Friday, November 30, 2007

Crisis of confidence

Right on schedule, after starting work on a new chapter, that feeling of being totally lost. I'm going to end my work this morning by reminding myself of the mantra for the rewrite process--just keep going deeper. More specifics. More development. It doesn't have to make sense or be good or be on track or add up to something coherent. Just go deeper.

In particular, I think I need more interaction between my characters in the present. I spend too much time describing "typical" events in generic form and not enough time actually showing them interacting in the context of the story so that they can grow and change. I need to write some scenes that do that in Chapter 3, and that's scary because it's a lot of new work, and it could create a bunch of complications that I'll have to deal with later.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Jane Smiley says,
“ There is a difference between discipline and ritual, even though they sometimes seem similar. Discipline is a form of training, a way of developing good habits or breaking bad ones . . . . Rituals may encourage rather than deter, if the ritual is a type of formalized preparation for the day’s work . . . . But the dangers with rituals is that they can as easily prevent you from getting on with your work as enable you. Any time you begin to think that conditions have to be just right for you to sit down to your novel, chances are you are avoiding it rather than engaging with it”

While writing my first draft, I really tried to take the advice implied in this distinction. I think in the past I have romanticized rituals—feeling that I had to have a certain notebook, a certain pen, a dedicated space. This time I kept telling myself, nothing is important as adding sentences. All the rest is a kind of busy work. Just add sentences every day, no matter what. That means repressing the impulse to develop rituals.

I nevertheless ended up developing regular habits regarding the pen and paper and the chair, but it was without aggrandizing them. When it was cold on the porch in my chair where I spent most of the summer writing in longhand, or when it was noisy from lawn mowers in the neighbors yards, I went inside and found another chair and kept writing. I didn't let the ritual keep me from being disciplined.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

"Finished" Chapter 2

I had a good morning, especially compared to what I expected. I woke up late and very sore from basketball and expected not to be able to focus on work much. I ended up working a full three hours, through a couple of breaks in concentration and the temptation to stop.

For example, at the 90 minute mark, even though I wasn't at a natural stopping point like transitioning out of a scene that took a lot of attention, my brain just insisted on drifting to other matters. Checking email and so on. I decided to make myself some more coffee and see if I could come back to it. (I have a regular amount I try to drink in the morning before starting work and no more after that, but I've been adding more and more extra doses throughout the day, starting earlier and earlier.) 15 minutes later I was back at the desk and plowing ahead.

Later on, nearing the end of the chapter, at the climactic scene, I started to feel like it would take more concentration than I had so late in the morning, but I was able to get into it again.

That took me to the end of the chapter. It started out as 23 pages a few weeks ago and now it's 42 pages. That in itself isn't necessarily a good sign. All that length probably means clutter and poor pacing, and I can see that third draft if I ever get to it is going to be about cutting it all down quite a bit.

So the chapter is "finished" but probably only in the sense that I declared chapter one finished prematurely a couple times. I think I need to have my wife read it and give me a reality check and then go at it again, which will probably take another week.

That means that without the break for Thanksgiving this chapter is going to take around 3 weeks, which is really really scary. It's all good and necessary work, but I can't get over how long the journey is.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


More of the same today. I worked a little longer than usual--close to two-and-a-half hours. Another good thing was that after about an hour I was feeling stuck and discouraged and was avoiding writing the scene I had been circling around, but I was able to get my head back in it and draft that scene. That was writing another scene in the first hour. So I added about 1100 words in new material. I think that's a record during my rewrite process.

I'm still left with really iffy material that I don't feel very good about, but at least now I think there's more of it to analyze and respond to so I can start coming up with some practical solutions. I want to finish picking my way through the rest of the chapter first--hopefully in just one day--and then take a critical look at the whole thing and make a decision something like I did in chapter one, which is whether to go through and rewrite this chapter again to make it as good as possible or to move on to Chapter 3 for the sense of momentum.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Land of the lost

Feeling discouraged, though I know intellectually that what I'm doing counts as progress.

Worked about two hours today. I didn't really add much or fix much but just kind of wandered around thinking about the problems in this chapter. This is after several days off so I'm especially feeling like the work is progressing too slowly. Thanksgiving was last week and before that on Wednesday I had one of the rare days that come sometimes where I sit down to work and just can't get my head in the game and the day is wasted.

Still feeling somewhat like that but I persevered today mostly. The issue is that this chapter is just starting out a lot less developed and needs some hard thinking before I can make good progress. I've known it since I first wrote it--that it's among the weakest points in my first draft--and just haven't faced up to it. It has a key scene in it and nothing else in it is really key. It's all just scenario--color and detail that I thought would be interesting when I was drafting it and that don't really develop the characters at all or the plot much.

Today I just plain cut out some of the stuff--the biggest cuts I've made yet, but not really enough to solve the chapter's problems. I tweaked some scenes to steer them closer to a narrative structure that's starting to come to me. But overall I have a sense that I don't know what the chapter is for, what it's doing and how I should progress. I figure it out a little bit more each day, and I know that's important and part of what needs to happen, but the journey is too long and uncertain for my tastes.

And without pleasure. I guess that's what I'm really feeling. Work without pleasure. And that reminds me of the cycles and phases of the first draft--how in each chapter I would have a few days working in the doldrums and then a breakthrough when I figured what I was doing and the book seemed brilliant and I couldn't wait to get to the next morning so I could dash off the rest of the book. I had that feeling a couple days between the rewrite of Chapter 1 and Chapter 2. I should have faith it will come again after some more work (more than I want) on this chapter.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Recent reading--Jeffrey Lent, Irene Nemerov and E.L. Doctorow

I went a couple months without much inclination to read fiction, but I'm back in the groove lately. Last week I read a new novel by Jeffrey Lent titled A Peculiar Grace. I think I picked it up originally on the basis of a positive review that I can't remember and because it's in third person and somewhat "contemplative." I guess I mean anything that isn't a shoot-em-up is a book with a certain amount of navel gazing in it. This book shows how gross a generalization that is. It does a really good job of being contemplative but also having a lot of real action in it--human behaviors that are both credible and surprising and suspenseful.

Mostly, anyway. I can think of decisions that the character made "all of a sudden" that I didn't feel like were earned. It boils down to the essential challenge in contemporary literary fiction where an omniscient narrator doesn't spell out every thought and feeling of the character. Has the narrator given enough detail that the reader infer a motivation that hasn't been explicitly stated? In a lot of contemporary fiction, I think, there's a certain laziness of thinking where the writer relies on a sense of apparent mystery to permit plot maneuvers that are not actually set up and earned.

There's a little of that in A Peculiar Grace I think. I don't know why the narrator decides "all of a sudden" to run off to upstate New York. I don't know why he ends up getting it on with the girl--I believed him when he said it wasn't that kind of relationship.

No doubt, this is because I'm a dumbass reader. Anyway, I was usually eager to find out what happens next and the fact that a lot of the plot was moved along between episodes by the contemplation in the main character's mind as he worked or went about his business was interesting to me, because that's so hard to pull off.

I read Irene Nemerovsky's Fire In the Blood last week. Her books collected in Suite Francais have been very popular in the last year and half, and I read those earlier this year also. I'm not sure what to say about them, so I think I'll let them sit for awhile. I'm conflicted about them--there's a lot that's very good--fascinating, and high-quality in the craft. And there's a lot that's unsatisfying about the perspective.

I started re-reading E.L. Doctorow's The Book of Daniel the other day. I love everything by Doctorow and read this several years ago. It's a fictionalized account of what the elder child of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg might have been several years later. I picked it up again because--I thought--it's in the third person and it's about a young boy. Now that I'm into it I'm seeing what I had forgotten, which is that it's only partly in third person and about a young boy. It's actually an unusual experiment that switches back and forth between first and third person, Daniel narrating his life and then sometimes talking about himself as if he were someone else. And it spans many years.

I'm actually in the mood to go read it some more right now.

A slog

Writing this morning took some discipline. Got the usual 90 minutes/800 new words in. Essentially added a new scene to Chapter 2 and set myself up for the next new scene I need to do. (Contrary to my hopes, this chapter is not going any faster than the last one, which means the rewrite could take 30 weeks or so. I'm not liking that idea at all.)

I'm proud of myself for making myself do that much, because I had plenty of disincentive. It's one of those days where I'm running on fumes b/c of lack of sleep. I was up late obsessing.

Have you seen any news stories in the last few years in the "kids these days" vein about college students who are less mature than back in the day and who go so far as to bring their parents to advocate for them with their college teachers when they're having a problem? The tone of those stories is always, "Can you believe this crap?"

Well, that actually happened to me yesterday. I caught a student plagiarizing a paper, and I told him to come to office hours, and when he showed up he had his mom with him. It was amazing! So amazing that I kept replaying it in my head all night.

I'm also off my game today because writing isn't actually the first thing I did. I'm backing bread for Thanksgiving and I needed to get the dough started first thing. That's why I usually bake bread on the weekends, so the necessity of starting the dough first thing won't interrupt the writing. Couldn't be helped today, so I had about an hour of work in the kitchen before I came to the writing desk.

Those are two fairly forceful energy sappers that could keep me from writing. They definitely did keep me from achieving as much as I wanted, but I'm taking credit for keeping the ball moving forward anyway.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Four days of stewing

Monday morning today, and I followed what's getting to be my routine. About 100 minutes of work this time, creeping up on a scene that seems ripe for development and then drafting a bunch of new material there--about 850 words. I'm doing it with more confidence--more of an idea about what end it is contributing to. I just wish I could sustain it for longer. It's going to take forever to finish this book.

I didn't work on it since Thursday morning, but it was on my mind all the time. It's hard to explain what that feels like. It's like I'm taking frequent little nibbles, each nibble being the working out of a small problem with a scene, moving each of a thousand pieces a little bit more in alignment with the rest, and then pushing it away for awhile until I feel hungry for another nibble. It's all happening more or less unconsciously and without deliberation. I just find myself contemplating some episode in the book again without intending to. I don't know why it makes its way into my thoughts.

But I'm glad it does. It makes me feel like I'm being productive even during the times when I'm not writing. It feels like real progress.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Finished with Chapter 1 AGAIN

I've declared the rewrite done on this chapter twice before and still found that I needed or wanted to return to it before moving on. The honest truth is that I only think I know what the right thing to do is, and I usually found out different within about 12 hours.

I have a friend who is a writer and who has been offering to read some when I need it. I think the time is right. Hopefully it won't turn out like last weekend when my wife's reading of Chapter 1 sent me back to work on it for another four days. In any case, my plan now is to move on to Chapter 2.

Today was a good day because I broke through on the stamina issue and put in a solid 2 1/2 hours. And in general I'm "living with" the book again. It's on mind all the time, and I even was drawn back to it a couple times late in the day yesterday to just go through the file for Chapter 1 and keep tweaking the language.

Today was also a good day because I was able to keep on task. I have a little running list of things I need to fix in Chapter 1--from digging in and developing scenes to fixing some internal consistency problems in the exposition to deciding what exposition to cut. I have them prioritized from big picture to small and have a plan for working on certain ones each day. (I usually end up adding more things to the list.) I was able to knock off three important tasks today, leaving I hope only small issues that are best left until the next stage of revision.

At least I hope revision is the right word for the next stage and not more rewriting. I don't want to think about how long it will take to finish this book if I go through all 15 chapters and then realize that I have to keep digging deeper and rewrite again.

That 2 1/2 hours this morning--and the mental fatigue that washes over into the rest of the day--is coming at the expense of the paying work I'm supposed to be doing. So, I'm going to have to take tomorrow (a Friday) off from the book and really bear down on the paper grading.

So, Monday morning, I try starting Chapter 2 again.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Overslept--some progress

My weekly basketball game does a lot to erode my writing schedule. The pain afterward makes it hard to fall asleep, and I wake up very sore and without enough rest. And late today.

Still, I got in an hour of work. The good news is that when I'm short on time, I'm taking it out of other things (e.g. preparing for the class I teach tonight) and prioritizing the book. Too bad for my students.

Still on Chapter 1. Yesterday, one of the themes came into clearer relief for me and today I went to the scenes where it gets presented and revised/developed those.

Now I'm thinking two more days of work to finish up with Chapter 1. One to answer some questions about a secondary characters behavior so that one of the plot turns doesn't seem so mysterious and sudden. Another day to clean up some exposition and internal logic problems.

If so, that would mean three full weeks on Chapter 1 when I intended just one week. It certainly will be in a lot better shape than I intended. (And longer, though that's not necessarily a positive value.) More sentence-level revision got taken care of in the meantime than I had intended. So in theory then next rewrite/revision stage will require less.

But I really don't want then next 14 chapters to go this slowly. Hopefully the long struggle to straighten out Chapter 1 will pay dividends in making the necessary work in later chapters more obvious so I can tackle them quicker.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Slow careful work

Continued working on Chapter 1 today. Probably about 1:45. I've stopped tracking the word count. I know that the whole chapter is 39 full pages now and when I opened the document a couple weeks ago it was . . . 18 pages!?!? Damn. Not that another 19 pages is so much to write in two plus weeks of work, but it all just got add a little at a time without really being deliberate or aggressive about it.

Actually figure about three pages of that was cut and paste from another section of the book that I decided worked here. But still, it's in the neighborhood of doubling the chapter without really adding any episodes, just putting a lot of meat on the episodes that are there.

Today's work was a good example of what's typically happening--going through an episode with some awareness of how it should function in the book and how it's failing to do that and as I read it line by line looking for ways to bring more detail and meaning and life to it. I end up layering on more and more metaphor, more exposition, more backstory, more internal monologue especially.

In the end, most of those layers will need to get shucked off. Presumably adding them all now is necessary in order to discover what I'm really trying to do in each of these scenes. The honest truth is there is a whole lot of really basic stuff about my story that I'm still trying to figure out.

I'm as close as ever though. I ended today but just writing the one sentence summary of the book--the jacket copy--as best I could. And as I did that, it illuminated some of the dark corners of Chapter 1 that don't connect to that summary. Either they don't yet because I still haven't developed them or they are stuff that will have to get cut out.

As a result, I have a clear plan for my work tomorrow, which is always a good strategy for ending the day. My only regret is how long it is taking.

Monday, November 12, 2007


Over the weekend I printed out and had my wife read my fabulous chapter one, which now doesn't seem so fabulous. This raises the interesting process question of when to have people read the work and who I should have read it. I'll discuss that another time, but suffice it to say that in having my wife read it at this stage I'm going against a lot of expert advice.

After that I realized that the chapter not only has all the flaws I was aware of, it's not nearly as developed as I imagined it was. That's very disappointing to learn, but necessary.

So the challenge I have is deciding whether it's better to get right with that now or leave it for later and keep plowing forward. There's a real risk of working on this chapter until I've killed all momentum. But it's possibly a lot more effective to get the best understanding possible of what my story is (which is what really happens in this development work) before going on and making a hash of the next chapter. Get my attention as focused as possible.

I'm leaning toward staying with Chapter 1, and that's what I did today. I worked on the final scene in the chapter. Developing it. I have some ideas of how I need to do that in other scenes in the chapter.

I worked less than an hour today. Partly no stamina, partly lack of sleep, and partly I have a lot of work on my mind because I've been procrastinating.

It's so hard to keep honoring the gift of this time to work and to take full advantage of that. I console myself by remembering how much time over the weekend I spent just thinking about it.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Building up stamina

Yesterday I wrote about my anxiety about how long the rewrite will take at this rate. The only solution is to put in more hours per day than I've been able to so far. So my big goal today was to work on it--starting on Chapter 2 today--for two hours.

I didn't achieve that. I was only able to keep my head in the game for 90 minutes. But the determination and the right frame of mind are developing, so I'm confident I'll get there. Also, I feel more every day like I'm focusing on the right things while I work. I'm recognizing the places where the story can be developed and then jumping on that. My reading eye is looking for those places instead of sentence-level corrections.

The result today was that I "got through" 13 pages, which is about twice the rate as when I started Chapter 1 last week. In theory since the chapter is 26 pages, it will only take me two days to get through it, but practically I'm sure it will be longer, since as I get closer to the climax there is more opportunity for development. At those points I stop and open up the creative spigot.

Today that happened primarily in two spots, adding up to about 650 new words total.

I think the trend so far is telling me that for about every hour of reading through and fussing with the rewrite, I stop about one time and add about 400 words to develop a scene.

OK, two hours next time. I'm going to do it. I haven't made up my mind if I'm going to work on it over the weekend, though. Friday today.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Done with rewrite of Chapter 1

Finally, a milestone passed. This morning, with about 60-90 minutes of work, I finished the last piece of Chapter One that I felt like I needed in order to move on. It was just like I had planned--developing some elements that I think are necessary for later chapters to go anywhere.

But I'm ignoring a lot of other stuff for now. The chapter still has internal logic problems, places where the flow is interrupted, places lacking in clarity, style and grace. The structural problems are deep enough that I think it might need to be broken up into two chapters with appropriate transitions written into it and some manipulation of the pacing.

In other words, I've have made it as fully "developed" as I can--in terms of who the characters are, what they're feeling and what they might do in the situations I've put them in--but it's not as fully revised and refined as it needs to be. That's the next rewrite, I guess.

In summary: 11 actual calendar days since I started. 9 actual working days spent on it. A working day has typically involved only about 60-90 minutes of work. Overall, rewriting the chapter took about as many hours as writing it, but it's spread out over more days.

At this rate, figure about 25-27 weeks to finish the rewrite, which isn't acceptable to me. I'm going to have to pick up the pace. I'd love to get that down to 17 weeks total.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Recovery--progress today after all

Same day as previous post--I ended up surprising myself and getting some work done anyway. About an hour of work, much like what I was planning to do next.

Worth noting, because it's way outside my usual routine and my conception of what I'm capable of. The solution occurred to me this afternoon while I was taking a quick walk. I was thinking to myself it's too bad that even when I have time to write and the afternoons and evenings that I can't take advantage because of my hangups about what frame of mind I need to be in.

It dawned on me that I might be able to generate that frame of mind. If I gave myself a few hours notice--if I said, I'm going to do xyz other errands and then eat dinner and then sit down to write--then I could maybe psyche myself up for it, put a limit on the attention I would give those other errands, try to clear my mind during dinner much in the way I do over breakfast. This might help go to the writing desk without "the weight of the day" that usual makes writing feel impossible after first thing in the morning.

And it worked. This one time, at least. It's not as comfortable, and it took some discipline, but it's progress. The trick was not just setting aside time but telling myself ahead of time that I had set aside time and that part of the deal was putting a little break between that and other work first.

Preferably, I don't need this trick at all. I just write in the morning first thing, and that's that, no problem. But when there is a problem, hopefully this will work.

Work interrupted

No progress yesterday and today. On the surface it's because of interruptions from the real world--some car trouble and needing to run to the doctor for a blood test--but in reality this illustrates how fragile the conditions are for writing. The errands haven't actually taken up that much time--there's literally still time for me to write today, in fact.

But my process is to write first thing in the morning after my coffee. I try not to be a prima donna about the writing conditions but the one thing I can't seem to tolerate is having my mind and my body attend to anything else before I start writing.

So I fiercely protect the mornings and schedule all my work and errands for after lunch so that nothing interrupts the plan to write in the mornings. I don't make or take phone calls. I don't try to get that one little thing done first so it's out of the way. Whatever. The plan is just--wash my face, drink my coffee, sit down at the writing table. My wife has learned not to talk to me about what should be on the grocery list until later.

But sometimes it can't be helped. The car had to be fixed yesterday. I had to get the blood test today. They had to be done in the morning. I just have to write off those days as far as working on the novel and try to make them as productive as possible regarding the rest of my life.

That's not to say that I don't at least do a lot of mulling over. More and more every day now the book is back on my mind the way it was when I was drafting so yesterday I was able to imagine some new possible endings for the whole book and some possible solutions to the problem I hope to address in Chapter One. The delays in the schedule is frustrating, but it's no real harm to the book itself. It probably even helps sometimes.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Move on or keep working on Chapter One?

Monday morning--Something told me over the weekend to stay with Chapter One even though that would mess up my plan to finish a chapter a week. That plan is arbitrary and really about psyching myself up more than any good thinking about what's really needed.

Still, I don't want to get bogged down here. So I'm resisting the impulse to do too much work on Chapter One. After my work this morning, the way I'm thinking of it now is in terms of "development." My job at this point is to further develop the story--scene by scene. It's not to fix problems or even connect all the dots or to make it logical and certainly not to line edit.

For example, in my Chapter One there are several big chunks of exposition that I have to "fix" at some point--cut them, trim them, make them more interesting. I don't know. Frankly, as long as they are there, you can't call this a very well-written chapter. So the temptation is to fix them now and assure myself that I can write well and that the story will be good and interesting before going on to the next chapter.

But I'm trying to take the attitude that most of those fixes are better addressed in the next round and I have to let them sit for now. Instead I only concentrate on the parts of the exposition that are crying out for more instead of less--where they hint at an something important that didn't really get fleshed out before.

Exposition is just one example. The more typical thing is scenes that have dead ends without accomplishing anything--what I've previously described as "dead stars" vs. "supernovas." Those need to be developed into supernovas.

Another example is any relationship that's introduced--really anyplace where two people spend some time together. In most cases I have the characters going through motions without much feeling or sense of history or sense of being connected to one another. What do they feel about one another? I need to bring some intensity into the room. That's developing the story.

Related to that is something that I'm choosing to ignore for now--introducing the characters. A few of them suddenly appear on the scene, referred to by first name like they are familiar, without their background info. It's been written somewhere, but as I move things around, the logical order gets messed up. Fixing that is not development, and right now fixing that would just be avoidance of the important work.

So today, I spent about an hour and a half, read through the chapter, diagnosed several problems and named the three specific things that fall into the area of development. I estimate it will take about two hours of work to do that work. And THEN I'll move on to Chapter Two.

So . . . "rewriting" at this point is looking like this:

  • Open the computer file with the chapter and save a new copy.
  • Go through it looking for scenes that need to be developed. About 5 pages of review and about 500 words of new material per hour.
  • Make notes about other problems need to be fixed.
  • Go through it to spot the essential things that need to be developed for the rest of the book to make sense.
  • Write those.
  • Approximately 10-12hours per chapter. Which could be about one chapter/week with more stamina than I have right now.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Finished rewrite Chapter 1, Saturday progress

Still more progress. Stronger every day.

Worked on a Saturday morning, which is saying something. Worked about 90 minutes. The word count still doesn't add up to a lot--about 750 words this time. And I got to the end of Chapter One. In a very basic sense I did the rewrite of Chapter One. It's probably better to say "a rewrite," because I'm sure there need to be at least a couple more.

I had assumed that I would move on quickly to the next chapter without looking back, because that was the kind of behavior needed to get the first draft done. Now I'm thinking that momentum may not be so important a factor in the rewrite stage and maybe I should stick with this chapter to fix the many problems in it I'm aware of. Right now I have an understanding of it and I should probably do the work while that is front-of-mind.

I'm also thinking of getting an outside reader of the chapter at this point. Risky.

If I do these things, I'll have to be careful not to get bogged down on perfecting the chapter so much that I never move on to the next one.

Friday, November 2, 2007

A butterfly flaps its wings in chapter one

More of the same today with a little better result. It really is like a work-out regimen--making very slight gains in strength, endurance and form from one session to the next.

Today I worked for about 1:15, moved through 6-7 pages on the original copy and composed about 670 words of new text. Word counts don't really mean much for this kind of work because clarifying something in the text might hinge on very close editing, which consumes time without producing a lot of words. I just like keeping word counts.

More importantly I introduced a new element that helps develop plot and characterization and, I hope, starts a unifying thread for all the chapters. Essentially, I executed for the first time on one of the "what ifs" that have been kicking around in my head since I finished the first draft. I have some specific problems that I need to work on--for example that my character isn't as active and responsive as he needs to be for the story to be interesting--and possible solutions to these problems come to me in the form of "What if he . . .?"

What I wrote today was the first introduction of one of those possibilities and in theory it will have a domino effect of changing the rest of the book. It forces me to think of the character differently and introduces a different factor and different potential into every scene that follows.

So, in theory, the rest of the book must necessarily be rewritten to accommodate that change. It's like the rules in every time travel movie--when you travel back in time you must not change the slightest little thing because it has enormous ripple effects on the present. In the case of a novelist doing a rewrite, apparently we deliberately change the slightest little things--and big things too--because we need the generative potential of that disruption.

I still fell a few pages short of finishing chapter 1. Maybe over the weekend. I'm still hoping to move at a pace of one chapter per week. I'll certainly have to do more than one hour/day to achieve that.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

More of the same today--better understanding of what it is

Up earlier and worked for one hour, ultimately adding very little in the way of word count and going over about 4 pages of typescript. There's a lot of sitting and thinking about what's wrong with what I'm looking at.

I'm starting to think of the work this way . . . There are a lot of very mechanical places in the first draft just moving my characters around, telling what they do and establishing background. Exposition really. That's the best way to put it. There's a lot of exposition. And now my work is to go through one graf after another and figure out what the opportunity for illustration, story-telling, character development, dialog and action there might be in each of these dead passages.

The habit I'm trying to develop (and to get faster and better at it) is to spot those dead spots, recognize them for what they are, spot the latent opportunity in them and then turn on the creative spigot to write new material that is better.