March 1st, 2010

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Beginning Again

I was putting together a new post for my writing blog, which meant going back and reading through lots of old files. I'm not particularly organized about how I name my files or how I keep them grouped, so I end up reading a lot of things out of order. Still, I was concentrating a certain novel (or possibly novella, I was never sure it had the thrust needed for a longer narrative) and I had the thought that it might still work.

Obviously, a lot of what I've written over the years is still rough, first-draft stuff. At one point I had a whole story line that feel incongruous with the majority of the plot. I wasn't 100% committed to where the story was going from the point I picked up the idea, and as a result, I got confused, and thought it was going nowhere.  In order to work with it, I think this time around I need to decide what this story is about, and figure out how it ends.

I've trading messages with a friend recently about different approaches to novel writing. He's planning his current project to within an inch of its life - collecting details and plot lines and trying to understand his characters before he puts words on the page. I don't know that I could ever do that. I like my characters to tell me their stories, however chaotic and out of order they do. I like to think of it as I take over in revision, crafting the story once I have all the pieces.

But clearly, that approach didn't work for this project, else I'd have a readable draft, instead of 50+ files all named for their first line.

So what do I do? I have another project that's early stages yet, that occasionally I pick up and write 5 - 10 pages for, and then put down again. It's only holding my interest in spurts. And I have no idea where it is going. Well, maybe I have a vague idea but it doesn't feel like I have enough there: there's no event on the horizon of the narrative that would give that project the shape of a novel.

In contrast, this old project, I have an event, though, I buried it somewhere under that bad plot line. And maybe I just want to go back to it because I want to have that tag line, "I'm working on a novel about X...." And it would certainly be easier to have that when I've got approximately half the story written.

We'll see. I'm not sure where any of these thoughts leave me.