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.

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