Friday, July 13, 2012

Revising Utopia Project, Part XV

I last wrote about my progress in mid-May. Lots of work done since then.

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By the numbers.

Since last time:
-chapters: 3
-scenes: 10
-words: 30000+

Left:
-chapters: 3
-scenes: 11
-words: 26000

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What have I learned?

Go deep. Stay in the dark waters of your mind. Let your story wind its roots into you.

I write to expunge the poison from my blood. In some ways you have to be every character you write, even the one who convinces a group member to sacrifice himself, even the good girl who volunteers immediately for the chance to kill.

Know thy characters. Understanding the emotional trajectory of a scene will lead to adjustment of external events. Some characters might be reactionary and be guided only by circumstance; fair enough, I've got some of those. But water, which takes the path of least resistance, is plenty powerful.

A tool for you: Google Maps. If you choose the walking distance and make all sorts of extrapolations, you can get rough estimates for how long overland travel will take. I'll check later to get more precision.

Blaze through or slow down? If you're reading this post while in first draft stage, I'd lean toward blazing through. The past few weeks I have been doing just that, but for the scene I finished yesterday I slowed down because I was writing a scene the emotional content of which I'd forced in first draft.

Let your characters surprise you. Writing the confrontation between characters X and Y was a lot better when X knew intuitively that Y had done some shady stuff.

Refrain from despair. The quote I've been repeating to myself for the past, say, eight months, follows thus:
"Think not this is ill fortune, but rather, to bear this worthily is good fortune."
-Marcus Aurelius
When I need to remind myself of it briefly, I think: I am striving for ataraxia. Certainly I need it when I read the second to last grouping of five scenes and feel astonished at how poorly organized they are.

But that's okay. This is the time for fixing things: not fixing things as in making them rigid, but making them better.

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For fun:

Here is where I was two years ago in first-draft stage. Some comments:

"When you stick a girl in front of the computer for 4-5 hours a day, miracles (and procrastination) happen."

True enough (though the last few days band staff work has cut into my writing time). Also - 4-5 hours? Last week, when I did a lot of heavy-duty morning writing sessions, I'd write from 1030 to 1330 and get my words in. Steadier pace, perhaps.

"My perennial enemy, writing emotion, plagued me this chapter just as it always has. How do you build up and then crush hope?"

Writing annoyed, angry people is easy for me. As for the rest of it? Still working.

"Note to self when I go back to revise: make sure to write in clearer examples of X character trait."

Check.

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Happy writing. Tomorrow's the weekend - I can afford to go to bed after midnight, can't I?

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