Original fiction project – week of 10/02/2011

Dis/inhibition: I finished my proofreading on Tuesday and uploaded the manuscript to Lulu on Wednesday. Funny how seeing the novel in something that resembles “published” form suddenly makes you notice all sorts of flaws in your word choice, font choice, etc, even though I spent an entire day prepping it for Trade Paperback layout in Word before uploading it. I am studying the general format of some books I think are well laid out before finalizing the manuscript and moving on to the cover layouts.

New story: Chapter 7 continues to be a challenge, but I’m still shooting for the 15th to finish it. I have been tackling each chapter of this new story in “layers.” I start with a broad outline (a few sentences) of what will happen in the chapter, then I write the first layer, which is the dialogue. Dialogue is the easiest thing for me to write, and tackling it first helps me transform an intuitive idea of what happens in the chapter into the beginnings of an actual narrative. Dialogue, for me is like the “back bone” of a story.

The next layer is blocking, including action, facial expressions, and where the characters are in physical space. Next, I add in descriptive material–the details in what the setting and characters look, smell, or sound like. The final layer is introspection. I generally already have a good idea of what characters are thinking as write the dialogue and action, but I don’t include it until I have the “what you’d see/hear if this was on TV” part done first.

That’s my usual process, but I must admit, it hasn’t really worked for me this time. As I was writing the dialogue and blocking, I kept being dissatisfied with it, and realized I needed to get in the character’s heads simultaneously. Which makes sense, I guess, I still don’t know the characters that well, and as I enter the crucial middle chapters of the story, I need to know how their inner worlds are changing.

So for this chapter, I am doing layering of a different kind. I have three point of view characters, four characters total, and I am layering in each character one at a time. The other characters are still there, but they are vaguely written as I concentrate on just the one character’s actions, words, and thoughts. I may have to go back and change that up a bit once I layer in the next character’s details, but that’s art for you.

This story is proving very challenging to construct, which makes me wonder how I’m going to pound out 50,000 words next month without having to stop and think and plan for five days at a stretch between writing bouts.

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