Monday, November 8, 2010

Process and progress on third novel

This book, #3, has one thing in common with the first in that I have only a bare bones sense of the plot, and I'm following my nose from one day to the next, aiming for a resolution that is pretty abstract in my imagination still. That has been good for momentum, but in the first case it left a trail of chaos in my wake that took many rewrites to shape up. There's a lot of that going on here, which is frustrating because in my second novel I was determined to work with a more efficient plan. But the second novel isn't getting written, is it? No momentum. Nothing there to fix.

There are some differences this time, though. First, I have what I hope is a better sense of what the mistakes are that I'm passing by, so I'll be much more ready to tackle them than I was with similar problems in my first book. For example, I have a lot of "throat clearing" in the story's set up, so I know I'll have to go back and cut out about 30 pages and get the story started quicker and with more focus. Thematically, I can see that I'm planting little seeds of interest but not really developing them, so I'll have to go back and work hard on that.

Another difference is that I'm doing a fair amount of typing in of the manuscript as I go. (Dictating it in, actually. See my previous post on the voice recognition software I'm using.) This is because I have been letting myself circle back for quick visits to material already written to work out structural changes before plowing ahead. These are larger concerns like the characters having taken a certain path, and now that I'm down that road, I've decided it's better if they take a different path. I go back and revise the appropriate scene to see how that's going to work, and then return to where I left off. It's hard to do this on the manuscript, so I wanted a typescript to work with, thus all the dictating and typing as I go.

Creating the typescript as I go is slowing me down quite a bit. That's why I churned out "Part I" -- about 30,000 words -- in a month. I've written about half as much in the last 4 weeks. I estimate I'm at about 45,000 words now, counting what's not typed in yet.

Also, the structural problems become more obvious and significant as I go along -- like painting myself into a corner -- so the momentum gets interrupted more for revision.

My initial goal was to keep it under 70,000 words, and I think I can do that. I'd like to get it way under that number. I have two big set pieces to go, I think, though as I said I don't have a real good sense of how they'll work. I just know where I need my characters to be by the end of them. We'll see.

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