Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Still Building

In my last post I set out a path for completing the planning phase of my new current WIP within two weeks, so that I can begin to write the first draft. I set a goal of writing basic scene descriptions for the entire plot, and then writing detailed scene descriptions for each scene (totaling 30+ pages). I completed the first part, mapping out every scene using the Marshall Plan template, and ended up revising the plot two times in the process. Seeing the opportunity to make even more improvements, I decided to hold off on the detailed scene descriptions until I finish yet another revision of later scenes.

It's a fascinating world, and I truly love these characters. I feel there is more story potential here and I need to slow down and spend more time developing it. I've already spent a few hundred hours planning this story over the past 3 years but there is just so much more I can see doing with the characters and events. The challenge is to accomplish these things in a limited amount of pages and point-of-view characters. It's an epic fantasy novel, and keeping it tightly woven is a challenge. I'm having a lot of fun with it, and a lot of success.

A key effort has been to weed out the "new stuff" that I kept throwing into the plot. It's much better to re-use the same "old stuff" that's already there. This makes a considerable difference in Act II, which is the middle half of the book. A lot happens here. I need to focus on a few events and their lasting impact, and allow the characters time to deal with these things in meaningful ways. For instance, instead of introducing yet another new character, I've found ways to re-introduce existing characters. I even brought one character back from the dead! What a surprise to me, and no doubt to the main character. It is fantasy, so this sort of thing is quite doable; the strength it adds to the story is readily apparent. Giving the characters time to deal with things does not mean adding a lot of reaction scenes -- it just means that the new action scenes follow and build on existing situations rather than representing a constant departure for new, unrelated adventures. Things unfold, one to the next, in a direct and relevant fashion, rather than as a hodge-podge of new things thrown at the characters.

I'm now making my third revision of Act II, each time tightening, narrowing, further developing what's already there. It's greatly improving the story. I've spent a lot of time on it these past two weeks and am spending a lot of time again this week. I won't worry about the self-imposed deadline of two weeks, which has just passed. As long as I'm working hard and making such solid progress, watching the story improve visibly in front of my eyes, I have no reason to rush ahead. I'll give myself the time I need to complete this important work before solidifying it with the detailed scene descriptions, the final task before I'll be ready to begin the first draft. This added effort now will help make that draft much easier to write, and should considerably reduce the macro-level editing to follow.

Wish I could share details, but I guess the best way to do that is to wait until the final draft is complete, when I can share the whole story!

Working hard and loving it,


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