Saturday, November 08, 2014

On Writing: Finish Up?

I go back to work on Monday after two months off to recuperate from my surgery and I'm sad to say that I failed at doing the one thing I really wanted to accomplish while stuck on the couch: finish writing the book I've been working on since Fall 2008.

That said, I did make amazing strides in getting near to a completion point.

  • I added over 20,000 words (for a total of 97k+ and counting!

  • I found a critique partner who really helped me refine the narrative voice and pointed out areas that were both outstanding and needed a ton of work

  • I figured out what the ending should be (still struggling with how to get there)


But best of all I rediscovered my love of creative writing which has lain dormant for far too long.

I don't know how it is for other writers, but when your professional life heavily features writing that isn't creative, the muse can be a bitch to capture. A typical day for me involves either writing technical content, or editing technical content, and there is zero room for creativity. My biggest challenge is taking complex language and simplifying it, or taking something written by a non-native English speaking employee and making it understandable. There are no plot points to work around, no characters to build out, and no realistic but engaging dialogue to create. And then, at the end of the day even though it was my work that turned a bunch of scribbles and bullet points into a cohesive narrative, it usually isn't my name that gets attached to the document. In that regard, I'm a many times over published author whose name you've never seen. So yeah, it can be a bit draining to go from that to creating people and worlds from scratch. I think that's a lot of what has kept me from finishing this manuscript much earlier. But now that I've recaptured the writing bug I'm hoping that I can keep it going (even though I'll be back to that non-creative world come next week).

I mentioned above that I'm currently at 97,000+ words. I have two more major elements to weave into the story, plus the filler that goes between each of those scenarios. I think (that is, if I don't add something else - which I've been known to do before) that I can get there in about 10,000 words. What I'm struggling with now is integrating those events into the narrative so that neither of these situations seems sudden or forced. As a reader, I can appreciate an author that makes sure that the every day moments in between the big moments feel just as authentic and natural as the rest of the story. On the flip side, I've also read books (that I willingly paid for) where you can tell the author ran out of steam and just slapped it all together for a less than satisfying ending. Then, there are the authors who put too much of the mundane everyday in their books and you have to slog through 700+ pages of "today we did this" or "and tomorrow we'll do that" before you get to the meat. I want to show time passing, but I don't want to be one of those authors that cops out by saying, "three months later ..." to open a new paragraph. I always feel cheated as a reader when I get to something like that.  If you're a creative writer, how do you deal with showing the passing of time?

2 comments:

  1. Seppo6:28 AM

    A possible transition is just to the next significant event in media res. You can deal with communicating that time has passed through description of things that have changed - seasons, etc. as the event unfolds.

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  2. There is a major plot point that I introduce fairly early in the manuscript that I know I left hanging. I had anticipated taking it out when I go through all of the feedback from my critique partner. I *could* however, keep it in and use that to show the passing of time where I am at now. I know that's vague, but basically, it's something that would consume a lot of the character's time and I didn't know how to show that still happening while all of the major action was taking place. This could possibly be a way to address that. Must think on this.

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