May 2012 - Posts

Break on Through
Wednesday, May 30, 2012 2:23 PM
Reading and revising whole swaths of the novel, especially, I imagine, when the book is so damn big, is proving to be a very unique challenge. After reading and making a detailed plot outline of the next seven chapters, I thought I was stuck. There were so many options to consider. So many things that needed changing alongside twice as many items that could be removed, enlarged, lessened, or switched around. Everything seemed like it was dependent on something else. It started to feel like the end of a very long and nasty Jenga game.

Looking back, I feel more like I was a computer struggling to run too much software all at once. Last night, everything suddenly clicked. It just goes to show you, keep thinking about it, don't fret over walking away and let it stew, come back to it and try to write down ideas. I was in the middle of copying a brainstorm from my white board on to a sheet of paper when everything just started to make sense. It was a solution that both Mary and my brother-in-law Joe had suggested. The problem was, I couldn't just delete one section and change where a character is introduced. It sounded good in theory, to streamline the plot, cut the length of the overall book and drive the action a bit faster, but it just didn't make sense in my head. You see, on the writer's end it can never be as simple as a mere copy/paste. I had to understand what this change meant for every character. I had to not just know what the change was but how and why it was occurring. How could it actually happen this new way? I had to envision it on the paper, hear the characters speaking in my head and see them preforming these actions with total autonomy of purpose and reason. I had to know why everything was happening from the POV of every character to the over-arching theme of the book. And that's just what happened last night. The puzzle pieces made a whole.

Pic of the massive brainstorm/prewriting session:
Photobucket


Lots to do now. Been working on it some to day (got those two more boxes in the upper right checked off). My target for completing this and the next few chapters that will take me to the old half way point of the book is between June 20 and 25th.

Until next time, I'm Eric and I'm an unpublished novelist.
by DMI | with no comments
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Progress
Friday, May 18, 2012 7:55 PM
This last Wednesday I finished the third draft of chapters 1 and 2. Not bad for ten days work (most of which wasn't spent working on the novel). As for the goal to shorten this draft, so far the word count dropped about 1500 words between the two chapters. My wife (those of you who know her know she's not afraid to tell you exactly what she thinks of something - one reason I love her and what makes her the best person to look at my book) read them already and she seems pretty impressed. Only positive comments and that's a huge difference from the second draft. I have to say, I'm pretty happy too.

Still, there's a lot of work ahead, and just the fact that it took me two days to get this post up shows how divided my time is while school is in session. I really don't see how I'll be able to do this with babies and grad school (but really, the problem there is grad school). I just got chapters 3-9 from my sister and brother-in-law, there comments, on top of Mary's and the conversations I've had with Copperhead (avid reader/old work friend) have given me a lot of to think. There's so much to do that it's exciting and daunting all at once.

I'd like to be going faster, but I probably shouldn't be too self-critical. If I can complete this next big section, turning the next 7 chapters into 5 superior ones, by the end of school then I will have succeeded. Things are beginning to wind down at work so that's good. Tomorrow I'll start reading through those sections, making notes on the notes and formulating a plan to proceed. It's a sizable amount of material to process and there are huge swaths that need to be ripped out and replaced, not to mention this is the one section of the book where the order of events will be under revision as well. For the first two chapters, it was definitely beneficial to view it as a section of the book. I think it aided continuity and improved the revision process as I moved more material between chapters and was mentally free to travel between them as I worked. It was good practice for the work to come.

Until next time, I'm Eric and I'm an unpublished novelist.
by DMI | with no comments
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Here We Go Again
Sunday, May 6, 2012 8:25 AM
Draft 3 can be put off no longer. My identical baby girls will be here in about two and a half months and who knows how much time I'll have to write once they're here. I have a 31 chapter, 173,000 word monstrosity that I need to do some serious revision on. If I'm going to do this it's got to happen now. I'd love to spend a few weeks fiddling around with short stories, but that will undoubtedly turn in to a few months and then it's bye-bye novel.  Right now, I'm out of grad school till August, my school-job is winding down with about four weeks left, and if I can get a running start, I'll be able to tear into this come summer time.

So, here's the plan:

For the next month while I'm still working days, I'm going to jump on this like I was still in grad school. Mondays and Wednesdays for three, solid hours a piece. Tuesday, Thursday squeeze in an hour or two. Devote Saturday or Sunday as needed. By the time school lets out, I want to be done with the first part of the book. Through chapter 9 (which might be the new chapter 7) would be ambitious, so I guess that's what I need to aim for. As for this week: I want to rewrite chapters one and two. I know that that is feasible; it's just really hard for me to figure out how much time certain tasks might take beyond that.

There are parts later on in the book that my wife and Copperhead think need very little rewriting. However, I know that the set of chapters right after the first two need huge, global changes. Still, this shouldn't be like draft 2 where I'm completely rewriting every word. There should be significantly more sections that I can hold on to in their entirety (otherwise, what progress would I be making?). For one, a focus of this draft is to cut it down to about 25 chapters and 150,000 or less. Taking things out is always easier than putting more in. I do have new material that needs to be inserted, but not in the form of scenes or characters or action (with a few small exceptions that are usually taking the place of something longer and unnecessary). Instead, I have the challenge of implementing changes that will span the entire novel (for example, I had the main character using a device called a hand that was basically a super-fancy iphone - the technology level should be way beyond that so I've come up with two ideas for far-future tech to replace that).

There will be times when I need to rewrite a chapter. There will also be times where I can rip out a few sections, tweak it up and give it a nice, polished once over and move on. That's the unique challenge of this phase of the novel writing process, and I just don't know how long this is going to take. All I can do is get started. Chapters one and two, here I come.

Until next time, I'm Eric and I'm an unpublished novelist.
by DMI | with no comments
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