Happy Dance – Let’s Celebrate

Happy young buddhas - google images

This is the last instalment of my Thoughts from the Writing Trenches extravaganza. 170,000 words and the first draft of No Compass to Right – 4th book in the Crater Lake series – is done. Wrote almost 9,000 of those in one day. I was so in the grips of the story, I could hardly get out of the chair to use the bathroom. But it was worth it.

There’s a weird feeling that comes over me as I scroll through the pages – shock and awe. How did I do it? I somehow managed to put all these characters on the playing board of the story then I followed them through to the last page. I think I could write a hundred books and I would always feel like this when I got to the end of the first draft. I went to sleep the night I finished and slept a solid eight, dreamless hours. It was wonderful!

Many thanks for following this first draft writing series. It felt less lonely in the writing trenches knowing some of you were digging along beside me. If you have any suggestions for future series, let me know.

Butterfly sculpture overlooking the lake(2) -  bruce witzel photo

Thoughts from the Writing Trenches – IX

Russian kale 3(original), March 20-2017 - briuce witzel photo

A few days along the writing way: 153,000 words – it’s coming down to the wire now. There’s a list on my desk of the scenes left to write and the order in which I want to write them. I estimate another week and I’ll have this first draft in the bag.

I can’t say enough about how using the navigation tool on Word has aided my writing  – especially as I started to write scenes out of sequence. With a quick drag of the mouse up or down the navigation tool bar, using the information heavy sub-titles I had chosen, I could make sure I wasn’t messing up the time lines. And I can find my way through the entire document in a flash. Amazing – not sure how I managed before I learned of this simple tool.

bingo card - google imageI finished up a section today that had me laughing as I read it over. We writers do love our own antics. This scene is at a fundraiser Bingo that Micah Camp is doing with the local Catholic parish of St. Bertha’s. A fun part of the night for one and all is getting the priest at St. Bertha’s to call and then giving him a good natured hard time. For your enjoyment – a sneak peak at a first draft scene from No Compass to Right:

“Hey, Father,” the voice rang out through the crowded, stuffy hall. It was early and the place already smelled of overheated coffee and hotdogs.

Kieran stood on the stage between the bingo machine that sounded like an out-of-control popcorn popper with its seventy-five balls whirling around inside and a large lit up board dotted with holes. He had been pulling the balls from the machine, calling the number and setting them in the board for five games now. It seemed like he was getting the hang of it and he hoped that nothing else would throw him for a loop the way an elderly woman in the first row had when she raised her voice to ask him, “Are you going to drop your balls or what, Father.” He quickly learned that meant turn the machine on and get calling.

He stared out across the tables filled with people wielding fluorescent bingo dabbers like plunging daggers over their paper cards, and said, “What can I do for you?”

“What do you call a sleep-walking nun?” A man at a table near the back of the hall yelled.

To Kieran’s helpless shrug, another person on the other side of the hall shouted, “A roamin’ Catholic.” Then someone rang a huge cow bell and everyone busted out laughing.

And a few days more: 164,000 words at day’s end. Three key scenes to write and then I’m finished my first draft of No Compass to Right. I’ve been writing around and around these scenes for a couple of weeks. The tension is as ramped up for me in the creation process as I hope it will be for the reader. Pushing on to the end now. I see the finish line and can’t wait to get there.

Crocus 2(backlit) March 20, 0217 - bruce witzel photo

Thoughts from the Writing Trenches – Part III

Lake view from our deck

Current writing weather alert – excruciatingly raw with glimpses of brilliance. I’m writing a first draft and that explains the word raw. Brilliance may come off sounding egotistical, but we all have parts of our writing that we fall in love with. Why else would editing be so hard? It’s not as if we’re paid by the word like Alexander Dumas writing The Count of Monte Cristo. We don’t want to cut because we’re smitten by our own creation.

I hit 86,000 words today and got past my first climax point. Who would imagine a simple birthday party would be so hard to write? It’s always a challenge when I bring a bunch of the characters together in one scene for a party or a book club or a baseball game. I’m dealing with multiple interactions between and across characters. A scene like that is anything but simple.

I usually stay in one character’s point-of-view for an entire chapter section. But rules are made to be broken. When I’m writing a scene with multiple characters, it can be limiting to have access to only one character’s thoughts – especially if I want to wring everything I can out of the scene. I think the trick is to make the transitions as smooth as possible and have characters who are unique in the way they think so each voice is clear for the reader.

In my writing life, it’s taken me a while to turn a deaf ear to the following types of criticism – too many characters; too many points-of-view; too many storylines. The stories I want to write are told from multiple perspectives and I’m more and more comfortable with that.

This type of storytelling isn’t for every reader. Nothing any writer chooses would be. We can’t write to please everyone. So, I’m choosing to write for the reader who is willing to make an investment, to get in as deep with these stories and characters as I do. It’s a tall order but what the heck … go big or go home.

Do you read or write stories with multiple character perspectives? Do you love or hate this writing style?

Sunrise silouette from our deck