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.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Back to dystopian. Days ago I decided to clarify the problem about chapters 11 & 12 to myself. I haven't been able to work on them because they're transitional chapters between big plot stuff happening, and I have no idea what needs to be in them. There's a ton of information the reader needs that could go in there.

So I pulled those two chapters out separately, into a new document. Then I copied and pasted every bit of information or character exchange that might be able to go in them. I ended up with over 60 double-spaced pages, which I figured I need to cut down to 20 at most.

It's much less overwhelming to work through the story transition (from beginning to middle) now that I have this new document in front of me. I've started working with chapter 11, and it seems I do have to pick up in-scene from the end of chapter 10. I've been strongly feeling a need to switch to some kind of transitional out-of-scene narration for the sake of pacing. It just feels like too much, one chapter after another continuously in scene. I'm over a hundred pages in and am still on Day 2 (!). But I left everybody at the end of chapter 10 in mid-confrontation with a gun, so from what I can see there's just no way around staying in scene as 11 opens. Maybe later I'll figure out a way to switch it up.

As it (loosely) stands now, I start chapter 11 with a verbal fight, and after that I hit the same problem: stay in scene, or try to switch to out-of-scene narration. Right now I'm thinking I may just try staying in scene.

I definitely have a problem with this aspect of writing. I think it's part of my usual huge weakness: transitions. My natural tendency is to just follow everyone through their days, step by step. I feel that I especially need to get a grip on the pacing of book beginnings, but I'm not sure how to do it. Maybe I need to look at some really good character-driven books and see exactly how much time passes in the beginning, and how it's handled.

I'm also not used to writing books with a lot of plot-type stuff happening, though, so maybe they just feel different; maybe I'm too used to dealing with severely character-driven story.

The reason I say that is that winter residency in VT is coming up, and I know I've got to do a reading. I'm going to read something from this ms, but it all looks the same to me and I can't tell what's interesting or boring about it anymore, and I don't have a lot of time to think about it. So I asked some fellow writers who will also be at the residency to look at my 100 pages and tell me what people might like to hear. They all zeroed in on the real-time action/confrontation scene with a beating and a killing. It hadn't stood out to me; it just seemed like another piece of the literary puzzle.

I realized then than I've got to consistently give more weight in my head to this type of scene in the ms. Writing these plotty scenes is more about technical craft-type thought than anything else, but they carry the reader along and propel the story. They affect pacing in ways I can't afford to forget about. Also, since I obviously don't have a feel for the tremendous job they do pacing-wise for the book, I need to stay open to the possibility that my feelings re. now-it's-time-for-a-narrative-break could be wrong.