Thoughts from the Writing Trenches – VI

A  ferry at dawn

A day in this writing life dawns – 113,000 words. I probably have another month to go on the writing of this first draft. I may need a break. We’ll see. I’ve been thinking about how writing in the voice of some characters is, in one way – easy – while in another, exhausting.

When I write in Izzy’s voice, as a counsellor, what she’ll say and do comes quickly to mind. But a counsellor’s job is draining – be it in real time or in my imagination. Izzy is exhausting! In another character’s voice, though scenes and conversations are totally fictional, the writing takes me back to a time in my own life that was often marked by emotional turmoil. Again, what this character will say or do flows freely and my fingers fly over the keyboard. But the emotional trace is tiring.

Sculpture - Talieson West - Bruce Witzel photo

Two days goes by – 120,000 words and I’m working with a printed copy of the constantly-updated table of contents right in front of me at all times. I call this a zoom out technique. By closely studying that table, I was able to cut two characters and tweak the rest of my notes on unwritten sections to accommodate this change. I realized I could achieve what I wanted with those characters in a far more streamlined way. Bonus!

Niagara Falls - Bruce Witzel photo

And more days go by – I’ve reached 130,000 words and at this point, the story is simply spewing from me. There is no pleasant way to say that; no time for the niceties of well-wrought descriptive phrases or properly placed dialogue tags. It is simply a rush to see if I can type fast enough to get it down.

Having a firm grip on the structure of the novel is useful. Like tracking waves – the seventh one out there is going to be big. The writing builds and builds, hits a climax and then lengthens out as thing slow down, a few resolutions occur and the stage is set to start building again. Each subsequent climax builds a bit higher until, hopefully, when the big climax is reached – it is suitably tense and gripping.

California beach - Bruce Witzel photo

And more and more days go by – 136,000 words. I moved ahead in the writing today by tackling a whole chapter of aftermath events. I’ve been fretting about the magnitude of the upcoming major scenes. This leap forward to write about what happens afterwards is like a breath of fresh air blowing through a stuffy room. I’m energized.

First daddodils with dewdrops Mar. 2, 2015 - bruce witzel photo

And yet more days go by – 140,000 words and stopped in my tracks. Had a root canal finished up yesterday and it feels as though someone socked me in the jaw. Wow – talk about driving thoughts of Crater Lake out of my head. Taking a couple of Tylenol and heading to bed early.

Lake and the auroraborealis, Sept. 12, 2014 Bruce Witzel photo.2

7 comments on “Thoughts from the Writing Trenches – VI

  1. noelleg44 says:

    With all those beautiful pictures to distract you, it’s a wonder you’ve gotten any thing done. I am also stopped at just about the same place with my new book – need to get back to it but things seem to have emerged and interfered. Nose to the grindstone this weekend.

    • That nose to the grindstone part – seems to be the only way. I think I need some kind of a resource book that outlines a plan for staying peppy during a marathon bout of writing – special diet etc. LOL – who knew fingers on the keyboard could be so exhausting. Good luck with your efforts, Noelle.

  2. Yes, lovely photos; are they yours? Wonderful sculpture–what it it and by whom? Sorry about the dental work. I know how that goes, being a veteran of many procedures. Hope healing occurs readily. It sounds as if your novel writing is moving along well–satisfying to get those words down. Wishing you well. 🙂

    • The photos on my blog are a mix of mine and my husband, Bruce’s. I’m not sure about who did the sculpture but Bruce took that gorgeous picture at Taliesen West outside Phoenix – Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home. He took a few photos of these beautiful blue pieces. It is satisfying to see the word count rise. Thanks for stopping by, Cynthia 🙂

  3. jane tims says:

    I love the writing … it’s the editing that is so long and tedious. Do you edit as you go or just let it flow? Jane

    • Jane – you give me ideas for another post in this series – ongoing editing. I do edit as I go. Working forward from the 1st chapter, I try to go through a couple of chapters every night. This also keeps me in touch with the how the story evolved to the point where I’m actually laying down new words. I’ve also discovered a great editing tool – I send the document to my Kindle and read that way. In that mode, I see things I won’t on the computer screen. Plus, I can lay in bed and do it! I wish I could say all that editing as I go makes the actual editing phase less arduous (it must!) but it doesn’t seem to. There are just things I never see. Thanks for following along with this series, Jane. It’s nice to have this extended conversation.

      • jane tims says:

        Hi Fran. I edit in the evenings too. I use my iPad and email myself a PDF version of my word document. The I read and record edits in my iPad version of Word. I go back and forth which seems tedious but it gives me a new way of seeing the document, similar to your Kindle. I also record passing thoughts such as ‘make sure X is still in a ponytail at end of chapter’ … I also edit in stages, such as ‘ all hairdos’ but I find I am easily distracted. Great series!

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