Friday, February 10, 2012

More detail! More words!

I am in the middle of what will amount to the thirdish and finalish draft of my novel, tentatively titled A Book of Ferryman's Heralds. What is most interesting to me about it, aside from how there seems somehow to be those weird "character" things and "story" things and even some "plot" things is that the third draft is already as long as the second draft. That would seem logical, except that the story is halfway as far in, and this draft has taken less than half the time to write. It's a fascinating thing to contemplate. While I feel that I haven't gotten as far, since the events I wrote today aren't even to the story's technical "midpoint"--an important storytelling term I learned recently--at the same time I feel like I've gotten much further. I think these are the reasons:

1) I'm using twice as many words. That doesn't mean I'm throwing in a lot of "gasps" and adjectives, which is what it could mean. What it means is that I'm taking my time to be thorough in describing things. I did not, as I usually do, rush through and assume that my brilliant images will communicate psychically, my concepts and designs will be clear even though there's no reason they should make sense. Rather I take my sweet time with all the little pieces and use sufficient words and time to describe how they all look, smell, sound, and fit together. Every moment can last a lifetime.

2) I'm giving my characters space to contemplate and to expand on their situations. In the past, I've always assumed that my characters would take care of themselves. I tended to write quite cinematically, just describing what it would look like people did and I'd assume that readers could keep up. That would work all right in the movie version when my characters are acted out as well as they are in my mind, with all the emotional states sort of dancing across their faces. My descriptive powers are not yet where they need to be to keep up with my imagined acting skills, however. And besides, I'm writing a mythologically inclined fantasy. Putting in poetic thought process lends itself to the storytelling.

3) I'm including damn subplots. I've always left subplots out of the novel proper, assuming that the hints and vagueness with which the main characters treated the subplots would be sufficient for the story. Subplots often feel less interesting to me than main plots. But when I started to explain the actions of my main characters to myself during my world-building kick recently I realized that the subplots I needed were really good and very interesting. In exploring my subplots I've managed to discover that my novel as it is can be a good conduit for me to expostulate and explore something I really like, which is various classical story structures. If I imagine character X as the main character, my novel is a classical tragedy--if character Y is the lead it becomes a stereotypical Hero's Journey with a personal touch--and the rest. I now enjoy subplots.

Those are the main reasons. I explain the doubling in words briefly as an increase in thoroughness.

Why I'm explaining: The way I see it, care and thorough treatment are often lacking in creative endeavours. Sometimes we meet writers with a proclivity toward intentional fantasy bloat, and we should not err in their direction. However, if you find that your attempts at novels often seem to stop on page twenty-four, and you don't know how the story goes from there, you may be leaving out half of what needs to be said. I suggest relishing the moments.

And some sweet tunes.

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