The reasons for this blog: 1. To provide basic author information for students, teachers, librarians, etc. (Please see sidebar) 2. I think out loud a lot as I work through writing projects, and I'm trying to dump most of those thoughts here rather than on my friends.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Note to self: entering the Sahara

Last night I sat down with a spiral and did some thinking. It was flat-out alarming. I quickly saw that I've set myself up: I now face an overwhelming mass of doled-out storyline setups and of motivation-establishing points that need to be made in scene. Most of these would read okay in a regular book, but not coming right after 150 pages of my characters hovering on the brink of death and destruction.

In other words, I'm in trouble. Big trouble. I've got a ms that's going to have a huge reader-killing, book-killing dead spot. Proportionally speaking, this dead spot equals the amount of Africa taken up by the Sahara desert. And if I actually write out every bloody scene that's needed to make this story work, it'll be like sand expanding to fill most of the African continent.

It was discouraging to look at my notes and realize that.

However, discouragement is like a kiwifruit, or Starbucks: I don't have to pay attention to it if I don't feel like it. And I don't feel like it. My writing time is so limited, it makes me sick to think of pouring any down the discouragement drain.

So. I've started breaking down the task at hand, and I think the thing to do now is stay flexible while moving forward under this general plan:
  • Start writing out some of the scenes/dialogs that establish what I want established.
  • Do side work from secondary characters' POV regularly, as a guideline. Because if I lose touch with those secondary characters, I am screwed.
  • If a scene/exchange is recalcitrant, don't force it, drop it.
  • Watch for anything that can be satisfactorily conveyed through summary/narration.
  • Remember those big backstory dumps from the first half. They established information and emotion. It may be possible to peel the full meaning from some of them and make them more bare-bones. If so, their full, layered meanings can come to light here in the Sahara Zone, via exchanges with the new character whose story now must unfold. If the true heft of a backstory revelation happens here, it should also provoke tension and conflict-raising actions/decisions by the MC.
(Which overlaps with:)
  • Keep a feeler out for scenes that can naturally double up. (Ex. dialog establishes one point while, via "background" matter like dialog tags and scene-grounding, another point slowly rises. As soon as the dialog has made its point, it ends and the "background" becomes the new focus and is dealt with. Or vice versa: in-scene action makes its point to the reader, and the second that point gets made someone starts talking to the MC re. another point.)

Things to keep in the back of my mind:
  • The unused, already-established hook-y scenes that are going to help carry this part.
  • The emotions that drive my MC. Especially the ones he is unaware of.
  • The end confrontation I'm heading for.
  • And always--always--the POVs of the secondary characters. Always.

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