A Glacier's Progress

Discussion in 'Progress Journals' started by Dracon, Dec 27, 2016.

  1. Dracon

    Dracon Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2016
    Messages:
    511
    Likes Received:
    646
    Location:
    England
    Merry Christmas to you all. Since it has been a year since starting this progress journal, I thought it would be a good idea to have a yearly round-up.

    How far this novel has come from this time last year. Not sure of the total word count, but it's in the range of 150k-160k at the moment, split across 30 chapters + an epilogue.
    • First and foremost of all, I made the difficult decision of slashing the number of POVs from 2 to 1, effectively cutting 50% of the book that I have been writing for the last three years. It was the correct decision. It allowed me to focus on the people rather than the events of the novel. Whilst the repercussions have far-reaching consequences, the plot is far more personal. I recognised the rapport of the two main characters, and so I decided to capitalise this to the max. In the end, I think it was the best decision I've made so far.
    • Rewrote the unfocused Act II I near entirety, as well as large sections of Act III. If I'm particularly unlucky, I might have to have another shot at Act I.
    • Bringing together what was a collection of scenes into a full novel. Beginning and ending scenes, tying together random thoughts/dialogue, making each chapter like one miniature story - all things that I have struggled with. And there's still a long way to go before I've killed all of those white spaces and square brackets.
    • Theme - I finally discovered my themes of prejudice, with my main character starting off as a bigot, and finishing... Much more educated! The setting is a country beset by civil war with prejudice set within its very being, both sides determined to unite and repair a failed nation that was never even whole in its inception. Which led me to develop an overarching story for the series, The Trials of the Kahhari, a series of threats, from without and within, that will see either the rebirth or ruin of the Kahhari people.
    As for the novel there is still plenty of work to do. I need to read over Chapters 1-4 and edit the start once more - when I got to the big reveal at the end of the book, I found that even I couldn't explain what was going on, which was a sin that I needed to make more changes. To align the beginning with the new changes, I will need to readdress these first chapters.

    Chapters 17-18 need re-addressing since the big Act Two climax all happens a bit too quickly. I will probably need to add material that will extend it to three chapters.

    I've been writing Chapter 26, which is a new chapter, and tying it in with the explosive Chapter 27. That's where I'm at now. I haven't read Chapters 27-30 yet, so who knows what state they're in. I think the novel still ends the same way it always has even though the middle and end have morphed and changed, so hopefully I won't need to change much.

    And this is all without having even read through it yet first!

    I also have birthed several ideas along the way:-

    • a sequel, The City Above, which mainly came about from wanting to know more about certain elements of the desert city that are presented in Act Three of the novel. In particular, the criminal underworld. I have a two-page plan, and need to focus on adding more details and characters, so I am well-armed when it comes to tackling it.
    • Two trilogies, The East Guard and The Cerulean Front, set within the same world and era of Artesia. Both premises I'm finding are really exciting, so much so, that it's difficult to resist the temptation to get to work on them right now.
    • (It's a shame that I still haven't found a title for this novel yet)
    Thank you for all of your continued support. I have little doubt I would have given up, or been way far behind if it wasn't for you all. Even in absentia, this whole forum has made me think differently and more critically about my writing in a way that would not be possible alone. So I thank everybody for that, those who read this and those who don't.

    And Merry Christmas once more. None of us ought to be here - I know I certainly shouldn't! - yet here we are nonetheless, tapping away rather than celebrating!
     
  2. Dracon

    Dracon Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2016
    Messages:
    511
    Likes Received:
    646
    Location:
    England
    Mixed feelings today. Parts of this new chapter are still eluding me, so I've moved onto the next chapter, which is the trigger for the big climax.
    I wrote several ways in how I wanted the chapter to progress, but none of them quite fit. One character is having a bit of a rough time, and tried various iterations of Germania consoling him, but none of them felt right. I kept trying different ways to see what would work, before realising I was going about it all wrong. Germania wouldn't accept apologies, and displays of weakness would not trigger any empathy or pity in her - rather it would only succeed in getting her riled up. I feel like now I've gone down that road, it feels much stronger than it did before - and more importantly - more genuine.

    This bit I've been looking forward to because I get to focus on Germania and Hero, who are not only my two main characters, but also my favourite characters in the novel. Certain scenes they share make me feel electric in a way that doesn't exist for the other characters.

    It's exciting for me because I didn't ever think I would write a character-driven novel. It was the plot, and the world that excited me, that inspired me to put pen to paper. So to have constructed such a relationship from thin air, I never would have dreamed of accomplishing, and although this probably sounds ridiculous, I feel that it is my greatest writing achievement to date. However, it's something that I also find extremely worrying. Not least because I'm not sure it's something that I will ever be able to replicate.

    But I'm also worried because the chemistry is so powerful it seems to overshadow every other character in the book. This chapter I've been writing, there are two other characters who start off in the scene, but now I've worked on it some more, Germania and Hero pretty much steal all of the page time and I'm left struggling to get any of these other characters doing anything meaningful.

    Or maybe I've got it twisted. Maybe it's because my other characters just aren't strong enough. So why can't I seem to breathe this magic into them too? Is it really because I'm focusing on the strengths, that these characters have minor roles and/or are less important? Or perhaps it is that I've got a one-hit wonder that I subconsciously realise that nothing could hold a candle to, and so this is what I keep returning to.

    Or simpler: maybe it's all in my head!

    77%
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2017
    Andy_Megumi, Lifeline and zoupskim like this.
  3. Dracon

    Dracon Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2016
    Messages:
    511
    Likes Received:
    646
    Location:
    England
    Further editing, further paragraph-pushing. I'm pouring a lot of hours into this chapter, and I know why. If there is one chapter I want to be perfect, it would be this one.
     
  4. Lifeline

    Lifeline Into the Cold Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2015
    Messages:
    2,361
    Likes Received:
    2,659
    Location:
    UK
    You did it once. You'll do it twice, thrice, or however many times you need to. Sounds like you've got an extremely vivid picture of your main characters in your head—which is a good thing!

    Yeah, I feel you. This way lies madness (or more writing, depending :D ). This desire to 'breath life' into my secondary characters started me down the road to write the short stories of 'Origin', from their point of view. I wrote them because I wanted to get into their heads, make them 'real' for myself, and then found that they actually were telling a story worth telling.

    I know what you're saying. Without writing their shorts, they'd have been cartoon characters for me, too; but now that I've written from the point of view, they are 'real' to me, and I understand each of them intimately. So whenever they crop up now as secondary characters, I know why they do something and that (at least to my mind) makes them 'real' as secondary characters in my main story, too. Does that help? Or is it more of a rabbit hole for you? :D
     
    Dracon likes this.
  5. Dracon

    Dracon Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2016
    Messages:
    511
    Likes Received:
    646
    Location:
    England
    No, that makes sense. I'm not worried about them being cartoon characters necessarily, but more that they come and go as I need, often mid-scene. They are plot-relevant characters, but perhaps therein lies the problem: they only exist to serve the plot. Maybe an extra level of depth to their characters is what I need to help me along. I don't think I can afford more words for additional subplots/back stories with the current word count, nor do I particularly want to. But I can see how short stories can get you thinking of the way those characters act and help in understanding how they might react in a particular situation. Writing short stories is almost a different art to writing a novel, and that's why I haven't done it so far. As well as requiring material to make a short story about, which I am lacking, though coincidentally upon reading this, I did suddenly come up with an idea of something! :)

    Some of these characters I know quite well already (with >100k sitting in the dustbin after starting this fourth iteration) and perhaps in this case the problem may be feeling the need to shoehorn them in when in fact their relevance to the story is diminished due to a focusing effect going from 2 POVs to 1. For those others, it may be a case of not knowing them as well as I could, and I can see how what you are doing can be of help.
     
    Andy_Megumi, zoupskim and Lifeline like this.
  6. Lifeline

    Lifeline Into the Cold Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2015
    Messages:
    2,361
    Likes Received:
    2,659
    Location:
    UK
    I'm not sure I understand.

    We seem to agree on secondary characters being people, with desires/hates/agendas. The quoted section seems to say that your sec chars are all focused on driving the plot forward. Fair enough, else these people wouldn't be in the story. I don't know how streamlined your plot is, but in any group (thinking here about something as simple as adults who meet weekly to play football with the goal to beat the next-town-over-team in a friendly contest next fall), not all of them will agree on how to go about that.

    There will be arguments. Barbeques. Break-ups followed by make-ups, family situation changes, one may father a baby, another may drop out due to his partner getting ill and not being able to make the time anymore... you see what I mean? This group of friends is not uniform, nor do they necessarily all annotate the same importance to winning this imagined match.
     
    zoupskim likes this.
  7. Dracon

    Dracon Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2016
    Messages:
    511
    Likes Received:
    646
    Location:
    England
    Which is what I meant: that I need to bring out more whatmotivates them and their agendas, rather than how they slot into the MC's plans.
    It's a very mobile story, almost as you might expect in an adventure story. There is no Fellowship as such - Germania and Hero the only true constant characters in the novel, and the rest exchange in and out as the story progresses. Hence, it being very focused on keeping up the momentum.
     
    Andy_Megumi, zoupskim and Lifeline like this.
  8. Lifeline

    Lifeline Into the Cold Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2015
    Messages:
    2,361
    Likes Received:
    2,659
    Location:
    UK
    Then you really have to give them personality in the same way I did with my shorts. Which is not to say that you need to write them as I have, but you should know them as people, at least the ones who crop up more often :)

    I do believe that it makes a novel feel more 'alive' if some characters are coming in and going according to their own agendas, being seen more than once by the reader.
     
    Andy_Megumi likes this.
  9. Dracon

    Dracon Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2016
    Messages:
    511
    Likes Received:
    646
    Location:
    England
    Poured more and more hours into Chapter 26, tweaking, considering, thinking. I know I should stop now and move on, but... just... can't... do it... And there are still a few blank spaces where there should be something, but I can't quite decide what I want to put in there/can't quite find the words that feel right. It's really critical that I get it right, create the desired effect, as it is the most important part of the whole story.

    To try to motivate me to draw a line under Chapter 26 and move on, I just had a quick look over Chapter 27: Bear Trap, the big climax... and it's in serious need of work. So much so that I just had to stop reading once I got halfway through the chapter. Ugh. It's in a mess.

    Maybe because it was exciting to write, but there's a lot missing. Loose ends I forgot to tie up, but then I have to be careful too that my antagonist doesn't wind up expositing like a James Bond villain rather than just getting on with what he needs to do. The prose could be better. Some of the dialogue is lacking in punch. The lack of my previous POV also throws one final spanner in the works. Where before he would help the MC in the climax of the novel, will having him suddenly show up feel like a Deus ex machina? Can the MC realistically succeed without help? These are the sorts of questions I'll also need to consider when addressing this chapter.
     
    Andy_Megumi and zoupskim like this.
  10. Dracon

    Dracon Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2016
    Messages:
    511
    Likes Received:
    646
    Location:
    England
    Chapter 26 complete, or thereabouts. Now I can move on to the showdown!
     
    Andy_Megumi likes this.
  11. Dracon

    Dracon Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2016
    Messages:
    511
    Likes Received:
    646
    Location:
    England
    Now that the Christmas break is over and back to work, progress on the edit has stalled again... :( Though I still continue to read, as well as idly consider other stories. I knew this would happen! I ought to have finished more in the time that I was off.
     
    Stormburn likes this.
  12. Stormburn

    Stormburn Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2017
    Messages:
    745
    Likes Received:
    768
    Location:
    Traveling Contractor
    How is the showdown coming along?
     
  13. Dracon

    Dracon Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2016
    Messages:
    511
    Likes Received:
    646
    Location:
    England
    Not well - as I mentioned earlier, I've been somewhat preoccupied, and though I managed to make a start last weekend, I haven't really thought about that chapter much in the past few days.

    The antagonist doesn't get so much page-time, so I want to make sure I hit all the high notes with this final opportunity that I have, as important revelations are also made in certain moments.
     
    zoupskim and Stormburn like this.
  14. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2006
    Messages:
    2,934
    Likes Received:
    975
    Location:
    Ohio, USA
    There is nothing wrong with a supporting character fading away for a while, or permanently if his/her purpose in the storyline is complete. I sometimes have to write by hand in a spiral notebook, and while it's not as efficient (in this we seem to be agreement), it still allows progress.

    Good luck pressing forward!
     
    Dracon, Stormburn and zoupskim like this.
  15. Stormburn

    Stormburn Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2017
    Messages:
    745
    Likes Received:
    768
    Location:
    Traveling Contractor
    I had this same concern, so I plotted out the antagonist's role in the series through each book. By seeing where he was and what he was doing, I discovered where he impacted the story in places I had not seen and led to a wonderful 'face-t0-face' confrontation with the protagonist in book three.
     
    Dracon likes this.
  16. Dracon

    Dracon Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2016
    Messages:
    511
    Likes Received:
    646
    Location:
    England
    Thanks for the support @TWErvin2 . I will bear your advice in mind. I have a corkboard now too, which is really nice to stick up my ideas and look at for a while if I'm stuck.

    I thought you havent started writing yet, @Stormburn ? Unfortunately, though I do love books that give decent focus to an antagonist POV, I am staying true to the mono-POV. I think it works well here, and I like it. Makes the story feel personal, which it is, being essentially a historical revenge novel. Though it doesn't have the feel anymore of an "epic" novel, I would hope to bring that scale in through future novels that focus on different storylines in the same world.

    I gave my novel a lot of attention today - 4 hours or so it's taken to bring Chapter 27 almost(!) to a wrap. Told you I take things slowly.

    Edit:- and now I've spent another hour on another idea to really ramp up antagonist's evilness to another level. Possibly the most depraved, sadistic thing he can do to my MC, and she doesn't scare easily.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2018
    Andy_Megumi, TWErvin2 and Stormburn like this.
  17. Stormburn

    Stormburn Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2017
    Messages:
    745
    Likes Received:
    768
    Location:
    Traveling Contractor
    I did individual plot points for what I call the 'off stage' characters. Even though the antagonist makes all of one appearance in the first book, by plotting him outside of the main story I was able to spot plot holes and plot opportunities for the entire series.
    I'm working on developing my scenes for book one. Once that is done, its first draft time!
     
  18. Dracon

    Dracon Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2016
    Messages:
    511
    Likes Received:
    646
    Location:
    England
    Chapter 27 complete.

    Now it's onto Chapter 28... Of 28! Yep, I've decided I'll only actually need one more chapter to wrap things up. Just one more. It's the final stretch - no it's more like 5 laps completed with another 20 to go :p

    Some of the material for this chapter will be new - after all one character is still alive, whilst a different one is dead, and this needs addressing. Additionally, there are still a few problems I need to answer with regards to how open I will let the ending be.

    For example, how to treat the antagonists that survive, who would reprise that role in the sequel. Them being brought to justice is out of the question, but nor do I want readers to feel unsatisfied, or that the book does not "standalone", which I believe is good advice for an amateur novelist's first time book in a series. On the other hand,I could leave it implied that the antagonists will soon be brought to justice for their crimes without actually showing it, and then in the sequel reveal that they managed to evade justice. But then that feels a little bit phoney too. Still thinking it over.

    Consequently, I'm not sure how long this chapter will take to finish off.

    90% (still also need to revisit chapters 19 and 20)

    Edit:- Clocking in at just over 150k at the moment, including the unedited final chapter. Thought it might have been worse actually.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2018
    zoupskim and Andy_Megumi like this.
  19. Dracon

    Dracon Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2016
    Messages:
    511
    Likes Received:
    646
    Location:
    England
    Hit a wall with this final chapter. Two hours completely wasted last night going absolutely nowhere. I felt quite confident going into this conclusion, but now I just don't quite feel quite satisfied with the ending, how the characters finish. And when I did try to change things, edit the scenes, it felt even worse. And the other loose ends... how to leave Germania with the other characters at the end? What is the resolution?
    :supermad:
     
    Andy_Megumi, Lifeline and Stormburn like this.
  20. Stormburn

    Stormburn Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2017
    Messages:
    745
    Likes Received:
    768
    Location:
    Traveling Contractor
    Here's a questionnaire that I'm using. Maybe it will spark something for you.


    FINAL SCENE CHECKLIST:


    ✓ The lead character shows his/her flaw (wound, fear, or misconception) now healed—or is at least in recovery.

    ✓ Unanswered questions and subplots are resolved—without lengthy exposition.

    ✓ Emotional resolution is gift-wrapped for the reader, especially in the final pages.

    ✓ The novel’s theme is reviewed and clearly championed.


    SCENE BASICS


    WHO WAS THE POV CHARACTER?


    WHAT WAS POV DOING AT THE BEGINNING?


    WHAT DID POV NEED?


    LIST THE OTHER CHARACTERS IN THE SCENE, ALONG WITH THEIR WANTS DURING THE SCENE?


    WHAT CONCERNS WERE SHOWN TO BE CLEARLY RESOLVED?


    WHAT DID POV DO TO SHOW THAT RESOLUTION?


    SCENE PLAY-BY-PLAY #1


    LIST THE MAJOR ACTION BEATS:


    VISUALIZE THE SCENE THROUGH POV’S EYES, INCLUDING ALL THE ABOVE.


    THEN, IN ~250 WORDS OF THE SIMPLEST LANGUAGE POSSIBLE, SUMMARIZE THE SCENE:




    SETTING


    BRAINSTORM VIVID DETAILS THAT SHOW TIME, PLACE, WEATHER, & CULTURE FROM POV’S PERSPECTIVE:


    LIST AT LEAST FEW MOMENTS WHEN POV PHYSICALLY INTERACTED WITH THE ENVIRONMENT:


    WHAT SETTING DETAILS MIRRORED THE CHAMPIONED THEME?


    WHAT OBJECTS REVEALED DETAILS ABOUT THE RESOLVED PLOT & HEALED CHARACTER?


    LIST A FEW MUNDANE DETAILS THAT ENGAGED POV’S SENSES, CREATING A SENSE OF REALISM:


    CHARACTERS & PLOT


    LIST SPECIFIC VISCERAL/SOMATIC RESPONSES TO EMOTIONS OR ACTIONS, ESPECIALLY FOR THE MOMENT OF PEAK INTENSITY:


    HOW WAS POV’S CHARACTER FLAW CLEARLY HEALED—OR AT LEAST IN RECOVERY?


    SCENE PLAY-BY-PLAY #2


    IMAGINE THE SCENE THROUGH ALL 5 OF POV’S SENSES.


    TWEAK SETTING QUESTIONS ABOVE IF NEEDED.


    THEN, IN ~500 WORDS OF THE SIMPLEST LANGUAGE POSSIBLE, SUMMARIZE THE SCENE:




    EXTRA STUFF


    WHAT OPENING HOOK LURED POV (AND READER) DEEPER INTO THE SCENE?



    WHAT SPECIFIC ACTIONS RESOLVED SUBPLOTS, W/O BEING MERE EXPOSITION OR AN INFO-DUMP?



    HOW WAS THE THEME CHAMPIONED?


    DRAFT WORK


    COPY/PASTE ALL THE ABOVE ANSWERS & IDEAS INTO A CHRONOLOGICAL OUTLINE OF THE SCENE. REPEAT SOME WHEN NECESSARY.


    IN THE SIMPLEST LANGUAGE POSSIBLE, WRITE A BAD 1ST DRAFT, FOLLOWING THE OUTLINE TOP TO BOTTOM
     
    zoupskim, Andy_Megumi and Dracon like this.
  21. Dracon

    Dracon Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2016
    Messages:
    511
    Likes Received:
    646
    Location:
    England
    Thinking about what @Stormburn posted on the walk to the bus stop... You've just gifted me not one but two excellent ideas!
    1 and 2 both fine in my opinion - only one or two minor loose ends that suggest a deeper conspiracy, and my plot is fairly focused with little diversions.

    3 is the main problem I was referring to, but 4 I had neglected to think how it all tied back to the central theme. Now I've thought of a way of doing that, that has helped me come to what I think is the correct emotional resolution that is, as you say, clearly defined for the reader.

    A hundred thanks for your advice! :-D
     
    Andy_Megumi and Stormburn like this.
  22. Lifeline

    Lifeline Into the Cold Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2015
    Messages:
    2,361
    Likes Received:
    2,659
    Location:
    UK
    Nothing in writing is wasted. With each word you're getting better. It's what I tell myself every time I discover that I've failed my goal and have to make another stab at it.

    I believe it's true for you as well. Keep on the work. :)
     
    Dracon, Andy_Megumi and Stormburn like this.
  23. Dracon

    Dracon Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2016
    Messages:
    511
    Likes Received:
    646
    Location:
    England
    ~2000 words this weekend, and the last chapter is finally coming together. I have all the scenes I need now to finish it, it just all needs stitching together, which has always been my main issue. I think I have the appropriate emotional resolution that I hope feels both genuine and satisfying. Now I have a firm idea of the ending, I also know how my character arcs will finish - not only for Gem and Hero, but the other characters too. This will help me with subsequent edits, as I make sure that each character's arc progression shows throughout the novel (note to self: Artax in particular, I think)
     
    Andy_Megumi, Stormburn and zoupskim like this.
  24. Dracon

    Dracon Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2016
    Messages:
    511
    Likes Received:
    646
    Location:
    England
    I made some good progress tonight. This last chapter just broke 7000 words. It's probably going to have to be two!
     
    Andy_Megumi likes this.
  25. Dracon

    Dracon Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2016
    Messages:
    511
    Likes Received:
    646
    Location:
    England
    Going round and round in circles with this crap. Wrote about 1k +2 hours thinking of how to the end the book - end it end it - when I finally draw the line and write the words THE END. Then I decided that 1k was too extraneous and that I was just filling endlessly, addressing every last thread, when I need to just write THE END. And the best place for the novel to end, I realise, is where it all began.

    The last few paragraphs are the hardest of all though. How to end it? What is the final message, the final thought? Tying everything back to the take-home message? Some happy thoughts and memories as the survivors begin their journey back? Some light-hearted conversation and some quip? The ink has well and truly dried up that I have to just stop, and accept that there's no brute forcing this one.

    So the end of this draft comes on a sort of bittersweet note, because although I have reached the end of the novel, I haven't actually finished the novel draft yet - with Chapters 19, 20 and 26 all missing key material still needs to be written, as well as not having an ending. And goodness knows what else has escaped my notice. So I won't celebrate just yet, not until I decide it's finally time to put down the pen and read what I have from start to finish will I say that the fourth draft is complete.

    And then the Fifth Iteration, now that the plot has been ironed out, will address continuity. Not only on a microscopic scale (making sure events happening sixteen years ago happened sixteen years ago, and not twenty or fifteen years ago) but also on a macroscopic scale (do the plot arc and characters make sense? Are their actions consistent? Because many of my characters have changed personalities and traits off the cuff as they've suited me/as the novel has evolved and I haven't really been keeping proper track of this).

    I wish I had been making more progress - just this one chapter has taken almost three weeks now, and I didn't even manage to finish it off! Still, work must come first and I have been feeling pretty knackered of late to be able to have the energy to write also.

    90%
     
    Andy_Megumi and Stormburn like this.

Share This Page