most of the time finding something to write!
Also, the overall quality of the prose is remaining good enough that I'm comfortable with it. I thought style would go out the window, which it has to some extent as I am writing more quickly, moving ahead without looking back, but in fact my developing sense of style is becoming more ingrained and I'm holding it together much better than I might have in previous drafts/attempts over the years. I sense much more control at storytelling emerging. It just takes lots and lots and lots of practice!
Finally, I wanted to mention that as I do more work in this draft-mode mindset, turning off the internal editor and just going for it, I find it is getting much, much easier to do. It is no longer as emotionally draining. It is becoming a habit. I can sit down now and just glance at the last lines of the previous chapter, and suddenly all of it comes back to mind. The continuity is there with very little effort. I don't have to spend an hour going back over previous chapters to "get in the mindset". The downside, of course, is that I am never not in the mindset: I carry the story around with me day and night, although I am now able to carry conversations and actually notice what the other people are saying. I'm not totally pre-occupied, just unwilling to let the story go for longer than it takes to watch "24" (!).
I was recently awarded the Thinking Blogger Award by Gabriele. This definitely feels like an honor. The idea of the award is to recognize blogs that make you think. The rules are posted below, along with the five blogs which I am also tagging.
Here are the rules to play along:
1. If you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think. 2. Link to that post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme. 3. Optional: Display your Thinking Blogger Award with a link to the post that you wrote.
And the five blogs I have chosen:
Benjamin Solah: A young man who lives in Sydney, Australia, who is both a Marxist and a Horror Fiction writer. He uses his fiction to capture the horrors of Capitalism. I admire the depth of his convictions and his commitment to using his art to express his view on the world.
Wynn Bexton: Wynn is a travel writer and writing instructor who is also working on a novel. Through her travels and studies she is also very knowledgeable about history. Her blog is always interesting and I love the quotes and the samples of her writing that she shares.
Susan Flemming: Susan is another aspiring novelist whose blog makes me think. She is in touch with much that goes on in the world of writerly blogging, including writers' contests and other events.
Scott Marlowe: Scott is an aspiring novelist who blogs about his writing and also shares other interesting tidbits of interest and relevance to writers. He recently posted a completed manuscript online for free download, earning him the dubious title of webscab.
Sherry Thomas: Sherry is a newly published writer who hasn't blogged as much lately as she used to but when she posts, it is generally well worth reading. I have enjoyed several of her posts immensely and hope she will continue blogging regularly!
There was a blog that really made me think, but apparently it is no longer available. It was called "A New Rico" and belonged to an Italian man that I came into contact with through Nanowrimo one year. He was blogging and writing creatively about his life experiences as a gay man in Italy dealing with HIV and other significant issues. I hope he is alive and well.
Another very interesting blog is "The Elegant Variation", a literary weblog that has attracted considerable attention. If you haven't heard of it, check it out.
Pendrifter is the blog of another aspiring writer who, like me, blogs about the struggles, the ups and downs, of working at her novels. This blogger also includes a beautiful piece of artwork with each posting, which always stimulates the creativity and constantly reinforces a sense of art's potential to inspire.
If Gabriele hadn't tagged me for this award, I would certainly have tagged her. She maintains two blogs and a web site (see Featured Links in the sidebar). She writes historical fiction and I'm amazed by her work. She also provides an excellent list of links well worth visiting.
Which blogs make YOU think?
PS: If anyone linked to or mentioned here does not wish to receive the recognition, please let me know and I'll remove your name/link.
Yup, back to work, riding the churning seas of creativity, new pages materializing right before my very eyes . . . must be magic! There has to be some explanation for it.
Chapter 12 was surprisingly tight. Otherwise, the chapters are running longer than intended. That's what happens when I write faster without editing. Looks like this will be another 120k draft. Was hoping for 80k and was on track for that before.
Have broken that exciting new ground. It's exciting. New scenes now for the next 30k words, a rewrite of this portion of the original storyline. I love the joy of discovery. It's so joyous.
Yes, the word count is beginning to surge, and golly, that just happens to coincide with the point at which I am moving forward more quickly! The rapider I go, the wordier I get . . . .
I threw caution to the wind and I'm not sure yet what the wind blew back on my face, but after I clean it off I'll try resist the urge to go back and edit what I wrote. I'm in Chapter 11 already, and will finish it tonight. That will mark the end of Act I.
It feels good to make more rapid progress, but I long for the sense of polished text. Wish I could have it both ways at the same time. I know, I'll just have to wait and then I can edit later. Okay. I'll wait. Grr . . . .
I'm still excited about getting into the first half of Act II. That'll be something new, a revised version that will involve many new scenes I have never written before. I'll go where I've never gone. Hopefully I won't get lost. My map is pretty good.
I spent a lot of time recently going over and over the existing chapters of the second draft, tightening, tweaking, making it sing. I'm really pleased with the results. I feel this second draft, the portion already written, is very solid. It's what I had hoped the first draft would be.
Last night I worked on Chapter 8. I still have a little to add to it, but it's mostly done. After I had stopped work, I felt what I had written was terrible, but later when I read it over, I thought it was actually very good. So, the doubts will creep in, but are not reason to become discouraged. It seems the more I go over this story, the better I know it, and the better I can tell it. I make more connections now between scenes and especially the forces that drive character motivations. This deeper understanding shows up in each scene I write for this second draft.
As there are multiple scenes in most chapters, and the number of chapters and scenes is beginning to grow, I found it useful to update my Master Scene List, a table where I keep track of each scene in each chapter so I can tell at a glance what has happened and what needs to happen next. I compare what I am doing with what I did before, but I am not bound to follow the exact pattern from before. The idea in this second draft is that I am making minor reshuffles, adjusting the flow of scenes to enhance motivation and cause/effect. Also, as I mentioned in a previous posting, I'll be reshuffling one major portion of the story, moving it earlier where it will have a greater effect and set up more potential in other scenes that come later. Still, I need to refer to the Master Scene List from the first draft to remind me of the various scenes I'm working with. Some I can consolidate, some I can shuffle, some I can drop and replace with other ways of getting the story across. Eventually I will put some of my tables online with links for free download. I know I've been promising that for months; I will get to it eventually.
At this point I'll try to keep moving forward. I love tweaking text but enough is enough. There is much more to write to get this draft done, and I'm falling behind schedule, sacrificing speed for more polished results.
This has turned into an unplanned break! Other things have come up recently and my writing time has been limited, plus I was not getting enough sleep on a chronic basis, so I've needed a break to catch up on some rest, and basically catch up with myself. I'm sort of getting closer to where I am now, the way the survivors were waiting in the airport at the end of Stephen King's THE LANGOLIERS. Any moment my own time frame will come rushing through, and I'm ready to leap back in! [I know, that's a little metaphysical, but my fiction delves into such things on occasion.]
Anyhoo, just letting visitors to my blog know I'm still here and will make a "real" posting again soon, probably this weekend. I have been reading a lot, and also doing more editing on the existing chapters for THE REFLECTING STONE, 2nd Draft. The lastest "tweaks" have really brought out the sparkle and shine, or more accurately the intensity of a couple of scenes. The material is really coming together. The suspense is rising.
Hasta la vista, escritores! C U l8tr alligator, Ci vediamo,
Took some days off as I needed a break -- was burning the candle at both ends for a little too long, and getting very fatigued. The rest helped. Used the time to let my mind wander. I rethought the novel and the series, reviewed ideas I'd already established, added to the ideas, shored them up with more ideas that tie it all together. Used my imagination to imagine scenes, explore how things are now fitting together after changes over the past couple of months. It's good. Real progress.
I also tinkered with the text and edited, tightened, added more to it. I even took a short break from the text of the rewrite to let it cool and then took a fresh look back at what I had been working on. I was planning to condense more, but when I reread last night I was quite happy with what I had written. What's there needs to be there, at least for now. Can't shorten too much or the story loses its essential fabric.
It's always slow for me at the start, then I gain momentum. As I've said before, I like to feel I have a solid foundation before taking off for the mad dash to the end. I think I have enough of that foundation now that I can shift my attention to moving forward.
Back to work! And, wishing everyone else success with their work!