Wednesday 3 September 2014

Getting back into writing #2 - Make an explicit plan

I'm still not writing, I'm in the throes of Back-to-School organisation. All I did is make a bit of time to look at my manuscript and decide what to tackle first.

This is what Manuscript in Progress looks like at the moment:

1st 'quarter' - c. 20,000 words, finished
2nd 'quarter' - c. 30,000 words, finished except for some details at the very end
3rd 'quarter' - c. 30,000 words, needs serious editing, especially a central scene
4th 'quarter' - c. 16,000 words, rough draft stage

I decided to work backwards from the end, hopefully bringing the 4th quarter up to 20,000 beautifully polished words. At the same time, I'll be working on that central scene of the 3rd quarter which is a very big deal in many ways and may expand well beyond 5,000 words. I don't plan to let the 3rd quarter grow beyond it's current size. Instead, I'll be editing and rewriting ruthlessly, not because I'm fixated on some artificial word count issue but because the 3rd quarter has special needs which haven't been met yet. There's a) the dominance of that central scene, b) the speed at which things move, c) some major but temporary changes in my narrator's voice and d) the insertion of an external document. I've got it all in draft form, but it's a tough writing proposition and I need more time to mull it over. Here is a quote by Nicole Kornher-Stace from Jeff Vandermeer's Wonderbook, which illustrates how I feel about the 3rd quarter:
I wrote 150 pages when I was too inexperienced to do justice to a project as complex as a 17th-century unreliable narrator novel with three parallel storylines and a complete five-act play embedded in it.
My hope is that by the time I've finished the 4th quarter I'll be much more experienced! Yeah... So, I'm working from the end, which means I particularly need to make sure I remember everything that comes before. I really need that re-reading project now. I should probably even make notes while I'm doing it - a far more useful activity than mindless editing!

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