Thursday, April 26, 2007
Chapter 17, 45k
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" (!).
Best wishes to others working on their novels,