Saturday, December 1, 2007

A good way to start the month.

Four pages today! Another 1,000 words! I'm finished with chapter nine, and a page into chapter ten! I also did my writing work much earlier than usual today, because I'm going with my wife, sister, and parents to see the Broadway South production of My Fair Lady. It's the British version, actually, and it's supposed to be fantastic. It's been over a year since I've gone to see any live theater, so that's pretty exciting.

I also had a pretty striking realization today: I really don't need to write things in sequence. I've always tried to do that, because when I wrote the endings to books long before I finished them, it never felt right by the time I actually got there. The characters and story had matured in different directions than I had originally expected.

However, part of what makes me feel like programming is easier than writing is that I can break even the most complicated programming down into discrete parts, and I can attack each piece individually, in whatever order I choose, and then I can put it all together and polish it up and it's done.

Well, today I realized that I can do that same sort of thing on a smaller scale with my writing, too. I was having ideas for dialogue farther into today's scene, which I was trying to hold in my head while I figured out the start of the scene. After twenty minutes of this, I realized I should just write down the later stuff so that I could free up those resources in my brain. That turned out to be about a page of material, all told. Then there was another section that came shortly after the first that popped into my head, and I wrote that down.

The funny thing is, that made it much easier to write the opening of the scene, too. I knew where the scene started, and where it quickly needed to get to, so I just wrote the appropriate (brief and interesting) bridge. Sometimes having too many options can be paralyzing, as we all know, and by writing something that I was certain about that came just a bit in the future, I reduced my options for the earlier bridge paragraph so that I could more easily make the right decision and just be happy with it.

Funny how that works! I'm definitely going to have to keep this technique in mind over the coming weeks, and see if that makes things easier. I suspect it really will. With programming, often there is a piece that I just don't want to do, because it seems too big and unpleasant. So instead I just do lots of other little pieces that contribute partly to the big piece, or even that are unrelated, and when those are done I just have the big piece left and it doesn't seem so bad. I'm a much faster programmer than I am a writer, and I bet that has something to do with it.

The stats as of today:
-44,500 estimated words.
-52,536 actual words.
-Nine fully-revised-and-expanded chapters (145 pages total).
-178 pages in all.


Karen Mahoney said...

It's good to try new methods of moving forward with the words - I've tried writing future scenes out of order, but it hasn't worked for me so far. Maybe I should just try it a little way ahead, like you, and then only have the transitions and set-up for each chapter to go back to...

How was My Fair Lady? I saw that in London several years ago - really enjoyed it! :)

Christopher M. Park said...

Yes, for me, too, writing future scenes out of order has always been disastrous.

My Fair Lady was great! The cast was brilliant, especially Colonel Pickering, Mr. Doolittle, and Eliza. It was ironic that Mr. Higgins sometimes didn't enunciate quite as well as he should have, but otherwise he did a great job, too. Anyway, in all this was really good, and it was very interesting to see the differences between this newer, darker, version and the Audry Hepburn movie. I think I prefer the story in this one.