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Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Wordcount Wednesday

So yeah. I've been lazy with my writing this month. Really lazy. After finishing Failstate at the end of April, I had every intention of doing some major editing work on Return of the Mourning Dove and The Escape, two books that I haven't touched in close to a year. But first I was going to take a day or two off. Well, that "day or two" turned into 31 days off. I haven't done any writing or any writing related activities since the end of April.

Mea culpa.

I intended to be good! As a matter of fact, a week ago, I got out a TV tray and set out my draft of Mourning Dove, hoping that the sight of it would motivate me. It did not.

Mea culpa.

I even came up with three necessary scenes that would make Mourning Dove a little better. Well, more like two snippets and a scene, to help explain the motivation of Airell, the main character. I actually mustered some excitement to get cracking and get into it, but when I opened the first chapter, I couldn't bring myself to read more than the first sentence before I decided it would be better to play a video game or watch TV or something.

Mea maxima culpa.

What was truly maddening, though, was that my thoughts kept drifting back to Failstate. I would have gladly pulled it off the shelf and started in on it a week ago, but I always leave a first draft alone for at least a month before starting in on it. I wanted to break my own rule so badly!

But I'm in June now and, after thinking about it, I decided to shelve Mourning Dove once again. Tonight I pulled out the manuscript for Failstate and started laying the ground work for my first rewrite.

First things first: the structure. As I've commented before, the structure for this book was a mess. At least three scenes wound up in the "wrong" place in terms of story and will have to be moved. I knew that from writing the draft; the real question was how everything would fit together.

So I did something I've never really done before. I made a timeline of the story:

I wrote chapter numbers and a one or two word summary of each scene on small Post-It notes and then affixed them two a four week timeline. I figured this would allow me to shuffle them around as needed. In doing this, I learned some interesting things. For example, I apparently thought that a week had eight days in it. You'd think I'd know better, but that first full week there had eight days worth of events crammed into it. I think I must have figured out the chronology a bit better after that point, because the second full week worked a lot better.

Once I had that done, I set that timeline aside and created an even larger one. Then I went through, scene by scene, and put them in what I think is the "correct" order.

This actually proved to be more challenging than I thought it would be. It turns out I have an "orphaned" scene. Trying to shuffle the eight day week into a normal seven day week, one that followed the schedule I developed later in the book, meant that a fairly important happenstance suddenly didn't have a home. I think I have it figured out. I think. But I'm not entirely happy with it. I'm not sure I like it; it might turn out too rushed. But we'll have to see.

So this next week, I'll be physically moving the pages within the actual manuscript and then it'll be red-pen time. As of right now, Failstate clocks in at 111,885 words. That has to change. The number must come down. And with any luck, it will.