Monday, March 28, 2011

Chapter one is complete

The re-arranging and all that sort of buffoonery I'm going through with my current WIP has taken what I consider a major step forward. Chapter one is complete.

I'm receiving far fewer bolts of inspirational lightning from God these days, which means I'm taking fewer notes in my sleep and during my commute to the office, and therefore I'm starting to think the thing is close to completion...other than the re-arranging of all the notes and re-writing the chapters so they're sequentially most satisfying. When something happens in a novel is almost as important as what happens.

The wife bought me a laptop, and it has sped up the process by leaps and bounds. First of all, there's no internet on the laptop, and I have no intention of getting any. It keeps me from wasting time...Of course, it has chess, mahjong, and hearts, so wasted time does occur every now and then, but nothing like before when I'd click to check my e-mails and be off to the races on the internet for hours at a time.

It's funny, after all this time, chapter one still ended up morphing at the end into something I hadn't expected. One of the plot lines, the first hints of the primary plot to be exact, took a larger role than I had planned. For some reason I'd had this irrational urge to clutch to that part like some kind of Cracker Jack box surprise, save the best for later, that sort of thing. In its current form, I kick it right out the plane and let it parachute for the reader to see before he gets to the end of the chapter, and I'm happier for it.

I wonder what I'll learn in revising chapter 2. Chapter 1 took about 3 weeks, but I expect chapter 2 to go a little quicker because it was more complete to begin with. Who knows.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

One difference between describing setting and characters.

I love the picture of the sunset. Loved it when I took it. Means a lot. If I was describing it in a novel, outside the off chance the novel is about a sun that's about to explode or some other such plot that would require me to pay it homage, I wouldn't spend more than ten words on it. It's a sunset, we've all seen them, some more beautiful than others. Most of the writers on Critique Circle, AW, and Scribophile have been told enough to keep the description brief. But I don't ever remember a discussion on where in the scene the setting can or should be introduced. The first impulse is to put it in the front so the reader has the colors and general feel of the scene like he would watching a movie. But it's not a movie, and you're in a POV character's head. When the scene starts, unless the character is aware of his surroundings at the moment the scene is happening, it's perfectly acceptable to work the setting description in later. Put a description of the setting in during the course of the conversation as the POV character is forced to look at them and take notice, or does so voluntarily.

How many times have we all been engaged in conversation and been focused on the person across from us, or on a problem, and been unaware of our surroundings? A book should follow the POV character's thoughts and focus, not try to be a movie. If it's a screenplay, by all means put a hint of setting to open every scene.

Characters are different. If someone's talking to you, unless they're behind you, or walking beside you, there's a good chance you're looking at them and watching them speak. I hate leaving the reader with no face or at least a general brushstroke of something to watch the words come from.