Writing Progress: Week Ending June 9, 2012
Last week was without question a very fine week indeed:
Book of M:
- Background Notes Wordcount: 0 words
- First Draft Wordcount: 3,416 words
Grand Total: 3,416 words
A wordcount like that makes me a very happy writer. I suppose that wouldn’t work for a lot of other writers, but it’s more than 150% of my regular weekly writing goal. I really have to give a lot of credit to Dear Wife for that, who was nothing but supportive and encouraging this week, cheerleading me on and trying to help me get to a 4,000-word week. I fell short at the end – the source of some mixed feelings about my progress this week – but still had an amazing week. That got me through Chapter 4 and starting into Chapter 5. And it was a very exciting bit of writing to be doing. There’s a lot going on in Chapter 4. I got to really dig into some of the conflict that faces my protagonist and some of her emotions and feelings. And I got to really dig into the backstory.
And, I’ve discovered that my protagonist is a serial eavesdropper. In part, that’s a literary technique, I guess, and probably not a well-used one in my case. How else do I get around my main character knowing (and therefore my readers knowing) certain things about other characters without those other characters knowing the main character knows? You know? So maybe it’s a bit trite. I don’t know. But she eavesdrops. A lot. And, well. If that is to be a part of her character, I suppose I shall have to incorporate it going forward, and to have this be a part of her toolkit on how she overcomes conflict. In a way, I think it makes sense. So hopefully it’s not just a poorly-used literary technique, but an illumination of character.
I’m particularly worried, in these instances of eavesdropping, about the risk of accidentally committing maid-and-butler dialog (i.e. “As you know, Bob…“). I think I avoided it, but that’s hard to judge. My intent is to show some faith in the reader to put pieces together without spelling it out, at least not spelling it out all at once. In one particular instance of eavesdropping I tried to make it difficult for the character to hear because of the circumstances. So I actually wrote out the whole conversation she’s listening to, and then I semi-randomly elided passages, leaving enough to hopefully look random while still providing sufficient content and clues for the reader to get the gist of it.
So, after all, that, and the euphoria of doing some writing that I felt awesome about, a tiny little panic set in: Oh no! Everything that I just wrote is complete and utter crap and I’m a talentless hack writing a pointless story! Of course, you just have to ignore that and keep writing. But it doesn’t mean that the panic-voice doesn’t nag you.
As I said, I had some mixed feelings. There was the “AWESOME I AM MADE OF WIN” feeling. But there was something less happy, too. When I hit the roughly 3,000-word mark, I left myself at the end of a chapter and I was done writing for the day. That chapter-break kind of robbed me of some momentum, so when I sat down next I did relatively little new writing as I tried to figure out how to take the next step in the story. Instead, I dithered about, fixed some things that I realized needed fixing (for example, I went through each prior-written scene to replace the directions used with a new set of directions – i.e. northwest became north), and did a little small-fries research, before diving into the writing and wrestling through the beginning of Chapter 5. It’s tough because Chapter 5 is the natural partner to Chapter 4 in many ways. Chapter 4 reveals a lot of backstory and character and motivation (I hope). Chapter 5 is the point at which the character takes action based on all of that.
Or, in Epic Fantasy/Hero’s Journey/Mythic Structure terms, Chapter 4 is when the explicit “Call to Adventure” is made. Chapter 5 is the character’s response. (Although I don’t think there’s the classic “refusal” of the call. The protagonist is conflicted about the call, but we already know how she’s going to respond because she’s effectively already made the decision at the beginning of the book. She just needs a moment of impetus to help her make act on that decision.) So it’s all potentially exciting stuff. Except I have to try and make sure it all makes sense and I’m not just railroading the characters into predefined actions for the sake of the greater plot: in other words, I want to make sure that the actions they take are consistent with their characters and not just consistent with my plot. It’s all well-and-good when you’ve outlined the plot, but the real work, the hard work, is in navigating that with your actual characters.
So, anyway, that’s where things are with “Book of M”. Progressing, and progressing well, but not without moments of uncertainty and self-doubt…
Now enough about me. Tell me about your week, your writing, and whatever.