Friday, June 18, 2010

Chapter Ten, False Starts and Then We're Off

About two weeks ago I finished Chapter 9 of this draft of The Stars Are Fire and wrote what I thought would be the first sentence of Chapter 10, which sentence would--I thought--catapult me magically into the fictional dream and words would come pouring out like my imagination was some sort of magical spring. Well, that didn't happen. The first sentence led nowhere, so I tried again. That sentence went nowhere. In fact, I took three stabs at the opening paragraph before I abandoned the point of entry I had planned to use, and switched to a different idea for the chapter opener. Here's the first page of my handwritten ms, showing the aborted attempts to get started:

You can see that even the idea I went with required a lot of revisions as I was writing it. But it gets worse. Here's the other side of that notebook page, showing just how much I kept changing my mind and reworking ideas for this chapter opening:

Yes, I understand how all of that mess is supposed to read, believe it or not. The writing settled down a lot over the next several pages, and I've skittered ahead and written about 2,500 words for this chapter, which puts me most of the way through it. I hope to be working on Chapter 11 by the end of this weekend. Fingers crossed and all that.

Anyway, one thing I've noticed about my writing (and one thing that I really appreciate about writing longhand, because there is a graphic record, so to speak, of my hesitations and mind changes) is that most of the scratched out sections, the false starts and abandoned ideas of mine come at the beginnings of chapters. I think that's because--especially when a chapter skips ahead in time or to a new location--I am not always sure how I want to jump into the scene. I don't have a solid image or character emotion in mind, and I'm shoving ideas at the page until one of them says "yes, this is the key that unlocks this scene and you are now allowed to enter."

Anyway, if I wrote on a computer I don't think I'd ever have observed this about my own writing and I am, you know, the most fascinating writer working today. To me, that is.

Update: Chapter finished, I think! Wordcount = 35,684! I say "I think," because I just now realized that the point to where I've written would be a good place to stop, letting me skip ahead to the conversation between Horatio, Cornelius and Voltemont that I wish to have; it's a very important conversation and skipping straight to that means I get to skip some boring travel and shifting of luggage.

Favorite part of this chapter? Possibly Father Maltar drifting randomly in and out of Latin while relating a disturbing dream.

1 comment:

  1. If I ever tracked every change/deleted word (not including typos caused by my dyslexia of the fingers), the mess would make this look pristine.