Thursday, June 24, 2010

Keeping up the narrative

Writer's flop
Ha hah (in the voice of a 1950s Robin Hood after taking a smart shot of his arrow)! I think I am getting over my recent spell of writer's block. On previous posts I mentioned how I stumbled, firstly after the 30,000 word mark and then after the 40,000 word mark. That was really bad because I felt I had nearly run out of plot, and the characters - which I held so dearly and whom I had missed if I ever took a day off previously - were starting to bore me. Not any more! I found the solution was to keep forcing myself to write the words, however painfully and however incompetently, until I passed the slump. Early this morning, around 3 AM, I had the real breakthrough. My writing started becoming fluid again (or at least fluid by my standards!) and I added a small nugget of narrative.

The small nugget of narrative
came from something I had written in a lot earlier in the plot. It had at first a clear purpose in its unveiling of one of my protagonist's personality traits and also for providing rationale to her task or journey. I thought it had served its purpose but I decided to follow it up later on in the story. This has now enabled various loose ends to string together unexpectedly, interweaving into the overall plot. I am pleased with this. I now have a clearer idea of how the next to last (and not just the last) chapters pan out. I had a gap between the middle of my story and the end part, prior to this. That's right; I'm certainly no planner.

Ending first
I am going to end the novel sooner than I had anticipated. I'm aiming for a short novel of around 80,000 words but it looks like I'm going to write the last chapters and be finished within 60,000 words. This would place my story between the no-man's land of novella (around 20,000 to 40,000) and novel (80,000 to 120,000 - otherwise apparently it becomes classified as an 'epic'). I could call it a novel/novella hybrid but that wouldn't wash with publishers, if I ever decide to try and actually get the thing published. Anyway, a writer said to me recently that it is OK / normal for the first draft to be around 55,000 words (and this was before it was looking like mine actually might be). Once you have laid down the basic plot and developed the characters to a believable degree, then you can call it a first draft. When I redraft I will need to add detail. It could be called padding it out but this makes it sound like upholstering and I think it's less clear-cut or rigid than this. But I think it could work for me because even though I use detail, I have often felt that I don't elaborate enough. This is partly my writing style. I don't like to be too flowery or superfluous. But there is definitely a sense, when reading it, that it is rushed, that sometimes the plot almost tumbles over itself. So I think I will make a start on ending it and then I will return to the beginning again. The second time I come to the end I hope it may look quite different.

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