ChickenFreak's Progress Journal

Discussion in 'Progress Journals' started by ChickenFreak, Jul 14, 2014.

  1. Stormburn

    Stormburn Contributor Contributor

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    Is that a variation of the German saying, "Let's start the war and we'll figure out how to win it later?"
     
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  2. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Tum te tum. Te tum.

    I've been thinking that this novel is going to be too long (as in too long for a traditionally published first novel from an unknown author) and have too many moving parts in the plot.

    The new idea for the ending opens up the possibility of simplifying the main plotline and reducing the moving parts and thus reducing the length. It also means that a fair number of little scenes that I haven't written because I'm not sure how to write them may never have to be written.

    Why doesn't this please me? I can't see how that would cut the heart or soul or something out of the novel, but my reaction suggests that it would.

    I don't need to decide now; I can leave all those sprawling pieces there for the first draft, and then think about a tighter second or third draft later. And I still like the ending, whether part of the too-long too-tangled novel, or the theoretical shorter simpler one.

    But. Confusing.
     
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  3. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Now that I can see the end, it’s possible that the current motivational stall will last until I reach the end. I’m close enough that I can actually see the needed scenes. I never like that.

    Looking at my theories about my own writing, I’m going to have to wait for my mood to fit each of those scenes—or I’m going to have to just force them, mood or not, but I’m hoping to avoid that, so I’m holding off a while.

    Meanwhile, I’m writing scenes elsewhere in the timeline, as the mood fits. I’m fairly pleased with the last new scene and a half-finished rewrite.

    Tum. Te. Tum.
     
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  4. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Bothered

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    I'm in the situation you are now. Unfortunately, writing out of order doesn't work for me; I'm a linear writer. (Maybe it has something to do with my being dyslexic? Not sure.) The way I'm dealing with waiting for mood and scene to line up is to bide my time with revisions and edits, in order to keep my head in the story. Not sure if that's of help to you since you write polished scenes, but...it's all I've got. Good luck!
     
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  5. Lifeline

    Lifeline Into the Cold Contributor

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    Nope, I'm the same. If I write out of order, there's a 90% chance that I need to go back and make major edits once I write up to it. Your coping strategy seems good.
    @ChickenFreak : Go, eagle!
     
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  6. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I have just come to whine--I've been stalked by a migraine since...Sunday? Head, nausea, Excedrin Tension Headache, a few hours pass, repeat.

    Whiiiine.

    But I am writing scenes.

    I continue to debate whether to finish the ending soon.

    Whiiiiiine.
     
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  7. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    So I wrote a scene that I've been expecting to write for some time. What I learned from the scene was: I don't need the scene. It spoonfeeds knowledge to a character, knowledge that the character can figure out on his own.

    Hmph.

    I'm OK with throwing away scenes, but I prefer to maintain the delusion of the scene's usefulness for at least 24 hours.
     
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  8. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    Unless you're building toward that mythical, perfect state of being in which you can actually anticipate which scenes are needed even before you write them?

    Possibly you're in your chrysalis, about to turn into a wonderful, magical butterfly!!!
     
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  9. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I'm in a mechanics stall. That is, I need "rules" for the minor violates-the-rules-of-physics part of the novel. I call those "mechanics", presumably after the phrase "game mechanics".

    But I've always hated that sort of thing. I enjoy books that do them well and then just leave them in the background. I dislike books that bring them UP FRONT and explain them a lot. But I assume that even for the ones I like, the writer had to sit down and figure out the mechanics, before they were clothed in story.

    SPOILERS FOR AN 18 YEAR OLD MOVIE FOLLOW

    I even enjoy fiction that does unconvincing mechanics but leaves them in the background, as in, "So Frank and John Sullivan can talk across decades on a short wave radio because...Northern Lights? Really? That's how you're explaining this?" That grumble wasn't my reaction when I saw Frequency; it's only my reaction as I start to analyze mostly-follows-laws-of-physics fiction that has bits of doesn't-follow.

    Frequency had rules for its mechanics. They didn't make a great deal of sense, but there were rules. The two could only talk across time when the Northern Lights were in the sky. When the past changed, the person who caused the change got an extra set of memories, without losing his old set, but everybody else just got a new set consistent with the change. Past and present time, once coupled up, marched in step. And so on. The end result was a movie that I found quite satisfying, though I had to turn off a certain amount of inner critic. That appears to be Roger Ebert's view, too:

    The ending of the movie is contrived, but then of course it is: The whole movie is contrived. The screenplay conferences on "Frequency" must have gone on and on, as writer Toby Emmerich and the filmmakers tried to fight their way through the maze they were creating. The result, however, appeals to us for reasons as simple as hearing the voice of a father who you thought you would never hear again. (https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/frequency-2000)
    A Wrinkle in Time had mechanics--how to get out of the cloven pine? How to kill It? Why can't Charles Wallace taste the food? But you don't see them as mechanics. The book has flaws, but I don't think it's flawed in how it handles mechanics. The Magician's Nephew has mechanics, but those don't bother me either.

    I don't care about my mechanics except to drive my story. But I don't want that fact to be too, too obvious. So I need to sit down and figure them out as bare skeletons, until I know them so well that I can write the emotion with those rules in the background.

    I just find that process annoying.
     
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  10. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    The mechanics are coming along. I've written several scenes using them, to get them nicely internalized. Most of those scenes will probably be cut, but they're serving their purpose. Soon I'll rewrite the already existing scenes written months ago, the ones that gave rise to the need for the mechanics and don't comply with them.

    I'm having an unusually strong spasm of, "Oh, let's put this aside for a while and work on something else." I'm not going to fall for it--I'm going to keep writing scenes inside this novel's boundaries, even if they get cut--but I'm wondering where it's coming from.
     
  11. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I want to edit. For example, I'm looking at the Deal with the Devil section and thinking it would be more engaging and better support the later sections with a specific change, a change that would involve lightly changing every scene. I think I'm right, but I also think that's a second draft thing.

    So I'm pretty sure I'm stalling. No editing!

    To indulge my "look at the whole thing" desire I'm licensing myself to look at the whole thing JUST enough to make placeholders for major missing scenes and "glue", so that what's missing is fresh in my mind. I'm mostly done with that; one more sweep later.

    Then I can set a writing quota based on that. I'm going to decree that I must write a needed scene or piece of glue every three days. The needed scene can be polished or unpolished or even a detailed outline. If it's thoroughly unpolished and therefore unsatisfying, I should absolutely also write a polished scene, even if I'll throw it away, just because those please and entertain me.

    While looking around, I also removed some scenes that were very obviously not needed for any reason at all, and the word count of the novel is down to 111K words. When I add everything missing it'll probably be up to about 120-140K.

    That is, believe it or not, a reassuringly low number for my final goal of 100K or less. A few experiments suggest that I can cut my own prose by about twenty percent with word-by-word, phrase-by-phrase compression that loses no content and may improve the prose. (It's hard to tell, when it's my own writing.) A number of scenes can probably just go away. And a huge percentage of scenes start with a few hundred words of ambling character- and relationship-building conversation, so I should be able to cherry-pick the best of that and cut out redundancies and the less interesting bits.

    None of this addresses the ending. I have increasingly firm ideas for the ending, but while I have holes in the interior, I'm not going to push myself too hard to force progress there. The last bits appeared in a very sudden and satisfying way after weeks of percolating; I'm hoping that the next set will do the same.
     
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  12. Stormburn

    Stormburn Contributor Contributor

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    Have you considered doing a reverse outline from this draft? You wouldn't have to rewrite the first draft and will be able to focus on individual changes in the second draft while still maintaining the big picture.
     
  13. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    It's kinda sorta halfway outline-as-I-go. That is, I'm writing it in scenes, each scene has a name, and each scene has a roughly one-sentence summary that I can view in Scrivener's outline mode. Some scenes also have a one-paragraph summary.

    But, yes, I may eventually create a reverse outline as an outline--the current summaries are there more for reminding me what happened in the scenes that surround the scene I'm inserting. If you read through them all, I think you'd still be, "Huh?!"
     
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  14. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Now I'm wanting to change the parts that are from Male Protagonist's point of view to modify the voice.

    No! BAD CHICKEN!

    No revising until the first draft is done!
     
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  15. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Digging out my Balzac Contributor

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    Yeah, bad chicken. Shut up and write.
     

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