Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Halfway Point

This is one of those very lame "writing progress" posts that I put up primarily as a form of diary entry as I assume it will be of interest to nobody but me. Whatevs and apologies, kids.

Yesterday, at about 5:45 PM PST, I arrived at the halfway point in the first draft, the end of Chapter 6 (of 12 chapters, natch). My transcendental philosophical detective announces, "I know who the murderer is!" It's all very exciting. It's a big turning point in the story because there's just been a major reveal, not to mention a discussion of Kantian metaphysics. "I am a transcendental detective, Monsieur." Good stuff.

Word count? About 40K I think. It's hard to say because I haven't typed chapter 6 into the Word doc yet and I've also written out a couple of additional scenes for chapters 1 and 2 that add up to around 3,000 words or so. But I'll call it about 40K, so I seem to be on track for a novel-length work of fiction and that's always good news.

This book is going to have chapter titles, I think, but I'm not really paying attention to them during the drafting phase. There appears to be a tendency for my first drafts to be a bit looser these days, with the understanding that a lot can change during revisions and so my real job is to just get the biggest chunks of story onto the page. I continue to amass side notes on index cards, things I want to possibly add in during rewrites. Stuff to expand or think about. There are a couple of themes having to do with the approach of WWII that I haven't even begun to deal with, and there are themes about otherness and trust and all sorts of things. And, you know, I have to make sure that the mechanics of the mystery work out. So this draft is pretty rough overall but I think the shape of the landscape is all going to be there, the emotions and moods and the characters.

Anyway, halfway done and possibly a full draft will exist in a couple of months and that'll be nice for me.


  1. I like to read these posts, Scott. I think it's fun to read about other writers and how they work. It's not that I want to copy, or even could. It's just comforting somehow.

    "There appears to be a tendency for my first drafts to be a bit looser these days, with the understanding that a lot can change during revisions and so my real job is to just get the biggest chunks of story onto the page."

    Yeah, I'm leaning more toward this type of writing lately. I'm pretty particular about certain things in my drafts, but lately I've become more relaxed while I'm writing, letting the story wind around itself more than I used to. I hope this makes better stories. I guess we'll see.

  2. Keep at it, it makes me want to write vicariously through you.

  3. Why is Rick writing vicariously through you? Rick, why are you writing vicariously through Scott. Shouldn't you be writing unvicariously through yourself?

    You and your steady progress, Scott. You've caught up to me in Cyberlama! I'm at about 40K too. Well, okay, I'm working on two drafts at the same time, so maybe I'm at 50K when I finally put all the pieces together, but still.

  4. Michelle: "letting the story wind around itself" is a good way of putting it. You know I always write with an outline, but my outlines are getting looser all the time. With this current novel I knew it would be 12 chapters and I wrote a couple of sentences about what happened in each chapter in the broadest of terms, and as I go along I sort of see what happens as I write each chapter to accomplish the goals from that original slim outline. Sometimes it feels like I'm trying to stuff a writhing snake into a sack. Though sometimes I feel that the current draft isn't as loose as I think it is. Hard to say. I haven't read it yet.

    Rick: Write vicariously through me all you want, but remember that I get all the props for it!

    Davin: Yes, Rick should write his own damned writing. I take back what I said about him being free to write vicariously through me, but I don't take back what I said about me getting all the props.

    Steady progress is the key. As Flannery O'Connor may have once said, writing is a habit of being, not an occupation. Get in the habit and stay in the habit.

    I know that you like to polish as you go along and I don't do much of that, which is why I can clock a lot of words quickly. It's a weird experience though, because I don't think much about the overall shape of the story during the first draft so sometimes (today, for example) I'm not at all sure what I'm actually writing and I just have to trust my original plan and my moment-to-moment instincts and see what happens. I think that with your method, you're sort of always closer to a finished product than I am, no matter what the word count. Or something. Have you noticed how lately I qualify everything with "or something?" It's starting to get on my nerves. Or something.