Wednesday, June 23, 2010

[Book Update] Mid-night Rambling

Ah, what the hell - it's the middle of the night and for some unknown reason I'm wide awake. I don't usually suffer from insomnia without a clear reason - reasons that usually include too much adrenaline too close to bedtime, having to get out of bed within the first half-hour after I try to go to sleep, etc. The only cause I can think of is that I might be coming down with a cold, but it's not very mad yet and I'm surprised it woke me up.

Anywho, here I am and I might as well put out a more robust Wednesday-morning post than I'd planned. Be aware - due to the nature of blogs, this post will appear above the earlier post for today, so you might want to skip down and read that one first.

In general, I'm not happy with where my novel is in terms of a production schedule. I had wanted to be where I am now back in February/March. At this rate, it's certainly going to take me through the Summer to finish the novel, and even that may be optimistic. Almost certainly is optimistic. Sigh.

On the plus-side, I'm very happy with the content of what I've finished so far and I'm getting fairly close to finishing my re-write of Chapter 15. Chapter 16 is already finished. For the first 1/4 to 1/3 of the book, here's what's left to be done:

  • New Chapter 1 - At the moment, I'm leaning toward adding a different intro chapter that brings some of the novel's fantasy elements forward a bit and ramps up some dramatic tension before we get into the exploits of the main character(s). I will be tempted to write this before moving on to the rest of the story both to finally feel like I've got the early part of the book "finished" (at least in terms of this draft) and because a new Chapter 1 will force me to re-number all subsequent chapters, which will be easier to do sooner rather than later. And yeah, I realize that the second reason is especially crappy and the first reason isn't going to win any awards. Who said writers have to be rational?
  • Re-re-writes - For months, I've been taking each chapter in to my writer's group and getting their feedback. Most of that feedback exists in the form of marked-up, critiqued copies of the chapters, sitting in a pile on my desk. Each of those chapters got at least one, often two re-writes prior to taking it to the group, and they require at least one more re-write just to incorporate the changes. I will be tempted to do those rewrites before moving on to fresh stuff both to finally feel like I've got the early part of the book "finished" (at least in terms of this draft) (and yeah, I copied that from the first bullet - it's a running theme here) and because I'll be concerned that there might be a change that's waiting to be made that will have effects down-stream in the novel requiring future edits that could have been avoided if I'd incorporated them before writing those new chapters.
  • Get feedback on chapters 1-16 from my various readers. This would then funnel into the above bullet.
 So that's all the stuff I'll be tempted to do instead of continuing on to the rest of the book, which includes:

  • Write the rest - I mean, yeah, it goes without saying, but I still have to, you know, write the rest of the thing. Which will naturally involve writing each chapter, re-writing each chapter (usually a couple of times), getting it critiqued by my wife, my confidants, and my writer's group, and then re-writing it a couple more times.
  • A final polish - Where I take the completed draft and fix everything that's wrong with it. This will take at least one re-write, possibly more to get it right (though I've got a few chapters that I'm pretty happy with and may survive without too many major revisions as long as the novel as a whole ends up working pretty well and I don't need to scrap entire characters, entire storylines, or modify major aspects of the book like setting, theme, etc.
In fairness, it's not as if I'm anywhere close to the point where I'm just making little tweaks. Everything above will need to be done at some point, and will constitute major work regardless of what order I do it in. It doesn't really matter which I do first. Either way, I'm going to feel like I'm putting off something that needs to be done. Egads, that's a lot to do! Now that I think about it, I wish I hadn't thought about it. But at least being on the verge of pushing ahead after dwelling within the first 16 chapters for so long actually feels like progress. And when it's the middle of the night and you're up, anything that feels like progress feels pretty good.

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