Thursday, May 27, 2010

[Book Update] Different Perspectives

In the last couple of weeks, I've managed for the first time in a while to write some entirely new (or almost entirely new) chapters. It feels pretty good to have the "chapter 6" tribulations well behind me. I'll still need to edit old chapter 6 again at some point, incorporating feedback from my writer's group as well as my own thoughts on what would make it stronger, but that's also true of most of the other chapters I've written. Week after week, I've been taking my work to the group, getting their feedback, and then bringing those critiques back home and stacking them in a pile.

Why, you might wonder? Well, because there's only so much functional time in the week that I can apply to my writing, and I prefer to focus that time in the areas of (whenever possible) creating new chapters and prepping each week's existing chapter to bring to the group to be critiqued. Once the novel's initial round of drafts is pretty much finished, then I'll go into edit mode and start working through the pile of critiques chapter-by-chapter.

Anyway, I got bogged down reworking chapter 6 into two chapters, both of which were mostly new content combined with some of the stuff that had previously been in that original chapter. Now there's a ripple-effect going on. You see, chapter 6b took what had been a minor villain previously introduced in a later chapter and pulled him way forward AND turned him into a major-league badass in the process. I now have in mind for him to represent the forces of evil not only in the first book, but probably throughout the trilogy.

Writing him was a neat experience, actually. He just kept growing in importance as I wrote and I'd realize "Hey, this is the guy who's responsible for THAT." He still gets blasted in chapter 13, but it didn't kill him the first time through and it still won't when I get around to re-writing 13 to replace all the stuff that got moved forward to 6b.

Meanwhile, in chapter 6c I introduced a character who I'd never intended to be more than a historical figure - someone always mentioned from 50 years in the future. But it turned out, I needed him to tell his own story because trying to tell it through narration was irritating too many of my readers. And, again, there are ripples. This "founding father" character has ended up with a three-chapter story arc covering the most vital period of his contributions to the story. The second and third parts of that arc (chapters 11 and 16, for those keeping score at home) are now written and I even got 11 critiqued Monday night (to mostly positive reviews). Chapter 16, however, is hands-down my favorite so far. In fact I love it, which is entirely unusual.

It's not uncommon for me to write phrases, passages or whole sections that I like, but in general I'm not the biggest fan of my work. I don't dislike it, but I usually struggle not to focus on the blemishes. The exception being when I read something that I wrote far enough in the past that I don't really remember it very well. I often enjoy my work very much when what I was trying to accomplish isn't as fresh in my mind. Every once in a while, though, I write something that I like immediately. That's chapter 16 - I was flying high for days after I finished it, and I think I knew about halfway through that it rocked. Now, I already know that my writer's group's going to tear it up because there's practically no dialogue. It's an action-chapter, but I don't expect that to matter, they'll hate it anyway. Tough noogies - this is one of those cases where I need to trust myself as a writer to know when I've nailed it, and I nailed it. I gave it to my wife to critique for me and she read the whole thing without making a mark on it. I told her to read it again. Still, I count that as a good sign - my wife's no fan of crappy writing.

Originally I'd expected to spend most of the novel in the perspective of my protagonist, and some of it in the perspective of a major character introduced in the very first chapter. I also knew I'd occasionally hop over the perspective of a character I'd originally code-named "Buddy" because that character can let the reader see the protagonist through another set of eyes. That was pretty much it, though - mostly just those three. But just in the last few weeks, I've added that 3-chapter arc from the perspective of a significant character from the novel's history, plus a bad guy who turned out to be a major villain. If nothing else, it's starting to really put things... wait for it... in perspective.

Hey, thanks, I'm here all week (sort of. See the note below). Try the chicken parm!

No comments:

Post a Comment