Saturday, July 13, 2013

On the off clock

Today marks the first Saturday I've written in a while. Chapter 1 is drafted, and the outline for the next few is coming along. There have been some interesting developments, character wise. Three months ago, I had the broad idea for the last book, and as the weeks went along I chiseled more and more ideas out of that rough whole. And just today I had six or seven thoughts that made me go back all over everything again and take a good, hard look at things. I don't want to think that the ending will be good, or that things have become well in hand. I say that because I want to keep myself open to the better idea. I don't want to be settled until it's settled.

So, before I started writing, the outline looked a certain way,and now that chapter 1 is drafted, I have to go back and fiddle with it. It reminds me of some terminology I learned at the last meetup. The two extremes seem to be "Pantsers" and "Outliners." The first group "writes by their seat" and the second group is more self-explanatory. For years now I've always outlined my ideas, but I've never considered them so rigid that I couldn't write outside of them. Feels natural for me; at least, I've recognized it's very important for me to have some idea where I'm going, long term, but so long as the short term helps keep the vehicle moving in the right direction, I'll adjust the specific route as needed.

One of the things that happened that I didn't plan was a nice role reversal. One character, who was in a mentoring role in an earlier book, has found herself in a desperate situation. She's behaving recklessly and letting her frustration get the best of her. It takes  another, younger character, one she mentored, to shake her out of her thinking. It was the kind of organic thing I could saw happening as I was writing. I don't imagine i'm alone in that phenomenon. Those times when an author thinks "Huh, well, how about that. I guess we'll go with it." I'm not mad about it at all.

Something else happened was that the time table was thrown off somewhat. I thought I'd be at point B at the end of chapter 1, but it turns out I'm still at point A. I guess to a certain extent that's a by-product of my word count style. Not sure how it happened, but the vast majority of my chapters have similar word length. I don't necessarily cut them off, or under or over explain. It just so happens that when I'm done covering a narrative chunk, I'm within 200-300 words of the same number. I hope it gives the novels some amount of consistency when they're read. My fantasy novel, which I'm also editing during all of this, does not do that. It seems to buck that trend on purpose.

Seems like something might be there, about genres and setting and what is required of each, but between the writing and editing and blogging, I'm feeling a bit drained. I'm going to rest my head on some television, and take it easy.

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