Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Worcount Wednesday

I should have done much better than I did this week.

Stats first: as of right now, Failstate is 11,591 words long. I hadn't even realized I cracked the 10,000 word barrier. That actually has me worried; I was hoping to keep this one on the shorter side but that doesn't appear like it'll happen. We'll have to see.

But I'm afraid I must confess something now. I broke one of my cardinal rules of writing a book.

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

One of the rules I've found really helps is that of no back-editing. In other words, once forward momentum has been established, I do not go back to fix anything in what has already been written unless I wrote it that day. So let me give you an example. Earlier today I realized that I should rework the first scene in the first chapter so I can introduce some important plot elements from the get-go. I have a pretty clear idea of how to do it too.

But if I go back to fix up that scene, that means I won't be making forward progress on the story itself. My forward momentum will grind to a halt, which will make it all the harder to get started once the back-editing is done. So I've made a note of what needs to be done and I've kept writing.

This system works pretty well. It keeps me going, working through the story. It doesn't let me get bogged down in little nit-picky stuff in a first draft but instead lets me focus on telling the story as a whole. And normally, I'm happy as a clam with this rule.


Only I hit a snag this week. I found myself slogging away through two chapters that really weren't working for me. Oh, the scenes were necessary. Some important stuff was happening. But it didn't feel right. The 2,700 odd words I pieced together just stared at me on the computer screen and I could feel their wrongness seeping into me.

I was ready to move on when, in a flash of inspiration, I realized what the problem was. Two characters had to be merged, which would require an extensive re-write of their chapter. The setting and manner of the next chapter was completely and utterly wrong. In essence, both chapters would have to be thrown out and rebuilt from the ground up.

I should have probably just taken my notes and kept going. But instead, I back-edited. I tossed out the first draft and rewrote both chapters, which actually turned out to be three chapters that came to approximately 4,200 words.

I feel much better about what I've written, but I back-edited. That was forward momentum that could have propelled me deeper into the story.

In the end, I suppose it was right for me to throw the rule book out this time. But I think I'll need to keep a sharper eye on what I'm doing. I would hate to have to do that again.

Oh, and come back tomorrow. I'll have something much more serious to talk about.

1 comment:

TCHusker - Nate said...

Rules for writing are made to be broken. There's a rule about prepositions I can't think of.