Tuesday, January 25, 2011

When a work starts feeling long - buckle down

Fragile Bones is a novel I started about five or six years ago.  I wrote several chapters, (nine or ten, if I remember correctly), and let it sit for damned near three years.  I found it again and after rereading those early chapters, I fell in love with the story all over again.  A little bit older and probably none the wiser, I set about finishing it.

When I penned the first chapter, I had no intentions of writing any more on it.  I'd had a really shitty day and it was my way of venting some of those feelings of frustration and hopelessness.  At the time, I posted it to a fiction site and when I did, I got fabulous reviews.  I hadn't expected that.  It was early in my writing "career" and I was still full of all the doubts an unpublished writer has.  The positive reinforcement encouraged me to continue with the story and I found it came pretty easily.

Until I hit chapter seven.  I'd run out of things to say and my MC stopped talking to me completely.  I went on to other things.  Several months later, I picked it back up again and got another couple chapters out, but I felt they were falling a bit flat, even though I was still getting good reviews.  I gave up at that point.  I didn't look at it again until last year.  I'd done a lot more writing and with that came the experience to know it is possible to write without the elusive and grand notion of "inspiration!". 

Turns out, there was quite a lot of story to tell.  Far more than I ever expected even after picking it back up.

I started on chapter 23 this week, which is a feat in itself!  The story is sitting at over 60k words and I feel there are at least 10k more that need to be written.  When I finish, this will be, to date, my longest piece of fiction.  I'm quite proud of that.  It may be a pittance to some, but it's an accomplishment for me.


I feel like I've hit another slump in the story again.  I'm not getting feedback anymore since I stopped posting at the fiction site all those years ago.  The fear is nipping at me again.  I wonder at times if an author ever gets over that.  Is this story going flat?  Is it getting too long?  Should I just wrap it up already and leave on a well turned phrase or piece of witty banter?

I can't with this one.  The characters have yet to get to that point B that all story characters must reach.  Their internal struggles haven't been dealt with properly.  They are still far from their destination.  So in spite of these recent chapters feeling so dull to me, I must keep writing to the end and we can all breath a sigh of relieve.

Then I can work on polishing those dull spots up to a full shine with edits.

What I've learned and am still learning:  even though the first draft seems terrible at times, push through those bits and get on with telling the story.

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