Monday, June 10, 2013

It might be a pretty good book.

I'm probably repeating myself, but that's because the concerns remain the same.

Two chapters from the end of Led to the Slaughter: the Donner Party Werewolves.

I'm worried about the climax to the novel.  I don't mind diverting from historical facts, though I prefer to stick to them as often as possible.  But there is only so far I can go in changing things.

In a completely fictional novel I can arrange the plot for a final climax where all the threads come together and are resolved one way or another.

In the real story, I will have to be satisfied with a series of smaller climaxes, ending with a final denouncement, and hope that it is enough.  I can arrange a final confrontation between two of the main characters, but not the groups.

The survival narrative is strong enough to carry this book all by itself, and add in the intriguing werewolves element, and I think the story works.  With or without strong writing from me.

This is pretty unusual.  Usually, the story only comes alive if my writing is at least adequate, whereas I feel this story is already strong.  Which should mean, that if I manage to write it well, it should be even better.

I've had this weird feeling all along that the story is better than my writing -- like when you see a movie and you go, "what a cool concept" and then they don't deliver.

Well, it's my story and I'm going to do it.  I just have to try to do my best.

So my goal, once I finish, is to make it better.  I was going to say something grandiose like -- make it "twice as good" but I think I'll just say "better."

Finally, a word about process.  For me, this may be the most important thing right now.  Linda commented that she liked how I "Don't go off on all those tangents anymore."

This was because in the past I wasn't disciplined in my writing process.  I let my obsessive compulsive tendencies get in the way of efficient storytelling.  My solution this time was to work out a series of steps that I should take, one after the other, and avoiding the temptation to skip a step or repeat a step.

So first step is to write the first draft fast but not too fast.

All the other things I need to do are constantly calling for attention, but it isn't time.  I must patiently do each step before I do the next.  Especially at the end of the book, I'm being pulled aside.

But that's kind of the point.  By writing the entire first draft first, I'm much more aware of what needs to be done in the second draft.  I've had an entire book to work out what the book is lacking or has too much of or whatever.  In the past, I might have had an insight one/third of the way through the book and gone back and changed things and then again and again and again until I've made the thing so muddled and convoluted and "tangental" that it doesn't work the way it should.  By then, I can no longer feel the book -- I've reached that moment of singularity where it's just a jumble of words and I'm trying to remember how I originally felt about the story.  At this point, I can still improve the story intellectually, but I have to hope the original emotion is still there and still strong enough.

By writing in steps, I'm hoping to avoid these difficulties.

The point being -- I think this book so far really is only about half as good as it could be.  And if I can manage over the next two or three steps to follow through systematically what needs to be done --
it might be a pretty good book.


Duncan McGeary said...

I mean, I do my best and hope it's good, but I always have doubts...

Duncan McGeary said...

My sense is this has all the elements.