Friday, November 19, 2010

New opening and getting the plot organized

1,800 words today, which is about the only word count this week, I think.

That material is for a new opening, which I decided on after spending a lot of time on plotting and brainstorming. I started to feel that the problems I was leaving in my rear-view mirror for the time being were too significant to ignore any longer and that pressing on to the end would be a waste of energy given what I suspected about how the opening would change. I just wasn't comfortable having these structural problems hanging over my head.

Basically, there were three big problems that affected the structure throughout -- the secondary plot isn't set up through action and is relying on exposition late in the game, the main action takes too long to get started, and my character's basic motivation was too superficial. That worked to get me started, but it was turning into a fatal weakness.

A few days I couldn't have said all of that so succinctly. I now see these problems because of a lot of work getting organized using notecards and poster size sketch paper. Nothing revolutionary in this. Just clear off the dining table and start trying different ways of drawing the story arc. I spent a full day yesterday going through my draft and boiling it down to note cards by scene. (I found it helped if I had mostly cards for scenes and a few for exposition -- action and information that is provided to the reader.) All of that helped visualize what I have and don't have and to bring the problems to the surface.

I knew I needed a different concept of how I started and got into the first rising action, but I wasn't getting any good ideas how. Put in a lot of time brainstorming and making notes. Finally, this morning I hit on an idea for two new scenes in the beginning that hopefully deals with all those problems I summarized above.

Then sat down to write the first of those. (On the computer instead of on paper, like usual. Felt like the right thing, today.)

So, a good day's work and by some measures a good week's work. If I can get the second of the two scenes written before the Thanksgiving break, then I'll have a sense if my fixes are going to hold and can go from there.

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