Monday, June 17, 2013

On Fun-sized Portioning

Another five thousand words down, bringing Cameron up to roughly 30k words and my totals for the year over the 200k mark. Damn!

You know, I think one of the downsides of writing so much flash fiction is that it's impairing my ability to just belt shit out. I spend so much time in flash agonizing over every last word and paragraph it's stopping me from just free-flowing prose onto paper. And that kinda sucks because I have more fun writing this way.

The sort of word by word Tetris-like composition which flash fiction demands is fun, yes, but when actually writing in a longer form, that sort of close eye on detail is definitely a late draft activity. It slows you down if you do it too early in the process. The important thing, initially at least, is to get enough stuff down on paper to give myself something to play with later on when I go back and start the endless cycle of revisions. So, there. My current challenge: write faster, even if it comes out dumb at first glance. But...

It usually doesn't.

I wasn't actually sure some of these scenes would work, but they were fairly necessary to the story. My notes for some of them, in fact, seemed like they'd be rather boring or pointless. I sat down to put the first paragraph and assorted sentences down with a decided lack of enthusiasm, because there's a point in writing a book where you run into the occasional "get plot from point A to point B" scene. They're often necessary, if unexciting. Sometimes three paragraphs of exposition will save you from having to write three or four rather pedestrian chapters. It still feels like your characters are sitting at a bus stop, though, twiddling their thumbs.

Luckily, sometimes you just sit down and pound out words and awesomeness happens. And other times, you start. Then you take a break until something cool comes up out of your brain and you take a different direction. And sometimes the free-form blue sky-ing (shut up, it's a word now that I'm using it) pops out fun details which hadn't occurred to you before.

The explanation as to why Latiangle hangs out in the library, for example, not only hadn't occurred to me before, it also has some implications which will become important later on in the book. It also makes perfect sense within the setting of the novel itself. So! Even if I go back on a later draft and cut that scene (I probably won't), it will have been worth working my way through.

By contrast, I think the park scene has some problems. Some important things happen there, but if I were to do it over again, I'd up the stakes a bit, recast the action so that Claire is doing something which highlights her personality a bit better.

This is one of the worrying things about writing. You read a book, you think an author has all the answers, right from the beginning or even before. But, no. Sometimes it really is seat of the pants. Sometimes the author is just as surprised by a development as someone reading it.

I think if I knew exactly what was going to go on in the rest of any book I'm writing, I'd be less likely to write it. Sure, it's somewhat terrifying to not have a very clear idea of where everything's going, but I'd probably be bored out of my skull if I was just pounding down word by word what my outline had on it.

I usually have a broad idea of what's going to happen. I have a small list of things I want to see, but often I'm just going with what's interesting to me on a short term basis.

This week...I think I'm going to do another block of Cameron. I really, really want to get through this part of the story. I might also redo the park scene to make it more interesting, make Claire more fun.

And then, for story 26 (the halfway point!) I'll probably do something different. Maybe some more clone stuff, maybe another blast of S. M. Wakeman, since it's been a while since I've done anything with those two idiots.

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