Writing Progress: Week Ending August 18, 2012

A week of some writing is better than a week of no writing:

Book of M:

  • Background Notes Wordcount: 0 words
  • First Draft Wordcount: 1,196 words

Grand Total: 1,196 words

I’m pretty happy to report some writing progress from this past week.  And heck, Dear Wife and I still managed to do some of the remaining Home Project stuff, too.

Regarding the writing, though, I feel pretty good about it.  For one thing, it’s was measurable, positive progress.  Most of anything I’d done in the past several weeks was small-fries editing of stuff I’d already written, with very little new ground trod.  This was largely new material. The problem was, I wanted my characters’ motivations to be clear and consistent, and for the action and plot to tie to it naturally.  But my plotting and outlining wasn’t always clear on that regard.  So I’d needed to fix some things to make it all work, which required some editing.  Secondly, this was a huge step toward getting into a really exciting part of the story.  The part where cool things start happening, and everything goes all steampunky.

In writing this, I’ve had some anxiety about the fact that I don’t start the story where things get exciting.  There’s a lot of writing advice – stuff like the phrase “in late, out early” – that says you should just leave on the cutting room floor the parts of the story before things get exciting.  Or, better yet, don’t write them in the first place.

But prior to this point, things were already interesting, complicated, and difficult for my main character, even if as a story they weren’t exciting.  Now, they’re interesting, more complicated, more difficult, and exciting.  And that’s pretty much the trajectory of the story from here on out: things continue to get more complicated and more difficult until the heroine starts resolving the plot.

Thinking about it, however, I realize that this is a common theme or trope of many successful Epic Fantasies, and since my primary aim is to write a successful Epic Fantasy this is par for the course.  In Epic Fantasies we often start following the main character from a point prior to the introduction of the main plot.  First, rather, the main character must be introduced to the world of the adventure – and that’s typically the first point of transition in an Epic Fantasy.  We meet Harry Potter, for instance, not when he first catches sight of Hogwarts, not when he steps into Diagon Alley, and not even when Hagrid crashes down the door.  No, we meet him first on what looks like an ordinary day in his ordinary (if cruelly oppressed) world living with the insufferably ordinary Dursleys.  His story is still interesting in part because (a) we know from the get-go that things are going to get very non-ordinary in short order and (b) because even before that point the challenges the character faces are interesting and difficult.

And that’s where I’ve been, so far.  Everything I’ve written before has been before the First Transition – in Campbellian Monomyth terms, before the Call to Adventure and the Crossing of the First Threshold.  Last week, I reach the First Transition, and the end of the First Act (in what I expect will be, broadly, a 5-act structured story).  The next several chapters encompass the Transition, and the Crossing of the Threshold. 

All of which is to say, I’m not that worried anymore that I got in “too early”.  Rather… everything is going according to plan (except for the part where I’m writing too dang slow).  And I’m excited to have ended the first act of my book and to be starting on the next exciting chapter.

And now enough about me.  How was your week?

5 thoughts on “Writing Progress: Week Ending August 18, 2012

  1. Yay for getting to the exciting stuff! That’s a happy place to be.
    After 21 days of writing like mad, I’ve just finished the draft of my Camp NaNo novel! It’s a little under 6K short of the month’s 50K goal (which is something like par for the course for me, since my novels incline toward the shorter side), so I’m dedicating the rest of my word-count to brainstorming for my next novel project — the conclusion to what’s decided it’s meant to be the “Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” trilogy. The idea for the story’s end kinda grabbed me by the hair, the other night, so I’m really eager to get this book written; like, jumping beans in the gut eager.

  2. Well, not that interesting, in that short form. (weird computer things just happened — that’s my story and I’m sticking with it 🙂 ).

    Anyway, the question of beginnings is always interesting. My first novel began with a series of little scenes, different people in different parts of the same apartment, and then suddenly a possible act of violence. Then a bunch of chapters going back in time and showing what led up to the violence. My second novel started with a rather dramatic scene on a bridge, featuring helicopters and gunshots, and I never really do explain everything about that. 🙂

    The mystery stories, on the other and, mostly begin quietly. The detective living her regular life, waiting for a mystery to pop up.

    It is different in different genres, that’s for sure. I’ve never seen a mystery story yet which started with the detective as a young person, but it’s pretty common in fantasy.

    • Yeah, as with a lot of writing “rules” this one needs a lot of context. Genre is one aspect. The author’s story goals, target audience, expectations, etc are all other things. And, most importantly, there’s the context of the story itself. In fact I daresay, at the end of the day, that there’s so much context that, objectively, the phrase “in late, out early” is virtually meaningless as writing advice…

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