Update, "Progress" and Excerpt, aka: The Ridiculously Long Sorry Post

I don't know if you've noticed my little word count meter trickling along lately. Well, I've been writing.

It's not much. Only last night and tonight I wrote, to a total of roughly 200 words. Sad? I don't think so. I feel great. After such a long time sitting at an almost stand-still, getting the ball rolling again is an amazing feeling. To have gotten the characters through just two rooms after a month-long break . . . it's freeing.

I mean, I can't say it's phenomenal. It's no ten thousand words. But I feel like I'm getting somewhere again -- getting to that point where I'm inspired by my own somewhere-getting to somewhere-get even more. Yeah, that was articulate.

I think I understand now why I stopped for such a long time (and it broke my heart every time I was reminded that my novel wasn't going anywhere!). It's because I'm now past that midway point.

Passing the midway point you should speed up, right? I figure that's logical. The problem was that I had created too much in my mind. I knew I had another two thirds at least to write, and if the first draft was ever going to be 120,000 words, I'm sure I would never finish it. I'm very comfortable with my 75,000 - 100,000 word goal.

I was very insecure about my ability to make it even to 60,000 words -- even less again, to be honest. I created an epic Part Two where the main characters end up the world's saviours. I fell in love with it. But now I see that it's unnecessary.

In discussing my concerns with my friend about my ability to fit it all in and finish the novel, I had concluded that I would have to cut down on Part Two. But I loved it! I didn't want to cut it out! He made a very useful remark here: "Well just think: what's the story about? It's about Eoin and his quest to save his sister, isn't it?"

Well, yes, but . . . shining epically epic Part Two is shiny!

Well, it's taken me this long to come to terms with what must be done. I believe this will result in a stronger novel with more direction than I had in my original plan.

I've removed a major section from the story (and here I'm talking about the prospective story -- none of this was written. I only make the smallest of edits while I'm still working on the first draft) where I can tell you now that Faine actually procured Maechre Aura (of the God of Death/the God of the Passing) -- something that won't happen in the new version.

There was a part where Saera was stuck in a world in-between, neither alive nor dead, because of a sacrifice she made. The plan was for Faine to bring her back with his new power, but at a price. He wouldn't be able to touch her, as Maechre's touch kills any person. And he only did all that because of his love for her.

I will still have two parts. I've now moved the end of Part One to earlier. It will now end in the next one or two chapters. I like how it clearly marks the increase in danger found in Part Two.

The main things that I've removed entirely are the wandering around, collecting people with Auras, and the totally epic overthrowing of the Church which I really wish I could throw in but I just don't have enough time and it's really not that relevant to the characters. Maybe I can write it in the appendices?

Bits and pieces of that original plan might fall into place, or I'll fit them in if they complement the action of the story. But the focus is on the characters now, and I have a great sense of direction that I think will help me finish sooner.

I was reading blogs two nights ago, and I read one from Nathan Bransford discussing the up and down contour that shapes a good novel -- sort of action, reaction. A positive that gives hope, then something that pulls that hope away from us, the a triumph over that obstacle makes us feel even better -- this is what keeps us reading.

Seeing his outline example of the Star Wars film, as well as reading so much about writing on blogs that night, inspired me to sort out what I was going to do with the rest of this book. And I did.

I've now got a 400-word outline from where I am until the end of the novel, and it's very pretty. What's exciting is I can mark the various dot-points with "up" and "down". I can see what Bransford was talking about. I think this contour can be applied to scenes as well in order to keep them interesting, but if I want to talk about that it will be in another post.

So I may not be writing much at the moment, but I am writing, and that is the best thing of all. Whether I move forward incrementally or in leaps and bounds, anything is always better than nothing -- especially if you do it daily, or just regularly.

With one day left until the holidays, I think I've made a good start. But these holidays I will push myself harder. If not 500 words daily, I'd like to write 300 words daily. If I miss a day, I won't try to make up for it, but continue on as if I'd never missed that day.

That's it for now. I'll leave you with this excerpt -- the last thing I wrote. (I'm so dash-happy today!)

The first guard looked Eoin and the others up and down. Eoin shifted uncomfortably under his gaze. “Right, follow me.” He led them through one of the great doors – doors so huge that they could have fit three across and still have room to spare – and into the opening hall. The floor was adorned with a beautiful red carpet, covered in abstract yet formulaic white patterns. A stone stair tapered inwards as it crawled up to the first floor. Eoin ran his hands along the intricate designs carved into the balustrade as they climbed the steps.

“My name is Sir Halbaer, by the by. So many people pass me every day and I can’t keep up with all their names. The least I can do is provide others with my own.”

The same red and white carpet covered the floors of the castle halls, which were otherwise decorated with portraits of kings and queens past. Nearly all the stone of the walls was covered with red wall-hangings, a golden vase sitting on a table, a heraldic shield, anything to hide the sombre grey of the walls that instilled that depressing sense of nothingness. In a place so devoid of colour, anyone could go insane.

I actually have a question for you lovely people: Do you find the word verandah in common usage? I'm actually looking for a word to describe the . . . um . . . area one walks out onto when they go outside on a multiple-storey building and they are above the ground floor. Balcony? What would be appropriate in a castle setting?


Misha said...

200 words are good after a dry spell. :-)

As for total word counts, my first draft weighed in at 40000 words.

After a rewrite and some revisions: 95000. Trust me. Words come easy once the idea is on paper.

:-D Good luck!

Mysti said...

Ryan, that's marvelous! Lovely excerpt too!

I think we're in sync on the progress mode. As a mom of three with all of them home all day this summer, writing's been hard to come by. If I get 300 words in a day, that's worth celebrating!

And I know what you mean by cutting out whole scenes or characters. I did that too with my WIP. The additions really weren't doing anything constructive for the story, so I knocked those out and concentrated more on the central characters and conflicts. I think it's helping. We'll see...

Oh did you mean to have two copies of your excerpt? I didn't see anything different in the second copy.

And keep up that motivation. Any progress, even an outline, is progress. You can do it!


Ryan Sullivan said...

Misha: 200 words certainly are good after a dry spell! I think I needed to stop while I sorted out what was actually going to happen now that I'm past halfway. I call it my mid-novel crisis.

Mysti: Oopsie-daisy! I must have doubled up my excerpt when I was trying to sort out the formatting. I've edited it back now. Thanks for the catch.

300 words a day is definitely worth celebrating. What I love about that, when it is actually happening, is the consistent forward movement in leaps and bounds. It's such a grand feeling.

Mysti said...

Ain't it though? :D

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Welcome to The Dark Corner of the Mind. My name is Ryan Sullivan and my aim with this blog is to help others with their own writing, as well as to make note of some of my own writing endeavours.

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