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Writing Progress: Week Ending February 11, 2012

February 13, 2012

Well, that went better than last week.

Book of M:

  • Background Notes Wordcount: 1,111 words

Grand Total: 1,111 words

Frankly, my writing week went a lot better, in some ways, than I had anticipated: I was expecting this week past to go pretty much like the week before.  Instead, I actually put up more than a thousand words on my outline.

It was another busy week on the house project front, and I expect things will remain busy that way for the next several weeks.  Plus, there’s out-of-town family coming to visit this upcoming week, so that’ll slow my progress as well.

As for the 1,111 words of this past week: more of it was spent on scenes occurring earlier  in the narrative than the last scene I’d outlined two weeks ago.  When I’d left off my outline before the week of nothing, I was nearing the epic climax, but uncertain how to proceed.  Then, I got a thought about how to resolve the problem – and it involved first finding a resolution to the character arc of a prominent second-tier character (whom I call the story’s “anti-hero”).  I still think the idea’s a good one: but it’s just the first phase of an idea.  I needed to go back and add scenes or notes that built up to this penultimate climactic moment.

At the end of the day, though, I was still stuck.  Adding in this scene to wrap up the anti-hero’s arc, I think, is the right thing to do for this story.  The problem is: I haven’t given this character sufficient thought, yet.  I don’t know him very well.  So I don’t really know what his arc should be.  My gut is telling me that, as an anti-hero, his arc should be tragic.  I’m still working up the courage to do that.  Not just because I’m afraid of killing him or maiming him horribly: but because I’m sort of afraid of what this tragic ending says politically.  I’m trying to be careful how I approach politics and ideas and things that could be real-world reflections in this story.  I’m afraid, however, that this character’s arc is inherently politically charged – and the ending of his arc can be taken as a political statement in one way or another no matter how I do it.  Whatever, I have to do what’s right for the story, of course.  But I’m still trying to feel out just what that looks like.  Which brings me back to his character: what’s right for the story will have to flow from his character.  Which I still don’t know well enough.

So: what I’ve got to do is I’ve got to write more about his character – another character profile – to get to know him better.  And then I’ve got to do one of my little internal dialog question-and-answer sessions to feel out where I want this to go.  No doubt, between the two, I’ll end up spilling a lot of words.

And that’s where things stand.  His is the last major character that I think needs a full character profile for this story to work.  I had thought I could put it off for a little while since the character isn’t introduced until approximately the one-third mark.  But I realize now that was naive.  He’s pretty integral to the plot, and to the ending.  And so, I need to know him better.

That was my week in writing.  How was yours?

15 Comments leave one →
  1. February 13, 2012 1:28 pm

    I know what you mean about the politics. That’s one thing that bothered me about the last X-Men movie, for example. Black guy dies first, women go bad, Jewish guy goes bad. Non-ethnic white guys stay good.

    I had a pretty good week. Part one of the new story is done and almost all posted. 5485 words, which is just about where I want to be. And I think it’s pretty good, too. 🙂

    • February 13, 2012 4:36 pm

      I haven’t seen the latest X-Men movie (though it is on my list – I am a speculative fiction fiend), but that’s pretty par for the course in a lot of Hollywood fair. Most of the time I don’t think I even notice it until it’s pointed out after the fact, and then I’m embarrassed that I didn’t notice so glaring a problem. It’s funny to think that Hollywood is so far behind the culture curve on things like this. The political issues I’m wrestling with are of a slightly different but related flavor: it’s a question of who I’m saying is a good guy versus who the bad guy, and whether it comes off sounding like I condone certain sorts of actions or not. I call this character my “anti-hero” for a reason: he’s not heroic, and he does some terrible things, and I don’t want to justify those terrible things, but I do hope to provide some context to the reader about his worldview and maybe provide a little sympathy for him. But I realize that I’ve been pretty soft-glove with him so far in my outline, and I need to think a lot more about the character. And I need to reach peace with the question: “redemption or tragedy?” Pick one and go for it, I think…

    • February 13, 2012 4:49 pm

      Well, as far as Erik/Magneto (Jewish Guy) and Raven/Mystique (women, one of), X-Men fans knew from the get-go which side they’d end up on, so I don’t know how much of a political statment would get read into that — at least not that could be considered specific to that single film. I probably wouldn’t have noticed the “Black guy dies first” aspect if I hadn’t previously heard murmurs about that being a common deal in movies, so that upped my awareness and caused a twinge of annoyance.
      Other than the twinge, though, love that movie!

      Concerning writing: Had a lousy day followed by two rather writing days that cancelled the bile of lousy day out. No writing’s happened yet today (I say guiltily), but I’m aiming to squeeze in at least one chapter* before I have to call it a night.
      *The chapter length in my current project is quite short, which alternates between making things easy and making things challenging. It’s like every section has to read like a not-quite-standalone short story in and of itself, and sometimes that story itches to run conscpiculously long. Ah, well — if it were all perfectly smooth sailing, what would be the fun?

      • February 14, 2012 9:09 am

        True, some of the potential problems with X-Men (and other comicbook translations) are problems with the source material. That said, I’ve never followed comics closely or directly, so I couldn’t say that Magneto’s being Jewish, for instance, comes from the comicbook source or was invented for the first X-Men movie. (I’m sure I could look it up on Wikipedia, of course, and given the volume of comics there’s a good chance it originated with the comics.) As for lousy days and good days: that’s at least part of why I report my progress on a week-to-week basis. On any given day during a normal week, there’s something like a 50/50 chance that it’ll be a good day for writing or not. There’s a lot of variability in my weekly writing activity, but there’s a lot more variability in my day-to-day writing activity.

  2. February 13, 2012 2:55 pm

    That’s tricky to balance. In the end yeah, I’d say you need to do whatever feels right for the story, or at least, minimize an unwanted outcome. Readers will take from it what they will.

    I’ve been sick, so my writing count’s been 0, and my blogging count’s also taken a hit 😦

    • February 13, 2012 4:39 pm

      Yuck. Sick days are never fun. Hope you get better! And you’re right, I realize: readers bring their own pre-conceived notions and ideas to a story, and I can’t do anything about that. I can only write the story that it needs to be, and leave interpretation up to the reader and cross my fingers.

  3. February 14, 2012 9:53 am

    Looks like a good week in writing! And I should think that every 1000 “Background” words will translate to three or four thousand (or more?) “Real” words. 🙂 Is there a proportion? I know you like that sort of thing, do you think you could come up with one?

    Ah, politics. Putting a stop to my writing has been attempted before because it has such political ramifications. Sometimes I scare myself because I think, “If this gets published will there be any retribution?” I know that when Patrick McGoohan filmed his series The Prisoner, his children got stalked because people wanted to know who Number 1 was and the show gave no clear answer. The public can be scary, but I think as writers we have to write towards the pain and make people face themselves.

    But, if that all goes sour for ya’, you never heard that advice from me. 😉

    • February 14, 2012 11:30 am

      At this stage, while I’m sure there is an average proportion of finished draft wordcount to background and outline wordcount, I honestly couldn’t say what that number actually was. And it would almost certainly vary at different points in the novel. I have over 50,000 words in background and exploratory material that I’ve written for “Book of M” so far. The outline has topped over 10,000 words. But those 10,000 words include some overlap (I outlined the first quarter of the book twice, once in more detail), and a number of extended side-conversations (in-line with the outline itself) where I do some question-and-answers about the direction of the plot. So in some instances I may have one or two sentences – no more than a 50 or 100 words – that represents a whole 1,500 to 3,000 word chapter. In other cases, I may have a 500 to 1,000 word internal dialog that represents a similarly-lengthed scene.

  4. February 14, 2012 1:26 pm

    Yeah…story politics. Everything has implications, whether intentional or not. -__- It’s good to think about these things, though, so they don’t completely blindside you later…heh. Even so, it’s impossible to please everyone.

    Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get any novel work done this week. 😦 I started a new full-time job and my grandmother passed away, so our family had to prepare for her memorial service. Honestly I’ve been so overwhelmed with the new job…

    In any case, I plan to blog a bit about it tomorrow. In the meantime, I plan to get some editing done today ’cause I have missed not working on it.

    • February 14, 2012 1:50 pm

      I’m sorry to hear about your Grandmother. I’ve still got both my Grandmothers, but neither of my Grandfathers, so I kind of know what that’s like. I also know what it’s like to start a new full-time job. (Congratulations on that, by the way.) Between the two: yeah, I can see how writing/editing would slip pretty low on the importance scale. I would be surprised if it didn’t.

    • February 14, 2012 7:27 pm

      Tiyana — First of all, please accept my condolences on your loss.

      I think you’re right about the politics. You can’t write looking over your shoulder, wondering who’s going to be offended by what. Stories have to go where they have to go. But, as you say, it’s good to think ahead a bit, so as not to be surprised too badly.

      I know the are things in my writing which could offend different people. I’m okay with that.

      • February 15, 2012 8:41 am

        I was recently listening to an old “Writing Excuses” podcast speaking to the topic of “offending your readers”. The take-away line: Don’t offend your readers accidentally. Offend your readers intentionally. It’s funny, but it’s a good point: if you’re going to offend readers, try and make sure it’s because you did something with a purpose. Try to be aware of things so you don’t unknowingly offend.

      • February 15, 2012 9:42 am

        Exactly. I will have to remember that.

      • February 16, 2012 1:49 am

        Thanks you all. 🙂

        Stephen: I like that! Good stuff.

      • February 16, 2012 8:38 am

        You’re welcome.

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