Friday, April 13, 2007

Preplanning Chapter 6

Well, tonight was definitely a productive night. Aside from polishing my ALDEN RIDGE hook for the FFF contest (my submission is now in), I also managed to get a large amount of prewriting done--852 words worth, actually. That completely maps out the next two scenes of chapter 6 (out of a total of four, including the one that I wrote last night). I haven't started on the detailed prewriting for the last scene yet, but I'll probably hold off on that until after I've finished writing the scenes leading up to it.

Once again, I'm pleased with the results of my efforts. The scenes that I've laid out are definitely a bit of a breather from the high tension of the previous chapters, but at the same time there is some tension between the characters, and the reader learns a few things in each scene that are unsettling or at least mildly disturbing. I think it's a good mix. And with so much prewriting material in hand, I'll be able to hit 3K-ish words for this chapter with ease, with no temptation to add unneeded dialogue or extraneous scenery descriptions just for the purpose of length.

I know that sounds like a stupid thing to ever do, but surely I'm not the only one with the subconscious tendency to meander when I feel like my material isn't large enough for the chapter that is supposed to contain it. That's always dangerous territory, and I hate when I find myself in those situations--those times are usually more towards the start of books, for me. Now I'm starting to get into the territory where I can easily come up with more material than can actually fit in my chapter--and that's exactly where I want to be. That way, I can cut those ideas that are weakest. It's a much better situation.

For instance, THE GUARDIAN is broken up into five parts. Part IV took a TON of prewriting for me to do--let's say 15K words of prewriting outside of all the other prewriting I did for that book/series. Part IV itself wound up being about 30K words in my first draft, and 26K words after all my various revisions. In my original 15K of prewriting, I planned out about twice as many events as I actually wrote--that section alone could have been 60K long in my first draft. That's a short novel on its own! But instead, as I wrote Part IV over a period of about 3 months (it was hard writing, and there were other demands on my free time during that period), I was able to drop all the weaker ideas. There was overwriting-in-wording in Part IV, but there wasn't any overwriting-in-scenes. When I went back through and did my massive cuts based on Beverly Swerling's advice, I cut vastly less out of Parts IV and V than I did in the preceding parts. The reason was simple: the material was tighter and stronger, because my prewriting ideas had undergone a much more Darwinian process during those segments of the book.

That's what I'm trying to do with the entirety of ALDEN RIDGE. That's what will make my writing consistently tight and fast paced throughout the work. So far that has happened both during the prewriting stages and during the revisions, but this level of prewriting is a good sign that perhaps less revision will be needed on the coming chapters. But only time will tell, and I'm certainly not planning to ever give myself the benefit of the doubt on things like this. Writers can't afford to.


Rachel V. Olivier said...

Wow! SOunds like you are moving apace! Good for you!

Christopher M. Park said...

Thanks Rachel!