Writing About Progress

Day 3 of 90 finds me on track with the current work-in-progress. Half of it was written longhand, as I didn’t have ready access to electricity for most of Saturday. Then I spent Sunday transcribing my scribbles before knocking out new material while JFK played on AMC to provide background noise.

I’m not quite finished with the third chapter. I almost called it; there was a nice cliffhanger ending, but I found the next chapter starting off with a character flashing back to what they did at the end of the previous chapter as they dealt with the aftermath of the shooting. While that can work as a method for telling a story, or parts of a story, I think it would only frustrate readers after a cliffhanger ending to a chapter.

So, I’m either finished with the third chapter, and immediately starting the next chapter by picking up the action, and then adding a scene break for the move to the hospital and the shooting aftermath. Or I’m going to have my narrative jump character viewpoints at scene breaks rather than chapter breaks as the story pace accelerates. The book began with single-viewpoint chapters, each around 10-12 pages/2,500-3,000 words in length. The third chapter is 8 pages/2,000 words now, and the new material I wrote for the next scene amounts to another page.

Part of the creative process involves adaptation. Several members of my current writing group are at the “spec” stage, where they’re able to provide agents or editors with proposals. Those serve as starting point for their next projects. Sometimes they’re nothing more than a pitch. Other times it’s an outline and the first three chapters. If the agent-editor doesn’t bite, the project goes into the trunk, and they move onto the next proposal. It’s an efficient process, and they don’t waste time working on ideas that won’t see publication (or won’t see publication until the time-market is right for it). The ideas receiving the green light then move onto the next stage, where the pitch-outline-first three grows and changes into the actual book.

Even though I’m not at that level yet, the process is the same. Except mine involves a rewrite of more material–a novel’s worth–sometimes during the actual writing stage itself. As long as I’m making progress, as long as I’m putting down the words and making my way to the end, I’m in good shape. The goal is to finish. Even my ending, which is the starting point for my books, can change. Making the book publishable is something that happens in rewrites.

Project Sacrifices / Into Dust Descend
Total Word Count: 8,500
Target Word Count: 90,000 to 100,000
Deadline: October 27, 2010

8500 / 90000 words. 9% done!

Snippet: He was always able to weigh possibilities in an instant, flashing forward from now to an unwritten future, asking “what if” questions where each answer had turned someone’s dreams into sharp-edged nightmares.

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About stephenwnagy

writer, father, husband. not necessarily in that order.
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