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Posts Tagged ‘discovery writer’

Well, so far I haven’t achieved either the daily goal of NaNoWriMo–1,667 words a day–or my personal goal of a chapter a day. More like a scene a day. But that is still making more progress on BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING than I have been lately.

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I have excuses, but, except for Thursday, which really was too busy to get much writing done, they are just that–excuses. Except for one.

One of the issues I have always had with arbitrary goals of the form x number of words a day, especially when embedded in the competitiveness of something like National Novel Writing Month, is that it encourages just getting words down whether they’re the right words or not. Now, that’s not entirely a bad thing with a first draft. I love Shannon Hale’s quote on this:

I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.

However, there’s one time when “just keep writing” is very bad advice: when it’s taking you down the wrong rabbit trail. (Not a problem outliners are as susceptible to as discovery writers, like me.) Then, “just keep writing” can make it much harder to come back and fix the story in the revisions.

And I think I just dodged a rabbit trail. You see, where I am right now in this story, my characters are on a sort of Grand Tour, visiting the rulers of all the neighboring countries.

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They start out from Juturna, which is their home–well, home to two of them. They pick up a third on their first stop in Versenna. That trip through the forest and what happens once they reach Versenna is absolutely critical to the rest of the story. Then they go over the mountains to Khatar. I have a few interesting things happen in the mountains and Khatar will be important later in the story. Fine, so far. And I was reasonably close to my NaNo goals that far.

But then they have to go south to Farea and Idun and finally back to Juturna. Um. Boring. Nothing very important was going to happen there. And if I’m bored there’s no chance of keeping a reader’s attention.

So, I can either skip over that and just pick them up arriving back in Juturna, where my main character expects to face some consequences for his decisions back in Versenna. And I could do that, but it feels wrong.

Or, I can make that part of the trip more interesting. And early this morning, my subconscious bubbled up the way to do that. It means I have to go back and change what I wrote yesterday–which won’t add to my word count. But it will mean the story is more interesting and add a complication/obstacle that could well turn up again later. I like it, so I’m going with it.

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After finishing that latest chapter in BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING, I was forced to pause for a few days to make a decision about point of view for the next one.

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Most of the story is told from the point of view of my Hercules-like character, Gaian. But there are a few other important POV characters, too. And, in this case, I finally decided that this chapter needs to be from the POV of one of those other characters–to wit, the love interest, Mariel.

See, they’re about to visit a neighboring country–a diplomatic visit, of sorts. This particular location isn’t especially important in this book, but it will be in the next. And, while Gaian will never go there again, Mariel will. So her impressions are more important to setting this up for the next book.

That seems obvious when I lay it out like that, but it wasn’t at first. Partly, I suppose, because Mariel had recently had a POV chapter. Doesn’t matter. This is what the story needs.

These are some of the problems of discovery writers. If I was an outliner, I’d have known that from the beginning. But outlines don’t work for me. I either abandon them when the story diverges from the outline at about Chapter Five, or I spend too much time updating them as the story continues to diverge.

Ah well, back to writing. This should be an interesting chapter since, after the experience with the very large lion, Gaian has decided that Mariel needs to learn to defend herself. Not that he’s not willing, able, and happy to defend her, but–in his opinion–everyone should feel confident that they can take care of themselves if necessary.

Poor Mariel. She thought it was hard getting over that mountain pass. She has no idea.

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It’s slow still, and perhaps a little painful, but I am breaking through that block of uncertainty and forging ahead on the first draft of BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING.

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I have no idea if any of this will remain in the final version. But that’s not the question right now. The point is to keep writing and moving the story forward. And that’s what I’m doing, slowly but surely.

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For me, anyway. My “day job” is only for the school year (roughly the second week of September through the third week in June, here). It’s way too easy to loose track of time when I don’t have any real schedule. Which, in part, explains the lateness of this post. (Part of it is wasting time playing a stupid computer game. (Tip: If you’re a writer of stories, don’t get involved in any game that has a story as part of the game.)

In spite of the wasted time, I’ve been making steady–if occasionally slow–progress on the first draft of BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING.

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But the time isn’t really wasted. Since, as I mentioned in my last post, I don’t have as good a feel for these next couple of chapters as I usually do . . . well, sometimes, it’s necessary to pause for a bit and let my subconscious catch up.

Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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I’ve been making good progress on the first draft of BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING.

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And new ideas have been flowing. Some that needed to happen earlier, but were mainly just additions. And some that needed to come a bit later.

Now this first draft isn’t, quite, in parts. In the first place, I’d written this story–from the point of view of the wrong main character–a couple of years ago. I’ve completely re-imagined it since then. In the second place, I’ve struggled with the first third or so of the re-imagined story for months until I finally broke off the early relationship of the brothers into a prequel novella–BECOME: BROTHERS.

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In the third place, I took a short break from this story after I published the novella and while I was working on taking many of my books and stories to wide distribution. So, now I’m going through what I already had to re-familiarize myself with it so I don’t end up with a bunch of consistency problems to weed out–and, of course, doing a few revisions as I go. And I’ve been getting new ideas that will make the story stronger.

Of course, the way my creative process works, at least some of this would have happened even if I were an outliner. I might have avoided trying to shoehorn the early story of the brothers into this book, but I would still be getting newer and better ideas as I write. That’s just how my muse works. Which is one of the main reasons I’m not an outliner.

So, now I’ve come to a place where I need to add a short scene. It needn’t be very long–in fact, it probably shouldn’t be very long. It’s just something that needs to point out a problem my main character isn’t aware of, yet. Not that he’s going to realize until much later exactly what that problem has to do with him, but it’s a seed I need to sow now so that the readers will, hopefully, see it coming when he does figure it out.

And so now, I have to figure out exactly where to fit this little scene in. Hmm.

 

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Sometimes I’d really like to be able to outline a story and know exactly how it goes. But that’s just not the way it works for me.

I do at least map out the high (and low) points of a novel before I start. (Though they have been known to change as I go, too.) But I could sit and stare at the screen for days waiting for the inspiration to know how to fill in the very wide blank spaces that leaves. It just would never come.

The only time those ideas come to me is when I’m actually writing. Well, not necessarily when I have my fingers on the keyboard. But, you know, when I’ve gotten up for a little and I’m walking the dogs or (infrequently) cleaning the house. That’s when I get the ideas for how to get from point A to point B. But only if, when I sit back down, I’m actually writing the story.

And, anyway, sometimes a story will just take a left turn and go somewhere else instead. And that’s often better than what I’d planned.

Not going to happen in the last book of the DUAL MAGIC series. (At least, I don’t think so.) But that is exactly what happened in DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING.

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