06 December 2006

Fix-ups for slowpokes (but better than speedy fixes)

I was striving to get a rough (new) draft of the raccoon novel written by the end of December, but then to my dismay I started thinking. As it turned out, it was good 'n useful thinking.

I remembered how, when I worked on the Symphonians novel, that my scenes came out better when I focused on one at a time. If I try to write a whole book at once, I freak out, not knowing where to start, and then I get nothing done at all. (That's the same reason I have trouble reading through a Norton anthology -- I end up skipping because I want to read the whole thing. And in the end read nothing.)

And I'm so dissatisfied when I rush on and leave a scene undone because omg there's more work to be done up ahead.

So: instead of having a trail of unfinished scenes and half-baked notions I'm going to do one thing at a time. No pretty word count pileup. Just a bunch of one-step-forward-and-two-steps-back work in a small space.

And I'm going to do these two things to make each scene as strong as possible.

1) I'm going to write the scene from the other character's pov -- best of all is if I can write it from the pov of the antagonist. Half the time I'm going in there with no idea about what the heck is going on in that guy's head. Then he just comes out evil, instead of a nuanced character who has feelings, too. The antagonist also wants to get something out of the transaction. What is it? Then I'll take that info and incorporate what I can of it into the original pov.

2) I'm going to do what I did with the other raccoon story: I'm going to visualize, as clearly as possible, the setting around the characters.

So many fantasy novels feel like they're happening in this sort of cloudy void. Once in a while something the character needs will pop out of the void -- say, a tree, or a road to walk on, or an open-air market -- but most of the time, there's very little around the character that's very clear.

When I did this exercise for the other raccoon story, I was astonished by how grounded I felt in the world after the revisions went in. It really felt a lot more real, and I wanted more to be a part of that world. I think that's part of the wonder, that if you work hard to make your world real, you just want to walk right in there and stay a while.

So that's my big goal. And then when it's time for a crit from my critique group I'll also have three halfway decent chapters to submit, too.

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