Thursday, November 06, 2008

New Novel Up & Running!

My new novel, CHASM (still want to find a better working title!), is up and running. I mentioned having written the first 2 chapters last week, about 7k words. Well, over the weekend, while editing those 2 chapters and reflecting more on how the story was going, I felt I had a new set of questions that needed answering. In spite of all the planning over the summer -- I filled an entire composition notebook with notes -- I realized there were still a number of angles that I hadn't addressed. So, I spent the weekend and early into this week going back over my notes and reflecting in greater depth on certain key issues. The result is the story has advanced very nicely, with a much richer plot and set of relationships and interrelationships between characters, events and places. It's the same story, just more evolved. I also added some entirely new elements, which are useful in drawing out the ideas I already had established, but in a way that helps me dramatize things better. I did nothing that changes the original intent or basic story line. Those were already well-planned. I'm really happy with the new material, and it has that feel to it that tells me it's "right on" -- you know something is working when the pieces fit seamlessly together and everything just feels right.

However, with the new ideas, I felt I needed to go back to the beginning and make a fresh start again. I wanted to allow the new ideas to percolate and affect how I was beginning the story, and the exact way I was going to introduce the characters and circumstances. I'm glad I did. One important new change is, for the first time since I started working (again) in earnest a few years ago, I'm going to use multiple points of view. I have kept my last four novels strictly focused on one main character who is the protagonist and hero. Every scene of every chapter featured the MC, and was from that one character's POV. In earlier years I did write with multiple POV's, but when I started writing again in 2005 I decided to restrict myself to just one POV (the MC's) and keep it to that until I had mastered a number of other aspects of the novel-writing process. I wouldn't say I've mastered anything, of course, but I'm certainly doing much, much better on a number of fronts and have clearly learned a lot in these past few years. I feel comfortable branching out now, with a sense that I have enough of the key elements of good storytelling under control now that it is time to grow again. It's very exciting to work with multiple POV's after my self-imposed exile from them.

So far this week I've written only two scenes, going slowly and carefully, making sure I get it right. I believe the beginning of a story is very important as it establishes the foundation that you write from as you proceed through the rest of the story. However, I'll try to avoid the meticulous editing I normally do to the first three or four chapters. The first two scenes run a little over 3k, and I'll add another scene before closing Chapter 1. This fresh-start manuscript is up and running, and as I get past the first couple of chapters I expect the pace to pick up and the editing to fall by the way side. I don't want to rush too quickly through it, as time allows reflection, which in turn creates better scenes, but I want to set a good pace and keep it moving. I have no idea the length of this novel, but will set it at 80k to 100k.

Once I get a few chapters in, and have edited the first chapter enough times that it seems pretty well set, then I'll share the first chapter on my secure blog, ADRIAN'S ARCHIVE. By the way, thanks to Scotty for his feedback already in the comments on that blog, and, Debra, I've sent the password email but I'm not posting your comment requesting it so that I don't divulge your email address publicly.

One really cool thing about the new CHASM novel is that I feel like I'm writing a real fantasy novel for the first time. It's actually my fifth fantasy novel, but with all the growth over the past four I feel I'm finally able to write the kind of prose I was hoping to write with the first one, THE REFLECTING STONE. That was a fine story in terms of plotting and characters and the struggle the MC faces, but my prose was not then what it is now. It's nice to see progress.

I'll keep working on CHASM, enjoying the ride, not in a hurry, but feeling excitement about this story and anticipation. I can't wait to see what the finished story looks like.

Best wishes to others with their WIP's,



stevent said...

One thing I wished I had done when writing the first draft of my first novel was planning out the storylines and characters better. Learned my lesson on that; I ended up trashing the entire first draft and started from scratch. For future novels -- I'm still working on my first novel, in the fourth draft stage now -- I will definitely spend some time planning things out before jumping right in. Best of luck with your novel writing!

Adrian Swift said...

Steven, thanks for stopping by, and for your well wishes for my novel. Of course, I also wish you all the best with your own writing.

I checked out your blog and was very impressed! I'll update my web site soon, and also post here on my blog, with new "featured links". I try to update that monthly, but usually run behind on it. I'd definitely like to encourage others, both fantasy writers and historical fiction buffs, to check out your super-cool blog (visitors: just click his name above his comment and it'll take you there).

And I agree with you -- success comes from planning, at least for some of us, and certainly that is the case for me. Glad you have found an approach that works for you as well.

Best wishes, and hope to hear more from you,


PS -- I'm sure I'll be visiting your blog regularly, now that I've found it! Way cool!

dayya said...

"...success comes from planning." (sigh) I should've learned that by now. d:)

Wynn Bexton said...

Keep it up, Adrian!

By the way, in my novel writing classes the first 'assignment' is to make a rough draft of the plot outline (which can be changed later if necessary). Otherwise people don't have a clue what direction they are going in and quickly become discouraged.

KHurley said...

The beautiful thing about planning ahead is that it relieves some of the pressure from staring at that blank white screen and not knowing what comes next, and it can certainly help keep one from painting oneself into a corner!

Best of luck with the new novel.

Adrian Swift said...

Dayya, Wynn and Kathy:

Thanks for sharing your comments! It's very nice hearing from each of you. Glad you stopped by. Sounds like we're all in agreement that planning is important! It's made a world of difference for me in helping me chart a course that can guide me through to a complete draft. I was never able to complete a draft until I learned to plan my way through one in its entirety.

Sincerest best wishes to each of you with your current projects.


stevent said...

Glad you enjoyed my site as well. I'll keep checking back with your site in the future.