It is nearly received knowledge among writers that it is better to overwrite than underwrite. It’s usually easier to trim, say, two scenes that don’t illustrate a certain character or event as well as a third one does, than it is to add stuff in post-production. I’m clinging to that in my own project, even though that means that I might not type “The End” on 28 February. But if I do type ‘240’ on my last page of writing that day, that means I wrote 60 pages a week, which is pretty good, in addition to being 240 pages more than I had last Thursday.
Already, I’m halfway through Chapter Two, and I know that I’ve essentially said the same thing about one character three times. That’s fine for now. Once I go through the MS as a whole, I’ll be able (hopefully) to decide which one works best and axe the others, trimming my novel down to a lean version of my story.
The other thing I have to do is stop worrying about overwriting. The whole reason I decided to write this as a short novel was to explore the characters a little more. So I can have conflict on the first page, but readers need to know who the characters are, what they want, and what they have to lose, by the time the action starts. I’m allowed to indulge myself by spending a page describing why one of my protagonists is disgusted by another one; later, when I look at the whole thing, I will be able to pick out the details that describe his feelings best, along with the ones that react best against what the other protagonist thinks about him. Conflict can and should be between all the characters in a story, even the ones that work together.
In other news today, I’m reading The Magic of Recluce, which is one of those books I’d wanted to read since the mid-90s. As I read it now, I really, really wish I had. The conflict between Order and Chaos, and especially the idea that something good done for a bad reason is still bad, would have been a good lesson to have laid out for me when I was young and dumb (as opposed to old and unwise, like I am now). I’m only halfway through, but I have all my tasks done for the day, and I have a lot of tea, so maybe I’ll be able to finish it soon.
And, this: This poster is going in my office once I’m settled in Michigan. Considering I was weathering a Michigan winter when I first read The Lord of the Rings, I almost have to. (Art by Lindsey Naylor; I couldn’t find a link to an artist page, but if anyone has one, send it my way.)
One thought on “Day 4: Still surviving”
Don’t forget the laundry.