A Glacier's Progress

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

  1. Dracon

    Dracon Senior Member

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    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 Senior Member

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    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
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  3. Dracon

    Dracon Senior Member

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    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 Out of the Night Supporter Contributor

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    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
     
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  5. Dracon

    Dracon Senior Member

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    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.
     
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  6. Lifeline

    Lifeline Out of the Night Supporter Contributor

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    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.
     
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  7. Dracon

    Dracon Senior Member

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    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.
     
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  8. Lifeline

    Lifeline Out of the Night Supporter Contributor

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    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.
     
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  9. Dracon

    Dracon Senior Member

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    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.
     
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  10. Dracon

    Dracon Senior Member

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    Chapter 26 complete, or thereabouts. Now I can move on to the showdown!
     
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  11. Dracon

    Dracon Senior Member

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    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.
     
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  12. Stormburn

    Stormburn Senior Member

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    How is the showdown coming along?
     
  13. Dracon

    Dracon Senior Member

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    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.
     
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  14. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Contributor Contributor

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    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!
     
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  15. Stormburn

    Stormburn Senior Member

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    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.
     
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  16. Dracon

    Dracon Senior Member

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    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 at 12:00 AM
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  17. Stormburn

    Stormburn Senior Member

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    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!
     

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