Friday, October 23, 2009

Update and a Confession of the Author's Hypocrisy

I continue to work on Chapter Two of "Cocke & Bull." I like what I'm doing, but I find that I am apparently violating rules that I hand out over at the Literary Lab. Maybe. Lately I've been claiming that I'm looking to traditional storytelling for inspiration, which is in one way true because the prose style touchstones right now appear to be Melville, Dickens and Hemingway. But I am also breaking a lot of alleged rules like shifting point-of-view during a scene (which means that my 3rd-person limited omniscient is more like 3rd-person unlimited omniscient), shifting tense during a scene (I jump from past to present to tell, oddly enough, about an event in the story past), and making Chapter Two essentially all backstory, though it all goes to character. So I'm going off half-cocked and doing as I like.

But I remind you that this is just a first draft, and at some point I have to go back and revise all of this and make it work as a coherant narrative structure, so all the thrashing about I'm doing right now could well disappear and find itself more well behaved down the road.

Wordcountometer: about 4600!


  1. What is "the creative process"?

    I'll take revisions and editing for $400 please, Alex.

  2. I don't think it matters if POV, tense, or other structural changes shift around in a first draft. You're still figuring out the story, so it's better to play around than stop yourself by saying, "Wait, I can't undo any of the storytelling decisions I've made."

  3. Rick and Annie: I know this is a first draft. I know there will be more changes than I can count, and that the book will transform during revisions into something I can't imagine right now. But, you know, in order to actually do today's writing, I have to tell myself that Every Word I Write Will Stand and that It's All Sheer Brilliance.

    Also, I am doing stuff with this one that I never thought to try with the last one.

  4. I think it's very interesting to think about the spontaneity that comes out in the first draft and how you can use that same energy when you're revising. I'll bet you are doing some very interesting things with this draft--actually I've seen some interesting things already! I hope you get to keep at least some of it in your revisions!

  5. Congrats on your wordcount! And for breaking the rules. I think that's awesome.'s all good because you KNOW you're breaking them and if they'll work later or not. Experimenting is half the fun of writing.

  6. Davin: Yeah, there are definitely some kinds of revisions that tap into the same creative energy I have in a first draft, where sudden inspiration strikes. I'm trying not to think too much about how usable my prose will be in the final version; I'm trying to simply enjoy the ride and I'm remembering the whole "now what? oh, of course!" rhythm of first drafts.

    Michelle: Knowing that I'm violating someone's rule(s) is, of course, liberating! And yeah, the thing is that I know when I'm doing something I shouldn't. Though as everyone has said, it's all part of figuring out how to tell this particular story.

    My goal is to write a first draft that's about 100K words and then cut it down to about 80K and then build up again to who knows what. And then, likely, cut it back down when I'm at revision 6 or 7 or 8...

    I am very interested to see if I learned enough with the last book to move more quickly this time. We'll see.