Friday, February 26, 2010

Still Plugging Away & Olympic Dreams

I'm now through Chapter 8 and the novel stands around 26k words. However, I'll surely go back into these past few chapters and do some rewriting -- in fact, I know just the spot where I need to do that, and what I need to do.

This new approach of going in circles -- three steps forward followed by two steps backward, editing, rewriting, fixing, then forward again -- is working wonderfully. It just takes a lot of patience to keep going back over the same material many times, and to allow for intervals of editing between intervals of writing new stuff. As long as there is some sense of forward momentum, I can keep this up.

The only snafu is that sometimes I go over stuff so much that I need a break from it in order to clear my head and restore some sense of objectivity. I lose a few days or a week at a time, but it's truly necessary, and when I return to the story I have that much-needed perspective that lets me see through the issues to the heart of the matter and target just what I need to do to keep the story in line with the overall vision and the major plot points.

Yes, it's slow, but not too tedious, and it takes great patience, but it's doable, and the results are VERY SOLID. I'm thrilled. I feel I will likely need to do only some relatively minor editing to polish the entire manuscript once the draft is complete. I do not expect to feel any need for a second draft.

The story is really cool. I like it a lot. The characters are interesting. I like them a lot. The ultimate message is important, and the ending is substantial enough to really generate emotional impact. All of that reflects my opinion, of course, but if I like it, then maybe someone else will, too.

By the way, I read on Wynn Bexton's blog how she is inspired by the Olympics. She's there right now enjoying the atmosphere -- how cool for her! I share her sentiment: there is a parallel between the years of preparation and struggle for excellence that the athletes endure and our own struggle over many years to achieve the skills to produce worthwhile results.

I know I've enjoyed seeing every medal ceremony I've managed to catch on TV. Regardless of the nationality of the athletes, I've cheered them on and felt happy for them, celebrated with them the joy they must be feeling. It truly is inspirational to see so many people making their dreams come true -- and not just the medalists, but all those fortunate to compete.

Keeping the dream alive,


Thursday, February 04, 2010

Solid Progress, But Slow

I did get back to writing since my last post, and have been working hard. I carried the story forward somewhat. I'm in chapter 6, and am still editing chapters 4 and 5. I think the first 3 chapters are pretty well done until the final review and polish.

It's slow going, because I'm trying to get it right as I go. I am tempted to break into a run and just finish off the story, then go back to edit, but I'm concerned if I do that then I'll end up with a rough draft that would require so much editing that it would be a waste of time. Slow, solid progress seems to be working well for this story, as long as I keep it moving forward, even at a slow pace. I can't let it stall or spend so much time rewriting that I inhibit any additional forward momentum. The balancing act has been working well enough thus far.

It's clear I won't have the story finished in time for this year's ABNA, which is very sad, since I had really hoped to have something, but at least I hitched a ride, so to speak, and the excitement surrounding that event has spurred me on to get really serious on bringing this story to completion. I'll just keep at it. It's hovering around 20k right now, and that's about 1/3 of the story (goal: 60-65k). I know the storyline, so it's just a matter of telling it as I go, not figuring it out. I feel more solid on having a handle on this story plot-wise than any other story I've worked with in the fast few years. I'm finding it much easier to keep it focused and on track. It's just a matter of drawing out the core of each scene and making each scene shine as I go along.

The characters are intriguing to me, the situation is very exciting, and there is much for the Reader to wonder about along the way, questions that a Reader will want to know the answers to. I'm getting better at leaving things unanswered and allowing the curiosity to develop.

I'm approaching this novel as character-driven even though there is a hefty suspense plot. That is helping give it a human quality that would otherwise come up short if I focused on the external aspects. Good choice and it's clearly playing off.

I have been storing away articles and notes from the research. Rather than trying to internalize all that information I'm finding it more useful to familiarize myself with it, so I know what it is, what information exists that I can draw from, and then I can look things up as I go along and get the details. Since there is a lot of information attached to this story, I could easily go overboard with exposition, but I'm purposefully avoiding that by keeping it to an absolute minimum. Story first, information only as absolutely essential to flesh out, validate, add realism, etc. Good approach.

So, at this point I'm happy with the story -- it has every potential to be my first totally completed project, and for me to get there within the coming weeks, no more than a few months. I'll postpone my end-of-January deadline and reset it as an end-of-February deadline, for completed, edited draft, which can then be reviewed, edited a little more as needed, and finally polished within the following month. Since I'm editing substantially as I go, and I'm working hard to keep it on track, I'm hoping to avoid the need for a second complete draft.

I feel many pangs of regret that I won't have something to send in for ABNA, but I take consolation that what I am working on appears to be worthy of sending out once finished, and I have a reasonable hope that this one might actually get to that point. That's something to be happy about!

Best wishes for completing your own work in a timely manner,